Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers 2016

 In Gift Guides

It’s that time of year again! And just like the Sears catalog your grandma used to hand you in the 80s, we have our latest installment of the Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers ready for your eager eyes. Time to hit the sales, shop local, sit on your couch with your computer to browse online, bake your favorite Santa cookies and give back to the organizations making a difference across the globe.

Phew. That’s a lot to do.

We wanted to save you time, so once again we have combed the Internet, tested out a few new products and gathered a list of our favorite things for the traveler on your shopping list. We are now in our sixth year of this holiday gift guide, and while some items have stayed the same, a whole lot more have been added as designs are updated and technology changes. Don’t have a travel lover in your life? Have no fear, these gifts work for just about anyone.

Holiday Gift Guide tech for travelers


Kindles. We always travel with our Kindle Fire tablets, Kindle Fire Kids and Kindle Paperwhite. It saves us tons of space and weight so we don’t have to pack loads of books, music and movies. An absolute must on our holiday gift guide.

Portable Charger. My Ventev Powercell 6000c Backup Battery goes everywhere with me. I can easily get four full charges,  charge at least two devices at once, and it is about the same size as an iPhone 6s.

MacBook Air. This year I made the switch to the MacBook Air and I am so glad I did! My back has thanked me a hundred times since I’m not carrying a heavy laptop anymore. Check it out. You might want to make the switch, especially if you travel a lot!

Travel powerstrip. The iClever Boost Cube allows you to charge up to four USB devices on one outlet, while the Belkin 3-Outlet SurgePlus Mini gives you more power outlets for non-USB tech. 

Portable sound machine. There are two sound machines I love and travel with– the Marpac, which gives limited sound options but packs up small, and the Sound + Sleep Mini, which gives you over 40 sound options, but packs up a little larger. 

Headphones. It’s time to go wireless. These VModa Over-Ear headphones are great for gamers and travelers. For runners, you will want to grab these sweatproof, over ear iClever Ear Clip Headphones.

iPhone Charging Case. If you want a slim charging case for your phone that still lets you use it on the go, the Tech21 Evo Endurance is what you need.

Portable external hard drive. The WD 4TB portable hard drive is essential when you are traveling and want a place to store all of your precious photos. It is compact and can stay protected in this AmazonBasics Hard Carrying Case.

Grab more great tech ideas in our
Ultimate Gift Guide for Travelers 2015

Holiday Gift Guide Photo gear for travelers


dSLR tripod. I love using tripods, especially for portraits and night shots. I can’t carry a ton of gear, especially if I’m traveling with my kids, so the Joby GorillaPod for SLR and Mirrorless cameras is perfect.

dSLR Cameras. If you want to take your photo game to the next level, but you aren’t quite ready to go pro with the Canon 5D Mark IV (on my wish list!), try the Canon 7D. It’s cheaper, but still pumps out great quality.

Mirrorless camera. Everyone has been talking about mirrorless and for good reason. It takes amazing photos and weighs less than a dSLR. The Canon EOS M5 was released this autumn with rave reviews, but if you can wait until next year, the second generation of the M5 will probably be even better with a few of the bugs worked out.

Point and Shoot Cameras. I’m a Canon girl, so I’d recommend the Canon Powershot S120 or the ultra stylish Canon Powershot G9. Both take great photos and are Wi-Fi enabled so you can share with your friends on social media.

Water cameras. Putting your smartphone in a water case can be risky, which is why we always carry a waterproof camera. Lumix and Nikon both make decent waterproof cameras at a good price.

Selfie Stick. OK, OK, we are all tired of selfies, but a selfie stick is just a monopod. It can help you get up high, down low and has helped me grab photos with my kids more than once. My boys love to shoot videos and interview their friends using one too. The Thumbs Up! Pocket Click Stick is easy to use, you don’t have to pair it via bluetooth and it folds up small enough to stick in a purse.

Smartphone tripod. GorillaPod thinks of everything, including this small, flexible tripod for your smartphone. Take more group shots and do more standup videos with this little piece of gear that can go a long way.

Smartphone mic. Built-in smartphone mics can only get you so far, which is why the AmpRidge Shotgun Microphone is a nice add on for all of your video needs.

