Despite the cold, which I never get used to even though I grew up in Wisconsin, the holidays are my favorite time of year. The festive atmosphere, the twinkling lights, the cheesy but still heartwarming movies, the abundance of sweets, the Nutcracker ballet, the music that only gets annoying on the 26th, the way everyone seems a little happier all month, and of course the giving (and getting, shh) of gifts.
I've had a lot of practice packing. There are necessities I always bring and then things I throw in for fun. Here are some of my favorite gifts for travelers, both fun and more importantly useful, and guaranteed to make them think of you wherever they are in the world.
Nothing is better than in-flight peace. These headphones are pricy, but a great gift for anyone who travels frequently and likes to sleep or get work done on the plane (or really any form of transportation).
Looks strange, works wonders. The Trtl Pillow is the best way to rest, even if you're stuck in the middle seat.
A good book is always a great gift. The Best American Travel Writing is sure to keep any traveler entertained.
Travel spray is a fun addition to any package, and a serious help during long travel days. I use this stuff all the time, especially in hot locations or after flights. It's so refreshing!
Give the gift of comfort. These travel pants are so comfortable you'll probably want to buy an extra pair for yourself. They're my new must for any travel day.
On the Ground Essentials
Feeling generous? Give the gift of captured memories with this camera, which is easy to use and consistently ranked one of the best for bloggers and travelers. If you're looking for something more affordable or the recipient mostly take photos with their phone, the Ollo Clip is a great accessory that helps make iPhone photos even better.
These ballet flats are comfortable enough to walk around cities in all day long, and nice enough to give as a gift.
A travel adapter seems like a boring gift, but throw this one in their stocking and they'll think of you when their phone is easily charged in any country.
These beach towels can also be used as picnic blankets, and are such a pretty gift.
A nice water bottle is always needed.
A travel notebook with storage for itineraries and tickets.
Mohinders shoes. I recently got a pair and will be wearing them on every trip. They're soft, high-quality, and go with almost everything. I travel a lot in the Middle East, and these are the perfect shoe for wandering cities or hiking Petra.
A cozy scarf made of recycled cashmere goes with everything. Great for cold weather trips.
These sandals are cute and interchangeable! You're basically giving three gifts in one. Ideal for the traveler who likes to pack as concisely as possible, but still wants options.
You can never go wrong with a beautiful linen wrap.
Travel candles are an easy gift and make anywhere feel like home.
Give the gift of language. These How to Read the Menu books are a fun gift that deliver the essential phrases needed for the best part of any trip–the food!
Camp food, elevated with Patagonia Provisions.
This Huckberry puffy blanket throw is perfect for that person who prefers to sleep outside.
Camping hammocks are fun and useful.
I love my Patagonia Better Sweaters, and for good reason. They're warm, they can be worn hiking or walking around a city, and they come in lots of colors. The perfect gift for someone who has it all (because you can never have too many).
This camp stove is tiny, but boils water within minutes.
Travel Beauty Gifts
If you want to give someone makeup, go with anything from Tarte's Amazonian clay line. It's good for your skin but also lasts 12 hours, perfect for someone who wants to look good even after a long flight or a day exploring.
Another great travel beauty gift is this Global Face Trio. The 3-in-1 cleanser, exfoliator, and mask is made from Thanaka powder, which comes from a tree in Myanmar.
Everyone needs this travel hair dryer, but most people won't buy it for themselves.
Dry Shampoo is a travel lifesaver and an easy addition to any gift.
A friend introduced me to the wonderful creation of the wet brush in Cuba and now I’m obsessed. Perfect for a secret Santa or other small gift exchange. A nice travel manicure kit is another great small gift.
Travel perfume is always nice, as regular perfume is one of the hardest things to get into travel sized bottles.
Then of course there are travel sets, which are always fun, especially if they come in nice bottles.
A scratch map to help track travels.
A pretty map watch.
The ultimate travel wallet and passport holder.
Know someone who wishes they could travel full-time, or who is trying to get their freelance career off the ground? Give the gift of travel coaching!
Carry On Gifts/Packing
Packing cubes, for the organized traveler.
A cute toiletry bag.
Refillable travel bottles that never leak.
This backpack fits more than you think it will, and is great for weekend trips or day hikes.
A cute jewelry box to keep things safe and organized.
Monogrammed luggage tags are a cute and functional gift.
Bonus: Freelancer gift guide!
(Because if they travel often, chances are they freelance or can work from the road).
This lap desk is a game changer for those who work from their couch.
Make their work environment better with Sonos speakers.
A cozy bathrobe. (Perks of working from home!)
Freelance coaching sessions to help them get their career off the ground.
Magazine/Newspaper subscriptions. I cannot recommend this gift enough!
A portable USB charger, a must-have for both travelers and freelancers