All I Want for Christmas
If you’re as nomadic as I am, you’ll probably find that the people in your life have a hell of a time coming up with Christmas gift ideas for you. When you’re shopping for somebody who travels carry-on only, it can be a nightmare coming up with ideas as to what gifts to get them for Christmas or their birthday.
People who love to travel are partaking of one of the greatest pleasures in life, and while we may make lifelong memories, it can mean that we need to eschew the ‘stuff’ that others collect. Without a home base to put that stunning painting or scratch-off travel map in, gift ideas are often limited to what we can fit into a suitcase.
The below list of travel-inspired gifts are ones I own myself or ones I want to own. If you’ve got a traveler in your life, here are fifteen amazing gift ideas for them this Christmas.
20 Travel Gifts for Adventurous Souls
I’m gonna level with you here, folks. This post is going to contain affiliate links.
This means that if you buy any of the below (or buy something else on Amazon after clicking through one of the below), I’m going to make a little commission. This doesn’t impact how much you pay in the end, but I wanted you to know that I’m not being completely selfless here. Your gift to me this Christmas will be the gift of a cheeky little Amazon commission going into my bank.
However, I will stand by all of the below gifts as things I either already own or sorely wish to. I’ll even tell you which are which!
Tinggly Experience Box
If there is one thing the traveler in your life will never say no to, it’s more money to fund their travels.
If folding up a crisp $100 bill in a Christmas card seems a bit too “I don’t know you well enough to spend even a second trying to figure out what you like” for you, a Tinggly Experience Box might be the trick. It’s the same as giving your traveling friend money, but it’s just travel-themed enough that they’ll feel like you really get them.
Incidentally, my father has already forewarned me that I’m getting a Tinggly experience box this Christmas. He’s also told me how much he spent. He’s fun like that.
Your Tinggly Experience comes in a cute box and boasts a pretty massive list of experiences all over the world. This gives the traveler in your life the freedom to choose the adventure they’ll enjoy most, so you don’t have to!
There are experiences in 100+ countries and they have two years to use it, so it’s as easy as just taking out your credit card and letting them do the work. You don’t even need to know where in the world they are!
Earbuds and/or Noise Cancelling Headphones
The practical benefits of owning noise-canceling headphones or earbuds are many.
Screaming baby on your red-eye flight? Drown them out with the dulcet tones of an all Michael Buble playlist.
A long, boring commute in a cramped train? Let the boys from the Adventure Zone nerd you to your happy place.
Chinese guy behind you on the bus shouting into his phone because he doesn’t understand how phones work? Who cares? You’re binging Schitt’s Creek in blissful silence.
More recently, I’ve come to appreciate that I won’t always want to carry a massive pair of headphones around like some obnoxious wannabe DJ. That’s where earbuds come in, and I’m especially fond of my new xFyro Aria Earbuds.
Up to 32 hours of life thanks to their charging case? Check
Touch controls to change tracks or increase volume? Check
Don’t look like Apple’s iButtplugs? Check
While they’re a bit pricier than the average earbuds, the extended battery life and touch controls make the xFyro ARIA a welcome addition to my travel electronics collection.
My wife, Adventures Around Asia is obsessed with her Tropicfeel shoes. So much so that she backed them on Kickstarter and was upset when I got offered a free review pair.
Never fear, dear reader! I did not take their free shoes! It definitely had nothing to do with the fact my clown feet are too large for conventional shoes, I assure you.
Truthfully, I really dig Tropicfeel’s look, practically, and message. I’m bummed that my colossal appendage has once again meant I can’t have something I want.
Quick-drying and comfortable, Tropicfeel shoes are designed with travelers in mind. If you’ve ever peeled off your sweaty shoes after a long day of hiking or backpacking to the dismay of the gathered crowd, you’ll be pleased to know that these little miracles go a long way towards avoiding such awkward social moments.
Carry-On Cocktail Kit
If you’re not taking advantage of the in-flight beverage service on your long haul flights, you’re basically leaving money on the table.
