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Travel Tips

38 of the Best Gifts for Travelers in 2019

Scott Keyes
By 
Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert (CFE)
5 min read
Last updated 
November 20, 2019

The holidays are fast approaching. Don’t stress over what to get the globetrotters in your life. Here are nearly forty great gift ideas, mostly $50 or less, for every type of traveler. 

Gifts to keep them comfortable on long-haul flights

Slip silk sleepmask

A cashmere or silk mask for luxurious shut-eye 

Eye masks are practical for ensuring you can get some shut-eye on a flight even if your neighbor insists on keeping their overhead light on. The cheapest versions will do the trick, but swap the usual cotton fabric for cashmere or silk and an eye mask becomes a lot more luxe. They’re more expensive than the basic varieties, at about $50-$75, but it’s a small price for some first-class comfort. 

The perfect travel pillow to help them sleep

There’s no shortage of styles of travel pillow on the market, from the classic around-the-neck half-donut to the brace-like Trtl pillow. For comfort in a variety of positions, the Travelrest is a solid choice that ticks all the boxes: it’s inflatable so you can adjust the firmness and it doesn’t take up a lot of room when deflated; you can lean against it in a window seat or while more upright in the middle or aisle; and for a few bucks more you can buy a velvety soft cover. Bonus: it’s under $30.

Face masks, hydrating spray, or a luxe toiletry kit for hydrated skin 

Airplanes are notoriously dry places. Help the travelers on your list give their skin some love with a supply of ultra-hydrating face masks, like this set of ten masks from SK-II for $95 made with 50 micronutrients to infuse moisture, or (a more budget-friendly option at around $11) a travel-size tube of Innisfree green tea moisturizing mist. Aesop offers a full kit stocked with travel-sized versions of seven products including mouthwash, lip balm, and facial hydration spray. 

Compression socks for better circulation 

No one likes deplaning from a long-haul flight feeling like their ankles and calves are the size of watermelons, but swollen legs and feet can be more than uncomfortable; if a clot forms, it can be quite dangerous. Compression socks help beat the bloat by increasing circulation. There are dozens of styles and varying levels of compression available; Comrad Socks offers a variety of cute styles and colors starting at around $29. 

Travel gifts for all sorts of adventures

Microfiber towels from REI

Water bottle with built-in filter for hydration on the go 

Bringing your own water bottle is good for the environment and helps reduce plastic waste. Bringing your own water bottle with a built-in filter helps keep you from getting sick. For about $40, the Lifestraw Go bottle is sturdy, BPA-free, and removes 99.9% of bacteria, parasites, and microplastics. 

A travel hammock to sleep anywhere

Anyone who takes frequent camping trips will appreciate a hammock designed to pack down into something portable, but camping hammocks can come in handy for other kinds of trips, too. Adventure lovers on a budget may need to bring their own bed (hammock) for some river boat trips in South America or Southeast Asia, for instance. Packable hammocks range in size, weight, and price, from about $30 for a solo hammock to $100 for two to lounge together.

Microfiber towels for drying off quickly 

A quick-drying towel that packs up small comes in handy for a variety of adventures, from camping trips and beach days to staying in hostels where the provided towels may be lacking in quality. Travel towels are not only super absorbent (especially for how thin they are), they’re extremely soft and dry quickly so you can re-pack and be on your way. Smaller towels start at around $10, while beach-sized towels cost about $40. 

A beach towel that repels sand

Upgrade your favorite beach lover’s game with more than a basic travel towel—get the beach towel that actually repels sand. Tesalate’s beach towels come in two sizes ($59 for a solo towel or $99 for a “Towel for Two”) that are made of a high-tech fabric that simultaneously is able to absorb a great deal of water and slough off the sand. They’re more compact for traveling than your average towel and they dry faster, too.

A headlamp to light up the dark 

A handy source of light is always a good idea when traveling, and a headlamp provides a perfectly directed light source that leaves hands free. Headlamps are a must for camping trips, but they’re handy for other reasons, too—including mundane things like reading in bed without disturbing your partner. Headlamps can range in price from $12–$200, with the tried-and-true Petzl LED headlamp coming in at $30. Models that have a red light feature are especially nice, since the light is easier on the eyes for other people nearby.

