If you’re looking for an extremely last minute gift for that traveler in your life who just decided to tell you they’ll be home for the holidays instead of trekking through some foreign country, you’re in luck! Getting a last minute gift for a traveler is quite possibly the easiest thing to pull off, because unlike most people, they’ll appreciate random cheap items you can get from CVS or the grocery store!
Remember how disappointed you were as a kid when you’d tear open the wrapping paper of a seemingly large gift, only to find that it was a just a box with socks inside of it? I do, but these days I would very much appreciate that box of socks, since that’s something I find I am in constant need of while traveling, yet never wanting to spend the time or money to get.
Why am I talking about socks? Well, my mother recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year after I handed her back a Macy’s jewelry catalog without the slightest interest in pearl earrings or pretty rings. My initial answer was “Nothing, you’ve given me enough,” because she’s literally saved my ass on several occasions this year when I’ve lost or ran out of money abroad. But of course, as a mother, she kept asking what I wanted. I tried to think about something I needed, besides an unlimited amount of plane tickets, but since that’s pretty much impossible, the next thing that came to mind…was socks.
“Ok…” She said, slightly confused but simultaneously agreeing that I always need them. “Anything else?” She attempted again. I tried to think of something I really needed, but for me, everything I really need I already have, and spending money on things I don’t need would just piss me off because it could have been spent on a plane ticket. Long story short, I ended up telling her to just wrap random things I’d need while traveling, or if she must, boxes of varying amounts of money for plane tickets. She thought I was joking about latter.
Then I started thinking about the little things I always need while traveling that I wouldn’t be mad about receiving as a holiday gift, and how largely they differ from some of the more traditional holiday gifts I’ve gotten before I became a full time traveler, like these:
The number two thing a traveler always runs out of, is battery life. Number one, is money. Whether it’s because you’re on the road all day, you’re in an area where there’s no outlets, you forgot an adapter, or you’re camping on a remote island in the middle of no where, it’s never fun reaching that dreaded red bar on your almost empty battery icon. Portable chargers are fairly cheap, and also fairly easy to lose or forget to charge. That’s why I’d recommend getting multiple cheap portable chargers as a gift for your favorite traveler, rather than an expensive one that’s destined to be lost.
Just going to throw it out there that I’m currently writing this on my second MacBook Air, using an iPhone 5 with smashed screen while my iPhone 6 with cracked screen and water damage gets repaired, and a pawn shop-bought GoPro 3 because my original one also fell in water. Well, technically now I’m using a GoPro 4 Session because I got super lucky and they sponsored me, but I still use the old one which is not waterproof without the housing. LifeProof cases are waterproof, dirt proof, snow proof, shock proof, etc., AKA what I need for every single one of my devices.
Battle wounds are cool. Just not when you have excessive amounts of them all over your body. Unfortunately, scar removal cream that actually works is stupidly expensive, so most of the time us travelers just opt to deal with battle scars, since they usually make for pretty good stories. But, as much as I love explaining how I got hit by a car on a motorcycle and flew 10 feet onto my shoulder, I would prefer not to have a massive circular scar that people are constantly asking about.
I would 100% rather my friends give me a handmade “Good for 1 ride to the airport” coupon than any other gift you can buy. Granted, most of my friends would probably 100% rather go shopping for gifts than drive to the airport, but in my perfect little holiday world, they’d opt for the coupon and I’d have one less ride to the airport to worry about getting.
Also, I know a lot of family members with travel reward points or frequent flier miles that never even use them, and don’t even notice that they expire at the end of the year. Since your favorite traveler is more likely to make a last minute trip happen, why not help them out by transferring your leftover miles instead of letting them go to waste?
Sometimes I feel like one of the most annoying parts about packing for a trip, is remembering to get more travel-sized toiletries. Namely, toothpaste. I can deal with not having shampoo or conditioner for a few days, but forgetting or running out of those tiny tubes of toothpaste is a detrimental fail when traveling. Travel-sized toiletries aren’t even that expensive or hard to get…they’re just hard to remember, and keep track of what you’re low on. Bonus points if you give the gift of travel-sized toiletries in a TSA size approved plastic bag! (Remember 311: 3 ounces of liquid, 1 quart-sized bag, 1 bag per person).
Here’s another super useful travel item that just seems to always run out or get lost, antibacterial wipes! Although hand sanitizer is nice, it doesn’t really help much when you’re trying to wipe dirt from your hands or face. They also work wonders for sanitizing your germ-infested space on the airplane or other public transportation, plus can double as butt wipes if you’re in an area that doesn’t offer toilet paper (and yes, there’s a lot of them).
Buying bottles of water isn’t always an option when you’re traveling, which especially sucks if you’re in an area where the tap water isn’t advisable to drink. Fortunately, these days there’s such thing as a self filtering water bottle, which can be used with any source of water (even a river) depending on the quality and strength of filter that you get. Just don’t forget to get a few extra filters if you’re giving this as a gift, because there’s a good chance that your traveler will never have time or remember to change theirs!
If I had the time and attention span, I’d make an awesome printed photo book for every country I’ve been to, but unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to create thirty-three books. I don’t even have time to create one book, which I’m creating for someone else with even less time, which is why I know for a fact that it would make a great gift for a traveler. Most people only think about sharing photos online these days, but it really is nice to have your travel pictures printed, and you can make them for super cheap by getting them on Groupon.
I will always swear by using travel space bags, because they’ve saved me packing time and space so many times. Although I think I have a few somewhere, they do tend to wear down after a while, plus you can never have enough space bags, so they definitely will always make a great gift for a traveler. In case you haven’t heard of them, they are essentially like a giant zip lock bag that you put your stuff in, then roll the air out of so it compresses your clothes, and you can fit more in your suitcase!
Yes, again with the socks. But seriously, do you have any idea how hard it is to not lose socks while traveling? Even if you’re fairly good at not losing your socks, there’s a good chance they’ll always be dirty, just like your underwear, which is why it’s never a bad idea to give the gift of a surplus of socks and underwear. Bonus points if you include a little travel-wash bag that lets you wash your clothes anywhere just by using a sink or shower!