The 24 Best Gifts for Travelers 2013

gifts for travelers

UPDATE:  If you want to see even more gift ideas, check out our brand new list for 2014.  Of course, all the ones on this 2013 list are still highly recommended as well!

We’re only a couple weeks away from Christmas and you’re still clueless about what to get your favorite traveler.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

From close to $400 to less than $1, we’ve picked out travel gifts that fit in any budget.

And with gifts ranging from backpacks to fuzzy socks, from noise canceling headphones to scratch maps, there’s something here for everyone.

We even brought in a fashion expert for a section solely devoted to women travelers!

So start shopping, and happy holidays!

A Travel Backpack

This is the most important piece of travel gear you’ll own, and so it pays to spend some money and find yourself a good one.

Personally, I always recommend traveling with just carry-on for a few reasons.

  • With almost every airline charging for checked bags, it saves you money.
  • It saves you a ton of time.  Once the plane lands, you walk off and you’re done.  No waiting in line.
  • It saves you a lot of hassle while you’re actually traveling.  Simply throw your pack on your back and go.

I’ve got two recommendations, depending on what you want.

1.  Osprey Farpoint 70L Travel Pack


This is the pack I’ve been traveling with for the last 2 years.

It’s lightweight, roomy, durable and comes with an super handy 15 liter day pack (that can zip on to the main pack).

Also, the backpack straps can be stowed away and hidden so they don’t get caught.

While it’s “technically” too tall for carry-on dimensions, I’ve had it on over 30 flights (including with strict airlines like Air Asia and RyanAir) and never once had a problem.

On Amazon for as low as $159

2. Tortuga Backpack


If you want a great, durable pack that you don’t have to sneak by the gate agents, the Tortuga is the pack for you.

I recently got my first Tortuga, which is produced by EPoP’er Fred Perrotta, and can attest to it’s roominess.

In fact, the Tortuga is the largest legal carry-on pack you can buy.

It’s unique design allows you to maximize the space available while still being carry-on dimensions, and it comes with tons of different pockets and compartments, perfect for keeping your stuff organized while on the road.

It’s also got a heavily padded shoulder straps and hip belt, which makes it more comfortable than most other backpacks on the market.

Bonus: EPoP readers get a special $20 off.  Just listen to my podcast with Tortuga founder Fred Perotta for the discount code!

Buy at Tortuga Backpacks for $179 (if you use the discount code in the podcast)

Noise Canceling Headphones

For anyone who flies frequently, this is a must.

Drown out the crying baby or snoring passenger next to you and fly in peace.

3.  Parrot Zik Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones

Parrot Zik, the gold standard of noise canceling headphones.
Parrot Zik, the gold standard of noise canceling headphones.

The gold standard, both in price and quality.

Not only are they amazing at noise canceling, but they are also wireless and you can sync them up to your music player through bluetooth.

Want to change the settings on your music?  Simply touch the headphones.

And if the battery does die, you can plug them in with a standard headphone cord.

If you want the best, grab a pair of these bad boys.

On Amazon for $384.

4.  Monoprice Noise Canceling Headphones


If you want a cheaper pair that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but are still noise-canceling, I’ve heard good things about Monoprice’s headphones.

On Monoprice’s website for $113.


Every traveler worth their salt knows that certain gadgets can make their life much easier on the road.

Grab these gadgets and know that you’re prepared no matter where you’re headed.

5.  Macbook Air 13 inch

Work from anywhere with you Macbook Air, the world's best travel laptop.
Work from anywhere with you Macbook Air, the world’s best travel laptop.

Really want to spoil your favorite traveler?  Get him the best travel laptop available.

Does everyone NEED a computer for traveling? Probably not, but if you do, there is nothing that comes close to the slim, light, and yet powerful Macbook Air.

As someone who used to carry around a 15″ Macbook Pro, my back thanks me now!

On Amazon for $1,049

6.  Tripshell World Travel Adapter


Don’t show up in a country unable to charge your electronics.  Grab this baby and be safe in over 150 countries.

Bonus: It’s got two USB ports to charge phones.

On Amazon for $24.99

7.  Monster Outlets to Go Power Strip


Provides four outlets and also folds up flat, which minimizes the space it takes up.

Combine this with the Tripshell World Adapter and you’ll always have 4 plugs available!

On Amazon for $9.49

8.  EatSmart Digital Luggage Scale


Find out exactly how heavy your luggage is BEFORE getting to the airport.

No nasty surprises, no insane baggage fees.

I got this last year for Christmas, and it’s been a live saver on multiple trips since.

On Amazon for $19.95

9.  XtraFlex2 LED Book Light


Perfect for when you can’t sleep and want to stay up all night reading your guidebook, planning your next day’s excursion (and those around you aren’t quite as excited)!

On Amazon for $13.78


No one wants to be sick or overly tired when traveling.

Make sure you’re always in tip top shape with some of these gifts.

10.  SleepMaster Eye Mask


Blinds not cutting out the early morning sun? Don these puppies and sleep for days!