A door stop for safety and peace of mind 

Falling asleep in an unfamiliar room can be difficult, especially if safety is a concern. Frog & Co’s Door Stop Alarm ($19.97) not only makes it harder for someone to get through the door, the built-in alarm will also alert you to the unwelcome intrusion. 

Travel gifts to keep them looking good on the fly 

Scott's Cheap Flights swag

Passport wrap scarf for hidden storage 

Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves are lightweight infinity scarves that brighten up any travel outfit, but they also conceal a secret zippered pocket ideally sized for a passport, small wallet, or extra cash. They start at $44.99 and come in several colorful prints. And, unlike those travel vests with a thousand pockets, this scarf won’t stand out to would-be pickpockets as having anything hidden inside.

Passport cover for stylish protection 

Spruce up your traveler’s suitcase situation with a fashionable leather passport cover. Choose a color that matches the rest of their luggage or pick one that stands out so it’s easy to find in a flash when going through immigration at the airport. Cuyana’s Slim Leather Passport Case ($75) is beautiful and durable. It comes with extra pockets inside for other travel documents, and you can choose to monogram the outer cover, too.

Luggage tags for easy identification 

Being able to identify your luggage easily on the carousel is important, especially when everyone else on the plane also has black or navy bags of roughly the same size and shape. A durable leather luggage tag in a bright color—like these from Leatherology ($35)—will help your traveler spot their suitcase from the other side of the room. Add a monogram for even more personality. For techie travelers, there’s the Away x Tile Luggage Tag ($30), which allows them to track their bag no matter where it is.

Jewelry organizer or watch case for accessory organization 

A jewelry roll with zippered pockets and ring storage that snaps is a convenient and space-conscious way to keep shiny things organized and tangle-free. Hadaki’s rolls are colorful and cost $24–28 for nylon or leather. For watches, these storage rolls from Hodinkee protect four or six watches ($120); lighter packers can carry a single watch in one soft leather pouch ($65).

Travel shoes for walking miles in style  

Comfortable shoes can be worth their weight in gold, and there are countless options these days to suit any style. Tieks (starting at $175) make ballet flats with extra-cushioned soles that are flattering, comfortable for all-day wear, and small enough to fold up and stick in a purse. Rothy’s flats and slip-ons (starting at $145) are made from recycled plastic bottles or merino wool and are machine washable for easy care. Allbirds (starting at $95) uses sustainable materials like wool and sugarcane in its stylish and comfortable sneakers. And Vessi’s lightweight knitted sneakers (starting at $129) are 100% waterproof.

Plane pants for chic comfort 

Just because the days of dressing up to get on a plane are long gone doesn’t mean we should all give up entirely on looking decent for a flight. Thankfully, your favorite sweats have gotten an upgrade, and now they’re called “joggers.” A slimmer leg creates a more fashionable silhouette, and basic black looks chic and hides stains. Lululemon makes joggers for men and women (with pockets!) for $128 and $118 respectively, with some more budget-friendly options at Gap starting around $40.

Scott’s Cheap Flights swag for supporting a good cause 

Wear your Scott’s Cheap Flights pride on your sleeve—or emblazoned across your chest, as it were—with some of our gear. We’ve got shirts and sweatshirts with the SCF logo or with one of our signature quotes ($25–40). And the best part is that 100% of profits goes toward the Scott’s Cheap Flights Study Abroad Scholarship Fund.

Travel gifts to feed their wanderlust at home

Scratch off map

A scratch off map or cork globe for marking where they’ve been 

Looking forward to the next trip is great, but so is remembering the adventures you’ve already had. The Scratch Off Map ($26) helps you favorite globetrotter track where they’ve been and mark off progress towards their travel goals. If they prefer old-school methods of seeing where they’ve been, this map ($149) comes with colorful push pins (including several that look like flags) and a personalized plaque.

For those who eschew maps for 3D models, there’s the World Traveler’s Cork Globe (starting at $80). It provides the same pleasure of plotting adventures—past or future—by dotting the planet with different push pins.

