25 gifts travelers will actually want


(CNN) — ‘Tis the season to go crazy figuring out what to buy all your friends and family on your ever-growing gift list.

Whether you’re dealing with a conscious backpacker, a luxe-loving adventurist or someone who spends more time on business trips than in their own abode, they’d all want something that streamlines their travels, adds some style or, ideally, both.

Check out these 25 travel-friendly finds that will really make the holidays a little jollier:

A place-based photo shoot

A picture is worth a thousand … likes.

For travelers who love to capture a moment, gift them the chance to be in front of the camera for their own personal Flytographer photo shoot.

Know there’s a marriage proposal in Paris in the works? Or an opportunity to play in paddy-fields in the Philippines? Have a professional photographer snap these moments for a lifetime of memories. It’s perfect for solo travelers, too, since they may want some non-selfie proof that they’ve been there, done that.

The best part about this one: It never expires.

A coordinates key chain

Maven Metals

Sometimes those suffering from the travel bug need reminders of where they’ve been to lessen the blow that they’re not still on holiday.

It’s a reality most would rather not come to realize, but a cool coordinates key chain from Maven Metals could serve as a partial fix.

Maybe it’s a solo trip to Machu Picchu they’ll want to remember or the first place they took their firstborn. Whichever, etch it into metal and memory and add a personalized initial to the handcrafted leather accent to really make it theirs.

An eye-catching carry-on

Go flashy with Rimowa.

Go flashy with Rimowa.

Courtesy Rimowa

Rimowa’s distinctive design and renowned durability has long made it the luggage of choice for the fashion-minded.

This year, the German luggage manufacturer, established in 1898, has unveiled a new offering. Instead of the usual monochromatic aluminum hard case, Rimowa’s new Unique line allows gift-givers the opportunity to create a customized look, mix-and-matching colorful handles, leather luggage tags and wheel options.

This iconic luggage, while entirely practical, is definitely a travel status symbol. If you or your loved ones are frequent fliers with a penchant for being noticed, a Rimowa suitcase is an unforgettable gift.

If luxury luggage is a bit much, Rimowa also sells travel accessories, including an iPhone XS case with the classic groove design and kitschy and classic city stickers that you can affix to baggage.

A journal of journeys


Gone should be the days of jotting quick notes on phones — travel memories deserve more pride of place than that.

These moments should be captured in a personal travel memoir, and Moleskine has designed its Traveller’s Journal for just that.

Starting with handy travel tips, such as world time zones, global temperatures throughout the year and international clothing and shoe size conversions, the journal works like a tool and then turns into a timeline of memorable travel moments. There’s space to plan and prep, noting must-sees and dos, and pages to recount sights and sounds, tastes and feels for both weekend jaunts and longer-lasting adventures over many wander-filled years.

This is the only travel journal they’ll ever need again.

A camera to capture everything

Some globetrotters still want to capture more than smartphone snaps, so send them with one of the lightest options in the professional camera category.

Canon’s compact EOS Rebel SL3 DSLR camera is its smallest in the line, but it delivers in the quality department. It takes high-resolution images in all types of settings, from sunrises over the Grand Canyon to the nighttime Full Moon Lantern Festival in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Then, with a WiFi connection, those images can be instantly sent to compatible smartphones, making it even easier to upload better photos to the ‘Gram.

It’s also the first EOS Rebel that records 4K video and time-lapse movies, perfect for capturing a Rhine River cruise. And it comes in white, too, which is rare for cameras of its caliber.

Best of all, travelers don’t need to be on NatGeo’s level to use it — extra autofocus options make things even easier for the average user.

Eco-conscious on the go

Give reusable straws to your environmentally conscious friends.

Give reusable straws to your environmentally conscious friends.

World Market

Being green doesn’t end once a flight takes off, so help conscious travelers carry their eco-friendly efforts wherever they’re headed, with a pack of reusable straws.

This compact and totable silicone set from World Market makes the perfect stocking stuffer. Your gift recipient won’t be relegated to using plastic straws in restaurants or roadside cafés and can maintain a stance against single-use plastics.

The straws work for hot and cold drinks and come with a handy squeegee to keep things clean.

