Got a friend or relative who’s always planning their next adventure?
Know someone who’s heading off on their very first solo gap year travels? Is your pal always grumbling about having to travel for work? Maybe you’re a backpacker looking for inspiration for your own Christmas list?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you’re on a luxury resort or a bed bug-ridden hostel kinda vibe, we’ve got lots of Christmas gift ideas for you, ranging from touches of comfort that will go down a treat at 40,000 feet, to absolute essentials that will make your nomadic life that little bit easier.
Rifle Paper Co 2018 maps of the world calendar, Trouva, £28
Give them some wanderlust while they’re stuck at home, with this beautiful maps of the world calendar from Rifle Paper Co.
Will brighten up any home office or bedroom wall.
Customs approved carry-on toiletry bag, Bear & Bear, £12.50
This handy bag is TSA and airport approved so you needn’t worry about having to scrabble for those flimsy (and wasteful) airport security plastic bags again. Be prepared with your liquids already safely stored in this and you’ll sashay through security like the organised little star you are.
This is such a great gift for frequent flyers. I’ve been searching for a useful inflight kit for ages (why do all ‘inflight kits’ just contain mini toiletries? What the hell am I supposed to do with a tiny shower gel at 40,000 feet?!)
This little bag is genuinely useful, containing three homeopathic remedies (anti-jetlag pills, anti-travel sickness pills and valerian tablets to help you sleep) as well as a refreshing rose water facial spritz, a rose balm for dry hands, a lip balm and an eye cream.
It makes you feel a bit pampered and adds a touch of luxury to your economy class life. There’s loads of tablets (they’re tiny) so this kit will last absolutely ages.
Smith the roll pack 18 litre, Millican, £110
You guys, this bag! This bag is so frickin’ good. Clearly made by travellers, for travellers.
I’d been looking for a larger cabin bag for ages after realising my 14 litre was just that bit too small for all my valuables (laptop, camera, travel pillow, books etc). I wanted one that was a) big, b) looked good and c) was suitable for everyday use while at my destination, as well as at home.
This bag is great because the roll top means it condenses down when not full, which is ideal for when you’re on day trips and have less stuff. There’s a separate, concealed compartment at the bag to keep your laptop safe (genius), lots of little compartments inside, and another secret compartment at the back.
A chest and waist strap will help you out with weight distribution, but these aren’t bulky, and easily fold away when not in use so you don’t look like a rambling hiker. A subtle reflective patch on the back is perfect if you use this while cycling.
The bag is weatherproof, easy to clean and just an all-round gem. Available in loads of colours, and it also comes in a larger size if you need more space.
Paradise palms fabric travel bag, Nikki Strange, £12.50
There’s nothing worse than not being to find your passport/pills/purse when you need them. Instead of letting them slip to the bottom of your overpacked bag, stash your valuables in this roomy pouch. Honestly such a lifesaver if you’re as disorganised as me (I once left my passport at airport security).
Suck UK ‘Pinpoint your travels’ colour cork globe, Hurn & Hurn, £36.50
Travellers love chatting about where they’ve been and where they’re going next, so help your favourite traveller out by giving them this cork globe to keep track of their trips.
Menstrual cup, Mooncup, £19.99
Ah, the Mooncup. I used to go travelling with an entire side pocket of my rucksack stuffed with tampons, as those little buggers are surprisingly hard to find in certain parts of the world. Now? I just take a Mooncup. I honestly can’t believe it took me so long to convert, but if you know a woman who loves travel and has a period, then this will be a lifesaver for her.
It holds more blood than a tampon, so she’ll be able to spend more time in the ocean/not have to panic on long train journeys in developing countries where there’s no toilet.
Read more about the menstrual cup here.
4 in 1 worldwide travel plug adaptor, Bear & Bear, £20
Yup, travel adaptors are boring, but necessary. However, this colourful dream is anything but boring and will take its owner all around the world. Plus, there’ll be no confusion over whose adaptor is whose.
Snoozers ear plugs, Flare Audio, from £29.99
These earplugs block out snoring and ambient noises, helping you get a better sleep in shared hostel dorms, noisy hotels and on airplanes.
