It can often be a tough challenge to anticipate the right gift for your loved one: something they didn’t even realise they wanted, but will soon discover they can’t live without. If your loved one is a travel addict, the task becomes infinitely more difficult. Travellers are minimalists. You have to factor in the practicality of them taking their gift with them on their travels or, if it’s something for them to use while they’re home, it should at least remind them of their adventures and inspire wanderlust.
Personalised gifts are a great way to show you care, but below are ten other suggestions that are sure to put a huge smile on your recipient’s face.
1. TESALATE TOWEL
Travel towels are a brilliant invention, enabling you to pack light for a long-term trip or a day out at the beach. Until now, though, there weren’t many different options on the market. Almost all were one block colour, and most were a bit on the small side too. Then, along came Tesalate. Tesalate towels come in so many bold and colourful designs (around 40 patterns in the current collection), you’re really spoilt for choice. The regular style is the perfect size for beach lounging or covering your modesty, but they also do a ‘towel for two’, specifically designed to allow space for you and your partner to lie side by side. Not only can they absorb a surprising volume of water (1 or 2 litres, depending on the size), but they also dry very quickly—an absolute godsend when you’re constantly on the move between hostels. If you’re still not convinced, they’re also resistant to sand, meaning you won’t have the annoyance of finding half a beach in your luggage and/or washing machine after use. These towels would also be an ideal gift for the yogi in your life. Tesalate is an Aussie brand, and they really do do it best when it comes to beach products.
2. WITHLOCALS EXPERIENCE
What better gift could there be for a traveller than the gift of a travel experience? I recently discovered a fantastic platform called Withlocals that offers authentic experiences around the world, hosted by the people who know those locations best. From Paris to Bangkok, Dubai and Bali, you can select a unique activity and then customise it to your heart’s content. If a food tour in Prague is your top pick, but the person receiving your gift doesn’t like gingerbread, simply request an alteration to the route. There are so many reasons this is better than a standard tour. You never have to share your experience with strangers (your host has your full attention); you’re far more likely to skip the tourist traps and discover things only long-term residents know about; and it helps support individuals and small businesses who are respectful of their home environment. There really is something for everyone. A quick browse of the options in London brought up a stress-free shopping tour of the best boutique stores—a great way to get more gift inspiration if you’re still stuck for ideas after reading this post! This gift is also the perfect excuse to self-indulge, as you can include yourself as one of the participants and create memories for you and your friend to share forever. Incidentally, if you’ve spent any time in London and are looking for a fantastic keepsake for yourself or a friend back home, To Home From London make the most beautiful souvenirs from sustainably sourced materials (from coasters and mugs to tote bags and chopping boards), all of which are brightly decorated with hand-drawn designs.
3. ULTRADRY ADVENTURER RUCKSACK
I’ve always waxed lyrical about the value of a dry bag for travelling. They’re ideal for so many water-based activities and they protect your valuables and electronics in areas partial to a storm or two. I also find it useful to have something fully waterproof to store my clothes in while using hostel showers that often don’t have pegs or racks to rest things on. Until recently, I was using a standard fold-away dry bag. While they have the advantage of being compact, they’re not so comfortable if you have to carry them around all day. The Ultradry Adventurer Rucksack by Overboard solves this problem. With padded shoulder straps and a back panel allowing air flow, it has the comfort and strength of a rucksack, while being 100% waterproof, and it even floats if you drop it in water. The large front pocket is made of an elasticated mesh, which is perfect for storing easy-access waterproof items like dive boots or snorkelling equipment. Reflective strips on the front and shoulder straps make you visible to traffic in either direction, and there’s also a built in hydration pocket. What’s more, it’s made from environmentally friendly fabrics. Regardless of the adventure sport, this durable, lightweight pack is as practical as it gets.
4. TRAVEL PILLOW
Travel pillows are a fantastic gift idea for travel addicts. Not one of us hasn’t suffered from neck pain after a long flight. Thankfully, technology is finally starting to come through with some great designs that do a lot more to support your head and help you sleep than the original C-shaped bean bags. The Neck Sofa from Uncommon Goods is ergonomically designed to contour the shape of your face. It has an inner supportive structure that remains rigid, while the outer layer is made from memory foam. Its wrap-around shape cradles your neck, supports your head and contours your shoulders, enabling your muscles to relax. It also comes with a removable (and washable) velvety pillow case, as well as a lightweight pull-string backpack for ease of transportation. As well as providing comfort on planes and buses, it can be used as a back rest or massage pillow for the face. It also comes in a range of colours, including black, grey, brown, pink, red, green and blue.