They’ll thank you for this. And the environment will, too.

Essentials for exploring

Uncommon Goods

If your gift getters are more Bear Grylls than business traveler, equip them with the supplies to keep their outdoor explorations drama-free.

Packed into one handy, slender, military-grade flashlight, UncommonGoods’ Adventure Essentials Survival Kit comes with fire starters for setting up cozy campsites, fishing tackle should they need to catch dinner, water purification tools and, of course, a first-aid kit for when it inevitably becomes necessary.

With this, when your explorer has to fashion a makeshift hammock and sleep in a tree to dodge the bears, they’ll at least be better prepared.

An in-flight face saver

Who doesn't need a facial pick-me-up after a long flight?

Who doesn’t need a facial pick-me-up after a long flight?


It’s not like travelers try to look haggard post-flight, but the overwhelming majority fall victim anyway.

That’s because the recirculated plane air’s main function (besides providing oxygen, of course) seems to be to sap skin’s precious moisture. And it’s that general dehydration that serves up the haven’t-slept-in-days look.

Elemis, however, has an answer.

The beauty brand’s award-winning Superfood Facial Oil is made of highly concentrated plant-based superfoods that hydrate and nourish to give skin a glow.

Travelers embarking on romantic rendezvous will be endlessly grateful when that long-awaited airport meeting goes much better than planned.

First class organization

Christina Bull Photography

There’s organizing. And then there’s organizing in style.

Meet Stow’s First Class Leather Tech Cases, crafted from fine Spanish leather. They come courtesy of the English brand that’s travel tested, Meghan Markle approved (the Duchess has one of Stow’s tech cases herself), and designed to make everything about jet setting chicer.

Passport slot? Check. Space to secure boarding passes and a pen that’s never handy when needed? Check. A way to keep headphones and a Kindle secure for entertainment and all else to stay organized? It’s all possible.

Marie Kondo would agree that this sparks some serious joy.

A problem-solving charger


Too many travelers have suffered the unfortunate experience of having their devices die exactly when a once-in-a-lifetime photo op presents itself, or right before they get lost in an unfamiliar locale.

While this Anker PowerPort 4 won’t help them with the good sense not to get into either situation, it will help them remedy it pretty quickly.

The charging hub has four USB ports, which means with one quick hotel pit stop, they can repower two phones (so there’s no sacrificing a friend’s phone in favor of theirs), a tablet and their portable charger so they don’t find themselves in this fix again — all at the same time.

Call it the trip saver of chargers.

Coffee with culture

Coffee lovers will love the Atlas Coffee Club.

Coffee lovers will love the Atlas Coffee Club.

Atlas Coffee Club

Buying for a “but first, coffee” kind of person?

Elevate his or her morning routine with an Atlas Coffee Club subscription that delivers first-rate, single-origin coffee (meaning it’s from a particular farm located in a unique setting) right to their doorstep.

Each box includes ethically sourced, sustainably produced coffee from places such as Ethiopia, Honduras and Indonesia, in bags designed with prints reminiscent of the place.

Plus, there’s a postcard illustrating the region’s beauty, with bonus travel tips and tidbits designed to awaken wanderlust. In addition, there’s a coffee notes card that tells the country’s café history and sets the taster up for hints of marshmallow malt or orange zest.

It’s a sensory experience that stirs joy even before the first batch is brewed.

Bonus: Wanderers who aren’t venturing out that much can still get a taste of the world.

A vintage-look luggage tag

Saks Fifth Avenue

The glamor days of travel may be long gone — but it doesn’t have to look that way.

Leave it to Tumi to create a luggage tag that could prove more chic than the bag it adorns. This series of vintage inspired city-specific leather tags comes in bright colors such as orange, yellow and green, repping cities from New York to Tokyo.

So what if they’re attaching it to a 26-inch spinner suitcase instead of a 1900s steamer trunk?

Inspiration for travel-themed design


Are your travelers the type to tote Turkish textiles home even if it means sitting on their overstuffed suitcase to get it closed? Or will they drag an Egyptian lamp back even if they have to hold it on their lap for a 12-hour flight?

Help them hone their love for foreign wares with Travel Home, a book of design inspiration that tours the homes of global design types to get their take on creating spaces that reflect those memorable travel experiences.

