Amanda’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

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I know that many travelers out there eschew the accumulation of “stuff.” And it's definitely true that I value my travel experiences and memories much more than any material items I own.

BUT, not all of us are digital nomads living continuously out of small backpacks. I have a home base – a home with multiple rooms (and even a Harry Potter closet under the stairs!). And while I don't usually go crazy with shopping, I won't lie: I do really like finding the perfect travel items – and I enjoy even more searching for the perfect gifts for people in my life.

If you're looking for the perfect thing to buy the traveler or travel-lover in YOUR life, I really hope this year's edition of Amanda's Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers (and Travel-Lovers) will help you out!

This list is full of items that I personally use and love, and that I think other travelers will enjoy, too. (And most of them won't break the bank, either!)


Digital luggage scale

There's nothing worse than getting to airport check-in only to find out that the suitcase you so painstakingly packed is overweight. To avoid the hassle of having to discard or repack things (or pay exorbitant fees for overweight luggage), invest in a hand-held luggage scale that you can use at home to weigh your luggage.

This one is small and inexpensive, but could save you a lot of headaches in the long run!

Portable luggage system

I'm all about that organized suitcase life. I've sung the praises of packing cubes for years (and still do!), but this bit of gear takes suitcase organization to a whole ‘nother level. You pack this portable luggage system as if you were putting things on shelves in your closet, then collapse it down and place it into your bag (it's carry-on suitcase size). Then when you arrive at your destination, you lift it up and hang it in the closet of your hotel room, and BOOM, you're ready to go. No unpacking necessary!

This would be especially great for a business traveler who tends to go on frequent but short trips. But I'm not gonna lie: I totally love it, too!

Roll-up electronics bag

The bane of my existence is often packing and organizing all the various charging cords I have to take with me when I travel. There's my phone charger and my camera charger and my OTHER camera charger and my GoPro charger and, and, and… So enter this roll-up electronics bag. It's the perfect size to organize all those cords, along with extra batteries and SD cards.

Pacsafe convertible cross-body bag

Pacsafe, in case you've never heard of it before, makes all sorts of great theft-proof bags perfect for traveling. I have more Pacsafe bags than I care to admit (seriously: three backpacks, three purses, and one portable safe), but they're just so useful that I can't stop buying them. Plus, this little cross-body bag is pretty darn cute, too! You can attach the straps two different ways to make two different bags, which is an added bonus.

This particular bag isn't huge (for example, my camera doesn't really fit comfortably inside it), but it's perfect for just walking around town or going out for dinner at night.

Quick-dry travel towel

You may not *think* you'll get use out of a quick-dry travel towel, but you'd be surprised! Mine has come in handy for snorkeling trips, kayaking adventures, and even once or twice on a bus as a make-shift blanket. I also would not have been able to survive my overland trip in Africa without it! And the best news is that this specific towel doesn't take up a lot of room, making it super easy to pack.

Tortuga Outbreaker backpack

Tortuga Outbreaker

Lastly, if you're looking for a new backpack this year, check out the new Outbreaker by Tortuga. It comes in 35L or 45L, with both being carry-on compliant on most airlines. I love all the internal pockets this bag has, the laptop section that's right up against your back, and the fact that it has a hip belt and adjustable torso. If you're looking for a sturdy bag perfect for backpacking, this is one of the best on the market right now.

(Or you can check out all the luggage I recommend for travel.)


Kindle Paperwhite

I don't go ANYwhere without my Kindle these days. And the Kindle Paperwhite, in my opinion, is the very best Kindle out there. It has a built-in backlight perfect for reading on planes, won't hurt your eye with screen glare, and has a battery that lasts for weeks.

(Though, I'm not gonna lie: The new waterproof Kindle Oasis also looks fantastic!)

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10K

I really love my Olympus mirrorless camera for traveling, but if you're looking for something more compact (like something that COULD easily fit in that little Pacsafe purse I mentioned above!), this Panasonic camera is a fantastic option. It takes great photo (and video), still offers manual settings, and has a flip-up LCD screen perfect for taking epic selfies. Plus, it's pretty affordable.

This little beauty took most of the photos in my Finger Lakes post, in case you want to see what it can do.

Anker mini speaker

You don't need to spend $100+ on a fancy bluetooth speaker. This SoundCore mini by Anker produces great sound at a really affordable price. AND it's small enough to easily throw in your bag on your next trip. (One of these came in handy on a road trip this year where we couldn't get any radio signal!)

Wireless signal booster

Have you ever gone somewhere and got to your hotel room only to find out that the wifi signal doesn't stretch past the lobby? It's super annoying. And that's where a gadget like this wifi signal booster can come in handy! This particular one plugs into the USB slot of your computer and can generally help weak wifi signals become much stronger.

Gorilla Pod

Have you ever been curious about how all these solo travelers get great photos of themselves on the road? The secret is that they usually pop their camera on a tripod and then shoot away using a timer or remote! But if you don't want to invest in a full-size, heavy duty tripod, consider one from GorillaPod instead. They make small tripods to support DSLR cameras, point-and-shoot cameras, and even one made just for smartphones.

