Many people approach air travel with a level of dread. Waking up early, rushing to your gate on time, bracing for the inevitable new TSA rule about shoelace aglets that no one told you about. These are valid reasons to hate travel. But for some, sitting in those weird chairs and walking through overpriced souvenir shops is part of the charm of air travel. And while flying is on hold for most people right now, there are still safe ways to take trips. The time-honored American tradition of the road trip looks better than ever these days. Whether you’re going camping or holing up in a rental, there are socially distant ways to scratch your travel itch. And if you’re not traveling right now, these travel gifts will at least make you look forward to when you can.
Whether you have a friend who misses traveling or you are that friend, we’ve rounded up some of the best travel gifts. These gifts include practical gear that makes travel easier as well as stuff that’ll allow them to enjoy their creature comforts, no matter how far away from home they are. These are the best travel gifts for anyone on your list.
1. Topo Designs Dopp Kit
FOR THE FRIEND WHO LOVES THEIR PRODUCTS
Even if they already have a Dopp kit, it doesn’t hurt to have another. Longer family trips will require a larger bag with many compartments, while a short weekender might only require what you can fit into a pencil case. This Dopp kit from Topo Designs is somewhere in the middle. The triangular shape means it can stand on its own on the counter while also being easier to squish into any open space in your bag. It’s made in the US from durable and water-resistant nylon, while the leather detailing adds rugged appeal.
2. Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes
FOR THE FRIEND WHO ONLY FLIES ON THE RED EYE
If you’re going straight from the plane to a business meeting, you might not have time to properly freshen up. These face wipes from Ursa Major come individually wrapped, and are a great way to revitalize your face after it’s been exposed to the dry circulated airplane air on that 4 AM red eye. The wipes are made from bamboo, making them compostable and biodegradable. This kit includes 20 face wipes. Take out a few and keep them in your Dopp kit (such as the one from Topo designs).
3. Portable Charger Anker PowerCore
FOR THE FRIEND WITH TOO MANY DEVICES
Every traveler knows the importance of keeping their device charged, whether for finding directions, storing their digital boarding pass, or killing time at the gate with a word game. According to Anker, this portable charger is capable of charging an iPad mini twice or an iPhone 8 almost seven times. It’s small enough to slip into your back pocket as well, and the 20100mAh should be below the airline power limit, so you can bring it with you in your carry-on (though you still may want to double-check with your airline).
4. Banana Republic Water-Resistant Field Jacket
FOR THE STYLE-CONSCIOUS FREQUENT FLYER
While there are travel jackets with specific pockets for every single thing you could possibly carry on a flight, these tend to be sorely lacking in the style department. Banana Republic’s field jacket, on the other hand, is the perfect marriage of style and practicality. The water-resistant jacket has four large patch pockets on the front, so you can carry a small paperback, your passport, earbuds, and sunglasses while still having enough room to pack that last-minute bagel sandwich as you run to the gate. The packable hood in the collar means you’ll be prepared for any weather.
5. W&P Carry On Cocktail Kit
FOR THE MIXOLOGIST ON THE MOVE
Many airlines will offer mixed drinks on the plane, but you’re not likely to get a craft cocktail in coach. Unless you have one of these kits from W&P, that is. The ingredients come in a stylish and compact metal tin, and they have everything you need to whip up a cocktail besides the cup and the booze. The old fashioned kit includes bitters, sugar, a stirring spoon and even a fabric coaster. You can also get kits for margaritas, Moscow mules and other cocktail classics. It’s the kind of novelty item people are unlikely to buy for themselves but will appreciate on their next trip.
6. Madewell Leather Passport Case
FOR THE INTERNATIONAL TRAVELER
This passport case from Madewell is a simple and stylish way to carry your essential cards and passport. It’s made from genuine vegetable-tanned leather, meaning it’ll improve with every trip you take. There are two pockets for storing cards and a main sleeve for storing your passport. Plus, you can even add a personalized monogram in several different colors (for free!).
7. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
FOR THE FRIEND WHO’S SOMEHOW ALWAYS NEXT TO THE CRYING BABY
If you really like them, you could get them these Bose headphones, which are the ideal travel companion. These headphones have Bose’s legendary noise-canceling, comfortable earcups for long flights or car rides, and a foldable frame that makes them easy to pack into the included case. And if your traveling friend is the type to forget to charge their headphones, they can always just plug these in using the included cable.
8. Homesick Mini Scented Candle
FOR THE FRIEND WHO MISSES HOME, NO MATTER HOW SHORT THE TRIP
If your giftee is the homesick type, then the aptly named Homesick scented candle is the gift for them. Scent is closely linked with memory, so these themed candles will make them feel right at home whenever they close their eyes. Homesick’s soy candles are inspired by a variety of different places, both specific locales and general feelings (New York City or “holiday” for example). How much these candles actually smell like their inspirations is up for interpretation, but you can at least burn the candle before you travel to associate the scent with home.
9. Timex Weekender Chronograph 40mm
FOR THE FRIEND WHO ALWAYS MISSES THEIR FLIGHT
Is your giftee prone to missing flights? Get them this watch from Timex, and they’ll make sure to get to their gate on time. While it may not display text messages or monitor heart rates, this watch is smart in other ways. The chronograph feature makes it easier to monitor smaller time increments, and the date feature reminds them that their flight is actually today, not tomorrow. The Indiglo backlight allows them to check the time in the dim airplane cabin, while the nylon NATO strap is more comfortable and lightweight than leather or steel bands. Plus, it’s cheap, so they won’t have to be too precious with it.
10. Baboon to the Moon Go Bag
FOR THE FRIEND WHO LOVES WEEKEND GETAWAYS
Of all travel bags, the duffel comes closes to the Platonic ideal of a travel bag; it’s as well suited for flights as it is road trips and camping excursions. And Baboon to the Moon’s go bag is a nearly perfect duffel. It’s small enough to fit the overhead compartment but large enough to carry what you need for a multi-day trip, and the pockets help you stay organized. The smartly designed straps mean this bag can be carried as a duffel, backpack or crossbody bag. And if it ends up on the luggage carousel, the eye-catching colors ensure you won’t confuse it with anyone else’s.
11. Mianzu Eyeglasses Case
FOR THE FRIEND WHO’S ALWAYS SITTING ON THEIR SHADES
If you’re frequently losing or sitting on your glasses, your problem probably gets even worse when you add the stress of travel. Something as simple as a stylish eyeglasses case can help you keep track of your favorite shades or must-have bifocals. The feature that makes these travel friendly is that they collapse into a flat shape, about the thickness of a wallet. When you’re wearing your glasses, the case won’t take up precious bag space, but when the glasses are in the case, the sturdy triangular shape will keep them safe. It’s a small gift, but a very practical one.