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Practical Gift Ideas for a Traveling Loved One

  • Post category:Resources
  • Post last modified:June 22, 2021

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Finding the right gift is hard enough, but finding the right gift for someone traveling can feel almost impossible. Today’s reduced luggage allowances and TSA restrictions can seriously limit what can be brought on a plane.

As Jeremy and I are often away for birthdays and Christmas, giving each other gifts can be challenging. Especially on lengthy trips where we have limited luggage space. Over the years we’ve had to get very creative and I’ve never found these types of lists useful for us. That’s why I wanted to put something together for everyone struggling for gift ideas. 

Basically, a gift for someone traveling must be small enough to fit in a suitcase, and light enough not to take up precious weight allowances. Plus, if your loved one only has a carry-on, you must avoid prohibited items, such as liquids and gels.

These practical gift ideas are for those looking for an alternative to giving your traveling loved one money. Oh, and you’re also likely to find an idea or two for that difficult person who already has it all. Happy shopping! 

Experiences are my go-to gift. You can never have too many, and the memories last a lifetime.

Here are a few good ways to learn which experiences are available near you.

  • Groupon or Living Social can tell you what’s on offer in your area.
  • Cloud 9 Living or Xperiencedays make purchasing experiences super simple.
  • We also use Google maps to search specific keywords like “survival training”. This is how I found the Trail Blazer Survival School where I bought Jeremy a 2-day Essential Wilderness Survival course.
Nascar cars line up on the starting line at the NASCAR Racing Experience

Consider purchasing an experience for the destination they are traveling. One year, we did a cultural cooking class in Morocco that was delicious and memorable.

Just be careful of weather dependent activities. For example, a lot of hot air balloon companies won’t give refunds, they will only let you reschedule. That’s not great if your love one won’t be in the area long enough to reschedule.

Here’s a few gift ideas from the experiences we have given each other;

  • Off-road 4×4 driving course
  • NASCAR racing experience
  • BMW Performance Drive with ride-along hot lap
  • Wilderness survival training
  • Helicopter flight training
  • Cultural cooking class
  • Zorbing
  • Afternoon tea at a fancy hotel
  • Paint and sip class

Live Events or Shows

You can’t beat the ambiance of a live event. Especially a sporting event or a concert.

It’s easy enough to check Ticketmaster or StubHub for upcoming events.

Don’t forget to check in your loved one’s travel destination. For instance, we attended an Irish Curling game in Dublin. It was amazing fun and something a bit different.

  • Sporting Events
  • Musicals or Theater Plays
  • Traveling Shows/Performances
  • Concerts or Music Festivals
  • Comedy Shows
  • Magic Shows

Subscription Services

Not just for magazines anymore. You can buy subscriptions to almost anything these days and spend as little or as much as you like.

Here are some subscription gift ideas;

  • Online video game services (Steam, Origin)
  • Food and drink sample boxes (Vinebox, Dessert of the month)
  • Make-up in the mail (Birchbox, IPSY)
  • Man boxes (Loot Crate, Man Crates)
  • Wardrobe and jewelry (StichFix, rocksbox)

Personal Services

Super practical, yet often we don’t purchase these services for ourselves. 

These gift ideas can be a little more personal in nature. So you’ll need to know if your love one would be comfortable with the service, like letting someone clean or organize their house.  

  • Session with a make-up artist
  • Photo shoot
  • Style consultant or personal shopper
  • Housekeeping service
  • Organizational service
  • Massage or a spa day

Annual Pass to the National Parks

For the history and nature lovers on your list, I can’t think of a better gift than an Annual Pass to the U.S. National Parks

The America the Beautiful Pass costs $80 and gives access to over 2,000 National Parks for a year. Places like the Shenandoah in Virginia, Fort Moultrie in South Carolina, or the stunning Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. Plus, you are supporting our great parks system.

Alternatively, most states have an Annual State Park Pass. The one for South Carolina, for example, gives entry for up to four people for $99.

Travel Related Gift Ideas

The next best thing to something that literately takes up no luggage space, like concert tickets or a subscription, is something practical to use while traveling.

These are some of the travel accessories we regularly use;

  • Kindle – Reading material can be your best friend on the road. A kindle is light and slim, making it easy to carry a whole library in your carry-on.
  • Packing cubes Packing cubes make packing and unpacking really easy. Especially for road trips, when you are moving from place to place. Plus, they take virtually no space or weight.
  • Travel towels – Not so useful for hotel stays, but a must for backpacking or camping trips.
  • Cord organizer – Between the phone, headsets, camera, and drone this organizer keeps our cords from getting lost.
  • Toiletry fold out bag – Look for one that has a strong hook for hanging.
  • Luggage scale – I’m a souvenir junkie so I always pack my return trip to the limits, this keeps me from getting those pesky baggage fees.
  • Sleep mask – A good sleep mask is worth it’s weight in gold on the road. I love the GiniMax as there’s no light leakage.
  • Waterproof anything – We always carry waterproof backpack covers and a dry bag with us. These waterproof shoe covers were amazing for Iceland. I’m on the lookout for better waterproof gloves.

Hobby Related Gift Ideas

Most travelers combine travel with a hobby. Jeremy’s drone videography and water activities, such as snorkeling and scuba, and mine is photography.

  • Camera bag – I love my Peak Design 20L bag. It’s compact but carries my primary equipment in an easily accessible way. I also love that it doesn’t look like a camera bag.  
  • Camera accessories – SD cards, filters, neck strap.
  • Photo editing software – Photoshop and/or Lightroom.
  • External Hard Drive/Solid State Drive – Reaching “the cloud” is not always easy when traveling, we love the rugged Transcend StoreJet to back-up our photos.
  • Action camera and accessories – Nowadays you can buy an action camera for under $50.
  • Carrying case – We bought this carrying case for our DJI drone.

Charitable Donation

If they truly are the type of person that wants nothing or has everything, there are plenty of great causes out there that you can donate to on your loved one’s behalf.

  • World Wildlife Foundation
  • Humane Society
  • Plant a tree in their honor through A Living Tribute

Give the Gift of Stock

This year I stumbled across the company Stockpile.com when searching for gifts for a dear friend’s teenage daughter, but it also makes a great gift for a loved one traveling.

Through their website you can purchase stock in hundreds of companies in the form of a gift certificate for your loved one. As it can be bought in monetary increments, you can purchase factions of a stock.

If you have no idea what stock they want, buy a generic gift card and let them pick a stock for themselves.

The website is very easy to use, even for someone who has never owned stock before.

Travel Shop Gift Ideas

If you’re still stuck, take a look through our Travel Shop for other great ideas for your traveling loved one.

We hope this list has given you some gift giving inspiration. 

What gifts has your traveling love one appreciated most?

Pinterest Image for gift ideas for a love one traveling
Travel Resources

We recommend and use these companies to arrange our travel plans; they make travel planning easy and affordable. If you have questions on our experiences, feel free to ask us!

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