15 Travel Gifts for Your Jet-Setting Friend, According to a Professional Traveller

best travel gifts
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Whether it’s for a birthday bash, a Christmas gift, a bon voyage send-off, or simply a spontaneous “just because” moment, the quest for the ultimate travel gift can often feel like a daunting expedition. But let me share a little secret — there’s no universal definition of the perfect gift. No flawless luggage, no impeccable passport holder, and no headphones that fit every traveller’s taste.

Drawing from eight years of experience as a travel writer—characterised by four pairs of headphones, three different luggage brands, six backpacks and camera bags, one passport holder, and the inevitable loss of 40 water bottles — I can reveal that the key to the ideal travel gift lies in understanding the recipient. Are they a frequent business traveller? Do they favour soft cases over hard ones? Where is their next adventure, and what essentials do they lack?

It’s not about a one-size-fits-all solution but about tailoring your choice to suit their journey. So, toss aside the notion of a universally flawless gift and embrace the personalised adventure of finding the ideal travel companion for your favourite explorer.

To help you, I’ve put together the essential travel must-haves for every traveller, whether they’re travelling in economy or business, trekking Machu Picchu or navigating Paris’s retail golden triangle.

A Luggage for Every Situation

best travel gifts

July, Carry On Pro, $395

Best for: The business traveller and light packer.

I’ve seen a July bag on pretty much every baggage carousel I’ve stood at this year, from Morocco to Thailand. It’s favoured for its vibrant colours and durability. Basically, they’ve made luggage sexy, and we thank them for that. But looks can only get you so far. Luckily, the carry-on pro is equally practical, with a snap ‘on and off’ sleeve or hard shell pocket for your laptop and my favourite perk, the ejectable power bank. Whether you’re a business traveller zipping from city to city, going on a weekend road trip, or ready to tackle a three-week Euro trip with just a carry-on, let it be this bag. The Y-strap compression inside lets you pack just that little bit more in too.

Sales: This Boxing Day, they have a bundle and save deal, where you spend $600, save $100, etc. Keep an eye out for their Black Friday sales, too. It’s a great opportunity to get a good deal.

A Backpack For Life

best travel gifts

Nordace Siena — Smart Backpack, $225

Best for: Everyday life, students, urban travellers, and photographers.

Whether you’re a student, a photographer, or need a bag that fits everything but the kitchen sink for your travels, then this is it. The organisational pocket stitched inside is the highlight. There’s a place for your laptop, pens, books, chargers, lunch and a pocket for your emotional support water bottle. Travellers can feel secure knowing their valuables are in an anti-theft pocket. There’s even a USB charging port, so you’re never without power for your phone. It slides onto a luggage handle and can fit in any overhead cabin compartment or under the seat in front of you. For those who like to look stylish when travelling, there are nine colours to choose from, including a chic beige.

Sales: Right now, it’s on sale for $150.

A Fanny Pack With Style

best travel gifts

Cotopaxi Kapai Hip Pack, $260.93

Best for: Runners, hikers, backpacker-style travel.

At one point in the last three or so years, fanny packs have become cool again, so here’s one that’s both stylish and great for travel, especially when hiking or running around a city. Keep everything within arm’s reach with this lightweight, water-resistant hip hugger. You can wear it around your waist, sling it over your shoulder, on the side or in the back. The large main compartment is a great size for sunglasses, phones, and a GoPro if you want. There’s really no downside to a fanny pack. Did I mention it’s also made of recycled fabric? So, no two bags are the same. You can get some funky colour combinations.

A Mini Case For All Your Tech

best travel gifts

July Tech Kit, $85

Best for: Photographers, tech-heavy travellers, and everyone.

Whether you fold, roll, or crumble your tech cords, this transparent kit keeps it all in one place. However, it’s not just for tech; you can use it for jewellery, camera bits and bobs, toiletries, contact lenses, and anything else, really. Get it personalised for a special touch.

The Only Passport Holder You Need

best travel gifts

The Daily Edited Olivia Passport Holder, $79

Best for: Everyone.

I’ve had just about every passport holder type, from the wallet to the folio-style, and given that most visas and important documents are digital these days, there’s really no need to add another bulky item to your bag. Instead, all you need is something to protect your passport, and preferably something stylish. This one from the Daily Edited is classic, can be monogrammed, and is reasonably priced, making for a great gift with a personal touch.

A Power Bank For Your Phone

best travel gifts

Cygnett ChargeUp Boost Gen 3 20K Power Bank, $84.95

Best for: Everyone and that person who always has low battery.

You’re not alone in noticing the accelerated drain on phone batteries, especially during travel. To avoid getting caught off guard, I always carry two power banks—one from July, unfortunately not available for individual purchase, and the other, a powerhouse from Cygnett. This supercharged power bank is a game-changer, capable of charging up to three devices simultaneously. With its fast-charging feature, you won’t have long waits between capturing those holiday moments.

Sales: Right now, it’s on sale at JB HI-FI for $67.95. 

A Toiletry Bag to End All Toiletry Bags

best travel gifts

Bon Maxie Bon Voyage Travel Toiletry Bag, $49

Best for: That traveller who brings their entire skincare and make-up collection on holiday.