While I would never be one to advocate being that person who disrupts the entire flight by loudly offering to hold a crying baby through red-wine stained teeth, there’s something to be said for a cheeky beverage (or three) to help knock you out. Let’s be honest, there are never more than 2-3 movies worth watching on the in-flight entertainment.
If lukewarm beer or wine of dubious origin doesn’t scratch that itch, a carry-on cocktail kit is a great way to spice up your inebriation experience. While it’s only a single serving, there’s something oh-so-fancy about muddling your own Old Fashioned while the sucker next to you pretends to enjoy his can of Japanese beer.
A Leather Journal or Passport Wallet
Along with promises to get back to the gym, buying high-quality journals that I never write a single character in is my greatest disappointment in life.
I legitimately have a bookshelf worth of journals scattered across storage crates on two continents, and every one of them is the one I promised I would actually use.
Despite the weight of this knowledge crushing my soul on a daily basis, I just can’t say no to a new journal. My latest purchase came from Galen Leather, who also make exquisitely beautiful passport wallets, money wallets, folios, and even a fucking writer’s box that I just had to have.
Seriously, I have this box and it is amazing. I cannot wait to unfold that bad boy in a Starbucks and loudly inform anybody who wanders within earshot that I am working on my novel. Fuck Macbooks. I have a fucking writing box, you plebian.
I think I have lost two more pairs of sunglasses than I have owned. I understand that this is mathematically impossible, but I wanted to illustrate just how terrible I am at not losing my god damned sunglasses.
If the traveler in your life is anything like me – and I’m sorry if they are – they could probably use a pair of sunglasses this Christmas.
VisionDirect has a massive catalog of designer sunglasses at reduced prices, which has allowed me to maintain a decent standard of style despite the fact I lost a pair of Ray-Bans just a month ago. While there is some inherent risk in buying sunglasses for somebody, a quick Facebook stalk should do the job if you need inspiration.
Aero Press Coffee Maker
Growing up in Australia, I had no idea how spoiled I was when it came to coffee until my first visit to the United States.
“You’ll hate the coffee,” our LA Insider Tours guide warned me before I lifted the cup of molten slag to my lips, “All of you Aussies do”.
That’s because the coffee was one step above greywater. Deadset, how do Americans survive on that swill?
Yes, I’m aware that America has some terrific independent coffee shops. Hell, even Starbucks isn’t bad if you don’t mind paying overs for a mediocre latte.
If you’re traveling through Asia (aside from Vietnam), however, you’re going to be facing some hard times, daddy. Coffee culture just hasn’t reached Africa or Asia yet, and I don’t care if Ethiopia invented coffee culture.
For days where you need something that isn’t subpar, an Aeropress is a godsend. Our trusty little miracle worker got Richelle and I through Tanzania, China, rural Japan, and even a few days here in the US of A.
Badass Beard Care Grooming Kit
If the traveler in your life doesn’t have a beard, they’re either female or broken. Either way, you can skip this portion.
If, however, they are in possession of a badass beard that would make Odin spontaneously ejaculate, they’re going to need a badass beard care kit.
When I first grew my beard, it was out of laziness, but I now realize that the care and maintenance of a beard is almost as much work as just shaving on the regular. Of course, shaving on the regular would mean looking like a thumb with teeth, so I’ve had to suck it up.
A Badass Beard Care Loaded Travel Kit comes with beard oil, beard balm (or wax), a comb, a brush, and scissors in a handy travel kit, and you best believe I upgraded mine so that my comb smelled of rich sandalwood.
If the man in your life has lumberjack aspirations and enough beardruff to make it a white Christmas, do him (and his furniture) a favor by buying him some beard oils and a good brush. It makes a world of difference.
Universal Travel USB Adaptor
This one really doesn’t need a big, flowery description, does it?
You have electronics. Your electronics need power. Countries have different voltages and outlets.
A universal travel adapter fixes that problem.
Wander Club Wanderchain
I once knew a girl who would trade sexual favors in exchange for the promise of Pandora charms. I hope she got help.
I won’t be performing sexual favors to get rings for my Wander Club Wanderchain, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the idea all the same.
