The holiday season is already upon us once again (cue remarks about how the years are getting shorter and shorter). Anyway, the winter holidays are a time of twinkling lights, warm cocoa, and indulging that age-old tradition of exchanging gifts that none of us can afford to buy and none of us really want.
Seriously guys, the hard fact is that most gifts are simply landfill waiting to happen. Another hard fact is that many of us have a tendency to spend more than we can afford when buying gifts. We must do better, we can do better and we will do better.
When it comes to picking out something for the globe-trotters in your life, the challenge intensifies. After all, you can’t exactly gift-wrap a flight to Bali or a trek through the Andes. (Or can you….?) Fear not, for our curated gift guide is here to unravel the mystery of what to buy for the ones bitten by the travel bug. We have handpicked 12 special gifts for tribal;ers that are both useful AND affordable.
Buying a Gift For Traveler? We Got You…
A survey of holiday spending habits suggests a sweet spot of $50 to $100 for family gifts, and $20 to $50 for friends. Now we understand that the spirit of giving doesn’t have to be tethered to a hefty price tag and we also understand that times are hard and that most of us are operating on a budget. As such, we have endeavoured to make this list affordable.
Now there are plenty of travel gift guides out there that try to nudge you towards the premium aisle, showcasing gifts that seem to whisper sweet nothings to your wallet before parting ways.
But we’re here to keep things grounded, practical, and yes—delightfully affordable. And while every item on our list is a universal nod to the nomadic lifestyle, we’ve thrown in a wild card (because, honestly, who wouldn’t want to unwrap that?).
The 12 BEST Affordable Gifts To Buy a Traveler in 2024
What was that old Christmas song they made us sing at school? “On the first day of the holidays, some Uncle gave me a voucher so I could connect to the internet for free”.
I think that’s near enough right?
Price From $5
Anyway, whether for better or for worse, the fact is that smartphones are now an essential and utterly ubiquitous travel accessory. However, the strange thing is that getting online and staying connected when traveling abroad can still be more complicated than it ought to be – either we begin our vacation queuing in line for a local sim, or else we wrack up hundreds of bucks in roaming charges using our regular thing.
But eSim is now poised to change and end this once and for fall. As long as the traveler in your life has a reasonably modern phone then they can use eSim, a virtual travel sim that can be purchased and installed before they leave home meaning they are ready to connect the moment they land. It is a real game changer and an eSim voucher (meaning they can buy a package for whichever country they next visit) is a great gift that they will use and love.
There are many different eSim companies out there now but we recommend checking out the YeSim International Sim Pack. If you use the Promo code “International24” at checkout you even get €3 off!
I know that cross-body sling bags (or fanny packs depending on how you wear them) are still kinda divisive and some of you just find them to be eternally lame. However I am a recent convert and can testify that sling bags are a damned awesome travel accessory that all travellers will grow to live. They are great for hikes, for exploring city street and come in especially useful in airports as you can put your wallet, phone and passport in to make passing security efficient and secure.
This one from Nomatic is incredible in that it collapses down and packs up into a very neat little shell capsule that will even fit in your jacket pocket. I have used mine pretty much every day since I bought it last summer making this a great investment ad a gift that will be appreciated for most travellers. For the minimalist traveller, this collapsible sling is a space saver and a game-changer, able to hold essentials without the bulk.
REI is America’s favourite outdoor gear retailer and manufacturer. They make and sell cracking outdoor and travel gear to suit all styles and budgets and best of all they do it pretty ethically. An REI membership (coming in at just $25 for life) secured lifetime. Membership to the co-op which entitles members to discounts, free repairs and membership of the very helpful REI travel forums. It’s a gateway to discounts, deals, and dividends on the finest outdoor gear—a gift that keeps on giving for the adventure-seeker.
We have previously written a full post about the benefit of REI membership but you can find most of the info you need by hitting the button below.
Surge Protecting Travel Adapter
Power surges are far more common in the ‘developing world’ than they are back home and most travels to Asia or Latin America will be familiar with them. However what you may not know is that power surges can take years of the life of your devices.
