Holiday Gifts for Travelers

Tis the season to write a blog about buying gifts for the travelers in your life. Every year I struggle to find the perfect presents for my family. Sometimes my gifts are hits, sometimes duds. For the last two years my husband and I have taken one trip every year with my dad. So the past two years my presents to my dad have been fairly easy. They usually consist of books about where we are going the next year and guides for the wildlife we will be seeing. Plus I always get a couple ideas from the last trip – like the importance of packing cubes. Here are a few gift ideas and “must haves” when traveling.

Luggage Tags

I just discovered these cute luggage tags and had to order one (for myself).  They are a bit pricey but who doesn’t want Lionel Ritchie’s face attached to your luggage? They also have other travel related themed gifts.

Packing Cubes

These things are great! I got some for myself a couple years ago and it really helps you pack and think about minimizing your suitcase. With the packing cubes, I spent more time thinking about outfits for each day and how I could make them go farther (read wear twice). Basically if it didn’t fit into my cubes, I couldn’t bring it! I separated the cubes into pants/shorts, dresses/skirts, shirts, undergarments, and toiletries/medications.


I like to get books about the places I’m traveling to. Reading about where I’m going gets me excited about traveling there.  If you happen to be traveling to Africa this book of short stories about a guide in Botswana is an easy read. It’s a fun read even if you’re not!

I’m also famous for my laminated wildlife guides. These can easily fit in a daypack or a travel vest for a quick guide. My friend in Panama was making fun of me for them until she spotted a bird and asked to borrow it. They also fit into the inside pocket of my travel vest (see next idea)!

Travel Vest

I invested in a travel vest for our African safari. First of all who goes on a safari without a khaki colored vest with tons of pockets? I wore it on the plane in lieu of bringing a purse and had it on when we were out on our 3-4 hour safari treks. I put camera lenses, chapstick, sunglasses, tissues, sunscreen, cell phone etc. in all the pockets. And of course I stashed my laminated guides in the inside pocket! Make sure the color matches your destination (i.e. don’t want bright colors for a safari). You can find cheaper versions here on Amazon.

Passport Holder

Sure, they’re kinda cheesy but they fit around your neck and allow you to put credit cards, passports, money, yellow card (for Yellow Fever vaccination proof) and other items. This is perfect for going through an airport or crossing the borders where you have to show passport and other documents frequently and don’t want to be fumbling through your bags to find all the paperwork.

Wrist wallet

This cute little wrist wallet is great for holding spending money and a credit card while shopping. I’ve gotten lots of compliments on this. I’ve also used it at concerts or going out with friends so I don’t have to bring a purse (which I tend to lose).

Fun Shirts

Every vacation needs a fun shirt (or dress). My dad had a fun shirt while we were in Galapagos and it brought us good luck seeing whales! Fun shirts should be some sort of bright colored floral or tropical theme (think Tommy Bahama).  I love the Exofficio brand. One of my husband’s fun shirts is below (in blue not tan). It doesn’t wrinkle much and is lightweight/moisture wicking. Another cheap resource for mens’ fun shirts is Sierra Trading Post. I got a fun shirt for my husband there for $20. They are kinda hit or miss with sizes and selection but they have some great deals!

My fun shirt when we went to Africa last year was a take on Las Vegas and read “What Happens on Safari Stays on Safari”. I didn’t get as many comments on it as I hoped for but not sure that saying is popular anywhere outside the U.S.

I also have fun dresses. I love Prana dresses. Most of them have a built in bra which is super comfortable when you’re out all day and provides surprisingly good support. Plus they come in fun colors and patterns.

In New Orleans wearing one of my favorite Prana dresses.

Compression Socks

Not sexy but great for long flights due to the increase risk of developing blot clots. They do come in fun colors now so they’re not so much like your grandma’s brown and black compression socks. I wore them on our 18 hour flight to Africa and after talking with a coworker who went on an equally long flight to Nepal and had some leg issues, I’m glad I did!


I need to get a new hat for traveling. Hats are a necessity on any vacation to keep the sun out. The Real Deal Brazil Hat is great for men. It’s kinda like a Crocodile Dundee meets Indiana Jones – kinda sexy.

I like hats that are foldable and I can pack in my bag.  Now that I think about it. I should have added this one to my Christmas list!


After having to pack only 30 lbs for a 2 ½ week trip I learned to pack lightly. This includes washing your underwear. I love Exofficio underwear. They are super comfy and quick dry. You can wash them in your hotel sink and they will be dry in a couple hours. They also make them for men (who doesn’t want underwear for Christmas?). They are on sale right now (as of December 5, 2019) for 40% off which is a deal! My favorite are these.

Travel Scarf

I love my travel scarf. It has a hidden pocket in it which fits a surprisingly large amount of items while still going undetected. I bought mine from Waypoint Goods. They have a huge amount of patterns and are well made (not thin).

Not my best fashion forward ensemble but this scarf was great for hiding money and credit cards while walking in Cusco, Peru.

So there are so many more products that I use when I travel but these are my must-haves.

Travel vest, bugs away hat, fun shirt, and Real Deal Brazil hat shown in this pick from a visit to the Maasai Village in Kenya.

Published by Mel

Hello! I created this blog to share my love of traveling and give others ideas on how to explore this great world we live in.

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