A more gender-neutral and practical take on the Pandora model, Wander Club lets the traveler in your life collect rings for every country, US state, continent, and US national park that they visit. Clipped onto your bag or tucked into a pocket, your Wander Club “Wanderchain” is a kind of record of where you’ve been.
Wanderchain sounds like a spell a bard casts in Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not going to call mine a Wanderchain. I have just enough self-respect.
A percentage of the profits also go to feeding orphans abroad, so you get to feel good while also showing your fellow travelers where you’ve been in a less obnoxious way than a tedious browse through the pages of your well-loved passport.
Look, I know what you’re going to say: “But Chris, a Kindle can never hope to capture the heart and soul of a book!”
In a perfect world, I’d carry my library of 400 novels around with me everywhere I went. I wouldn’t need an external HDD devoted solely to storing PDFs of every Dungeons & Dragons book ever published.
Until RyanAir starts allowing 1,500 kgs of carry-on, however, the “books are better” hill is not one I’m going to die on.
Yes, books are awesome. Do you know what else is awesome? Being able to read more than 1-2 of the fucking things on your trip.
What they lack in soul, a Kindle (or other off-brand eReader) lets you carry a massive library of books with you wherever you go. It can be read in the dark, so you don’t need to wear one of those obnoxious reading lamps on your head like a Welsh miner. It also fits in your pocket, but don’t sit on the thing. It will break. Bitter experience has taught me this.
I may never be the unshaven vagabond that can confidently hitch his hammock between trees in a park, but I cling to the notion that I might someday be that daring and carefree.
Last Christmas, I mentioned exactly two things two my Mum in the lead-up to the big day:
- I really liked the idea of a travel hammock
- I wished my father told me he loved me more often.
Two days after Christmas, the man himself strolled into my room, presented me with a travel hammock, and told me he loved me.
I doubt your own experience with receiving a travel hammock can hope to measure up to that, but you should probably still ask for one.
A New Watch
I’ve long been of the opinion that watches are an outdated status symbol. Who needs to strap a timepiece to their wrists in an age where you have access to the amassed knowledge of mankind in a pocket-sized device that can also take photos and play Pokemon Go?
Those were the bitter ramblings of a man who had never owned a nice watch, friends.
For our wedding, my lovely wife presented me with this gorgeous Daniel Wellington watch that I wear even as I type this post. Do I need a watch while sitting at a laptop that tells the time while glancing occasionally at my phone that tells the time? No.
Do I like being able to hitch up my coat sleeve at a fancy restaurant that I have no business being in so that I can show off my expensive watch? You better fucking believe it.
Eagle Creek Packing Cubes
If you’re anything like me, the inside of your suitcase resembles the inside of a human being. It’s a messy, sometimes sticky mess that you feel uncomfortable thrusting your bare hands into.
My Eagle Creek packing cubes have revolutionized the way that I pack. They’ve also allowed me to say something has revolutionized me, which is a nice little byproduct.
Seriously, though, life gets so much easier when you’re able to introduce a semblance of order to your backpack or suitcase. Now, rather than rifling through the contents of my bag like a filthy hobo, I’m able to be a filthy hobo who knows where to find socks or shirts.
It’s a game-changer, folks.
Ask an irate boomer what upsets us Millenials more than anything, and they’ll probably say something about our phones running out of battery. Much original. Very humor. Wow.
Don’t give those assholes the satisfaction of minimizing our valid concerns about deep breath: the economy, climate change, the patriarchy, consent, worrying increases in white nationalism, science-hating, anti-vaxxing, Flat Earth believers, notions of gender and sexuality, and gun control. Make sure your phone is always charged so that you can use your valuable energy on putting the privileged shits in their place.
A portable charger is a pocket-sized way to stay connected at all times.
It may not be a glamorous stocking stuffer, but making sure that special someone in your life doesn’t fall prey to their own idiocy is such a sweet way of showing that you care.
Don’t be like me and break your arm while scuba diving. This not only meant three very uncomfortable long-haul flights with a broken arm, but an expensive flight back to Australia to get surgery that travel insurance could have covered.
