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12 Genuinely Useful Christmas Gift Ideas for Travel Lovers

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close up of a gift wrapped in brown paper with a pink ribbon - gift ideas for travel lovers

Need some gift ideas for the travel lovers in your life? Here are my tried-and-tested suggestions for genuinely useful travel gifts…

Got a friend who’s about to head off on a gap year? Someone leaving work to take a round-the-world trip? Or just that friend or family member who NEVER seems to stop travelling?

This post is packed with some great gift ideas for travellers. There are lots of fun travel-themed gifts out there. But many of these are actually pretty useless and may just end up gathering dust at the back of a cupboard, never used!

As someone who’s been travelling the world for more than a decade, I know what’s actually useful, and what’s not. These are my top picks for travel items that your friends will definitely appreciate, but might not think to buy themselves.

I hope you find these gift ideas useful when choosing what to buy the travel lovers in your life this Christmas…

Some (not all) of the products featured in this roundup were sent to me as gifts over the years. But all are items I still genuinely use myself and love. As ever, all words and opinions are my own.

6 Useful Gift Ideas for Travel Lovers

A tastecard Dining Out Card

flat lay of a tabletop with wrapped christmas presents and string around an open black cardboard box with a tastecard inside and two hands in front holding an open catelogue

Yearly membership = £29.99 (or £2.99 a month)

Do you have a friend or loved one who loves travelling in the UK? A tastecard could make a brilliant, money-saving gift for them!

tastecard is a subscription-based dining out card that gives access to discounts at 1000s of restaurants and many more attractions. It covers both the UK and Ireland and gives some incredible special offers. Many restaurants offer 2-for-1 dining, or as much as 25% off food & drinks.

It’s not all about dining, either. tastecard also gets you discounts on things like cinema tickets, theme parks, and other major attractions. So it’s PERFECT for people who love to take fun days out and mini breaks around the UK and Ireland.

Travel Towel

flatlay of 4 different colour towles on a white background, the largest is blue and there are grey, green and purple travel towels folder on top

I know this seems like quite a boring gift, but a travel towel really is one of the most handy backpacking essentials! I take mine on most trips. It’s SUCH a great space saver, taking up less than a third of the space a normal towel would. They also dry much faster and stay cleaner longer – resisting that gross damp towel smell!

I’ve been using the same ones for years and heartily recommend either. I usually bring my Packtowl as it’s a little larger, but my Mountain Warehouse Large Microfiber Travel Towel folds up smaller, so it’s great when I’m travelling with just carry-on luggage. If you want something a bit more gift-y, Dock & Bay have a range of fun colours and designs.

Water-To-Go Filter Bottle (15% Discount Code)

a grey bottle with purple trip and the name water-to-go printed on the side standing on a mossy rock with a river out of focus behind

Tap water isn’t safe to drink in a lot of destinations. So a Water-to-Go filter bottle is an absolutely essential bit of kit for a traveller!

Essentially, there’s a filter built into the cap which means that freshwater from any source is made instantly safe to drink. It also filters out any bad taste or colour – so you could fill the bottle up from a muddy puddle if you were desperate, and get instant safe, clean water.

I’ve had a Water-to-Go bottle since my very first backpacking trip and I swear by them. The alternative is buying several plastic bottles of water a day, which is both unnecessarily costly AND bad for the planet. So these bottles are brilliant. There’s a range of sizes and colours so they make great gifts – and you can get 15% off with my discount code ELUX15.

Packing Cubes

a stack of three blue ebags packing cubes in different sizes with the smallest on top stacked against a cream wall

Another of my favourite travel accessories, packing cubes are insanely useful. Especially for anyone who travels a lot! Packing cubes are ideal for organising luggage, keeping clothes neatly folded, and making packing easier. I genuinely swear by them: Read my eBags review to find out why I love them so much.

Personally, I recommend eBags Packing Cubes as I’ve been using them for years and they’ve lasted really well. However, these aren’t easy to get in the UK at the moment. I was recently sent some Osprey packing cubes which are much more lightweight – perfect for those travelling carry-on – and which could be the PERFECT alternative!

Personalised Passport Cover

brown leather passport holder and luggage tag next to each other on a paper map, both are printed with a compass and the name Emily Luxton. Gift ideas for travel lovers

Passport holders are great gifts for travellers. They’re practical: keeping your passport protected and providing a handy space to store documents like your baggage tag. But creating a custom-made, personalised passport cover also adds a touch of fun – making the perfect gift.

A quick browse on Etsy will throw up loads of options for passport covers. My personal favourites are these gorgeous leather ones (I have something similar myself). Add your friend’s name, initials, or a special message to make it a fun, thoughtful gift.