Snoozers have dual foam tips to make it more comfortable when you sleep on your side.
I love these – I have the titanium ones which block out more noise than the cheaper aluminium ones, and while they don’t fully block out the roar of a jet engine, they significantly muffle all the sounds on an airplane that might prevent you from sleeping.
Also great for blocking out noisy housemates the rest of the year. Love them.
Dry pouch, Overboard, £4.99
Heading to the beach? Going on a boat? Heading to the rainforest? Protect your valuables with this 100% waterproof, roll-top dry bag.
Constructed from lightweight TPU-coated ripstop nylon fabrics and featuring Overboard’s Fold Seal System, it easily buckles onto your belt or bag loops.
Head, chin and neck support travel pillow, J-Pillow, £39.95
Everyone has their favourite travel pillow and this is 100% mine. Sure, it looks weird, but the super soft and snuggly pillow supports your head, neck and chin which is perfect if you’ve not been lucky enough to get a window seat. The top bit is for your head and the bottom bit goes under your chin, stopping your head from rolling forward.
It’s genius and has helped me get kip on many a long haul flight. It folds up and squishes down into its own travel bag so it’s super easy to transport.
Also great for long train and bus journeys.
Intrepid traveller combo, Incognito, £57
Don’t know about you but I’m not about the DEET life. It rots its own container, so what’s it doing to your skin? I often use citronella essential oil mixed in with coconut oil as an insect repelling moisturiser but this isn’t practical when you’re out and about as it needs reapplying, which is where this Incognito kit comes in.
Their insect repellent spray is super effective against winged beasts like mosquitos, making this set the perfect gift for any intrepid traveller, featuring three of their citronella sprays, a luxury citronella soap, a pack of incense sticks, room refresher, hair and body wash and some organic java citronella oil.
Microfibre travel/beach towel, Dock & Bay, from £15
Travel towels are usually a) ridiculously tiny and b) super boring. These towels caught my eye as they look good and they’re huge, yet lightweight and pack down small into their own little bag.
I whipped mine out during a recent trip and had loads of people asking where it was from. Such a great gift for a backpacker who’ll be travelling to hostels that don’t provide towels, as well as holiday makers who want a quick-drying and cool beach towel.
I’ve got the large size which is plenty big enough to cover your modesty, but it also comes in extra large.
Jason and the argan oil solid shampoo, Lush, £6.50, Jungle solid conditioner, Lush, £6.50 and solid tin, Lush, £2.50
Solid haircare is a backpacker’s saviour – I took the Jason and the argan oil solid shampoo away with me for three months earlier this year and it was still going strong until someone accidentally threw it away, thinking it was rubbish as I was storing it in a sandwich bag. Sad times, should have got myself a tin…
So much lighter, smaller and longer lasting than regular shampoo, and much better for the environment. Importantly, it works and smells like a dream.
Self-heating eye masks, Space Masks, £15 for five
These might look and feel like sanitary towels with ear hooks but they’re genius little self-heating devices to relax your frazzled little face.
Use on a flight and at your destination to give yourself 15 minutes of pure pampering.
They definitely do the job, because I was so relaxed I fell asleep wearing one – and I have to say, it stayed on my face all night, which is unusual for an eye mask, so massive thumbs up!
Alpine backpack in toffee apple brown, Animal, £34.99
Perfect for those who like to travel with light(ish) carry-on or a great one to chuck in your main luggage to use as a day bag once you get to your destination, as it doesn’t take up much room when empty.
Made of waxed canvas so it’s a lot more durable, and easier to clean. Stylish, as well as functional, which is all we want really, no?
Slip silk eye mask in caramel, Cult Beauty, £45
Okay so first off, if you have a big nose like me and struggle to find eye masks to sit on it without letting light in at the bottom then say hello to your new best friend, the Slip silk eye mask. Its design means it sits comfortably on your nose and face, while also blocking light.
It’s made from 100% highest grade long strand pure mulberry silk so it’s super soft on the face, and doesn’t drag on your skin when you twitch your face or blink. Perfect for helping you get some sweet shut eye on the plane or in an unfamiliar hotel room. Feels super luxurious and comes in a variety of colours.
