Christmas decorations Bronner's

Top Travel Gifts for 2017

You can’t miss the holiday gift-giving marketing blitz that seemed to start before we had even put up our Halloween decorations. Retailers everywhere blasting us with ads boasting the top trends, technologies, and toys that we need to purchase for our loved ones. You likely have many ideas of what you want to purchase for the special people in your life, but if you would like a few more ideas here are my top picks for this holiday season. I’m sure every traveler will find someone to love on this list.

  • Photographic Art—High quality travel photographs make a striking and rich-looking gift for anyone with a wall. I may be biased, but my Etsy shop, Roaming Historian, offers great pictures to transport people around the world. Our photographs feature historical and cultural sites from Europe, the United States, and the Caribbean. Photographic art makes a wonderful gift for teachers and coworkers. And with prices starting at just $10, you have the opportunity to give a piece of art at an affordable price.
  • Beauty box subscription—Birch Box, Target, Allure magazine and others offer boxes of beauty treats. The luxury sample sizes are perfect for the traveler in your life…or just those who like to pamper themselves and try out new products. ($7-15)
  • Squishy silicone travel bottles—I’ve been obsessed with these lately. These squishy soft bottles hold up to three ounces of liquids a piece and are lauded for being leak-proof. It’s easy to squeeze out the last drop of liquid or gel from these tubes, so you truly get to use all the product you brought with you on a trip. Might be useful when at home, too, for carrying salad-dressings and other liquids in the lunchbox (just make sure to get food-grade silicone). ($4+)
  • Travel essentials—electrical adapters, mini umbrellas, compact travel iron, portable chargers/power banks, foldable bags/backpacks, packing cubes, shoe bags, sleep mask, travel throw, luggage tags, travel pillows, journals, and more. ($3+)
  • Travel towel—An ultra lightweight, microfiber, compact towel is especially useful for those who frequent Airbnb’s or other home rentals. Even in hotels, however, you’re never sure what kind of towels they provide. Investigate carefully to find one that will take up hardly any space in the luggage, but is bath-size like this one that I own. ($5+)
  • RFID blocking passport holder & wallet—Petty theft is a common occurrence abroad and can ruin a vacation. Keep your loved one safe from having their information scanned and stolen by gifting them a wallet and passport holder that blocks RFID scans. ($10+)
  • A great travel purse—I recommend an ultra-lightweight, cross-body bag like the Alvar bag from Kipling. Without anything in it, the bag weighs only .6 pounds. I love the fact that every compartment is zippered (keeps my stuff safe) and that there are two front compartments (perfect for a camera and a phone) and two deep compartments. I cross it in front of me when traveling and rest my arm over the bag to keep my possessions safe from sticky fingers trying to “lift” my wallet or technology. The bag is a little pricey, but durable. I’ve been using the same basic black bag for years and it looks as nice as the day I bought it. ($79) Here’s a link to the one I own.
  • E-reader—Once upon a time, before there were e-readers, travelers had to carry multiple books on a journey. It was a heavy venture. Today, we can carry hundreds of tomes on an e-reader. I love being able to download loads of novels, movies, and games to keep me occupied on the flight or to help me relax after a long day of sightseeing. The traveler in your life can download their favorite travel guide, which provides inspiration for sites to visit, historical stories (at least the best ones do), and recommended restaurants/lodging. ($50+)
  • Money—sometimes you just don’t know what exactly a person wants or there are items that people just need to pick out for themselves. Cash can be a wonderful gift. By giving cash, you may be freeing them to enjoy a meal in a pricey restaurant, buy a piece of art from a local artist, gorge on daily gelatos and espressos, or purchase a souvenir that they wouldn’t normally buy. You are giving them the gift of wonderful memories or tangible goods that will continuously bring them pleasure. It is, perhaps, the best gift that you can give a traveler. Just make sure that you tell them to spend it on something special.


  • When buying electronics for a traveler, look for those that are dual voltage so they will convert easily. I’ve fried electronics billed as “travel” products because they weren’t dual voltage. Some companies just market smaller products as travel-friendly when they’re really not.
  • If you’re buying a packing cube for the traveler in your life, find ones that are flexible and mesh. Their clothes are going to get dirty and will need to “breathe” once packed back in the cubes. Flexible cubes will allow them to stay organized and pack efficiently while maximizing space.
  • Foldable backpacks are lightweight, take up little space (generally a small square when folded), and provide tons of extra storage when unfolded. I always have at least one with me when out for a day of sightseeing in case I want to purchase goodies for an impromptu picnic or in case I end up souvenir shopping. Here is one I own that I’m quite happy with.
  • Double-check that anything you’re purchasing is lightweight. Items add up fast and today airlines are quite picky on how much a person’s luggage can weigh and how many pieces are allowed. It’s no fun to lug heavy bags around anyway, so help out the traveler in your life by purchasing feather-light items.
  • Be wary of trendy items with only one useful application. I see a lot of products marketed to travelers that are, frankly, quite useless. The worst are those that are heavy and take up too much space in a bag. When buying, think if the item is worthwhile enough that someone should carry it around for days on end over miles of airports and cities.

Happy gift giving and happy holidays to all!

Check out our fabulous photographic prints on our Etsy shop for yourself or as a gift.

Note: I am not paid for any product I have recommended here with the exception of my own photographs from my Etsy store. Statements about products I own are not endorsements or recommendations for that product; they are just comments about what I like and what have worked well for me.


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