Looking for unique travel gifts for family, friends or even yourself? Finding an unusual or quirky travel gift can be a challenge, but we’re here to help!
We’ve traveled the globe together for over fifteen years, and in that time we’ve had a chance to find some unusual gifts for travelers that they will actually want! How do we know? We own or have used, pretty much every single thing on this list.
There’s something for everyone here, from unique travel gifts for her or him, to special travel gifts for friends going traveling.
Unique Travel Gifts
Here they are: our list of 40 unique travel gifts! There are gifts here that range from less than ten dollars and up, and they’re all aimed to make the traveler in your life happy.
Travel Experience with Tinggly
What most travelers want above all is an amazing and unique travel experience. So a gift of one-of-a-kind experiences and bucket list adventures is a perfect fit.
A tinggly gift is a unique voucher that lets the recipient choose an activity from over 350 experiences in over 100 countries around the world.
There’s everything from hot air balloon rides to champagne cruises to whale watching and even hotel stays from which to choose.
You choose the Tinggly voucher to give, and the recipient picks an experience (or experiences!) from hundreds of activities worldwide. They have five years to choose their experiences.
You can choose to give a physical Tinggly gift box, or an e-voucher.
It also makes a great last minute gift! You can get an e-voucher any time of the day (and even on Christmas morning, if you’re procrastinating that much!).
Our international WiFi hotspot has pretty quickly become one of our must have travel gadgets.
Right now, we’re using the Skyroam Solis WiFi hotspot, which gives us unlimited WiFi wherever we travel in the world.
We’ve also used the similar Tep WiFi hotspot, and liked it as well (see our review of the Tep here).
As a traveling family, we love the WiFi hotspot, because it lets us connect up to five devices at a time. You can rent the Solis for about $9 USD a day while you travel, or do like us and buy a device and get either a monthly, no contract Go Data plan or activate it for 24 hours at a time anywhere in the world.
Our personal review of the Solis is coming in the next week, we promise!
Print on the go with the HP Sprocket Photo Printer
We received our portable photo printer as a gift, and thought “who would actually use that?”, but the truth is we actually use it!
The tiny HP Sprocket Photo Printer is about the size of a cellphone, but prints out incredibly cute 2 x 3 inch full-color pictures. Our daughter is in love with it, and has cataloged a nice collection of mini prints.
If you ever loved the idea of traveling with a Polaroid camera, who’ll definitely appreciate this device. Especially since you can edit the pics right there on the spot before you print it.
You can never have enough packing cubes! Actually, you can, however you likely need more.
Socks and underwear in one, spare shoes in another. One for pants, another for shirts and a final one for dresses or ties depending on what you’re bringing.
Also, never hurts to have a dedicated packing cube for electronics if you carry more than what your purse or backpack can handle. Don’t forget you also need something for your dirty clothes to come back in.
Sound like too many? That isn’t even factoring in kids, pets, winter travel or makeup and medications. Still on the fence? Just get more.
We use these eBags ultralight packing cubes, which are lightweight, compress well and the mesh also lets us easily see what’s inside.
Safety is sexy! Well, not really, but it can be a large cost in any travel plan. Every traveler needs travel insurance, but it’s pretty shocking that a lot of people travel without it. It may be practical, but travel insurance is also an unusual and unexpected gift for travel lovers.
World Nomads has coverage for everyone from backpackers to families, and they cover nearly every country on the planet. Surprise someone with their own travel protection and if something bad does happen, know that they’ll be thanking you for years and years.
TSA-compliant clear toiletry bag for air travel
Seeing what’s in your toiletry bag quickly can save major frustration every morning and even when passing through security.
We wrote a post dedicated solely to the best toiletry bags but if you’re in a rush, just grab the bag below and you’ll instantly be better off than nearly every other traveler out there.
Unfortunately, TSA-compliant toiletry bags are necessarily small (a quart or litre), so it probably won’t hold all of your gear. What a lot of people do is take a quart size TSA compliant clear toiletry bag, and use it to store their liquids. They store other (non-liquid) toiletries and accessories, like hair brushes and tweezers, in another bag.
What does TSA compliant mean? This means that the bag is compliant with the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule, meaning that it’s a quart or litre in size, resealable, and clear. According to the TSA’s liquids rule, “You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. This is also known as the 3-1-1 liquids rule.” Any liquids over 3.4 ounces need to be carried in checked baggage.