Relaxing pillow mist, L’Occitane, £18
I don’t know about you but I struggle to sleep in new hotel rooms, no matter how fluffy the pillows are. (Scientists have actually found that it’s an innate survival instinct because we’re not sure if the room is safe yet.)
Anyway, there are ways and means to get you on a one-way road to Relax Town and one of those is a relaxing pillow mist. Ideally, use this at home before you travel, so you associate the delicious smell with safety.
Chuck in your carry-on (it’s 100ml) to spray on your neck pillow, and go to town with it in your hotel room.
Ultralight fold-out washbag, Osprey, £26
Fold-out washbags with hanging hooks and individual compartments are ideal for travellers. There’s nothing worse than having to rummage around every time you need to find your toothpaste.
This one is super lightweight and even has an integrated mini mirrror, which in my eyes is a massive bonus!
Espro Coffee Travel Press, Amazon, from £29.99
The one thing I miss when I’m backpacking is good coffee. I kid myself that I can live without it and then end up spending loads of money on crap cups of coffee in tropical destinations.
I started taking a mini glass cafetiere (risky) and pack of Lavazza ground coffee in my rucksack but realised there was a better solution – the Espro Press, a metal cafetiere that doubles as an insulated flask.
You can add filters to this (not included) for a pour-over style coffee, but using it as is produces a delicious coffee, with absolutely no grounds – once you plunge, the coffee is completely separate and no longer brews. This also keeps your coffee hot for a really long time, perfect for taking on adventures.
Howsar portable door lock, Funky Leisure, £4.99
A useful stocking filler for anyone going off backpacking who may inadvertently find themselves sleeping in a potentially sketchy guesthouse. We’ve all been there.It happens.
The little contraption prevents doors from being opened, even if someone else has a key.
Chances are, no-one’s going to try and come in anyway but most backpackers – especially females – can probably recall at least one occasion where they felt uneasy going to sleep at night, so this is worth it for peace of mind.
Lucky rose envelope passport holder, Cath Kidston, £10
Everyone loves a cute passport holder and this one does the job nicely, keeping tickets safe too.
Aqua Pure Traveller water purification bottle 500ml, Pure Hydration, £39.99
One thing that bothers me when travelling in a country where you can’t drink the tap water is how many plastic bottles get used and thrown away. There are usually no recycling facilities in such countries, so the bottles end up in landfill or in the ocean.
I always take a reusable water bottle away with me, but that’s only any good when guesthouses and hotels actually provide purified water refilling facilities. Unfortunately, many don’t. And it’s incredibly frustrating when you’re drinking litres of water every day, knowing you’re contributing to an already serious environmental problem.
The Aquapure bottle is a high performance personal water purification system, proven to reduce microbiological hazards and over 100 harmful heavy metals, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals.
Use it to purify tap water in developing countries, without the use of chemicals, thanks to its M.A.D (Mechanically Advanced Disinfection) technology, which you can read more about here.
Purifies up to 350 litres of water. When it runs out, you can purchase a replacement filter.
S’well Traveller insulated reusable water bottle 450ml, S’well, RRP £35
An insulated reusable water bottle is a must for travelling, so you can keep your liquids hot or cold, and this one has triple wall insulation, which is pretty great. Plus, it means your bottle won’t ‘sweat’ on the outside when you have cold water in it.
This new shape from S’well has a wider mouth, so you can add ice, hurrah!
Comes in loads of cute colours and patterns.
GoPro Hero 5, GoPro, £299.99
Every traveller’s fave – you can take pics and make films (with sound) on this little gadget.
Tough and waterproof without housing, you can take it in the water with you up to 10 metres deep – snorkelling? Surfing? General aquatic tomfoolery? Check.
Features hands-free control, so you can selfie like mad with voice commands.
Adjust settings, trim videos and check out your shots on the two inch touch display screen.