5. SUNGOD REVOLTS GOGGLES
This is not the first time the SunGod brand name has graced the pages of my blog. I am absolutely enamoured with their sunglasses—so much so that when I lost my old ones (after quite a lot of mourning and desperate attempts to retrieve them) I got straight back online and bought a replacement pair (and another for my sister’s birthday while I was at it). With so much trust in SunGod, I decided to try out their Revolts snow goggles this winter, and they haven’t disappointed. Just like the sunglasses, they’re customisable, meaning you can choose between six different lens colours, three shades of grey frame and various straps. The lenses are engineered for optimum clarity and contrast, with a scratch-resistant coating. The foam frame is designed to mould to the shape of your face for a comfortable fit all day long. Other great features include anti-fog air vents, 100% UV protection and silicon-backed straps that lock your goggles at the right tightness for a secure fit. On top of all that, they come with a lifetime guarantee. Just this month, SunGod released an alternative ‘Vanguards‘ design, with even greater peripheral vision than the Revolts, so now you have even more designs to choose from!
6. NEPALESE THROWS AND SCARVES
Everyone needs a good scarf to get them through the winter, and there’s nothing smoother against your skin than super-soft cashmere. There are a number of retailers and small businesses producing fair-trade products from the Himalayas. I bought two scarves and a big throw from the Assa Nepal market stall in Bristol last week, knowing that the recipients of these gifts will appreciate that money was spent on supporting small artisans in a developing part of the world. Aa an extra incentive, they were offering to donate a blanket to a local homeless person for every shawl sold. In the past, I’ve also bought and received similar gifts from Black Yak.
7. LARRY LLAMA RUG
If your traveller will be staying at home for a short while, there’s nothing quite like a homely gift that reminds them of their travels. This Larry the llama rug has the most adorable design, and every time I step into my house it makes me reminisce about my time in South America. It’s made from 100% coconut fibre, creating a thick, firm and bristly door mat perfect for removing mud and leaves from people’s shoes. Environmentally sensitive and fade-resistant inks are used for the colouring. In addition, your purchase helps to support the non-profit organisation Education Without Borders.
8. SEW HEART FELT SLIPPERS
To date, I’ve bought not one, but four pairs of wonderfully quirky slippers from the Sew Heart Felt range. Their animal-based designs are ridiculously cute, and I’m forever receiving compliments when people visit my house. They really do keep me smiling through the long, cold winter nights between travels. They come beautifully packaged in an organic cotton draw-string bag, with a small note to introduce you to your purchase (because it wouldn’t do not to know Finlay Fox’s birthday, favourite colour and best friend now would it?!). Each item is individually hand-crafted from lamb’s wool felt by skilled seamstresses in Kathmandu (providing sustainable and traditional work for women in rural Nepal), and dyed with eco-friendly pigments. Other unique items include ‘squashed animal’-style rugs, taxidermy birds, mountable animal heads and felt Christmas stockings, while smaller slippers, puppets and various dress-up items are available for children. I also adore their tiny mice and sheep. These figurines are a lovely way to brighten up your home, and are so small and light that you could take one with you on your travels as a little mascot.
Perhaps a pair of tweezers don’t say ‘I love you’ with quite as much passion as a personalised gift or luxury item, but in a world where it’s surprisingly hard to find a pair that actually work, I’m really pleased to have recently discovered Rubis. Manufactured in Switzerland by a brand that also produces medical implements, these are top of their game in precision design. Their first tweezers were made for placing ruby stones in watches, and to this day they are individually hand crafted under a magnifying glass, and examined to ensure they have perfect closure. Rubis uses the finest-quality, rustproof, antacid stainless steel, and their products have won numerous international design awards. Whether for maintaining brows or removing splinters, your traveller friend will be eternally grateful for this essential item. If not a main present, it would certainly make a good stocking filler.
10. THULE BACKPACK
If your friend or family member is heading off on a long-term backpacking trip, one of the most important items they’re going to need is a strong and comfortable backpack. Many people underestimate the value of a well-designed backpack, but if you think about it, if you’re going to be lugging it about for months on end and constantly taking things in and out, any niggling issues will become more and more frustrating as time goes on. Thule are world leaders in the design of luggage and outdoor equipment. I recently took their Guidepost Rucksack on a two-month trip to India, Australia and New Zealand and it performed incredibly well. It looks smart, is designed to swivel with your hips as you walk, and feels really comfortable—even on long-distance walks. It has a really useful hip-strap waterproof pocket; the straps can be adjusted length- and width-ways; and the lid transforms into a day bag. It also has all-important side access to enable you to quickly locate the items at the bottom of your bag. Alternatively, if you’re buying a gift for someone who prefers shorter trips, Love the Sales is a great place to look for a suitcase sale.