What’s a good gift for someone who loves travel?
The market is awash with “essential” products for travellers but so many of them are unnecessary gadgets or just poorly designed. Frequent flyers and regular travellers usually have very particular preferences and spend a great deal of time researching and choosing the perfect item before buying.
If you know someone who loves to travel and you want to buy them something for Christmas that they will love and that they will actually use, then there are some very good choices but many more that you should avoid.
We’ve picked out some brilliant and unique ideas that you probably wouldn’t think of, some of the most highly recommended and trusted items in their category, and warn against the bad ideas you should really avoid.
Unique gifts for travellers
These are really special. Metal luggage tags or key-rings made from the skins of actual aircraft, including an RAF Special Forces Hercules.
You can have a luggage tag made from the original aircraft skin of an Etihad Airbus A319, an RAF Lockheed Hercules or Vickers VC10, an Antonov AN2, a Boeing 747, a Cessna, and more.
The tags are made from a specific decommissioned aircraft and show the registration of that aircraft.
The RAF Hercules, registration XV-209, was a special forces C3A and served all over the world for 50 years including the Falklands.
Each tag is a numbered limited-edition piece of metal genuinely from a real aircraft skin, etched with the aircraft model number and outline, and attached to a secure metal keychain ring. It can be used as a luggage tag or a keychain.
The frequent flyer on your shopping list will love this very special piece of aviation history.
AviationtagUnique pieces of history
Losing your wallet, phone, passport or any other essential when travelling can be an absolute nightmare.
Sometimes things are stolen, but it’s all too easy to be distracted for a second and leave something behind in a hotel or a cafe or on a bus. Many people will just pocket what they find but there are just as many who will try to locate the owner if they can, especially those who work in cafes or airports or hotels.
The problem is there’s often no way of identifying or contacting the owner.
Dynotag smart tags can be stuck or clipped on to phones, bags, coats, passports and anything else. Each sticker or tag has a unique web address and a QR code.
If someone finds the lost item they can enter that web address or scan the QR code. They will be taken to a web page with your contact details. You can add a message saying that you offer a reward, which will increase the chances of your item being returned.
Even if the finder doesn’t contact you, when they scan the code the Dynotag system will identify their approximate location, which may help you narrow it down to a hotel or airport who you can then contact yourself.
There’s a lot of luck involved of course, but these tags are a cheap way of boosting your chances, especially when you’re still in the hotel where you misplaced your tablet or your journal or your sunglasses case…
Dynotag recovery tagsPeace of mind
Frequent flyers have a lot of time to write, and regular travellers often love to make notes on their travels, as a keepsake or to feed their travel blog, or just to make plans for the next day of their holiday.
There are so many beautiful journals available that you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect one for that special someone.
Many people find that once they start journalling it becomes a habit that they don’t want to break.
Look out for dotted journals rather than lined. These minimalist options are insanely popular because they allow people to make their own layout formats and do different things on different pages without the constraint of lines.
Pick durable covers that are good for withstanding the rigours of travel, and go for smaller sizes like A5 for portability.
Finally, look for “bullet journals” rather than travel journals. The former is aimed at daily journalling while you’re on a trip whereas the latter is more often intended for organising notes and photos after returning from a trip.
Brilliant travel essentials
Packing cubes are brilliant. In multiple sizes for everything that goes in your suitcase. Toiletries, socks, clothes, tech, power leads. I take one or two empty ones to keep all the souvenirs and gifts I pick up along the way.
Larger ones for shoes are great for keeping the rest of your case clean. When you arrive at your hotel you can quickly lift the organisers out of your suitcase and drop them into a wardrobe or a drawer or the bathroom counter, desk, or bedside table, and immediately have everything right where you want it.
They’re a great gift because you can choose from a range of sizes and multi-packs to suit your budget, in a variety of styles and colours to suit your intended recipient.
Well-known brands like Eagle Creek charge a premium for higher quality materials but cheaper options from Amazon Basics are great value.
Packing cubesA brilliant solution
I started using earplugs as a motorcyclist and now I carry them whenever I’m going on a plane or to a hotel.
Earplugs are a brilliantly simple solution if you want to get a good night’s sleep on an airplane or in a hotel where there are always doors slamming, people talking in the corridors, and if you’re unlucky, someone stamping around in the room above you or with the TV on loud at 2am.
Stick the earplugs in, sleep like a log.
These ones by deepsleeps are popular and recommended by the BA Executive Club, but there are many others that all work just as well.
Ear plugsFor a deep sleep
Travel door stop
If you’re worried about the security of a family member who is heading off travelling, especially by themselves, then this is a good idea.
Unfortunately it is true that some thefts and crimes happen to people in hotel or hostel rooms with poor door locks, but it is rare.