A framed map to remind them of a place they love

Maps are utilitarian when you’re on the road and trying to navigate, but they can also be beautiful and inspirational pieces to add travel flair to your home decor. You can find stylized maps of nearly any region, country, or city on Allposters, from realistic or historical maps to fanciful maps indicating what foods are popular in what areas. Etsy is another great resource for frame-able maps, some of which can also be personalized. 

Travel books for armchair adventures 

Travelers who are also readers can get lost in another world reading stories set in a place they’ve already been to and love or about a place that’s next on their wish list. Browse the virtual aisles of Powell’s travel section for fiction and non-fiction (used and new copies) to find the perfect story—or pick up a guidebook for wherever they’re headed next.

A journal to record their memories 

Rediscovering the romance of keeping a travel journal is easier when the journal is a work of art. Shinola makes beautiful hard-bound journals with linen covers ($24) that are sturdy and come in several colors. The paper is acid-free and you can get the cover monogrammed for added personalization.

Travel gifts for wandering foodies

carry-on cocktail kit

A wine suitcase to bring bottles home safely 

It’s a bummer to return from a wine-tasting trip and find a bottle didn’t make it home in your luggage in one piece. Serious oenophiles need a more reliable solution than simply nesting bottles in with their laundry and hoping for the best. Enter VinGardeValise (starting at $249), which makes hard-sided suitcases with cushioned inserts designed to transport up to a dozen wine bottles safely.

Try the World subscription box to give them a taste of the globe 

Bring world cuisine to your favorite traveling food lover with a subscription box from Try the World ($19–39 per month). Every month, they’ll get a selection of goodies, including snacks, beverages, and spices from all over the world to whet their appetite for dinner—and their next trip. 

Carry-on Cocktail Kit for better in-flight drinks

Level up their in-flight beverage game with a Carry On Cocktail Kit ($24). Choose from several classic drinks, including an old fashioned or gin and tonic. Each tin comes with the ingredients and tools they’ll need (except the booze, that is) to make two high-quality cocktails on the plane.

Travel gifts to help them carry-on or carry it all 

Away carryon

Packing cubes to keep them organized 

Even the fanciest suitcase can turn into utter chaos after a few days of travel. Packing cubes, like these sturdy stand-bys from Eagle Creek (from $11), make keeping bags organized an easy task. The Pack-It Specter series weighs next to nothing, and some are also compression bags that can help them squeeze more into their luggage.

The perfect suitcase for their travel style 

Luggage takes a serious beating when we travel, so investing in a quality suitcase is money well spent. These bags have perks beyond their ability to simply carry your stuff. Away makes a hard-sided carry-on bag ($325) with the option of adding a battery pack so you can stay charged on the go. Lipault’s soft-sided carry-on spinner ($245) weighs in at a scant 4 lbs 2 oz when empty and folds down flat for easy storage. And Calpak’s hard-sided carry-on bags ($165) expand up to two inches for the souvenirs picked up along the way.

A digital scale to avoid overweight fees 

When you’ve gotten a great deal on an airline ticket, you don’t want to end up spending all that money saved on fees for overweight bags. Keeping track of how much a suitcase weighs when is easy with a portable digital scale. There are dozens of options available, including the popular Etekcity Digital Hanging Luggage Scale ($13.99). The compact scale can switch between pounds and kilograms for converting on the fly, and has a capacity of 110 lbs.

A Kindle for voracious readers who pack light 

Bringing your whole library with you when you travel used to be unthinkable, but Amazon’s Kindle ($89.99–$249.99) changed all that. Literature-loving travelers can tuck a Kindle in their carry-on and never run out of reading material—no matter how long the flight is. 

A toiletry case to keep it all together 

Every traveler needs a toiletry kit, so getting one that’s designed to last longer than the plastic bag they’ve probably been using is never a bad idea. Herschel’s Chapter Travel Kit ($34.99) comes in a variety of colors and prints and has a waterproof interior in case anything leaks en route. Cuyana makes a sleek Leather Travel Case Set ($120) that features two zippered bags—one for toiletries and a smaller one that’s ideal for make-up or jewelry.