In Korean culture, it is commonplace to give people gifts of things that they need so that they can spend their money on things that they want. The gift of travel insurance not only ensures your loved one stays safe but lets them fritter their money away on more exciting things.
I use World Nomads whenever I travel these days. I’m not making that mistake again.
Portable Luggage Scale
Before I owned a portable luggage scale, I would go to every flight check-in smelling of sour sweat and nerves. Had I done a good job of culling my wardrobe down? Were they going to look at my suspiciously bulging backpack and insist on weighing it?
With a portable luggage scale, you can weigh-in before you even head to the airport. This means you won’t ever have to be that annoying asshole holding up the check-in while you frantically tear apart your luggage trying to somehow make 27 kilograms miraculously become 23 kilograms.
Seriously, we don’t travel without ours.
Cord Organiser or Cord Tacos
If the interior of my suitcase is like the savaged remains of a human body, then my backpack is a tangle of twisted cords not unlike the inside of a murdered robot.
Taking my electronics out of my bag at the airport is not so different from trying to untangle Christmas lights.
I can’t think of a funny way to describe how important a good, laptop-friendly day pack is for the traveler in your life.
Whether it’s a slim and adorable Macbook or a chunky Acer Predator gaming laptop like mine, your traveler’s laptop is probably the most important thing to them after their passport. Having a backpack that can not only fit their laptop but also offer it a measure of protection is super helpful.
My favorite option right now is this gorgeous piece of work. It has the standard stuff you would expect from a backpack but also has additional goodies like phone and pen pockets, an external USB charging port, and an anti-theft rear pocket.
11 in 1 Wallet Tool
Ever since my dear friend, Magro handed me a credit card-sized bottle opener, I have delighted in whipping the thing out in bars, restaurants, and at BBQs to coolly open people’s drinks for them. It’s especially fun when you do it while the staff member is struggling to unhook their bottle opener from their belt.
If you want to up your wallet game, however, an 11 in 1 wallet tool lets you be the platinum credit card owner of handyman stuff.
Opening a bottle of beer? Too easy
Can of beans? Done!
Need a screwdriver or wrench? You’ve got one!
Amputating a limb after you fall into a narrow canyon? You’ll have to ask James Franco.
Still, that’s a pretty good strike rate for something that definitely won’t have TSA poring over your wallet like it says “Made in Iraq”.
If your loved one is heading to China, they’re going to need a VPN. That country’s overbearing government just isn’t going to let them Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, or… uh… Pokemon Go about their experiences there.
Even if they aren’t going to a country that hates freedom of speech, a VPN is still a great way to stay connected while abroad. Being able to seamlessly tell your computer that you’re back home not only lets you watch Netflix or HBO on the go, but it also avoids annoying regional content blocks on your favorite news sites.
If your bank is as paranoid as mine is, a VPN also stops them from randomly blocking you from accessing your account.
My personal recommendation is ExpressVPN, who can handle regular VPN duties and the process of vaulting China’s Great Firewall.
Scratch-Off Travel Map
While not a practical gift for somebody who travels full time, a scratch-off travel map has been on my Christmas wish list for so long that it might as well be a pony.
Someday, I’ll have a home of my own and I’ll be able to mount this on my wall and think about how cool I used to be when I still traveled.
In 2019, I bought 11 different SIM cards. ELEVEN!
Granted, not everybody shares my crippling need for digital connection, but any long-term traveler will understand the frustration of trying to make do on dial-up speed hostel WiFi when you have a deadline looming.
Airalo eSims change all of that. Rather than buying plastic SIM cards at every airport, you can simply activate your eSim online and be ready to go the moment that you land.
While the service is only available to newer phones right now, the technology really is going to change the way people travel. No more expensive roaming charges. No more stupid local tourist SIMS with irritating passport and registration procedures.
Just sweet, sweet 4G.
Whatever travel-themed gift you choose for your loved one’s birthday, you can be sure that they will be delighted that you know them so well, and will appreciate the effort you have put in to find something that appeals to perfectly to their passions and interests.
What is on your Christmas list this year?
If possible, try to make your response as acidic and scathing as possible. I’ve got a tone I’m trying to stick to.
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