On Amazon for $23.95

11.  PackTowl UltraLite quick drying towel

The Packtowl Ultralite dries quickly and takes up almost no space.
The Packtowl Ultralite dries quickly and takes up almost no space.

When I get home, this is the one item that never gets unpacked, and therefore, I never forget it.

It’s soft, takes up almost no space and dries in a flash.  I’d recommend the XL size.  Absolutely essential.

On Amazon for $20 (for XL size)

12.  CamelBak All Clear Purifying Water Bottle


Always confused by whether the water in another country is safe to drink?

Take the guess work out of it and save yourself some serious stomach issues by grabbing this handy tool.

Fill up from a spigot or stream, it doesn’t matter.  In 60 seconds, you’ll have a water bottle full of purified water.

I’m certainly hoping to find this in my stocking this year!

On Amazon for $77

Books/Movies/Miscellaneous Must Have

What’s the best thing to do when you’re not traveling?

Watching and reading about other people’s experiences!

If you’re stuck without a trip in the near future, get lost in someone else’s adventures with these books and movies.

13. Long Way Round DVD set


The epic story of Ewan McGregor (yes, that Ewan McGregor) and his pal Charley Boorman as they attempt to ride around the world on motorcycles.

I’ve seen each episode at least 3 times, and yet, I still finding myself pining to watch it again.

Be warned:  After watching, you’ll want to undertake your own similarly absurd adventure!

On Amazon for $12

14. Long Way Down DVD Set


If one epic quest isn’t enough for you (and it wasn’t for me), how about a second?

Ewan and Charley are back, this time riding from the very top of Scotland to the very bottom of Africa.

Again, on motorcycles.

And again, with some amazing stories to share while doing it.

On Amazon for $16

15. The Majic Bus


To this day, my absolute favorite travel book of all time.

What can get better than a professor cramming a group of students in to a sleeper bus for a 6 week traveling summer course, visiting 30 states and 10 national parks, all while reading some of the greatest writers of the modern generation?

Since the course is no longer offered, take the next best thing and read the book!

On Amazon for less than $1

16. Luckies of London Scratch Map

luckies-scratch-mapWhat better way to reminisce about where you’ve been (or show off to others) than a scratch map?

Every time you go somewhere new, come home and scratch off that area, revealing the map behind it.

All the fun of buying lottery tickets, just less expensive and better for travelers!

I’ve got one of these hanging in my office, and it’s one of the coolest gift ideas I’ve ever seen.

And there are multiple types, ranging from the US to country specific maps.

On Amazon for $20

For Men

These two items have made my travel life infinitely better and saved me tons of room in my pack.

17. Merrell Trail Glove Barefoot Running Shoe


Some sort of sneaker is essential on almost all trips, but they always take up so much room.

That is, until I stumbled upon Merrell Barefoot running shoes.

No, I don’t use them for running at all, but they are perfect travel shoe.

They’re super comfortable, weigh next to nothing, and take up less than 1/3 the space of a regular sneakers.

They’re also semi-waterproof, making them perfect for outdoor activities like kayaking, trekking, or canyoning.

Now, they’re the only sneaker I ever travel with.

On Amazon for as low as $59

18. Adidas Climalite Boxer Briefs


Traveling to a hot location? Cotton underwear just isn’t going to cut it!

These will keep you dry all day and can be washed easily in the sink if need be.

On Amazon for $16 (2 pack)

 For Women

For the more discerning gender, personal favorites brought to you by world traveler Heather Sherry, the mastermind behind the popular fashion blog Sartorial Stripes.

19. DKNY Cozy Wrap



This is by far the most versatile sweater out there, and is perfect for travel because it is comfortable, lightweight, and warm.

It can literally be worn twelve different ways, and even comes with a book demonstrating the different looks.

On for $195 or $60 if you can find it at the DKNY outlet

20. J. Crew Pixie Pants

J Crew Pixie Pants

If you want a legging that will be comfortable on the lane but can also be worn out to dinner with boots or heels than these J. Crew pixie pants are the perfect choice.

I can personally attest to the versatility of these pants.

You get the best of both worlds; the feel of a leggings but the look of pants!

At J. Crew for $98

21. Target Cotton Leggings

target cotton leggings

Not ready to splurge on the J. Crew pixie pants?  Then turn to Target for the best traditional cotton leggings.

Nothing beats cheap and comfortable.

At Target for $6

22. Foot Traffic Microfiber Socks


Whether I was traveling in winter or summer, my feet were always cold on the airplane.

I’ve learned my lesson, and now always travel with a pair of extra warm socks in my tote bag.

On Amazon for $7

23. Kate Spade Tote Bag


Having a functional tote bag is integral to packing light.

With my husband’s encouragement, I have become a savvy traveler, which is why a good tote bag is essential.

It is considered my personal item but I always stuff it with extra things I can’t fit in my carry-on.

This Kate Spade tote is on my wishlist because it’s classic and practical.