A duffel or weekender bag for shorter trips 

Different bags serve different purposes. For quick overnight or weekend trips, you probably don’t need your full-sized suitcase; that’s when a weekender bag comes in handy. Peak Design’s 35L Travel Duffel ($129) is weatherproof and can be carried like a duffel, over one shoulder, or as a backpack. The Catalina Deluxe from Lo & Sons ($143) has a separate zippered compartment on the bottom for shoes, and the sleeve on the back of the bag slips over the handle of a suitcase.

Travel gifts for techies

Nimble charger

Noise cancelling headphones to keep it quiet 

Travel can be an assault on the senses—from the drone-like noise of an airplane to the cacophony of public transit—and sometimes you just need a break. Noise cancelling headphones offer a little respite. The classic Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones ($399.95) are still popular, though the company makes smaller earbud-style models as well. Apple’s new AirPods Pro ($249) come with active noise cancellation, and they also have a “transparency” mode to easily switch noise cancellation on and off.

A portable charger so they never run out of juice 

We all know how much we rely on our phones these days, and that’s true when we’re traveling, too. From entertainment to navigation, our phones get a lot of use—and charging options aren’t always plentiful. Anker’s PowerCore ($65.99) has three USB ports and the capacity to charge up to 10 phones before it needs to be recharged itself. Nimble offers portable chargers with varying capacities, from three days of power to 10 ($79.95–$129.95), and each eco-friendly Nimble battery pack is made with recycled and plant-based materials.

Plug adapters for power no matter where they go 

Traveling with electronics sometimes means traveling with a plug adapter and an electrical converter so you don’t fry your equipment (or start any fires). EPICKA makes a universal adapter and converter ($21.99) that covers the plugs in more than 150 countries and even has four USB ports. A multi-piece set like this one from Wonpro ($14) is another great option to bring only the plugs needed for a specific trip (and not plugs for every country), 

Cord organizers to keep them tangle-free 

Another byproduct of traveling with so much electronic gear is the tangle of cords that goes with it. Not only is that jumbled mess annoying, but too much tugging on cables can cause damage to them over time. Keep your cords organized with a Cocoon Grid-It! Organizer (starting at $11.99), a totally customizable system of interwoven elastic bands to secure anything you tuck into them.

A tripod to snap the perfect shot 

Selfie sticks may be nearly ubiquitous these days, but a good travel tripod allows truly hands-free photography. GorillaPod’s flexible tripods (starting at $19.95) have arms you can bend in all directions, wrap around a tree branch, or keep your camera level on uneven ground. They’re lightweight and portable, and there’s a model to fit every camera (or camera phone).

AirFly converter for wireless sound 

We all love being plugged in when we’re traveling, whether it’s catching up on podcasts, watching a downloaded TV show, or tuning into an in-flight movie. The cable tethering you to your phone, tablet, or the seat-back screen is less fabulous, however, when you’re already dealing with a cramped space. AirFly ($44.99–64.99) cleans up the cable mess by converting a wired connection into a wireless connection. Plug the AirFly into a device (or the seat-back screen), connect Bluetooth headphones, and it’s good to go.

A spare set of chargers so they never leave home unprepared 

The more items a traveler needs to pack before a trip, the more they have a chance to forget. Give your connected traveler a stash of spares—such as spare plugs, charging cables, and car adapters—they can keep in their luggage. There are countless options for chargers and cables available online, including several that have extra-durable exterior coatings to make them less susceptible to damage.

Bonus: The one-size-fits-all gift for any traveler 

Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium membership so they never miss a great deal 

Our team of Flight Experts scours dozens of websites, airlines, and OTAs to find the best deals. Members choose with US airports they want to follow, and when we find a deal departing from one of those airports, we send an email with everything you need to know to book the deal. We only send exceptional deals for flights on quality airlines, and our members save an average of $550 per ticket!

Last Updated 
November 20, 2019
38 of the Best Gifts for Travelers in 2019
Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert (CFE)

Scott has traveled to 46 countries (and 46 states!), living in California, to Oaxaca, to Oregon. He’s left-handed, drinks five cups of tea daily, and holds a vendetta against the “Happy Birthday” song. On a dare, he once ate 13 hot dogs (and a bowl of Dippin’ Dots) at the ballpark. He grew up in Ohio and founded Scott’s Cheap Flights in a Denver coffee shop. Favorite airport: PDX.

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