Are you shopping for gifts for people who love to travel, and you’re not sure what to get? Here are the top gifts for travelers in 2018; a collection of items ranging from less than $20 to over $100.
Included this year is a way-cool ultralight backpack, clothing (for men and women), custom sandals/insoles (also for men and women) – that changed my life(!), tripods, passport wallets, and even a collection of travel experiences that will definitely be remembered by the avid traveler in your life.
(And if you’re anything like me, you’re reading this post as much for yourself as you are looking for gifts for travel lovers. That’s okay, I won’t tell.)
How did I pick these items from the enormous selection of unique travel gifts and gear available? From personal experience, is how.
Every year, I test-drive a variety of travel-related products and services. Most of them I receive for free or for a discount, and the best of them (or most noteworthy, for better or worse!) I review here.
Below is a collection of everything noteworthy that I tested out in 2018. In a few cases, if you click through and make a purchase using the links here, I will receive a small commission. It doesn’t affect your cost, but it certainly does affect my life and livelihood, and my ability to continue to produce high-quality content for you, for free. Thank you in advance for your support!
On with the show! Happy shopping.
FitMyFoot (formerly Wiivv) was the find of the year (and possibly the decade) for me. After months of suffering from plantar fasciitis followed immediately by fallen arches, every single step of every day involved varying degrees of pain. (And when I’m on the road, I’m all about discovering my destination by walking it. So this was the kiss of death). Luckily, just before succumbing to expensive and clunky orthotics, FitMyFoot “stepped in” to save the day.
There’s so much I can say about these puppies. Let’s cover the basics:
- After using their app to take pictures of your feet, FitMyFoot digitally maps your feet to 200 points and 3D prints your custom sandals/insoles.
- The sandal straps are seamless, cushioned, and adjustable, and the toe thong is soft-knit instead of hard plastic. I normally chafe or blister with new sandals; this didn’t happen.
- You can select your custom colour scheme/design. (They even print your name on the sandals and insoles; it’s super cute).
- The arch support is unreal. (It actually takes some getting used to, but now….omg).
- The deep heel cup stabilizes your heel and absorbs shock.
- They are free to try for 30 days, and there’s a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- FitMyFoot’s close-loop recyclable footbeds mean they don’t have to end up in landfills/oceans. Wear them out and send them back to be made into future sandals. Yay for the environment!
- FitMyFoot makes sandals and insoles for both Men and Women.
I could go on. In fact, shall I? I shall. Here’s why FitMyFoot’s technology is important for you and your feet:
- Improperly supported feet lead to not only foot fatigue and other foot-related problems, but it triggers a chain causing further pain and complications in the ankles, shins, knees, hips, and back. It all starts with the feet.
- Suffer from plantar fasciitis? FitMyFoot insoles and sandals just might be the antidote.
- Wouldn’t it be nice to finish a big day of travel involving miles of walking without having tired achy feet? Yes, it is nice.
- Got flat feet? FitMyFoot’s Biomechanic Smart Filters identify flat feet and map a supportive arch to help you better align and reduce uneven loading/pressure.
- High arches? FitMyFoot has you covered here too, providing weight distribution and pressure across your entire foot’s surface.
If it’s sandals you’re specifically interested in (and you’re not convinced yet), I encourage you to read about some more specifics in my epic Travel Sandals post (like, a guy actually ran the Boston Marathon in them).
But sometimes you just have to put on actual shoes, and that’s what FitMyFoot’s insoles are for. I got the 3/4 length insoles so they can fit into absolutely any shoe, from heels to runners.
So between my sandals and insoles, I have a new spring in my step…..literally. They saved me from debilitating foot pain, and from having to get expensive custom orthotics. As long as I have my insoles, I can wear whatever shoes I like! Not a day goes by when I’m not grateful to have FitMyFoot‘s custom sandals and insoles, on the road and at home.
Want to see FitMyFoot in action? Here’s a video I created:
Click here to watch the video directly on YouTube (along with other travel gear reviews and useful Vlogs on my channel).
If you’re not sure what to get the traveler in your life, but you want something that will make an impact, then head over to Tinggly. They’re not in the travel gear business, so much as travel experiences.
It’s a unique way to provide a travel experience for somebody while still giving them the ultimate choice to pick their perfect experience and location. Tinggly currently has 19 gift collections (with more added regularly), each collection containing hundreds of experiences available around the world. From diving with sharks, to the world’s highest bungee jump, to the world’s oldest yoga retreat centre, to a gondola ride in Venice, there’s something for every type of traveler.
All you have to do is order one of these collections to be delivered as a physical gift box or e-voucher. Then, the recipient can choose whatever experience within the collection they want to do!
While it does seem to me that some of these experiences are a wee bit overpriced, that’s what you get for providing somebody with a travel experience in some far flung destination without actually being there to book it. It’s not like you could scour the streets of Thailand to personally find the best cooking course. So….all things considered, Tinggly provides good value, and great gifts.
