We asked members of our team and contributor network for their recommendations on the best travel gifts to give and receive this year - here's what they suggest!
Social Media Manager, Flashpacker Co
Tripped Travel Compression Packing Cubes
There are two types of people in the world: those that unpack immediately after their trip, and those that kick their luggage to the side until they’re ready to face reality 2 weeks later. What caused me to switch from being the latter to the first? Packing cubes. You might be wondering, "Jillian, is it truly possible for a small piece of fabric to change your life?" And I’m here to tell you friends - yes, it is.
Packing cubes provide innumerable value pre, post, and during trips. During one 10 month stint abroad, I relied on my cubes heavily to provide that sort of ‘home comfort’ missing when you’re jumping from country to country. I held onto the familiarity of knowing the contents of each cube which helped save me many a time during rushed packing moments before flights and trains.
Packing cubes are the top travel accessory I love to give to seasoned and rookie travelers alike. They’re often overlooked, but should definitely be at the forefront of your mind for travel gifts this year!
Shop Tripped Travel Compression Packing Cubes from $34.95.
Lifelong Traveler | Contributor
Hard-earned experience has turned me into an enthusiastic believer in traveling light. Once, on a European vacation, I struggled to maneuver a large suitcase over the cobblestones and up the ubiquitous narrow stairwells. Lesson learned. Over the years, I have whittled down my packing list and now everything I travel with, no matter the length of the trip, fits into a carry-on suitcase and a small backpack.
I like a backpack that is lightweight, secure and small enough to use as a daypack. While traveling to my destination, I fill it with tickets, passports, food and reading material; easy access and organization are important features. Once at my destination, I use the pack as a daypack to carry money, guidebooks, water and rain gear. Since I travel with my husband, I prefer a backpack that is unisex in appearance so neither of us (meaning me) gets stuck carrying it all day.
Traveling with a versatile backpack is essential for me. Travel light and let your gear do the heavy lifting.
Shop daypack backpacks, from $24.99.
Digital Nomad | Contributor
Hilx Switchblade Folding Sunglasses
You need sunglasses when traveling, but man, they are a huge pain to bring along! On planes and trains I just never know what to do with them. If it’s sunny, I want to wear them to the airport or out on the platform, but once inside I’m never sure where to put them. I’ve used bulky, hard shell sunglasses cases, but those take up so much room in my pack. I’ve put them on my head (headache), hung them from my shirt (bothersome when I try to sleep), or on tray tables or chair pockets (inevitably leaving with the train instead of me).
My Hilx folding sunglasses are a true game changer. I used to feel like there was no good option to store my sunglasses when I wasn’t actively wearing them. Now I can fold them up, drop them into the carry pouch, and simply clip that onto my bag or belt loop. And if I’m really traveling light or don’t have a bag with me, I can easily drop these into my pants pocket.
Beyond the portability these are great looking and high quality sunglasses. A huge upgrade from the $5 convenience store glasses I used to travel with for fear of scratching, breaking, or losing them. Now, on sunny sightseeing days, I have a high quality pair of sunglasses to help me take in the views (and make me look good in pictures!) without all the hassle I’m used to.
Shop Hilx Switchblade Folding Sunglasses, $69.
Creator of the Traveling Twilley Travel Blog | Contributor
Travel Power Bank
Picture this... You’ve been gallivanting around a charming European city center for hours, snapping photos and using the GPS on your cellphone to navigate. Then, all of a sudden, something happens that stops you in your tracks: the “low battery life” warning of death pops up on your phone. It’s only mid-afternoon, and you still have hours’ worth of sightseeing to do. Plus, you’re not really sure how to get back to your hotel, and, of course, you don’t have a paper map with you. What on earth are you going to do?
I’ve found myself in this exact situation so many times while traveling solo. I’ll never forget frantically speed-walking around Barcelona and Porto, using my last bit of cellphone battery to find a Starbucks with an electrical outlet I could use to recharge my phone. This has happened to me during the middle of the day, and, even worse, it’s happened to me at night when I was far away from my hotel. It’s a stressful and potentially dangerous situation to be in (especially as a solo female traveler in an unfamiliar city).
But then, one Christmas, I received a life-changing gift: a portable power bank. It’s now one of my favorite travel items, and I never travel without it. My travel power bank is about the size of a deck of cards. It’s small enough and light enough to carry in my purse or pocket all day, but it has some serious charging power. There are also larger versions with enough juice to charge tablets and laptops, which are also super helpful for travelers. Now that I’ve used a portable power bank, I can’t imagine traveling without one. It’s the perfect travel companion!
Shop power banks, from $24.99.
Director of Marketing, Flashpacker Co
Ascentials Pro Meta 22L 3 in 1 Business Laptop Backpack
I’ve been a digital nomad for over 5 years now and the biggest upgrade to my travel repertoire came in the form of a laptop backpack. My first couple years working and traveling I packed my laptop in a regular book bag backpack. My laptop was just shoved in the bottom with clothes, shoes, electronics and everything else piled in around it. I was constantly nervous about whether my computer was getting beaten up and banged around under the seat or in the overhead of planes. It was a huge pain to fish my laptop out when going through security. And there was really no organization to keep my work and travel things separated and easily accessed.
When I started traveling with a dedicated laptop backpack a few years ago it made a world of difference. Getting through TSA was a snap, only unzipping the one area that had only my laptop in it. The padded sleeve inside kept everything protected and organized and allowed me to relax when my laptop was more than 6 inches from my hands. And the organization made it so easy to knock out tasks on the plane, train or in the Uber, giving me extra time to enjoy my destination once I got there. Most recently I’ve been using the Meta 3 in 1 Business Laptop Backpack by Ascentials Pro, 10/10 recommend it for the traveler on your list who always has their laptop with them.
Shop Ascentials Pro Meta 22L 3 in 1 Business Laptop Backpack, $149.95.
Lead Buyer, Flashpacker Co
Codi Folding Portable Laptop Stand
2020 was a rough year for travelers, but if there’s one possible positive to come out of this it will be the unique opportunity for aspiring digital nomads to finally take the plunge. For the first time millions are no longer tied to a location to work. As travel reopens (hopefully) in 2021 I expect we’ll see countless travelers dipping their toes into the work while traveling lifestyle, whether it's a week in a different city or a remote worker visa in the Caribbean. Having worked in hotels, Airbnbs, and coffee shops around the world I was always missing my laptop stand and suffering from neck or back strain, until I started packing a portable laptop stand.
I love this laptop stand because it folds up and takes virtually no room in my bag. It's small and light enough to carry around wherever I’m going. I most recently used this product while working in Barbados and loved it.
If you’ve got an aspiring (or seasoned) digital nomad or business traveler on your list, the Codi Folding Portable Laptop Stand is a slam dunk gift!
Shop Codi Folding Portable Laptop Stand, $59.99.
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