They’ll discover where in the world creatives shop for the best finds, what household souvenirs they always collect and how to curate it into a cohesive, experience-invoking home sanctuary that blends travel with everyday life.

Armchair travelers can embrace the global spirit of design from the comfort of their armchair, too.

An expandable bag for buyers

Great for travelers -- the exapandable duffel.

Great for travelers — the exapandable duffel.

Flight 001

There are two kinds of travelers in this world: those who aim to shop and those who don’t.

For the former, get them a bag that makes overbuying OK.

This expandable duffel from Flight 001 starts off small and folded in an easily packable pouch. Then, when all the woven baskets and textiles and beaded décor at the Maasai Market in Nairobi, Kenya, start begging to be taken home, globetrotters can skip the stress of wondering where they’ll put all that stuff.

With this gift, they’ll be able to bring more back and return the favor.

A fouta for everything

Daniel Hafez

Minimalist packers will appreciate a gift that does double — or triple — duty.

For them, a fouta (pronounced foo-tah).

This staple of Tunisian living, traditionally used as hammam towels, comes courtesy of the female founders of Fouta Harissa, who have upped the elegance factor of the textile that also works as a cover for chilly flights, a blanket for sunbathing by the beach or even a wrap skirt for an evening stroll.

It folds easily and dries quickly, making it prime for packing, too.

And the artisanal aspect makes the purchase even more meaningful. The foutas are handwoven by artisans on the coast of Mahdia, Tunisia, aiding both job creation and the preservation of the country’s rich weaving history.

There’ll be no need to feel bad about going the “one for them, one for me” route with this one.

A weekender that wins

The Weekender is perfect for shorter trips.

The Weekender is perfect for shorter trips.


Weekend trips can feel like glorious little life reboots, and what better way to make the best of them than with the right bag for the job?

Enter The Weekender from Away. Coming in canvas or limited-edition nylon, the lightweight duffel is big enough for three or four days’ worth of clothes and small enough for the overhead bin or an overstuffed trunk for those in road-trip mode.

There’s a handy hidden laptop pocket, a clip to keep keys from getting lost in the fray, an exterior zipper pocket that’s perfect for a passport and a completely separate shoe compartment that will keep duds from getting dirty. Option to add an embroidered monogram.

The bag alone may inspire more weekends away.

A handy pillow


While some travelers are the horseshoe pillow type and others aren’t, most people can probably say they’ve slept propped up on their hand before.

That’s why the Clöudz On Hand pillow has a perfect hand-size slit in it to make the natural position all the more comfortable. Filled with microbeads, the ergonomic pillow cups the head and neck as the user nuzzles into position. There’s a plush side for extra softness or a spandex side to keep things cooler. Go handless to use it as a regular pillow or try it for lumbar support, too.

Users can snap it to their luggage with a neat loop and be on their way.

The ultimate wireless earbuds


AirPods Pro earbuds might be the most sought-after gift for 2019.

When Apple launched their new AirPods Pro noise-canceling wireless earbuds, just one question loomed large: Are they any good?

The quality of the noise-canceling feature is on par with that of most competitors — and has the added value of being the latest unmistakably Apple product.

With silicon tips, which provide for optimum fit, comfort and noise-canceling effectiveness, and the capacity to audio-share (allowing more than one user to listen in on the same movie, music, book or podcast), AirPods Pro may just be the most-requested holiday gift this year.

To elevate the already-upmarket AirPods Pro, luxury brands such as Dior and Gucci have created bespoke cases.

A toiletry case with class

Lifetime Leather

Regardless of what TSA wants, no one’s toting all of their toiletries in a quart-size clear bag.

Help the dapper traveler in your life keep things classy with a handcrafted leather dopp kit from Lifetime Leather Co., which comes complete with a nylon liner to make for easy clean up when the shampoo spills.

Upgrade them even further by adding embroidered or fire branded initials to the lifetime warranty-backed kit.

They can pack the plastic bag in the dopp for good measure so the TSA-compliant, 3-ounce liquids are easily removable when carrying on.

The mini-est flying camera

The Mavic Mini weighs in at just 249 grams -- that's about as much as two bananas.