Here’s our choice for a TSA-compliant clear toiletry bag: the YAMIU toiletry bag. It’s a quart sized, clear, waterproof, and resealable bag that’s TSA compliant with the 3-1-1 toiletries rule. This is a two-pack that comes with two sizes for your wet and for your dry.
GoToob travel toiletry containers for clear liquid
Leaving for a weekend, but need your favorite shampoo and conditioner? Want to have some sunscreen for your week in the sun, but the only container you have is well over the 100 ml limit that the nice airport people will instantly confiscate?
Well, you could just buy shampoo there, but likely they don’t have what you need and even if they do, it’s likely you’re going to pay a heck of a convenience charge. Grab some easy to fill GoToob travel toiletry containers (see our GoToob review here) and don’t look back. They’re cute, come in a variety of sizes, refill and clean easily and they don’t leak which is probably the best reason to travel with them.
Great travel memories start with great pictures. What better way to preserve them than to securely store them online in the cloud?
Amazon Prime comes with unlimited free picture and video storage. It also includes free music and a subscription to Amazon Prime Video. Oh yeah, someone said Amazon Prime even includes free shipping. Just kidding, that was the original use case for Amazon Prime but with so many goodies included with Amazon Prime these days, to us it’s only a bonus.
What’s better than reading a book while traveling? Listening to one! We’re huge fans of Audible and have a decent library of things we’ve listened to ourselves and as a family during our epic road trips.
Portable hard drive
Not convinced about online backups, or maybe just traveling to some remote destinations and need more space than your phone or expensive DSLR camera can handle?
Don’t worry, with this Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro Portable External Hard Drive you don’t even need a computer.
Wirelessly connect it via WiFi to your phone or tablet or grab your camera’s SD card and backup those files quickly so you can keep on taking more photos! Available in a variety of sizes, you can choose the perfect size for yourself.
Love yoga, but don’t want to take a bulky yoga mat when you travel? We feel you. I take my yoga mat on every road trip, but it’s just too big to take with us in our carry-on, where space is limited.
Enter Yoga Paws, which are slip on yoga gloves and non-slip toeless socks that are supposed to literally become a wearable, lightweight, yoga mat.
Full disclosure here: We haven’t tried Yoga paws yet, but they get good ratings and it’s such a quirky travel gift idea we had to include them.
Love coffee? Love to travel? Then a french press travel mug may be a great gift.
This Espro travel stainless steel french press is attractive, lightweight, and makes a mean cup of coffee. All you need is a few grounds and some hot water so it works on the road or even while camping.
Not a coffee drinker? Get the tea filter instead.
Kindle with free cellular connection
As airlines get stricter with baggage limits, the luxury of carrying a slew of physical books is starting to disappear.
Instead, we’ve started to travel with ebook readers almost exclusively. You can literally fit hundreds of books on an e-reader, which is enough for even the most dedicated bookworm.
A Kindle with built in Wi-Fi + free cellular connectivity uses the same wireless signals that cell phones use. However, there’s no monthly fees or commitments: Amazon pays for the cellular connectivity and it lets you grab your ebooks on the go quickly and easily.
This folding, collapsible stainless steel drinking straw is a fantastic choice for travelers who want to reduce single use plastics such as plastic straws.
It comes with a cleaning squeegee and a carrying case. Plus, it’s BPA free, and made with food grade silicone and quality stainless steel, so it won’t rust.
Collapsible travel bottle
I’m all about reducing the amount of plastic we use, but it can be hard to avoid plastic water bottles when we travel.
We’ve tried carting around full size refillable water bottles on our travels, but they take up a lot of space, especially for a family of four.
A collapsible water bottle like this one from Nomader is a great solution.
It’s BPA free, with a silicone body, fits 22 oz, is dishwasher safe, and has a leak free twisting cap.
Video on the go with the Amazon fire stick
We’ve been traveling with an Amazon Fire Stick for a few years now and love it.
At just a few ounces, this portable Android device plugs directly into the HDMI slot on nearly any TV and, coupled with WiFi, allows you to stream Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and nearly any Android video source directly to the TV. Sure, nearly everyone owns a Smart TV at home these days but when you’re on the road, most hotels, hostels and nearly any place that has a TV is still pretty basic. The Fire Stick takes it to the next level and even lets you play a few games with the tiny remote.
Waterproof Bluetooth speaker
With four of us on the go, listening to music is usually a headphone moment in our family.