Darn Tough Hiking Socks

three pairs of Darn Tough wool hiking socks in teal, blue and purple (from left to right) on a pink blanket

Hiking socks can be SUPER useful for travellers. They’re great for hiking (obviously), helping keep your feet warm and blister-free inside hiking boots. But these Darn Tough merino wool hiking socks are also durable, comfortable, and smell-free – so they’re ideal for travellers!

I was sent a few pairs to test out recently and fell instantly in love – these are genuinely the most comfy socks I’ve ever worn!

There’s a range of fun colours and designs, so they make great gifts. They’re thermo-regulating, keeping you cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. The wool is moisture-wicking (to soak up sweat) and anti-microbial (to keep that gross sock smell at bay).

WeDrifters Anti-Insect Camping Pyjamas

emily wearing grey cotton pyjamas matching top and bottom sitting in a field in front of some trees

I was sent a set of WeDrifters Camping Pyjamas a few years ago and they’ve genuinely become my FAVOURITE pjs for travel! They’re great for camping trips – but also perfect for travels in tropical countries where mosquitoes and heat are a problem.

The pyjamas are made from super-soft, sustainable bamboo and have anti-insect technology to help keep mosquito bites at bay. The fabric also has temperature control properties, keeping you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot, and are sweat-wicking and odour-resistant (so you can go a while between washes). In short, perfect for backpackers! Read my review of the We Drifters pyjamas here for more info.

5 Book Gift Ideas for Travel Lovers

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2024

hardcover book with a multicoloured swirl pattern and the title Best in Travel 2024, on a wooden tabletop next to a plant in a pink pot. gift ideas for travel lovers

Give your travel-loving friend a huge hit of inspirational wanderlust for the year ahead – in the form of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2024. 

This beautiful, rainbow-coloured, coffee-table hardback is PACKED with stunning photos, useful tips, and brilliant ideas for the best places to visit all over the world. Just be warned: you might not see your friend much next year if you give them this book!

Eastwards and Far, Chris Lee-Francis

white paperback book open on a table the cover has a red ink drawing on a bike on it with the name Eastwards and Far printed above

A friend of a friend self-published this travel memoir recounting their journey cycling across Canada. Our mutual friend put us in touch and suggested I might like to give the book a read, so Chris sent me a copy – which I devoured in just over a day! 

Eastwards and Far is a lovely read that really captures the simple joys of travelling. In particular, that incredible feeling when you realise just how much more capable you are than you might realise: whether it’s making it up and over the first major hill climb in the Rockies, or overcoming setbacks like burst tyres and lost equipment.

It’s also a peppered with accounts of human kindnesses both big and small. A beautiful story of how travel can prove that there are more good people than bad in the world. Support a self-published author and buy a copy of this book today. AND get a discount on physical copies using my code: EmilyLuxtonTravels10 (valid till Christmas Eve).

The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century

blue hardback book on a table next to a green coffee mug with the title The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century on the cover

This was one of the best reads of the year for me. It’s packed with brilliant, inspirational stories from some of the country’s best writers. 

The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century is a collection of 30 incredible stories published in British media over the last two decades, chosen by some of the top names in travel writing today. Immerse yourself in a diverse array of destinations and journeys, from a walk along the English Coast Path to tracking snow leopards in the mountains of Ladakh. This inspiration-filled book makes the perfect gift for travel lovers.

Call You When I Land, Nikki Vargas

Call You When I Land is a brilliant, brand-new travel memoir from Colombian immigrant and travel journalist Nikki Vargas. This is set to be the next big hit in travel writing: it was released just last month and has already received rave reviews.

From the journalist behind the first international feminist travel magazine, Unearth Women, the brilliant Nikki Vargas, this fantastic travel memoir is packed with candid reflections from a series of journeys that lined the author’s road to reinvention.

Lonely Planet’s “Experience” Series

three books on a bookshelf in a row, from left to right the titles are Experience Great Britain, Experience Scotland, and Experience England. gift ideas for travel lovers

What I love about the new “Experience” series from Lonely Planet is that they’re all written by genuine locals and packed with insider information. I actually wrote the Southwest chapter of the Experience England book (and a section of the Experience Great Britain book). I’m based in Dorset and know the southwest like the back of my hand, so all my ideas are based on a lifetime of genuine personal experience.

If the travel lover in your life is dreaming of a specific destination, the “Experience” book for that country would make a great gift. Each one is packed with inspirational ideas for things to do that go beyond the usual guidebook offerings. Discover unique adventures and immersive experiences that will help you travel a little deeper – with input from local writers and expert business owners.

Got any more great book or useful gift ideas for travel lovers? Share your tips in the comments below!

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