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Great Gifts for Travelers

Updated on December 1, 2011

Whatever the time of year, it is getting more and more difficult to come up with gift ideas, especially for those that already have their fill of adult toys. I am lucky enough to live and work in an area that allows me to travel several times every year to various exotic and exciting new places. Experience has shown me that there are several items that have really made my travels more enjoyable, efficient and safer. Here are a few great products that I have used religiously for the past couple of years. Any one of them would make a wonderful gift for the traveler in your life.


Yes, there are probably those of you out there who are still saying you will never buy one, that it’s just not the same as the feel of a real book. I felt the same until I moved to China. Here, as you can imagine, it is very difficult to find English books so I finally broke down and purchased one. I love it!

It is so much easier to carry around then several books. It can be taken out at any time to read, if only for a few minutes. Every model has its own variety of “bells and whistles” but for traveling, I am quite happy with the least expensive one. All I want is an easy way to read books anywhere at anytime. And it is so convenient to be able to download books as soon as I feel the urge to buy something new instead of looking around for a bookstore.

There are many brands now available but the Kindle still leads the pack, especially if you are living in North America. Prices on Ereaders have plummeted over the last couple of years and it is now easy to pick one up for less than $100.

Hand-held GPS

Inexpensive GPS devices are definitely one of my favorite new products of the last decade, especially the hand-held ones that can be easily carried in your pocket as you travel around foreign cities. Prices start around $100 for something that has more than enough functions for the average traveler.

I have found the most useful function is the ability to set the location of my hotel or hostel when I arrive at my destination. This allows me to easily find my way back by bus when I am traveling around in foreign cities. I just track the blinking light and when I feel the bus is probably as close as it will get, I get off! It is easy to keep track of your approaching destination and, therefore, have lots of warning before you reach your stop.

You can input restaurants or other destinations and be aware if the cab driver is really “taking you for a ride” or going the most efficient route possible.

The other function I use a lot, both at home and away is the sports tracker function. It keeps track of my jogging routes, calculates my speed and distance and maintains an ongoing record of all my aerobic activities. For a traveler who also likes to work out, it is a bonus!

Folding binoculars

Another great gift that many folks wouldn’t probably buy for themselves these days. Whether used to view architecture details, sports events or wildlife, they are a great item to have along on any trip and take up very little packing space.

CalPak Awestruck 18" Rolling Backpack
CalPak Awestruck 18" Rolling Backpack

Nice double pull-along handle so it doesn't keep flipping over! We have used a rolling back-pack similar to this for the last couple of years.


2-in-1 Luggage

Sometimes you need a backpack, maybe you need a roll-along and other times, you just want a large suitcase. With 50, 000km of motorcycle touring behind me, I have learned to travel light. Rarely do I take anything larger than a backpack on a trip. That leaves the first two options.

Our first choice is the backpack that can be easily converted to a roll-along with a quick pull of a hidden handle. We have often stepped out of an airport, taxi or subway station in Asia to be confronted with a pothole ridden sidewalk. It is so nice to be able to hoist the bag we had been rolling along up onto our back and continue on our way unencumbered. As soon as a flat, level surface appears, down it goes again.

If you need more luggage space but still want the option of a back pack as well, it is possible to roll along both at the same time.. Purchase luggage with a detachable backpack and you are set. Once you get to your destination, all you need to do is unzip the two from each other and your are ready for a day trip or smaller excursion.

Compact Camera

While photography buffs love their large, expensive 35mm digital cameras, I prefer my small compact one. It is so much easier to carry around either in my pocket or bag, and is always available to take shots whenever needed. I have got in the habit of always having it with me here in China. You never know when the next snapshot opportunity will appear. Yes, the better cameras do take incredible pictures but I have always loved the convenience of the compacts. The higher-end compacts are taking better and better quality photos every year. For quick and easy memories of trips, they are hard to beat! I can always do miracles with Photoshop if I need to!


Again, these mini-laptops are so convenient! When I travel I usually carry my net book in my “man purse” along with my, eBook reader, compact camera, and wallet. I often take out my EeePC to surf the net as I am waiting in the airport. My Asus has a tiny footprint so it doesn’t take up the entire drop-down table on the back of the seat in front of me. Replace the battery with a long-lasting one (mine currently lasts more than 5 hours) and you have enough juice to watch a couple of movies. Portable DVD players are a nice idea but I have yet to find one that has a very long battery life.That really decreases their use for long flights.

Gas Coupons

For those you know that will be taking a trip in their vehicle, gasoline gift certificates are a great gift surprise. Because our friends knew we were going to leave on a cross-country motorcycle tour the day after our wedding, they all decided to buy us gas coupons for wedding gifts. We had both been married before and really had no need for another pile of maybe not-so-useful wedding gifts. No. they weren’t the most beautiful presents but they certainly were useful. And they paid for most of our trip and back. Be sure to only purchase gift certificates from those companies that are plentiful and easy to find wherever you travel.

Traveling is a fun experience but sometimes all it takes is a little special something to make it all the more pleasurable. Each of the items above is useful, not too expensive and help any traveler to get the most out of their trip.


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    • kirbylau profile image

      kirbylau 6 years ago from Wuhan, China

      ????xie xie!)

    • Steve LePoidevin profile image

      Steve LePoidevin 6 years ago from Thailand

      They are available at any center that deals with computers and technology. Every city usually has a "computer town" somewhere where you can find these types of things.

    • kirbylau profile image

      kirbylau 6 years ago from Wuhan, China

      Where can I get a GPS in China?