Striking the ideal balance between size and spaciousness, this versatile bag boasts 14 pockets for organised storage of skincare and makeup essentials. Ditching the traditional plastic window, it offers a sleek design while remaining fully washable for easy maintenance. Its flexibility allows it to effortlessly fit into backpacks, weekend bags, or suitcases, making it the perfect solution for on-the-go travellers seeking both style and functionality.

The Only Travel-Sized Containers You Need

best travel gifts

Cadence 6 Capsule Set, $76

Best for: Business travellers, everyone, especially that person with the 12-step skincare routine.

Ever experienced the pang of regret when airport security compels you to part with your facewash due to its over-100ml size in your carry-on? We’ve all been there, and it stings. Introducing a chic solution: six magnetised, hexagonal, leak-proof containers that offer a stylish means of decanting your skincare essentials for seamless and travel-friendly use.

A Travel Pillow You’ll Never Forget

best travel gifts

Trtl Pillow Plus, $134.99

Best for: Budget travellers, train travel, and everyone.

It might look a little funny, but this Trtl Pillow is a godsend for middle seats and general economy travel, be it plane or train. There are many travel pillows out there, but this is the best in terms of compactness, adjustability, and comfortability. It’s not bulky, so you can fold it up and pop it in your handbag, and you don’t have to walk around the airport with a foam neck pillow wrapped around your neck. It keeps your head from bobbing It won’t make your economy seat feel like business class, or even premium economy, but your neck will thank you for it.

Sales: Right now, you can get it for $94.49

A Hands-Free Phone Stand You Didn’t Know You Needed

best travel gifts

Klearlook Universal Phone Mount, $12

Best for: Solo travellers, everyone, and content creators.

Sure, there are a bunch of TikTok hacks for when the airline neglected to tell you there are no screens on board, and now you have to spend three hours holding your phone. There is also an easier solution. This $12 mount is attached to the back seat or tray table, freeing your hands. You can also use it as a tripod and attach it to a chair, luggage handle, basically anything, which is great for getting travel photo and video content solo.

An Action Camera to Capture Everything

best travel gifts

GoPro Hero12, $559

Best for: Content creators, adventure travellers, families, and everyone.

This is definitely not the cheapest gift on this list, but with everyone wanting to capture pretty much everything when they travel, it’s a gift that will continue giving for years to come. I personally don’t go anywhere without my GoPro, and now they’ve released the 12. Whether you’re a content creator, a family on holiday, or want to capture everything on your travels, this GoPro is reliable, durable, and produces DSLR-style video quality in 4K. It doesn’t get better than that.

A Portable Printer For Those Polaroid Moments

best travel gifts

Instax Mini Link 2, $180

Best for: Polaroid-obsessed travellers, content creators, and anyone who wants to capture travel memories on film without learning to use a film camera.

Polaroid cameras are trendy again, but what if I told you you can get those nostalgic Polaroids from your phone? The Instax Mini Link 2 is a palm-sized printer for your phone. It even has an AR mode where you can add frames and stickers and draw on your photos before printing. You can also record videos as printable QR codes to be shown at a later date. It’s the kind of gift you give for that “Oh, why didn’t I ever think of this,” reaction from the giftee.

A Portable Massage They Will Thank You For

best travel gifts

Theragun Mini, $282

Best for: Everyone

A massage gun might not seem like a travel gift, but it is, trust me. Spending 12+ hours sitting upright, sandwiched with two other people, is not ideal for the body. It can leave you feeling stiff and sore, especially if you have an injury. I was gifted a massage gun when I first started travelling, and I’ve used it on every trip ever since. This handheld one is small enough to fit in your bag yet powerful enough to smooth out the toughest cork in your thigh. You can use it at your destination, after a hike, or a bike ride. Most hotel gyms don’t have a foam roller, so this is the next best thing for travellers.

A Water Bottle For Hot and Cold Situations

best travel gifts

Takeya Insulated Water Bottle 700ml, $59.95

Best for: Everyone

Let’s take a moment for all the water bottles I’ve lost around the world. Now that’s over, gifting a water bottle might seem pointless, but when it’s double wall vacuum insulated, it’s another story. Having a good water bottle is a necessity for any traveller, and I’m sure the globetrotter on your list will thank you for gifting the Takeya insulated bottle. It keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 14 hours. I also found the slimline design fits into backpacks and handbags more comfortably than a Frank Green bottle, which is what everyone has.

A LoJack for Your Possessions

best travel gifts

Apple AirTags, $49

This little tag is a must-have for any and all travellers, regardless of whether you fly first class or economy, because, as we have all painfully experienced, luggage gets lost. Last year, there was an uptick in lost luggage, prompting frequent travellers to pop airbags in their luggage so they could track their possessions from their phones. It might seem simple, but it’s one of the most useful things you can buy for a traveller.

Related: 3 Frequent Travellers on How to Pick the Perfect Suitcase

Related: July’s New Carry-On Pro Model Keeps Your Laptop That Much Safer

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