What’s is the Ultimate Travel Gift Guide?
If you are looking for the ultimate gift for the traveler in your life, look no further than this gift guide for travelers. This list is based on our own experiences traveling and from suggestions of full-time nomads. We will cover the essential items that you will want to have for a short or long trip. After multiple extended trips over the past few years, these are our go-to items to have. Most of our partners are offering discounts for Black Friday. Please check the links below and on our affiliate and partners page. You might score a great deal.
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Don’t Look Like a Fool
There is nothing sadder than watching the novice traveler struggling while dragging a wheely bag down cobblestone streets or sidewalks. You can hear them coming from a mile away (so can potential thieves).
If you are traveling by car and have easy access to your accommodations, it might work fine. However, if you are using public transportation (including ride-share) like a lot of experienced travelers do, you want to be more flexible and not want to drag a bag everywhere. Not to mention you need to travel light.
Therefore, we use backpacks on all of our trips as they give us the ability to move easier with public transportation. Several of our trips were using a car, and this thought process worked as well. The best backpack we have is used is a 65-liter pack that doubles as a duffle bag. It has easy access to everything and can pack a lot.
I recommend a backpack that is big enough for two people to put all their clothes in and still have a little room for anything you pick up along the way. We have been using Osprey travel backpacks since 2015 and they have worked great. This bag is not the best choice if you will be hiking long distances, but great for a travel backpack. This backpack comes in three sizes, 30, 46, and 65-liters; we have 4 of the 65-liter backpacks, 3 of the 46-liter, and 1 of the 30-liter packs. The only disadvantage of the 65-liter, it is too large for carry-on.
I love that it is a clamshell backpack that opens completely like a traditional suitcase. Therefore, you are not digging through the top of the bag to find something that has probably shifted to the bottom. One nice feature is all the straps tuck into the backpack, no damage by luggage handlers at the airport. The Osprey travel backpack we use is available at Osprey, REI, and Amazon. Also, Osprey has a great warranty, they state the following on their site.
“All Mighty Guarantee. Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If we are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, we will happily replace it.”
Organization in the Backpack
Another staple of our trips is packing cubes. I thought they were the craziest waste of money until I bought them. If you like to pack the kitchen sink when you go on vacation, these will help you regain control of your want, need, and must-have items. My clothes are for lack of a better term, in the circus tent realm of sizes. I can pack everything I need for a 4 week (or longer) trip in a small, medium, and large cube, and might not need the small one.
How Much Can You Fit in Packing Cubes?
How do we fit everything in the small cubes? Well, a little trick I have found is to buy new underwear before you leave. You are probably thinking that it is crazy, but you will never be able to roll your underwear as tight as a new pair was rolled at the factory. Also, who wants to travel in old worn-out underwear if you will be walking a lot.
I only pack 5-8 pairs of woolx underwear. Even though they are wool, they are not itchy or hot in the summer and can be washed like regular clothes. They are not the cheapest option, but by far the best I have found for traveling.
I can fit a pair of jeans, 4-6 shirts, 10 pairs of underwear, a couple of pairs of shorts, and 5 pairs of socks between the large and medium cube. Since I will have a pair of jeans on for the initial flight, that gives me 2 pairs for the trip. You do not need a new pair every day. You should be able to get 5-7 days in before needing to wash anything. My wife can bring a few extra items in the same space. We use the small cube for toiletries in a plastic bag, and also one for any electrical adapters, charging cables, etc. We do bring an extra pair of shoes and that works great as a filler around the cubes in the backpack. All the items above fit in a single 65-liter backpack with room to spare. The backpack typically weighs about 20-25lbs (9-11kg).
As a test, I was able to get 10 t-shirts, a bathing suit, and a pair of blue jeans in the large cube. I put 10 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks, and a polo shirt in the medium cube. Above are pictures of the before and after.
Video Review of our Backpack
We are giving away an Osprey Porter 65L backpack on YouTube. Check out the video below to learn how to win. Only entries on YouTube will be counted. Read the description in the video for details and how to enter.
Electronics and Toys
Before our South Africa 2019 trip, we did not take laptops, dedicated cameras, etc. I have since added a dedicated camera and the pictures have been much better. I am still learning how to use the camera. It is a bridge camera that falls between a “point and shoot” and a DSLR camera and has a fixed lens. If you look at the pictures from the South Africa trip, you will see much better picture quality especially when you zoom in. Check out the camera specs and pricing here. I did a review of the camera including real-world examples of the picture quality. We have our cell phones, charging cables, and power adapters. All pictures on this site that were taken on the Eurotrip 2015-2016 and before the South Africa 2019 trip were all from a phone camera, nothing fancy.
I have recently upgraded my video camera to a DJI Pocket 2 and DJI Osmo Action (for wet footage). The DJI Pocket 2 fits in a pocket as the name implies. Therefore, it is much lighter and easier to carry on trips. I still have the camera above for photos, but I have found that I can do most things with my new cameras and phone. I have used the two new cameras since the Peru 2020 trip and they have worked well, except when there was a user error. In addition to the cameras above, I added a DJI Mini 2 Drone for getting a new perspective on the locations we visit. Check out my latest videos on YouTube to see how well the cameras perform.
In addition to the new cameras, I have added a power bank to recharge devices on the road, a 5-port USB wall charger, and some USB cables for all my devices. Since I am doing more videos for YouTube, I needed a laptop for editing on the road. I picked up an affordable Asus laptop.
Due to COVID-19 and my recently diagnosed medical issues, we have decided it will be worth purchasing travel insurance on future trips. Although we have never done this in the past, it makes sense to protect ourselves against unforeseen changes in plans or illness. Although travel insurance is not usually on a gift guide. It is something that needs to be considered when traveling.
Transportation and Lodging
Since we tend to travel by train in Europe, we use Eurail and DB for train tickets when possible. A global pass is an excellent gift for someone that wants to see Europe. You can visit up to 33 countries on a single ticket. The best part is they can start traveling anytime within 11 months of purchasing the ticket. Passes are available from 4 days to 3 months in duration. Also, trains are the green option compared to cars. Check out the trips we did with the global pass.
When we are not traveling in Europe or if we need a car, we use rentalcars.com.
Sharing the Trip
Do you want to share your experiences with others to inspire them to travel? Why not start a blog, it is cheap to do at a few dollars a month to start. Check out our post on how to start a blog about travel, hobbies, projects, your furry friend, or anything that you might want to share. If you can create a Word document, you can do a blog. FYI, there are some good Black Friday deals for hosting.