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10 Travel Gear Gifts Under $25 for the Explorer on Your List

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 $25 for your purchase. Most of them are under $20.

They also won’t take up a lot of room in your recipient’s suitcase or backpack.
TSA cable locks gifts under $20 make good gear gifts

Luggage Zipper Locks Are Good Gear Gifts

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.

eye mask for travel

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 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.

That link leads to Amazon, but you can also find prettier ones on Etsy or at local gift stores where you live if you look around. I’ve got a great eye mask I bought in San Miguel de Allende that has cacti on it and the store also had ones with chili peppers, Day of the Dead themes, and other motifs. 

Luminaid or Luci Solar Lantern Travel Gear Gift

Budget hotels almost never have good lighting. Then if you’re camping in the backcountry or in a remote cabin, you’ve got no power. So a solar-charged lantern comes in handy quite often as a travel gift that will be appreciated.

This solar Luminaid inflatable lantern will keep recharging with no outlet and will quickly flatten in your bag when you’re not using it. Unfortunately, the price has crept up for the newest model since I first put this post up and it’s past the $25 mark now, despite the drop in solar panel prices. I’m leaving it on here though because if you don’t need the latest style and color, you can still find the old versions for under that price, including on eBay. 

solar powered lantern for travelers

Same goes for the MPowered Luci lantern — a similar affair pictured above that is circular instead of square and charges up a bit faster in the sun—8 hours instead of 12+. 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.

The new version exceeds my price maximum but the older version is only around $18. 

A Nice Flask

travel flask for a giftIs 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 for a flask at Amazon.

Go for a sunscreen flask to get one that might even make it past the summer music festival guards. It looks just like a bottle of sunscreen, but can be filled with booze using the included funnel! 

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 Backcountry. Get some with merino wool in them and they’ll be less stinky too. 

Sugru Moldable Glue

This is a gift that manages to be unique, practical, easy-to-pack, and inexpensive. It can even work as a stocking stuffer. 

That would be the wonder product Sugru that is a miracle fix-it tool second only to Super Glue in making something last longer. It comes out of a sealed packet (in multiple colors) looking like stiff and shiny Play-doh. You mold it into the shape you need, wait a while for it to set, and then admire how well it still has some flex. 

I’ve given this away as gifts multiple times and heard stories about what people have done with it, like replacing a piece of plastic, fixing sunglasses, fixing electrical cords and chargers, and even shoe repair. I was having trouble figuring out anything that would replace my lost zipper pull on a backpack until my Eureka moment hit and I pulled out Sugru. Get an 8-pack for $20

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 (20,000 mAh) that weigh just 7 or 8 ounces. Easy to pack, but a lifesaver on long flights or bus rides. There are also some sub-$25 ones with a built-in solar charger. 

Compact Bluetooth Speaker for Travel 

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 $25 these days that are good enough for a small gathering or a hotel room. They’ll sound better than the tiny speaker on your phone and won’t drain your battery. They make for great travel gifts that can fit in a stocking even. 

Some are as small as the (off-brand) one pictured here, but there’s a natural trade-off between size and dynamic range. Larger Bluetooth speakers that are a bit heavier will give you a deeper sound range and better bass, but most frequent travelers don’t want to carry something heavy. Click on the photo for that particular one or follow this Amazon link and you’ll find more than 100 to choose from for cheap. Pick the “under $25” option to narrow it down. 

travel gift bluetooth speaker


Money Belt Travel Gear Gifts for Carrying 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 a webbed version with a plastic buckle for easy walks through airport security, or get a leather one with a hidden zipper back for somebody dressier.

Waterproof Pouch for Valuables

My wife has been raving about this purchase since she got it as one of the best deals of all time and you sure can’t beat the price for this waterproof carrying pouch: $16 for three of them through Amazon. We’ve used it multiple times at the beach in Mazatlan and while kayaking on Lake Bacalar. 

water pouch for valuables at the beach gift

The idea is, you can take this into the water with you and keep all your valuables safe and dry. Unlike those plastic phone holders that hang around your neck though that you see for sale at beach locations, this straps to your body and will hold more. So you can put your wallet, hotel key, two phones, and whatever else you need to into it. Then it can go over your shoulder or around your waist. You could even use it while white-water rafting or paddleboarding. No risk if you take a dip or get splashed. 

Follow this link to find a variety of colors and get a three-for-one deal. 

Travel Cutlery Set

bamboo travel cutlery set inexpensive gift

Here’s a real travel gear gift someone gave me a few years ago that I’ve been using regularly ever since: a travel cutlery set. This can even work for some poor soul that has to show up in an office again because a lot of take-out food comes with plastic cutlery if you use what they gave you. 

The set I have is sustainable bamboo plus a metal straw for all those shakes, smoothies, and fruit juices that you are regularly tempted to get in tropical countries. The set takes up very little room in my bag or can slip into the front pocket of a daypack easily, or even a back pocket. The sets are good for market visits, camping, or anytime you’re away from a kitchen. 

REI has a good selection of them, which you can find online here. If you want something even more compact, there are sporks, chopsticks, or sets with folding cutlery that goes into a box. 

I used to have ski goggles on this list, but eventually realized that while those are often on sale for $25 at the end of ski season, it’s hard to find them for that price in December. So you have to plan ahead. As with hiking socks, you’re pretty much assured of finding them on sale somewhere if you look around outside of the season, usually with a few to choose from below $40. If you check you’ll usually find ones from Bolle, Giro, or Smith Optics that fit that criteria.

Obviously this is something you’re only going to give a skier or snowboarder, but as with sunglasses, people lose them or they get scratched up, so sooner or later a person who loves snow sports will appreciate the gift. 

* * *

Are you interested in finding out when the best travel and outdoor gear sales of the year are? And seeing links to the biggest discounts? Four or five times a year—when the deepest discounts are happening—I send out an alert to subscribers who have signed up. It’s a way to get all the best deals in one place.

Get on the insider’s list here for deeply discounted travel gear and stay tuned for the next one.

This post with inexpensive travel gear gifts I would recommend was updated in December of 2023 and contains merchant links. You will pay the same price you would if going direct, but I make a small commission for sending a buyer through their virtual door.

Selina J. Morales

Tuesday 30th of November 2021

Information to include in the answer: It is very important that people buy headlamps with red LEDs rather than white. Aiming a flashlight (white light) into someone's eyes isn't just annoying - it can actually cause temporary or even permanent blindness. Red light does not have this effect, and lights that emit only lighting look much better at night because they don't ruin natural human vision.

If you got an adventuring pal who needs some gear for their next adventure, here are 10 excellent gifts under $25 for them!