On Amazon for $215

24. Handbag Republic Tote Bag


If you’re trying to save some pennies or you’ve got a husband who isn’t sold on the need for a Kate Spade tote, check out this faux leather version.

At TJ Maxx for $29

What travel gifts are you giving this Christmas?  And which ones do you want to get?
Tell us your favorites in the comments below!


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Author: Trav

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      • One of the biggest things for me is photo gear. I recently bought a QuikPod ($30) which is just a hardy extendable monopod that works for a lot of cameras, a Canon Powershot S100 ($170, got a deal and it’s an older model) for when I don’t care to lug a $2k DSLR on my shoulder but still want awesome photos, and we’re making sure to bring an extra 1TB hard drive (you can get portable ones for $70) and purchasing online backup/storage (unlimited for $5/mo at to ensure our photos and video aren’t lost in the abyss.

        • @Scott Manning- Ah, DEFINITELY an extra hard drive for people who need to work while on the road. That’s essential, can’t believe I forgot it and thanks for bringing it up!

          Also, love the idea of the QuikPod. Will be adding that to my list! And you’re right, it’s soooo nice not to lug around a heavy, expensive camera sometimes.

          Thanks for the great ideas!

  • You should include a power brick – from $30-$80, it’s a great gift and something no savvy traveler should be without. Just sure you’ve got at least 2.1 amps of output if you plan on charging an iPhone or iPad

  • Thanks for this great list! I have three wanderlusting young adults on my Christmas list (two studying in Spain for spring semester, one traveling to Norway in 2014) and now I know just what to get them!

    • @AJM- You must have trained them right! Where are they in Spain? My sister currently lives there.

      And what are you planning on getting them?

      • Thanks, Travis. My son will be in Granada and my niece will be in Seville. We will visit them in April :) I am giving them all the adapter and power strip and the scratch-off map. My son LOVES Ewan McGregor (he is, after all, Obi-Wan Kenobi) so we may watch that series together while he’s home for the holidays.

        Thanks so much for your blog and have a very Merry Christmas!

        • @AJM- They will have a great time in Spain, I’m sure. Definitely watch the series together…you’ll be hooked after the first one! I see a Long Way Round/Long Way Down Marathon in your future this Christmas!

    • @Dd- Depends what you want. I have the Farpoint 70L, which is a 55L main pack and a 15L daypack. It’s definitely big enough for any trip, and now that I’ve gotten better at packing, I think it may actually be a little too big. Also, it’s not officially carry-on size.

      They have a smaller version, which is also a little cheaper, called the Farpoint 55L. That’s a 40L main pack (which is legal carry-on size) and a 15L daypack. I like that because you still get the daypack, but the main pack is smaller and will 100% be carry-on legal.

      Unfortunately, I can’t find any stores around me that carry both of them in store so I can compare. But hopefully that helps.

  • One thing I can’t leave home without is my Jambox Speaker by Jawbone. It’s super small, has great sound for it’s size, and can be bluetoothed to all my gadgets. Great for watching a movie on my laptop, listening to music wherever I want (battery life lasts up to 10 hours if you can’t be wired in), and I use it every day, multiple times a day.

  • Travis, do you know if the Merrell Trail Glove Barefoot Running Shoe is available for women? I have searched and not come up with anything. As a note, I did give my husband these for Christmas and he refuses to take them on trips! His are too big for me but I am just dying to get a pair and may try to get the smallest men’s size. They are now only $39.99 a pair at sportsman’s Also, gifted hubby with several other things off the list. Really enjoyed Long Way Down.

    • @Linda- Honestly, I have never seen them. They only may make them in men’s. However, here is a list of all the barefoot running shoes they make for women. The “Vapor Glove” looks very similar:

      $39.99 is a steal for them, I actually got mine at Marshall’s over a year ago for $28 and have worn them all over. They’re great. Why won’t he wear them?

      And glad you watched Long Way Down…Have you seen Long Way Round yet? It’s also fantastic!

      • Yes, we watched both DVDs in the course of a couple of days during the Christmas break. Really enjoyed it. Like the first one better as I thought it was more authentic. Wish they would do the third series.
        Husband says the shoes are too tight but I ordered them larger on purpose. One of his outdoorsy friends said they were “only water shoes,” which they are not but I think that comment has stuck with him so every trip his big heavy shoes get packed in the bottom of the carry on. Heading to Peru and Ecuador in a couple of weeks and thought these would be perfect for me. Will look around town and see if I can find the Vapor Glove and try them on. Your list was very beneficial and I ordered numerous things for Christmas presents! Thanks!

        • @Linda- Glad it could be beneficial, that was the goal. Telling people what we pack and what we love, because there have been a lot of things we tried that we didn’t like. So if it made the list, it made it because we loved it!

          Bummed your husband thinks the shows are just water shoes. Tell him that I’ve worn them in over 10 different countries and worn them in a variety of ways; to go running, to walk through gorges and waterfalls, and to mountaineer to the top of karsts in China. They are perfect for me in TONS of occasions.