Manduka Eko Superlite travel yoga mat, Yoga Matters, £38
This is so great – a travel yoga mat that folds easily (folds! Imagine!), meaning you can fit it into your suitcase or rucksack with ease. No more practicing on bare hotel room floors, wahoo!
The mat weighs just 1kg – lighter than most travel mats – and is 180 cm x 61 cm, and 1.5 mm thick, so it’s big enough to practice on, and deceptively comfortable. Obviously if you have knee issues, you’ll need extra padding for certain asanas, but just grab a towel and fold it up.
This has really good grip, even when you’re a bit sweaty – it’s much better than your standard cheap yoga studio mat.
Rainbow moonstone fine cord necklace, Wanderlustlife, £29
Rainbow moonstone is the traveller’s stone, offering good luck and protection. Plus, this dainty little necklace looks really cute.
Features a semi precious stone on natural tone fine cord, with a 14k gold filled clasp and hand stamped branded tag
Packing cells, Kathmandu, from £8.99
I was introduced to packing cells by a girl I met on a trip with who had the tiniest suitcase in the world – she said it was all down to packing cells.
Whether you plan to pack super light or not, these will change your life. Instead of throwing all your clothes into the air trying to find that one tee shirt once you’re at your hotel, you’ll know exactly where everything is as you’ll have organised everything into cells.
Use one cell for undies, one for electronics, one for tops, one for bottoms – you see where I’m going with this? Everything will be neat and tidy. What a dream.
These Kathmandu ones come in a variety of sizes, pack down when empty, and are made from recycled plastic bottles – bonus.
Camelbak chute vacuum insulated stainless bottle 1.2l, Amazon, from £31.06
I love reusable water bottles but sometimes feel they’re a little small, especially on long haul flights, tough treks and seemingly endless bus journeys in foreign lands.
This is where this beast from Camelbak comes in – keeping 1.2 litres of liquid cold for 24 hours, or hot liquids hot for six hours. The lid is attached to the bottle and stows away in the handle during use, so you’ll never lose it. Phew.
Its durability and large capacity means its perfect for the adventurer in your life.
toCharge portable phone charger, Amara, £39
A portable phone charger is a must for travellers; no-one wants to run out of power when they’re trying to listen to music on a long plane journey or Google mapping the hell out of a city.
Now, call me superficial, but I like my power banks to look good, and this one ticks all the boxes.
It’s got a high performance 6000Mah lithium battery, LED lights to indicate remaining battery and is suitable for iPhone, PSP, MID, MP3, GPS.
Wonderboom waterproof portable speaker, Ultimate Ears, £89.99
Ultimate Ears are purveyors of really great quality portable Bluetooth speakers. I have the Boom 2, which is great, but sometimes feels a bit bulky for travelling when you’re trying to pack super light.
Welcome the Wonderboom – a smaller version of the waterproof (yes, waterpoof) speaker that still packs a punch with sound, and comes in loads of great colours. Take it in the shower, to the pool, or on a boat – the party will always be with you.
The Wonderboom gives you 10 hours of music per charge, can be connected to other Wonderbooms, and has been drop tested from five feet. Perfect if you’re clumsy. (My friend dropped my Boom 2 onto a hard, concrete floor and it came away unscathed.)
This one’s also got a hanging loop so you can hook it to a bag or a wall.
Airport lounge access voucher, Lounge Pass, various prices
I was never bothered about airport lounges until I was given access to one on a work trip and holy moly, my life was changed.
They’re so good – you’re whisked away from the stresses of the main airport terminal, and they usually give you free food, drinks and magazines.
If you know a frequent flier who doesn’t already get lounge access with their ticket anyway (basically, economy), give them the gift of a lounge and make them feel more boujis than they actually are.
9 carat gold Saint Christopher oval pendant with chain, Sayers London, from £168
Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travellers so gift the one you love a Saint Christopher pendant to keep them safe on their jollies.
Plus, they’ll think of you every time they see it.
Reading back over my travel journals from the past decade is a real treat – there are so many things in there that I’d completely forgotten had happened. Probably because I was drunk all the time, but let’s gloss over that.
Help your favourite traveller save their memories in a really chic little journal, like this one.