It’s not rare to feel at risk when you’re in a room with a feeble door lock, or even no door lock, and then it’s difficult to sleep peacefully.
The most effective way to prevent someone coming into your room without your permission is a door stop, a wedge under the door that just gets more and more stuck the harder someone pushes.
Cheap, simple, effective. Some even have alarms taht will wake you up should someone try to force their way in during the night, or even if someone with a key tries to sneak in and rob you.
Travel door stopPrevent unwanted visitors
Splurge on top travel tech
RAVPower wireless memory card reader
If you know a regular traveller who takes a lot of photos then this is a gift that would be appreciated because losing the only copy of your photos is an unthinkable nightmare.
Until recently, copying memory cards away from home without a computer required expensive and awkward specialist gadgets, but now it’s cheap and easy.
This best-selling design is great because it also functions as a power bank to recharge your devices while you copy files, and a wi-fi router to share the hotel wi-fi to all your devices.
Insert a memory card with your photos and copy them to a backup USB drive.
Wireless SD card readerPerfect for photographers
GEGO luggage tracker
I’ve used the previous generation lugLoc for years, and I love it. I’ve recently upgraded to the newer GEGO which has been improved to use 3G phone network, WI-FI, AND Bluetooth to track your bag.
Lugloc and GEGO are brilliant. Register your account and activate your device, charge it up, and place it in your suitcase before you head to the airport. When you arrive, you can check the app on your phone and it will tell you where your bag is.
GEGO switches itself off during flight and is marked as approved for flight use so you won’t have any problem with airports or airlines or the TSA. At the destination, GEGO wakes up, finds a mobile phone or wi-fi signal, and works out where it is. When you’re close, it pings your phone over Bluetooth.
My old Lugloc was brilliant. It often connected by Bluetooth to tell me my suitcase was now onboard the plane. I’ve been taxiing after landing and had an update showing my suitcase at the arrival airport.
Many times I’ve been standing at the luggage carousel and my phone has started vibrating to confirm that my case is nearby. It’s very reassuring. Fortunately I’ve never had a bag go astray while I’ve been using the tracker, but if I did then you would know which airport it was in.
The battery is more than enough for long haul flights. The 30 day plan that is included in the purchase and can be bought again for future trips. £5 would give service for another month, but you only need to pay this when you’re off travelling. If you travel frequently you can get a better value annual subscription. It works in 190 countries.
GEGO Luggage trackerWorldwide coverage
GlocalMe G3 Worldwide Mobile WiFi Hotspot
If you travel much outside western Europe you soon find that the cost of using mobile data is astronomical. One solution is to buy local SIM cards but that means buying a dual-sim phone or having to swap out your own phone number.
You can buy data packages in many countries from your home provider but the cost can be ridiculous.
GlocalMe solves the problem in one simple mobile WiFi hotspot that can connect to any worldwide network and let you buy data packages in various sizes with various durations, so you can pick the best value package for your needs.
No more hunting for free wifi hotspots to upload photos to your blog or finding directions, with GlocalMe you’ve got your own Wi-Fi hotspot in your pocket and you can let your travel companions connect to it too because it supports up to 5 devices.
It works brilliantly, the coverage is extensive, and the data package prices are very, very good, and it even has a slot for a local sim card if you need to use one, so you can keep your own sim in your phone where it belongs.
This is my absolute favourite travel gadget.
GlocalMe G3Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot
€3 per day in the US
€1.5 per day in China
€1.5 per day in Japan
I’ve used it in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Qatar, Philippines, New Zealand, Taiwan, Fiji, Chile, and more, and it was always so much cheaper than my home mobile provider’s prices that it paid for itself very quickly.
What not to buy as a gift for a keen traveller
Here are some things to avoid.
Suitcases or carry-on bags. Most frequent flyers and regular travellers will have very particular personal preferences when it comes to bags for different kinds of trip. They will have researched endlessly and probably tried several before settling on their favourite. Leave them to it.
Money belts. These are the worst idea. They’re uncomfortable, bulky, and awkward to use in practice without drawing attention. Most muggers and thieves in tourist hotspots know all about them and often the first thing they do to their intended victim is lift up the bottom of their shirt to find the money belt.
People are much better off having a regular wallet with a small amount of money and cards just for that day’s expenses, while keeping the rest of their cash and cards in a different wallet in a zipped up pocket that they don’t get out in public.
Your “mugger wallet” can be easily given up to prevent further aggression without causing you a painful financial loss. I keep expired cards, store loyalty cards, and an expired driving licence in my “mugger wallet”, and it’s padded out with old receipts. I hope to never need it, but I’m relaxed in the knowledge that my real cash and cards is not coming out in public and will be much harder for someone to snatch.