Want to know what gift to get a frequent traveler that will be appreciated? But you don’t want to spend a fortune or take a chance they’ve already got it? These practical travel gear gifts and gadgets will come in handy on any trip but they won’t set you back more than $20 for your purchase. They also won’t take up a lot of room in your recipient’s suitcase or backpack.
Luggage Zipper Locks
Even if your recipient has one or two of these TSA-approved luggage locks like you see at the top, eventually they will break or get lost, so it’s good to have a few. It’s never a good idea to put valuables in your checked luggage (and frequent fliers should always carry travel insurance), but what’s checked will stay somewhat safer with a lock. I am also a big fan of meter-long cable locks because then you can secure your bag to a piece of furniture in a hotel, airport, or dodgy bus station.
Comfy Eye Mask
Like sunglasses and luggage locks, eye masks are not something most travelers manage to hold onto until they’re worn out. So then we resort to the cheap scratchy ones they give out for free on some international flights. Since even nice silk eye masks tend to retail for under $20, this is a “luxury for less” gift that will be appreciated by any frequent flier on your list.
Luminaid or Luci Solar Lantern
Retailing for $19.99 and often less on sale, this solar Luminaid inflatable lantern will keep recharging with no outlet and will quickly flatten in your bag when you’re not using it.
The MPowered Luci lantern is a similar affair but is circular instead of square and charges up a bit faster in the sun—7 hours instead of 10. Both retain their power for a really long time: I pulled one out after six months in a storage container and it still lit up on high. They’ll both last 3-4 hours on high or up to 10 hours on low. Great for hanging in a tent because they never get hot.
A Nice Flask
Is your traveler friend kind of a lush? Then a nice flask for discreetly carrying booze around could be a good gift. There are lots of options for $20 or less if you search “flask” at Sierra Trading Post or Amazon. Go for a sunscreen flask to get one that might even make it past the summer music festival guards.
Quality Travel Socks
Yeah I know, it’s kind of a “boring gift” cliché to talk about giving socks as a present, but good socks are something we usually don’t get around to thinking about until we’re about to take off on a hiking trip. They’re as important as good shoes if you’re doing a lot of walking, so if you give really good ones as a gift, they’ll be appreciated. Some of them bump up against the $20 mark, but the good news is you can always find name brand socks on sale at Sierra Trading Post, Backcountry.com, or Moosejaw.
You can pay a lot for ski goggles, but as with hiking socks, you’re pretty much assured of finding them on sale for $20 or less somewhere if you look around. I just checked Sierra Trading Post and found ones from Bolle and Smith Optics that fit that criteria.
Power Bank Gadget Charger
The more we rely on our electronics, the faster they run out of juice. Travelers often find themselves on the move, with no time to plug devices into outlets for hours. Batteries are still the weak point in tech innovation, but thankfully the portable charger banks keep getting cheaper. For less than 20 bucks, you can find plenty of chargers now with 10,000mAh or more in capacity. That’s enough to charge a phone 3 or 4 times or a tablet fully. Follow this link and you’ll find some with twice that capacity that weigh just 7 or 8 ounces.
Compact Bluetooth Speaker
Travel is a social activity, so free your music from the earbuds! Nobody wants to lug around a modern day boombox, but you can get small Bluetooth speakers for under $20 these days that are good enough for a small gathering. It’s hard to top the Ancord one pictured here for size and features—it can be connected to another to play in stereo and can serve as a voice-activated shutter for your smartphone. But follow this Amazon link and you’ll find 100 others to choose from as well.
Money Belt for the Big Bucks
There are all kinds of things you can buy to keep your money and credit cards out of sticky fingers, from Pickpocket Proof Pants to pouches that go inside your clothing. It’s hard to imagine anything more secure than a zippered money belt though since you literally have to take it off and unzip it to get to your cash. Not for your daily expenses, but a belt like this offers a traveler a way to carry 500 dollars or euros around in a secure way for when it’s needed. Get the Eagle Creek webbed version for easy walks through airport security, or get a leather one for somebody dressier.
ExOfficio Travel Underwear
I’ve raved about this travel underwear many times on this blog and I never travel anywhere without a couple pairs in my bag. You can sink wash them in the evening and have dry underwear by morning, reducing how many pairs you have to pack. You’ll pay more than 20 bucks for many of the styles, but a few are always on sale and others actually list for $20 even. Follow this link to see all the options and the pack light recipient on your list will definitely thank you.
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Get on the insider’s list here for deeply discounted travel gear and stay tuned in January.
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