I also love the bendy legs of these tripods – you can hook them just about anywhere!


Speakeasy pocket scarf

This isn't the first time these cool hidden pocket travel scarves have made it into one of my gift guides – and that's because I love them! These infinity scarves from Speakeasy Travel Supply not only come in soft fabrics and cute patterns, but also come complete with a hidden zippered pocket that's the perfect size for a passport, credit card(s), and some cash. These are perfect for travel days – just put everything important in your scarf, wear it like normal, and skip the part where you worry about your essentials getting stolen in-transit.

My favorite base layer

Looking for a good base layer for this year's winter travels? I'm obsessed with this turtleneck by Terramar. It's soft and cozy, with a low turtleneck and zippered pockets on the front, meaning it would be great for running, too. I'm on my second one of these (the first got into an unfortunate accident with a dry suit in Norway), and take it on every cold-weather trip with me!

Cool socks

Bombas socks

You can never go wrong with cool socks, right? (Or is it just my sister and I who are obsessed with socks??) Bombas sent me some of their new socks to try out recently, and I'm pretty much in love. I normally would never pay more than $10 for a pair of socks, but these really are as good as they promise to be! The ankle socks are comfy and supportive, and the crew socks don't slip down your legs as you walk!

Or, if you're looking for winter-friendly socks, I'm a big fan of Heat Holders. And I also never go on long flights without my compression socks.

And don't forget to check out all my favorite shoes and articles of travel-friendly clothing on my packing page!


Scratch-off map

I like finding creative ways to bring my travels into my everyday life – and that includes in my home decorating! I love these scratch-off travel maps not only because it's fun to reveal all the places you've been, but also because they make for a great conversation piece up on the wall! I especially like this one from Landmass Goods because it includes all the flags of the world for you to scratch off, too.

Lens Pen

Whether you have a fancy DSLR camera or a small point and shoot, keeping the lens clean is something every camera owner should be concerned about. I never travel without my LensPen for this exact reason. It's perfect for removing dirt, dust, sand, and those annoying fingerprints while leaving your lens scratch-free. It's also only the size of a marker, meaning you don't have to worry about it taking up extra room in your bag.

Lifestraw water bottle

I've been talking a lot lately about sustainable tourism, and one easy way to make sure we're being kinder to the environment when we travel is to waste less plastic. Traveling with a reusable water bottle is something everyone should be doing! And, if you're heading somewhere where the tap water might not be safe to drink? Invest in one of these LifeStraw water bottles. The filter removes any sort of little nasties that could be in the water, meaning you can fill up anywhere (thus not having to buy tons of plastic bottles when you travel!).

Travel books

You can never go wrong with a travel- or destination-inspired book! (And yes, some people do still read actual, physical books!) A few I would personally recommend include:


23andMe ancestry kit

This one isn't specifically travel-related, but ancestry travel has always been a pretty popular thing (and I think is only growing in popularity!). If you or someone you know is curious about tracking down your ancestry (whether to plan a trip around it or not), check out 23andMe. They're one of the leaders in ancestry DNA services, and also offer the “DNA Relatives” program, which can help you connect with people you share DNA with. Who knows, maybe you'll find a long-lost relative this holiday season!

Rosetta Stone subscription

Rosetta Stone is probably the most well-known language learning software out there, offering more than 30 languages, from Spanish to Swahili. This would be a great gift for anyone you know who would like to learn a new language. Rosetta Stone is also offering online subscriptions now to its language-learning software, making it easier than ever before to get started on learning a new language.

So there you have it – another year, another gift guide! Which of these items would you like Santa to bring YOU this year?


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2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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12 Comments on “Amanda’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

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  1. Thanks Amanda for sharing the essential travel kit. I remember when i traveled for the time to Kerala. I was missing almost 90% of stuff you mentioned in the post. This stuff looks ordinary, but you will value all the products when you travel around the world.

    There are few items which are still missing. I’m gonna buy it today.

    Also, Amanda thanks to inspiring us to be adventurous.

      Yup, the “ordinary” stuff is the stuff you ended up using (and needing!) the most often!

    I actually like the sound of the Gorilla Pod. It looks really versatile and the type of thing that you could put in your handbag. Can you?

    I had a quick look at the link, but it’s only for iPhones which I’ve had all my life until last month! Noooo! My husband switched us all to Samsung phones, but I haven’t sold my soul completely as I still have my iPad!

      Some of the gorilla pods (like the smaller ones for phones and GoPros) could definitely fit in your handbag. The bigger ones (like for DSLRs) are a bit bigger, but still fit easily into a tote bag or backpack. They’re great to travel with!

    Just bought 2 maps
    One for me
    One for my son

      Nice! They make great gifts!

    Thank you! Just ordered the electronics organizer!

      Happy to be able to provide some suggestions!

    I love the idea of those scratch-off maps, but fear I’d become depressed about all the places I haven’t been!

      Just think of it as inspiration! Plus, they do look nice framed on your wall, even if you don’t have a lot scratched off yet. 🙂

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