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Giving gifts is an art: you have to know someone well enough to know what they like, what they already have, and what will make them feel special. Travel gifts are even harder because recipients would (often) rather have experiences than things. This year’s guide to unique travel gifts attempts to balance everything and stay on a budget.
So without further ado, here are my recommendations on unique gifts for people who love to travel.
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The best travel gifts are ones that you can use in everyday life, too. I love Fitbits to keep track of steps while traveling (it’s easy to hit 15,000 in a city like London) and the bangle straps make them look like jewelry or watches instead of those ugly rubber bands.
Long flights leave you stiff, cramped, and sore, but these balls really work for self-massage and can be used just about anywhere! Bring all 6 for a full massage, or minimalist packers can just put 1 favorite in their carry-on. (Also great after hikes or other adventures).
Thoughtful gifts don’t have to be expensive and these DIY paper flowers made from recycled maps are cute and easy to personalize. You can choose a map from anywhere in the world to make them unique gifts specifically for the recipient.
Know travelers who will go out of their way for food? These maps of New York City and Paris (arguably culinary capitals of the world) focus on the best places to eat rather than traditional attractions. Try the Paris croissant map or New York pizza-by-the-slice to start for the ultimate travel guide.
The Adventure Project
The Adventure Project sells charcoal soap with an incredible cause behind it. For each bar of soap, they donate a new stove to a woman in Kenya so that she no longer has to use a charcoal stove (which is terrible for your lungs). Since charcoal soap clarifies and detoxifies your soap without leaving it dry, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Never get caught off-guard in a restroom without toilet paper again! These antimicrobial pee cloths are made from silver-infused fabrics that keep them hygenic for use all day (hand wash and hang to dry at the hotel at the end of the day). They snap closed and are super discrete, I promise.
I love this handmade journal and how it divides up each page by state — great for chronicling your quest to visit all 50 U.S. states. I’d twist things around though and use it as a place to jot down ideas and suggestions for future trips. But that’s because I’m more of a planner than a nostalgia-lover. Great either way.
This in-flight foot rest helps you stretch out on long flights and is small enough to realistically pack on your trips. Sometimes it's the little things that make the largest differences in flight comfort.
Out of all the companies I’ve tried, Urban Adventures is the one that consistently offers tours around the world that are truly unusual. They get hands-on, stay local, and have fun twists. Send a gift card for a certain dollar amount or choose a specific tour.
Photos aren’t just for Instagram. Share your favorites with a crowd easily by using a projector and a blank, white wall. You can connect it to your phone, tablet, or laptop but unfortunately not directly to a camera.
This combination cookbook and coffee table book is a must-have. Each recipe is inspired the author’s international travels and comes straight from a grandmother she met on the road — meaning it’s delicious food plus insight into local homes and culture. Bonus: the photography is inspiring (so buy the paper version, not a Kindle edition).
Because who doesn’t want luggage designed with their custom logo, team mascot, or photo from one of their other adventures? As a blogger, I think this is the perfect holiday gift!
For anyone who loves adventure travel, this handle slips onto water bottles as a sturdy carrier. The paracord unwinds into a 12 foot rope in case of emergency and there’s a carabiner, compass, signal whistle, and fire starter built in. Talk about travel accessories!
If these unique travel gifts aren’t what you’re looking for…
For the practical traveler, shop everything that’s in my suitcase — if it makes my packing list, it’s definitely useful.
For anyone on a budget, check out perfect travel gifts under $100. More than half of these 103 items are at a price under $50 and 14 of them are even under $10! No excuses!
For more traditional gifts, like a world map, GoPro Hero, or packing cubes, don’t miss my classic travel gifts.
For anything just for women, check out these travel gift ideas for her.
Every year, I share my travel gift ideas — but I rarely hear what’s on your own wishlist. Let me know in the comments so I can write a letter to Santa! Bonus points if you have ideas for unique travel gifts I haven’t seen before!