We tend to live by the motto, “Invest in experiences, not things.” Our walls at home are bare with the exception of a painting we purchased in Positano and a map with pins indicating the countries we have traveled to. We aren’t minimalists in the traditional sense, but we generally choose to forego expensive “things” so that we can invest that money elsewhere – in travel. Many of you may also subscribe to this train of thought, but Christmas is the one time of the year you might feel stressed about buying an “actual” gift for your significant other, friend, family member, etc. who loves to travel. To help you out, here are our 10 best Christmas gifts for travelers in 2018. For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah or another holiday, the suggestions remain the same. Whatever holiday you celebrate, Happy Holidays! Merry Christmahaunakwanzikuh!
Hands down, the best gift that you can purchase for your nomadic friends is a trip. An adventure. Some form of activity. Even if it doesn’t actually involve a flight, hotel, and vacation days, gifts that are not material possessions – but rather an experience – are great for people who love to travel. Perhaps tickets to a sports game or a concert, a trip to a theme park, etc. Or, if you have the money and want to opt for a surprise trip somewhere, you can take your significant other/friend/family member somewhere you know he/she will love and you can share in an incredible experience with her or him.
2 years ago my Christmas gift to Alex was a surprise trip to Peru to hike Machu Picchu. She absolutely LOVED it….and so did I! 🙂
Book affordable flights through Skyscanner – this is like Kayak, but invariably has the best flight prices. It is less well known here in the US and more common in Europe. When we don’t book directly through Delta, we book the majority of our flights through Skyscanner.
Sign up for Airbnb – Create a new account and we both will earn $20-40 on our next stay. The offer is always changing but is never less than $20. Why pay $300 for a shitty hotel when you can have a nice apartment for 1/3 of the price?
Sign up for Booking.com – If Airbnb isn’t your thing, use Booking.com to book hotels, B&B, etc.
Purchase travel insurance – Make sure you protect yourself, your travel partner, your possessions, and your trip. World Nomads protects everything at a great cost. Hurricane? Covered. Death/dismemberment? God forbid but covered. Broken camera? Covered. Stolen camera? Also covered. Trip cancellation? Covered. Be sure to check the details of your plan and purchase the coverage you need.
Airplane engines are loud. Crying babies are louder. Bose QuietComfort headphones are an absolute lifesaver. We have a number of Bose products ranging from the in-ear QuietComfort headphones to the over-ear version, and even the SoundSport Wireless. All bose products are absolutely awesome for travelers. The sound canceling feature is our favorite because it not only makes the music sound better but is also great when used to read without music. Just the noise canceling alone dulls the sound of the plane, crying babies, etc. and creates a peaceful white noise that is perfect for reading/sleeping.
Buy Bose QuietComfort headphones on Amazon and get 2-day free shipping.
We would be remiss if we didn’t’ acknowledge camera gear. These days, every traveler wants to create content and document the places they visit. We use a wide variety of camera gear from a DSLR, iPhone, GoPro, and DJI drone.
We tend to use a mix of Osprey and Samsonite luggage. Neither brand sponsors us, we just like their products. We have also used luggage from Away, Bluesmart, and custom-made leather bags we bought at the leather market in Florence, Italy.
Osprey 50 Liter Backpack (Great for 5-7 day trips, or 2 weeks if you have access to a washer)
Osprey 46 Liter Travel Pack (Great for weekend trips – we also use it as a day pack sometimes)
Samsonite hard case spinner (Great for long trips)
Most travelers spend hundreds or even thousands of hours traveling and traversing airports during layovers. We read a lot at home, but while traveling, we read a TON. We recently wrote a couple blogs highlighting some of our favorite books. Check out volume 1 and volume 2.
Read more: Best Books to Read While Traveling
Best Books to Read While Traveling Vol. 2
A couple of years ago, Alex got me an epic Nat Geo push pin travel map. It is the lone piece of art hanging on the wall in our living room. We have 3 different colors of push pins that we use: white indicates a place we have visited together, black indicates places only I have visited and red indicates places only Alex has been.
It’s fun to look at, especially when you see a few dozen pins in the map. On one hand it is incredible to see how much of the world we have been able to see together, and on the other hand, this map fuels our wanderlust as we see so many places without pins.
One downside to travel is the impact that it has on the environment. There is nothing we can do about emission from airplanes or cars, but we prefer to help the environment when possible. One absolute no-brainer is a refillable water bottle. We both use Yeti Ramblers because they keep drinks cold (or hot) pretty much forever. We can be on a beach in 100-degree weather and the ice in the Yeti typically won’t melt. If it does, the drink at least stays cold. I drink about 2 gallons of water each day and Alex drinks about half a gallon or so. Combined, that’s about 18 500 ml plastic water bottles each day that we aren’t wasting. Extrapolate that over a year, and we save almost 7,000 plastic water bottles. Just US. 2 people.
Traveling with heavy books like Shantaram is difficult. 933 pages and a hardcover will weigh your backpack down. I hate tablets, but Alex likes them. And based on popularity, it seems that most travelers prefer to have a Kindle or an iPad with them on flights. In-flight wifi is almost ubiquitous at this point, and it never hurts to have a dozen books to choose from on a 13-hour flight.
Last year we purchased kits from 23andMe so that we could take a deeper dive into our ancestry. I was almost certain that I was at least 50-75% Irish, and Alex was confident in a few bits of her heritage but uncertain of others. Well, we got our results and data back and it was super cool to look through. It turns out that I’m actually more like 95% Irish and Alex is 50% Ashkenazi Jew with a mix of Irish, French, and many other European nationalities making up the other half. Of course, we both have 2-3% Sub Saharan African. Travelers usually love history – especially our own. An ancestry kit is a great way for someone to have a fun and educational experience from your gift. (Bonus – these kits can help you identify potential health risks as well if you pay for the supplemental data analysis).
If you’re looking to opt for some affordable, yet practical, there are a plethora of stocking stuffers you can get a traveler that would be great, pragmatic gifts. When traveling internationally it is always great to have a universal power adapter (or 5), a sleep mask, a neck pillow, and packing cubes. Here are some of our suggestions for stocking stuffers: