Travelers, nomads, and future nomads can be tough to shop for.
Many of us are in the process of paring down our possessions, or keeping them minimal, or we’re already living out of a backpack or suitcase, so we’re averse to acquiring more stuff.
We’re often on the road, so it might not be possible give us gifts in person. And if we’re moving around a lot, or staying somewhere without reliable postal service, it might not be possible to mail us something, either!
So what are the best gifts for nomads and travelers?
I asked experienced travelers, nomads, expats, and future nomads to share their suggestions. Their names are provided in parentheses, and the list also includes some of my own ideas (many of which are things I own and use and/or that I’ve actually received from friends and family).
If you’ve ever struggled with what to buy for the avid traveler or nomad in your life, this is for you.
NOTE: Please be sure to check with your favorite nomad before buying them any physical items! Many of us have our packing down to a science and may not have space to add something new, no matter how handy or beautiful it may be.
And if you’re tired of your family and friends complaining that you’re difficult to shop for, just send them this post.
Note: Links with an * are affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission or other benefit if you purchase using this link. As always, there’s no extra cost to you!
Travel Goodies and Essentials
Essential travel items:
- travel clothesline* (Kate Voyage)
- luggage locks* (Lynan Saperstein)
- retractable cable lock*
- packing cubes* (Lynan Saperstein) or PackGear organizer (Julie-Ann Sherlock)
- travel towel*
- silicone travel bottles (Amy says: I love these GoToobs*)
The Scrubba is a great solution for anyone who travels (Jill Sessa)
Foreign currency to the country where a person is traveling (Lynan Saperstein)
Cocoon for cords and gadgets (Lynan Saperstein)
A little foldable backpack and a water bottle* (Akira Morita) (Amy says: I love this backpack!)
Travel coffeemaker, like an Aeropress* (Kristen Youngs)
Gadgets and Tech Stuff
External battery pack* for smartphones, ereaders, and other small electronics
Extra-long USB cable*. Sometimes a plug where I sleep is a long way away or charging a phone at a train station may require plugging in behind vending machines. (Paul Strobl) (Amy says: Make sure it will work for their phone/devices!)
An iPad Mini (Lynan Saperstein)
A Kindle.* I LOVE my Kindle Paperwhite. I can read it on dark planes and while sitting next to the window on trains. If I’m traveling for less than a month I don’t need to bring my charger. It’s small and lightweight enough that I carry it everywhere. (Cate Johnson Brubaker)
Noise-canceling headphones*. I could not do without these on planes, buses, trains. (Beth Sheldon)
Roost laptop stand* (Amy says: be sure they have an external keyboard and mouse to go with it!)
Amazon Fire TV stick* (Kristen Youngs)
Combination selfie stick/monopod/tripod* (Nancy-Lynn Hoffman)
Clothes and Accessories
Foldable reusable shopping bag (something like this)
NapAnywhere: it supports your neck so you can nap anywhere. I backed this from Kickstarter and the quality is surprisingly good. I look forward to using it to nap anywhere when I travel. (Brian Kwong)
Scarf with hidden pocket* (Shannon Moore Martin)
Icebreaker* clothes: you can wear them for quite some time and they do not smell. Lightweight, wrinkles come out quickly. They make just about everything you need to wear! (Sarah Cook)
Jackets, pants, and other things from SCOTTEVEST. They are designed mostly with travelers in mind: thinking of being able to carry things while traveling by air. Lots of little pockets, and some very big pockets, so you can put things right in your clothing, instead of having to carry bags. (Linda Eskin)
High-quality outerwear and shoes (Shannon Moore Martin)
Keep Them Healthy and Safe on the Road
Travel yoga mat (Amy says: I have this one*)
Inflatable lumbar support pillow* (Kristen Youngs)
SteriPEN water purifier* (April Lee)
Collapsible silicone food storage containers*. Having these in my “travel kitchen” has been a lifesaver. (Beth Sheldon)
Door stop alarm (Amy says: I’ve never used one, but they’re often recommended for solo female travelers)
An iTunes voucher! That way I can buy more books when I need them, more music, movies, etc. and it takes up no space. I really don’t want more objects when I’m traveling. (Sharon Gourlay)
Skype credit is something I’d like as it would show interest in keeping in touch with me. I think generally the idea would be to buy something you know for sure the person actually uses, e.g., if they use Skype to contact you, then you know they need Skype credit. (Kate Voyage)
Amazon gift cards* (Lynan Saperstein)
Kindle Unlimited membership* for access to Kindle books, audiobooks, and more
We like to give Kindle books* (and also request them as gifts for ourselves!). You can set it up so they are delivered by email on a set date so it’s still a surprise to “open.” (Bethaney Davies) (Note: You can easily create a Wish List on Amazon and share it with friends and family.)
Subscription to take online classes, such as with CreativeLive*.
More Personal Gifts
Handmade “coupons” accompanied by cash for something specific: a special dinner out, a city tour, cooking classes, language classes, spa day, hotel stay… (My family has been doing this for years and I love it!)
Videos/slideshows of family (Tammy Perry)
Make plans to meet them somewhere in the world (Lynan Saperstein)
If they’re staying in one place for a while, maybe shipping some hard-to-find goodies, toiletries, or other things from “back home.” Something they might miss, like their favorite flavor of gum, or the toothpaste they can’t get where they are now. (Linda Eskin)
Donation to a favorite charity
Offering to host them in your guest room/on the couch (Lynan Saperstein)
Help Them Visualize, Plan, and Create Their Ideal Life
Show your support for all their crazy dreams!
The Destination: Nomadtopia ebook is jam-packed with beautiful photos from all over the world along with case studies and powerful questions to help them identify what their ideal lifestyle looks like.
If they’ve recently returned home and seem to feel a bit out of sorts (or are apprehensive about an upcoming return home), Dr. Cate Brubaker’s Re-Entry Roadmap* is a great resource to help them through the re-entry process, which can be more difficult than we might think!
Inspirational Items for Those Who Haven’t Left
(or have a home base where they can leave things!)
A calendar of vintage travel posters, gorgeous scenes around the world, a dream destination, daily inspiration, or to learn a language (Calendars.com has all of these and more)
What are your favorite gifts to give or receive? Share your ideas in the comments.
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Note: Links with an * are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you purchase the product using this link. As always, there’s no extra cost to you!
This post was originally published in 2013 and I’ve been updating it ever since. If you happen to find any outdated links, please let me know!