The Mavic Mini weighs in at just 249 grams — that’s about as much as two bananas.


If the adventurist in your life loves the idea of a drone to fulfill their wildest travel photo dreams, there’s a new pint-size one that makes packing it all the easier.

DJI’s newly released Mavic Mini weighs in at just 249 grams (about as much as two bananas), and that sub-250 gram weight also means the drone is considered safe enough that the user can skip the hassle of registration and regulations in many places they might be traveling to.

The palm-sized drone can stay in the air for up to 30 minutes, taking high-res bird’s eye vantage point photos and video. Considered among the easiest to fly, auto settings in DJI’s new complementary Fly App simplify flight modes such as having the drone snap overhead shots at specified heights or circle the subject to capture what they’re doing.

It’s the everyday drone for the everyday traveler.

A collapsible canteen

Flight 001

Gulping down a full bottle of water in the airport security line to avoid throwing it out isn’t cool.

Neither is paying $5 for a bottle from a shop near the gate.

Trippers can skip both scenarios with this collapsible, reusable water bottle from Flight 001. Made from silicone with a spiral design, the nearly 5-inch tall bottle can hold up to 20 fluid ounces of water and then compress down to half its size.

Pack it empty, fill it up before the flight and save that $5 for literally anything else.

The chicest travel guides

Courtesy Louis Vuitton

Luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton has long been associated with the golden age of travel, fashioning steamer trunks (in its iconic Monogram canvas) since the late 1800s.

Vuitton remains synonymous with worldly elegance, so its collection of 30 city guides makes an ideal gift to anyone who equates travel with fashion.

From Amsterdam to Venice, Louis Vuitton City Guides are written by local journalists, photographers, architects, designers and other creatives, hand-selected by the house for their expertise and particular point of view. The guides provide unique insight to the world’s most refined destinations.

New and updated this year are Beijing, Lisbon, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.

While the colorful hard copies (together or separately) would brighten any bookshelf, there are also digital versions and an iOS app (including gorgeous videos), so toting these guides on your travels is as easy as downloading “The Crown.”

Playing cards that do double duty

Courtesy Lingo

Let’s face it — anything that can become a game is usually more fun. And thanks to Lingo, playing cards can also mean learning to say “la cuenta, por favor” in Spanish.

Turning a full deck of cards into 54 translation essentials in selected languages, Lingo has made idle time once spent playing Go Fish on European trains into a learning opportunity.

Travelers guarding their hand will also be practicing how to say “enchanté” to the cutie they plan to meet in Paris.

Tunes for life


For globetrotters who can’t wait to bump the bass in their headphones and escape the sounds of babies crying onboard, they’d be glad to get Jabra’s Elite 85h.

The high-tech headphones employ SmartSound, or AI that adapts sound to surroundings, meaning volume auto-adjusts when the wearer leaves a bustling street for a quiet train car. There’s also the option to go the noise-canceling route or switch to HearThrough mode to let a little of the world in.

From the complementary app, users can also personalize what’s already superior sound quality, adding bass or lowering treble according to preference. And with the Voice Assistant feature and a Bluetooth connection, a push of a button allows the user to interact with Alexa or Google Assistant to check the weather or get directions.

But what’s perhaps the biggest selling point for the traveler: battery life lasts at least 36 hours.

That means they can catch a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, fly out to Uluru, back to Sydney and then board the return flight to L.A. and never be without tunes.

A carry-on with curves


Not all carry-ons are created equal. And not all carry-ons are even created as rectangles.

For fashion-forward travelers, surprise them with a shape-shifting round carry-on from OOKONN.

Empty, the light roller weighs just 6.4 pounds (average hovers around 8 pounds), and the interior is well-equipped with all the needed conveniences, such as a compression system to ensure everything fits, a mesh divider for maximum organization and a removable laundry bag as a bonus.

And if the luggage wasn’t already unusual enough, there’s an option to personalize it with a colored handle, stripe and a set of initials. With this, your recipients will be guaranteed to garner envious stares when they stroll through the airport.

Tara Donaldson is a travel writer and editor living in Brooklyn. CNN’s Brekke Fletcher contributed to this guide.

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