Life Musings

10 Gift Ideas For Travelers

This year will be my first Christmas away from my family. I’ll be celebrating the holidays in Ghana, a fact I haven’t quite wrapped my head around. The hot, humid climate has given no indication of a change in season, no external signal to prepare me for the upcoming festivities.

I want to hide all of the pictures of wintery wonderlands from my Facebook feed and shoot evil glares at anyone daring to share a photo of their beautifully decked halls (you know who you are). It doesn’t really feel like December, and part of me wants to pretend it’s mid- July instead.

Still, I’ve noticed Christmas lights blinking from gas stations and pine trees in window shops, sticking out like sore thumbs among the mango trees. The other morning I heard Jingle Bells on the radio in the tro-tro on the way to school, and my students have been coloring pictures of wreathes and singing Feliz Navidad in class.

I can’t avoid the holidays, even if I feel disappointed that I actually won’t be home for Christmas. 

I’ve already missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but that hasn’t stopped me from writing my own wish list and thinking of brightly wrapped presents under a twinkling tree. A girl can dream, right?

Since I’m a perpetual wanderluster and wannabe minimalist, I thought I’d put together a list of perfect gift ideas for travelers, aka the adrenaline seeking, globe trotter in your life. (If that happens to be you, even better 😉

1. Birkenstocks

I wear mine every single day. They’re durable, versatile, and comfortable. I got a neutral color so I could wear them with my cute summer dresses as well as jeans. After the initial day or two of breaking them in, they became the only pair of shoes I want to wear.
Admiring the pretty tiles in Marakech, Morocco 

2. Spotify Premium Subscription

I’m all about free music, but Spotify’s premium subscription is hard to resist. For $10.00 a month you can listen to any amount of music offline on your computer or mobile. I can live without a lot of things on the road, but music is not one of them. My Spotify library has kept me entertained during many long train and bus rides and it helps to drown out the sound of the screaming baby sitting behind you on the plane.

3. Skype Credit

Worried you’ll never hear from your loved one once they hit the road? Buy them some international Skype credit and set up your own account. I quit my cell phone contract before leaving the States and set up a Skype phone number where I can be reached in any country. It’s much cheaper than international cell phone rates and I just need a wi-fi connection to call home. I can’t describe how much this has helped alleviate the homesickness I would’ve felt if I hadn’t been able to talk to my friends and family on a regular basis.

4. 1000 Places from Lonely Planet

This book is eye candy for any restless spirit and might inspire your own adventure. I love Lonely Planet books because they describe off-beat corners of the world and less explored territory, perfect for the seasoned backpacker.

5. Recycled Travel Journal

I have a growing collection of travel journals I keep near and dear to my heart. Finding the perfect journal is always a challenge for me. I prefer ones with a ribbon to mark my place, and a strap to keep any loose tickets or scraps of paper from falling out. The right size is not too big, not too small, something I can easily put in my carry on and keep with me at all times. I love reading through old entries and reminiscing about past travels while rediscovering all the bits of scribbled phone numbers and directions to bus stations and train depots.

6. Travel Towel

I was skeptical about these compact, micro-fiber towels until I purchased my first one and love it. I got the extra large size which also doubles as my beach towel. It dries quickly, takes up little space, and actually doesn’t feel that scratchy like I’d feared. It’s one of my favorite travel items so far.

 7. All-in-One Bamboo Utensil

I’ve done a bit of camping during my travels and having a reusable spoon or fork is essential. I love bamboo because its renewable and easy to clean. Add a bottle opener and a small sewing kit and your traveler will be prepared for just about anything. Except maybe bears.

8. E-reader

I am defiantly old-fashioned when it comes to technology, much to my own detriment. I don’t own an E-reader and never intend to, but I have to admit I can see where it might come in handy on the road. I love to read and I’ve felt a distinct lack of reading material since I’ve left home. Books are simply too heavy to pack more than one or two at a time, and finding quality literature in your own language can be challenging. An E-reader is the perfect solution. Damnit.

9. Workaway Membership

Workaway is a volunteer site that allows long-term or budget travelers to connect with hosts all around the world. Travelers provide a few hours of work a day in exchange for a free place to sleep and eat. I’ve traveled in France and now Ghana using Workaway, and I love it. The cultural exchange and experiences I’ve had are invaluable, and well worth the nominal two year membership fee.
Hanging out with other Workaway volunteers in Ghana, Africa

10. Encouragement

This may be super cheesy, but encouraging someone’s dream of long-term travel may be the best gift you can offer. I had my fair share of naysayers before I quit my job to see the world and their negative reactions only multiplied my own doubts. Thankfully, I had close friends and family who gave unconditional support and their words of encouragement have kept me going through all of the ups and downs of solo travel.

*Several of the links provided above will take you to Ebay, with whom I am an affiliate partner. All opinions and reviews of products are based on my honest assessment and experience as a long-term world traveler. Happy Holidays and happy shopping!

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  • Reply Brittany December 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    This is a great list. I would have to agree on the travel towel and the e-reader. Don’t think you can go wrong with those two. It is great that you posted this list but I wasn’t even thinking about having to take a towel to travel but not it is on my list.
    Brittany recently posted…Start Here-Washington DCMy Profile

    • Reply Mariah December 22, 2013 at 5:06 am

      Thanks Brittany! I love my travel towel and can’t imagine going anywhere without it now! You can also check out my “What to pack for a year of travel” post, it’s a great place to start if you’re planning your own adventures 🙂

  • Reply Agness December 10, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    I need one of there travel towels. They would be great for my workout and yoga routine when travelling. Thanks for a great idea!

    • Reply Mariah December 11, 2013 at 12:33 am

      No problem! I love mine and I think it would be perfect for yoga too! 🙂

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