That said, when we all want to jam out together, our go to device is our baby blue Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Waterproof Bluetooth Wireless Speaker. This thing puts out amazing bass for its size, it floats, is waterproof up to a meter and comes with us whether we’re jumping in the pool, relaxing in the hot tub or soaking in the sun on the beach.
Wireless Noise Cancelling headphones
We’ve owned four different Bluetooth headphones in the past two years, and I have to say the only one that ever gets thrown in our bag anymore is our silver Bose QuietComfort 35 II Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones. What makes these headphones truly shine is their active noise cancelling ability. Stuck on a plane with a noisy neighbor? These over the ear headphones will drown out anything and sound good to boot.
Tile device tracker
If your gift receiver loses their keys or devices regularly then the Tile Mate Bluetooth tracker might be a great gift for them. These little plastic electronic tiles get placed into bags, put on key chains, attached to phones, etc. and when you need to find them just run the app. Working up to 200 feet away and with community searching if the item gets lost, there is hope for them. It may be one of the more unique travel items we’ve seen, but it’s also one of the most practical.
Petzl Tikka headlamp
One of our longest used travel devices that has a permanent spot in our day pack wherever we travel to is our Petzl Tikka Headlamp. We use it a lot over our cell phone flashlight, because the headlamp means that we can have our hands free.
Going on 15 years, it still works just as well as the day we bought it. We’ve studied nesting penguins with its red light mode down in Australia, witnessed a giant leather-back sea turtle lay its eggs on the beach in Costa Rica, and we’ve searched for crabs on the beaches in the Philippines more nights than I care to remember (our then 2 year old son was fascinated by them).
We also love it for camping and even use it around the house all the time for renovations, electrical work and even just doing yard work after the sun has set. The model has changed a bit over the years, but the Petzl quality is still there today.
If you have kids, or just enjoy playing games on the go, then nothing beats a pack of playing cards for versatility. That said, dedicated card games like UNO and Skip-Bo are great as well. Our daughter adores UNO and we often have a UNO deck wherever we go.
These days, we also carry a game called OK Play by Big Potato Games. It’s kind of like Connect 4 with tiles but for 4 people. It’s fun as is, however we’ve created our own gameplay that involves stacking and jumping that the kids love.
Travel jacket with pockets
I’ve worn my women’s Chloe Glow SCOTTeVEST travel jacket for a couple of years now, and still love it.
It’s made of a smooth cotton/poly/spandex blend, and has 15 hidden pockets, with plenty of room for passports, electronics, and more. The only downside is that it’s a fairly warm jacket, so it’s only good for climates where it gets cooler than about 18 degrees Celsius or 65 Fahrenheit. Warmer than that, and it’s uncomfortably hot.
Charles has the men’s microfleece hoodie from SCOTTeVEST, and while he likes it, he finds it a bit casual for his taste. The fleece means that it’s a little less polished looking than the smooth finished jacket, and his size medium has a bit of a gap at the waist (Charles is fairly slim). That said, it has a whopping 21 pockets.
If you’re looking for a more polished men’s travel jacket with a lot of pockets, we’d start with the less casual men’s cotton blend jacket, with 25 pockets, instead.
Hidden pocket cardigan
To be honest, I wear this around the house too, but this hidden pocket cardigan from SCOTTeVEST is great for holding small amounts of cash or credit cards.
Unfortunately, the zippered pockets aren’t big enough for a passport, but it’s great for a casual walk around town when you don’t want to carry a backpack or purse.
The fabric is quite sheer, so it’s perfect as a light cover-up in warmer weather.
We love this cute, discreet little bra stash from Pacsafe.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold a lot, but you can easily fit in a credit card and some spare cash, and a single passport, and it’s one of the more unique travel gifts for her we’ve seen.
Check out our other alternatives to hidden money belts here for more ideas for keeping your belongings safe and secure when you travel.
Travel money belt
Okay, let’s admit it. Traditional money belts can be pretty geeky.
Luckily, Stashbandz has an alternative that’s a more attractive choice for both men and women.
There are two pockets in front, plus two behind, with plenty of room for money, cards, passports and more.
If you’re looking for something to put in a money belt, this slim travel wallet is a great choice.
There’s enough room for credit cards and some cash (though your passport won’t fit), but it’s great for fitting neatly in a small pocket or hidden in your money belt.
Even better, this wallet from Corkor is made of vegan material, and comes in several stylish options.
Like everyone, we have multiple articles of clothing that we refuse to travel without.