Safeguard gadgets against unpredictable power surges by investing in a travel adapter with built in surge protector. This means that whenever your devices are plugged in, they are guarded against surges and splurges. This is a very under-rated piece of tech which makes a great travel gift.
Doing laundry on the trail or on the road can prove challenging. Campsites don’t usually have laundry rooms and even hostels tend to charge scandalous charges for the privilege of washing your tidy whities. Well now, doing laundry on-the-go can be a breeze with this pocket-sized washboard-in-a-bag, ensuring clean clothes anywhere, anytime.
You basically chuck your clothes in and wash them in the bag – it’s very clever actually. The bang itself also makes a decent laundry or dry bag. Not only is this a great little innovation it also packs enough novelty value to make a perfect gift for a traveler.
Osprey makes some of the best backpacks on the market and I personally own 4 different ones. All of their bags are well designed and functional and built to a high standard (enshrined in their All Mighty Lifetime Guarantee)
This new, handy and altogether useful compact carry-on is perfect for the organised traveller, with designated spaces for all travel essentials.
Gifting somebody socks for Christmas, birthdays or a bar-mitzvah is something of a cliche and yet, socks (being something we use day in day out and yet can be reluctant to buy for ourselves) are a useful and practical gift! Well if you are after some socks with a difference then the traveler in your life can say goodbye to the stink with these antibacterial, odour-fighting socks, perfect for long journeys and active excursions.
They are made from special fibres making them odour resistant and quick to dry. Perfect for camping and travel. These are the only socks I own now (except for heavy winter socks).
You may have noticed that so far, most of the items on this list are practical but maybe kinda a touch austere for some tastes? Well with this introduction we are well and truly bucking that trend. The Mahi leather bucket bag is stylish, handy and sustainable. Yes, its not exactly a piece of travel gear in the classic sense but its great for use as an airport bag and for hitting the beach clubs of Mykonos. Whats not to love?
The second offering on this list from Nomatic is their minimalist travel wallet. The engineers at Nomatic specialise in re-envisaging the classics using innovative design and pioneering tech. This striped bag, space age wallet dispenses with all irrelevancies and has been shrunk down to the size of a bank card. Slim yet spacious, this wallet is for the modern traveler who wants a sleek way to carry just the essential cards and a bit of cash (but not really coins).
I will be honest, this wallet is not for everyone and it is a bit ugly for my tastes so aim this one at the traveler who values modern gadgets, minimalist products and slightly Dad-ish aesthetics.
While it may come as a shock, finding a good coffee is not all that easy in some parts of the world. I kid you not but many parts of India and Asia don’t have a particularly buoyant coffee culture and prefer tea or Nescafe. My first time was a living hell and as such I have leaned the hard way to always come prepared – so now I never leave home without a travel coffee maker and an emergency supply of ground coffee.
For the traveler who craves a good brew first thing every morning, this portable but robust coffee maker means a quality cuppa is never out of reach. Its also useful for camping trips and music festivals too.
Head torches are a classic travel item and no true backpacker should ever allow themselves to be without one. They are useful for camping, for hiking after dark, finding the hostel toilet at 1am and for navigating the dark alleyways of Marrakech. There are a lot of head torches out there but the best value budget one if the Astro 300 from Black Diamond.
At $20 its affordable and yet its good quality. So if you need a gift for a travelers who may need to illuminate any path or power a late-night reading session, bag them this powerful, compact head torch.
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a highly compact, lightweight, quick drying microfiber travel towel from Sea to Summit.
Quick-drying towels are another item that no traveler should ever be without and yet they are amongst the easiest to lose and so are always appreciated when gifted.
Tiny and lightweight, this towel is a necessity for any traveler looking to save valuable pack space and dry off quickly. It’s also very odour resistant which is a huge plus as these things do tend to stick after a while. While you could save a few quid by buying a cheap quick dry towel from Amazon, we really suggest you don’t.
Remember, the art of gifting is all about thoughtfulness. And for the wanderlust-stricken, these gifts are more than just items; they’re tools to enhance their passion, companions on their sojourns, and mementos that remind them of home, or the adventure that awaits.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!