Practical Travel Gear Gift Guide

We all have someone in our lives with wandering soles (hehe, couldn’t help it!). Maybe it’s you. So what do you get the person who dreams of faraway lands when you can’t quite afford that ticket to Morocco? Good question.

Sure, scratch-off maps are cool. And coffee mugs bearing wanderlusty quotes are available in the thousands, but a cupboard can only hold so many. And what are they going to do with yet another vintage globe? The truth is these items, no matter how cute they are, will sit at home collecting dust.

If you’re looking for a gift for your favorite globetrotter that will actually get used on travels, look no further. We’ve put together a list of the practical products we never leave home without and a couple items that we’re newly obsessed with! (BONUS: One of these items has an exclusive 60% off discount code just for our readers!)

*For more travel gear ideas, check out a list of our 101 Gift Ideas for Every Traveler.

Anker Portable Charger

Perfect for: Traveling Techie

Price: $39.99

Buy it here on Amazon

The problem with technology is that it seems to die at the very worst times. Your phone poops out when you’re stranded and desperately need to contact someone. Or your camera flashes that dreaded red light once you’ve reached the most picturesque spot.

Before setting off on our longest travels yet, we were sure to purchase an external charger, so we never have to worry about our devices dying on us.

We do a lot of research before we shell out the big bucks on a product. While you can find cheaper portable chargers out there, we couldn’t find any that compared to this one when it comes to value.

With two USB ports, you can charge two devices at once. And get this – you can charge your devices 7 times before needed to recharge this external charger. SEVEN TIMES!

Not only is this perfect for times that we don’t have electricity (like when we worked on a farm in northern Thailand), but it will surely be useful on camping trips or in everyday life at home because I have a habit of forgetting to charge my phone… oops.

Lush Solid Shampoo Bar

Perfect for: Girl on the Go

Price: $9.95 - $12.95

Buy it here

I’ll admit, I was a skeptic at first, but this little bar has changed my travel beauty routine forever! This solid shampoo is packed with essential oils and seems like it’s everlasting. I’ve been traveling with it for 2 months now, and it’s not much smaller than when I began. And I’ve gotta say, my hair feels healthier now than ever before. The best part is that I’ll never again have to worry about complying with the “3 ounce rule”. Bring it on, TSA!

The only thing I don’t love is the tin container. It dents easily, and is difficult to open in the shower with wet hands.

*For other beauty tips on the go, check out our Expert Travel Beauty Guide

Collapsible Cups

Perfect for: Geared Up Globetrotter

Price: $8.99 - $25.98

Buy it here on Amazon

One of our other favorite items is our collapsible cups. We bring them everywhere so we’re prepared for a glass of wine, a bowl for trail mix, or an insulated cup to fill with hot coffee. Not only is this cup great for travel, but it is perfect for camping trips and picnics in the park. The uses are endless!

We were pretty bummed when we found out the brand that we use is no longer on the market, but then we found this guy! It is essentially the same product (this one includes a handy cap).

Thule Laptop Case

Perfect for: Traveling Techie

Price: $50

Buy it here on Amazon

I bought this on a whim. I actually already had a laptop sleeve that was cheap (and cute!) and I didn’t really think I needed another. Buuuut, seeing as I had just spent nearly $2,000 on a brand new MackBook Pro, I was convinced that my state-of-the-line baby needed a little more protection than my teal cushioned sleeve could offer, no matter how pretty it was.

Enter, Thule. Case from Svee-den.

It is water and drop-resistant but isn’t much bulkier than my sleek teal case, and although I wouldn’t feel comfortable submerging it in water or dropping it from a balcony, I feel like my laptop is pretty safe in its embrace. Even when my backpack gets thrown around a bit. Okay, a lot.

So if you travel with a laptop you really love and can’t afford to lose, this case is worth the money (and sacrificed cuteness).

Outlander Packable Backpack

Perfect for: Active Adventurer

Price: $21.92

Buy it here on Amazon

If you read our Top 12 Travel Items list that we posted last year, you’ll remember that this was on our wish list. Well, we finally got one, and you know what? We loved it so much that we ordered another!

Any time we want to go somewhere for the day but want to leave most of our luggage behind, out comes this backpack. Inside, we stash our cameras, jackets, water, and of course lots of snacks. And it packs up small, so when it’s not being used it doesn’t add extra bulk. 

All the pockets make it stand out from most other collapsible bags out there. The only downside we’ve noticed is that the zippers on the two outer pockets get caught easily, so we have to be careful with them.

Platypus Water Bottle

Perfect for: Active Adventurer

Price: $16.95

Buy it here on Amazon

Let me introduce you to “Platty”. He holds 1 liter of water, but you’d never know once you’ve drunk it all because he flattens out into essentially nothing. Yes, it is BPA-free, and no, it’s not hard to drink from (at least once you get the hang of it).

When we travel, we like bringing our own water bottles and filling up from the sink in order to be less wasteful and to save money (see next travel product). And the Platypus is great because if we go on a day trip, we usually bring this guy so we aren’t left with a bulky bottle once we’ve gone through our water.

Tip: We would suggest also purchasing a bottle bandit carabineer in order to secure it to you backpack because if it’s not entirely full, it can easily slip out.


Perfect for: Backpacker on a Budget

Price: $49.95

Buy it here on Amazon

I could go on and on about this product. We tell every traveler we meet about the Steripen, and even made a video professing our love for it!

But I’ll keep this short. The Steripen cleans your water and makes it drinkable – yes, even water in other countries that you’re warned “NOT to drink”. We used it for 3 months in South America and never got sick, and are currently using it in Southeast Asia.

The UV light sterilizes 1 liter of water in just 90 seconds, and has saved us a ton of money in our 3 years of being proud owners.

Packing Cubes

Perfect for: Organized Jet-Setter

Price: $8.50 - $35.00

Buy it here

Another one of our obsessions! We’ve raved about these guys so much, and I promise (I’ll try) to shut up about them sometime soon, but I couldn’t not include these on our travel gear guide!

Packing cubes are the single best way to organize your backpack (or suitcase). And organization is important when you are living out of a bag. Trust me.

My clothes are separated into tops, bottoms and undergarments, and man oh man, does it make life so much easier, especially when getting dressed in a hurry.

Gone are the days of reaching my hand into the grab bag that was my backpack and wearing whichever items I pulled out. I don’t know how I traveled before I had them. Seriously, they are that good.

 *For ideas on what to pack in these cubes, check out our Expert Fashion Travel Guide

Passport Cover

Perfect for: Organized Jet-Setter

Price: $10 - $15

Buy it here on Amazon

I used to secretly roll my eyes when people pulled out their passport with leopard print or a chevron patterned cover.  But I, too, have joined the group of passport cover owners, and I’ve gotta say, I dig it. 

I frequently misplace airline tickets or important visa documentation, and my passport cover has become a travel wallet of sorts. (Ask Ben how many times he has to “find” my misplaced items each day, and you’ll know what a saint he is.)

I got mine on sale while living in South Korea, but there are tons of options out there that you can gift your favorite traveler! I'm digging the one featured in the Amazon link above.

Travel Locks

Perfect for: Geared Up Globetrotter

Price: $15.99 (for set of 2)

Buy it here on Amazon

Locks are a must when traveling, and this one – with it’s long flexible wire closure – fits around any locker or bag. We’ve tried the smaller ones, and they don’t always fit, and locks with a key are just a bad idea (Uhh, I may have lost a one of those and had to have the lock cut from my safe by a hotel staff member. Slightly embarrassing.)

True, locks may not be the sexiest gift out there, but they’re suuuuper practical and make great stocking stuffers!