Smartphone ring light. Whether you are taking selfies or shooting some videos of the kids, a portable ring light will help you beautifully light faces and food.

Hiking stick monopod. When you are hiking you can’t carry it all, so why not pick up a two-in-one like the York Nordic PRO Collapsible Walking Poles that pair with a GoPro Camera Mount. 

Grab more great photo gear ideas in our
Ultimate Gift Guide for Travelers 2014

Holiday Gift Guide Travel luggage


Delsey bags. The Delsey 25″ Spinner is my go-to suitcase when I’m checking a bag. It is light on its own, maneuvers like a dream and can stand up to anything the airline baggage handlers can throw at it, while the Delsey Carry-on is perfect when you want to do carry-on only.

LiteGear hybrid roller. When you want to bring your tech, but you don’t want to carry it all on your back, you pack it in this LiteGear hybrid roller. I’ve been rolling mine into the car for road trips and across the globe via plane for years and it still holds up. Oh, and it fits under the seat of an airplane too!

Backpacks. Any backpack being used on a trip needs to hold a lot, but also be lightweight. The High Sierra Swerve, High Sierra Loop and Burton Treble Yell Pack should do the trick.

Cable organizer. If you are tired of a bag full of cables and tech gear, the BUBM Universal Cable Organizer should help you stay organized. We love the double layer organizing, so you can fit everything in one handy spot and stop forgetting cords in hotel rooms.

Neck pillow. The J-Pillow may look goofy, but your neck won’t hurt when you land. Compromise your cool factor and sleep well.

Blanket for airplane. Airplanes are freezing. I mean really, who is setting the temperature on these things?! Pack up this fleece blanket for your next trip, because the airlines sure aren’t going to have one for you.

Grab more great packing ideas in our
Ultimate Gift Guide for Travelers 2013

Holiday Gift Guide womens travel gear

For the ladies

L’Occintaine Advent Calendar. Oh how we love this Advent Calendar. The Cherry Blossom goodies are worth the buy, but you need to snap this one up quickly. These calendars sell out FAST!

Capris. Capris are an important part of any summer, spring or fall wardrobe. You need a pair that can look good in multiple ways, and we found that these North Face Aphrodite Capris and Aventura Arden Capris fit everything we need.

Trish McEvoy make up case. Trish McEvoy’s cases have come a long way. I’ve always loved my quilted make up case, but this modern case may be more your style.

Dress zipper upper. Need help getting your zipper up? This zipper pull and hook will help you out when you are traveling alone or your partner is busy with the kids.

Jewelry organizer. Jewelry is one of those things that is a pain to pack, but is essential for changing up an outfit when you need to pack light. The Travel Smart by Conair Jewelry Roller will definitely on every travelers list.

8 way convertible dress by Elan. When you are trying to pack light you need a versatile dress that can work for more than just one day. This dress can be a skirt, halter dress, one shoulder dress, strapless dress and more. Want more color options? Try Vivian’s Twist Wrap.

Josef Seibel boots. I am all over the Seibel ankle boots. I have my own pair and they are comfy, durable and easy to pack for my next adventure. I also love my Josef Seibel sneakers for trekking around Europe.

Holiday Gift Guide kid travel gear

For the kids

Kid’s headphones. Bring on the bats! These iClever kid headphones are perfect for the little traveler in your life. Have older kids who can’t quite fit the grown up headphones yet? Try Kidz Gear wired headphones or LilGadgets Connect if you want to link all of your kids together when audio outlets are few.

Kid’s backpack. We are totally digging these ArcEnCiel Kid’s Backpacks for their fun, simple design that will work with any kid’s style. If you need a good hydration pack for your trekking, this flame Camelback will be a welcome addition to the family. 

Kindle Fire Kids Edition. I have long been a fan of the Kindle and finally Amazon made their Kindle kid’s edition a year or so ago. This is the only tablet your kids need. Bonus– it connects to everything in your Amazon account so you can give your kids all of the movies and apps they want without buying separate editions for each tablet.

Try out these Best Apps on the Kindle for Toddlers

Travel Nightlight. If your kid needs a nightlight and your hotel offers limited outlets, this USB nightlight is the answer to all of your problems.