For Charles, one is a pair of ExOfficio Give and Go Boxer Briefs for men. Super comfortable and high quality, dries in under 2 hours and doesn’t hold any odors. Ask anyone, Exofficio make great travel boxers.
Click to see prices for the men’s ExOfficio boxers here.Micki swears by her ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go bikinis. They’re quick drying, comfortable, and look good.
Personal item backpack
These days, we travel carry on only (for the most part), so we’ve learned to maximize the amount of stuff we can carry on an airplane.
In addition to your carry on bag, most airlines will let you also carry a personal item as well like a purse, laptop bag, or smaller backpack, free of charge.
This can give you a nice bit of extra storage space on top of your carry on baggage limit.
We really like the little Standard luggage Co. daily work backpack as a personal item. It’s stylish, and small at only 2.2 pounds and 17′ x 11′ x 6′ (45 x 28 x 15 cm). It has a lot of little bonuses, like an integrated USB port and lockable zips. Plus, it works well as a day bag.
An awful lot of people love this affordable travel clothesline.
It’s elastic, packs away neatly, and even has built in clothespins. Love it!
Portable wash bag
Hate scrubbing out your skivvies in the bathroom sink but don’t have time to take them to a laundromat while on vacation? This portable wash bag from Scrubba may be for you.
Just add water, soap, and your clothes, rub a little, and the Scrubba’s internal washboard scrubs your clothes clean.
There are a few limits though: it doesn’t hold a lot, so forget about scrubbing a family’s worth of laundry, or even a heavy pair of pants. Plus, we think it’s a little on the expensive side.
That said, this is a pretty cool gadget.
Make sure you get the new version with the twist valve – it apparently solves some issues the older versions had.
For us, a travel hammock is one of those items that sounds amazing in theory, but that we’ve never used as we travel.
That said, this would make an amazing gift for the traveler who spends a lot of time outdoors, and who loves to relax by hanging out in a hammock.
The Active Roots travel hammock is developed in partnership with fellow blogger, adventurer and explorer Will Hatton from The Broke Backpacker, so it’s a great choice.
OK, so compression socks are probably the least sexy item on this list.
That said, blood clots (aka deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms) aren’t especially sexy either.
Surprisingly, blood clots from flying are fairly common, and they affect more than just older travelers. Check out this story from blogger Sherry Ott.
Compression socks are said to help travelers prevent blood clots from flying by increasing circulation in the legs.
You can even pick up some pretty cute versions, like these.
Lonely Planet’s A Spotter’s Guide to Toilets
It’s not talked about a lot, but toilets become a pretty important topic when you travel.
We’ve seen some that are pretty nasty, some that look like they’re works of art, and lot that are just plain quirky. We can pretty much guarantee this is one of the most unique gifts for travel lovers you’ll find.
Written by fellow travel blogger, Jodi Ettenberg, The Food Traveler’s Handbook is a fantastic guide for traveling foodies.
There’s great information here on safely navigating street food (think hot, busy, and fresh), as well as great tips for those on special diets.
Carry on backpack
Admittedly, a backpack is a more practical travel gift, but a good carry on backpack is always a fantastic choice for travelers.
That said, we’ve chosen the best travel backpack for carry-on from an independent retailer that’s a little more stylish and roomy than the usual choice.
The Tortuga Setout travel backpack lets you can carry a surprisingly large amount of stuff in a backpack that packs like a suitcase and carries like a backpack.
It’s a great choice for Europe, where you’ll want a pack that’s stylish, but holds a lot for its size.
The Setout is 22″ x 14″ x 9″, so it’s small enough to work as carry-on, but at 45 L it’s probably the most spacious pack you’ll get at those dimensions.
DJI Mavic Pro 2
Well, we’ve definitely saved the most expensive, and possibly the coolest, travel gift for the end.
The Mavic Pro 2 is brand new in October 2018. It will set you back a few dollars, that’s for sure (think high four digits).
That said, it has one of the best drone video resolutions out there at a 4K resolution of 3840 × 2160 24/25/30p. Still image sizes are a whopping 5472 × 3648.
DJI Spark drone
If you just can’t pony up for the expensive Mavic Pro 2 (and who can blame you!), check out the smaller, more affordable, and more travel friendly DJI Spark instead.
This is a fantastic little drone. The video resolution on the DJI Spark is an impressive 1920 x 1080 (30fps), with a photo resolution of 3,968 x 2,976 pixels.
Do you have any ideas for unique travel gifts? Let us know!