Portable sound machine. My family relies on our portable sound machine at home and on our trips. It provides a consistent noise no matter where we are in the world, whether it’s just a trip to grandma’s or off to Paris to explore.

Travel book light. When your kids need to go to bed early, but you like to stay up late this portable book light will allow you to read or get some work done without keeping everyone up at night.

Airplane PJs. Bring on the PJs! Airplanes are big in our house, and we love these airplane pajamas to celebrate our air travel obsession. Here’s a fun footie PJ for babies too.

Grab more great kid gift ideas in our
Ultimate Gift Guide for Travelers 2012

Holiday Gift Guide for grandparents

For the grandparents

Anti-Theft Hidden Wallet. Never worry about your money or passport being taken again. A hidden wallet will keep your belongings safe while abroad. Not into a neck wallet? Grab this Eagle Creek Undercover Hidden Pocket, which acts more like a belt.

Trip organizer. There are a lot of documents and items to keep track of on your trip, especially if you love printing out paper tickets and itineraries. A Document Organizer Travel Pouch is perfect for keeping it all together. We love that it comes in blue or pink!

Sunhat. Hats are one of the hardest things to pack, which is why the San Diego Hat Women’s Visor is one of the best visors on the market. Want a full hat instead of a visor? Try the Siggi Womens Floppy Summer Sun Beach Straw Hat, which was made to fold up and bring on the road, but is still stylish for women of any age. 

Holiday Gift Guide for the Home

For the home

Rome Throw. Pick up this Society6 Rome Skyline to add a little wanderlust to your living room.

Pillow. LaRueBoutique is making some beautiful travel tag pillows that will work with so many decors. KnollWoodLane also has adorable patchwork camper and Adventure Awaits pillows .

Picture frames. Are you ticking states off your bucket list? These state map frames are perfect for showing off your adventures.

Maps. There are so many ways to incorporate maps into your life, but we love this bottle cap beer map, laptop sticker, world map stencil, and always our favorite– a scratch-off map to record your journeys!

credit: Kim Tate/Stuffed Suitcase

credit: Kim Tate/Stuffed Suitcase

Crafts and DIY

It’s time to get crafty and buy some handmade goods for your friends and family.

Make this beautiful antique frame to show off your photos,  follow along as Family Brings Joy shows you how to remember all of the places you have lived in a fun way, and collect sand from your travels to build a jar of memories. Over on Etsy we found this fun travel toddler toy car mat that is perfect for a road trip and Stuffed Suitcase has a great way to keep the kids active with their Legos on a plane or  a long car trip.

Grab more DIY gift ideas in our
Ultimate Gift Guide for Travelers 2011

credit: World Vision

credit: World Vision

Give back this holiday season

We feel that it is more important to give than to receive during the holidays, no matter if you give to nonprofits doing great work at home or abroad. Here are three of our favorite charities to give to this year.

  • World Vision: We love to flip through the World Vision holiday catalog to pick out gifts for kids across the globe. It is a great way for our children to feel involved and understand what they are giving, and who they are helping when we tell them we can’t buy all of the toys on their wish list, because we want to help kids with no toys in the world. .
  • American Red Cross: The Red Cross is always one of the first organizations to respond to a disaster in the United States. We know where our money is going and their reputation is excellent as far as nonprofits go.
  • A Wider Circle: This is a local DC-area nonprofit helping to end poverty across the city that we have partnered with on more than one occasion and donation drive.


Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers 2016

Hand-wrapped gifts and packing Christmas gifts via ShutterStock.com. This post contains affiliate links, which means we get a tiny percentage of anything you buy using an affiliate link. This will not cost you more money. We are just taking a little from “the man.”

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Showing 5 comments
  • Mom

    Great and helpful posting. So happy to see that you recommended World Vision and other nonprofits to remind us all that Christmas is about sharing, especially with those who don’t have us much as we do. Keep up the great work, Daughter!

  • Charles McCool

    The Wider Circle sounds like a nice organization. I will check them out.

  • Tamara

    I have those North Face capris and love them! I also just ordered myself the Gorilla pod.

    • Keryn Means

      I need to order a pair Tamara. I was so in love with yours I had to add them to my list!

  • Marlies

    I love these ideas! Now I want to add more to my wishlist, haha.

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