Do you want to be there in spirit with your traveling friend and give them something to remember you by? Then Tinggly might be just what the doctor (er….traveler) ordered.
This post has been financially supported in part by Tinggly. While I haven’t personally used their services, I think it’s a fabulous idea for a travel gift that will allow you to vicariously travel with your loved one(s).
The Free Spirit is the latest amazing piece of travel gear that the folks at GobiGear have churned out. (I’m their biggest raving fan of the Hoboroll, which I use every single day on and off the road).
This ultralight packable backpack fits easily in your luggage while you’re in-transit, and serves many purposes at your destination. With segmented insides you can organize your stuff multiple ways (and if you don’t need/want to use the segments, they don’t get in the way – a little bit of design magic in itself).
While ultralight, it’s still made of a sturdy water-resistant material with a reinforced bottom. There are two side pockets for water bottles, and a Camelback pocket as well (but since I don’t have a Camelback I use it for other purposes – embarrassingly, I initially thought it was a poorly designed laptop sleeve).
My Free Spirit 30-litre has replaced my former 36-litre packable daypack, and while my former pack was host to a series of aggravating design flaws, I did prefer the size. I used to take my 36-litre pack on multi-day backpacking adventures into the wild (carrying food, clothing layers, and personal necessities) – a task that would tax the Free Spirit to its limits.
However it’s hard to find larger summit sacks these days, so perhaps my needs are isolated. I have managed to use the Free Spirit to carry all my accoutrements for side trips (of the vanilla travel variety, rather than backcountry travel) of up to a week in duration. And for day trips and adventures around town? I adore my Free Spirit 30L Adventure Backpack.
Want to see the Free Spirit in action? I recorded this video just to show you:
If you’re even remotely interested in taking high-quality photos, you need a tripod. This is common sense for anybody with an advanced SLR or mirrorless camera; but even point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones go to the next level with a tripod.
Personally, I have the kind of camera that also makes phone calls (a smartphone), and I also have a wee tripod that allows me to set up advanced shots including longer exposures, group photos, and time lapse. And for video? I wouldn’t know what to do without my tripod.
Because everybody travels with a different kind of tripod, and because I haven’t test-driven any travel tripods worth mentioning, I’m going to direct you to this most excellent collection of tripods for travel that cater to a range of budgets from under $25 to over $300.
Note: This post has been financially supported in part by Omnicore Agency. Many thanks to them for creating this great travel tripod resource, as well as helping The Professional Hobo to keep things operating efficiently.
I’ve been a fan of passport wallets for a long time, and I’ve tried out quite a few. Personally, I’m a fan of the neck wallet variety because it’s slim, lightweight, and easy to keep on me all the time on travel days by hanging it around my neck (and underneath my clothes).
I also keep a few extra things in my passport wallet, including any left over foreign currency, lounge passes (which I get with my travel credit card), and other things I may need on travel days.
The passport wallet pictured above is from REI, and is perfect for keeping my passport and boarding pass and everything secure as well as easy to access.
Here’s what I look for in a passport wallet in general, and what the wallet pictured above offers:
- RFID Blocking
- Lots of pockets, zippered for extra security
- Adjustable strap so you can wear it around your neck, or across your body as a sling
- Lightweight, durable
If you already have a system you like for carrying your passport (like a special pocket), then as a bare minimum, I recommend this paper-thin RFID-blocking sleeve for your passport, since passports with chips are vulnerable to identity theft. Somebody with an RFID scanner in their pocket can simply walk by you and steal all your information!
See also: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling With Money (as in, how to carry it, access it, and use it)
Given that so many of the clothing companies I end up reviewing are female-focused, I’m very pleased to introduce a men’s clothing company that uses some pretty amazing performance fabrics to combine style with functionality.
Their styles are designed to cover off a broad range of possibilities from outdoor hiking to office loitering (though it would need to be a pretty casual office). Being a Colorado-based company, I would surmise that Western Rise slants more heavily to the outdoorsy look than the office look.
Their clothing is very well made, and their attention to detail shows with sturdy seams and thoughtful design features.
Western Rise Best Sellers include the AT Slim Rivet pants, made of a specially-designed nylon canvas material that does everything; it’s lighter and more durable than denim, water repellant, stain resistant, flexible, abrasion resistant, and more.
Also, their Strong Core Merino Tee is a winner (my boyfriend lives in his), as well as the brand new (2020) Limitless Merino Button Down Shirt for a dressier look without any wrinkles or smelly pits.
I also like their Hemp Shirts (of which I have one, when whey were prototyping clothing for women), made of a combo of hemp and recycled polyester (which keeps it from wrinkling like hemp and other linens), that is eight times stronger than cotton. I get lots of complements on it!
See also: The Best Travel Clothing for Men
Looking for more travel gifts ideas?
Check out my Travel Gear archives.
Plus, help yourself to these posts:
Best Travel Gifts for 2017 (The Ultimate Travel Dress, expandable packing cubes, Eagle Creek compression sacs, Chipolo tracking device, Fat Chick Goes Awol (book), and Flexiroam global data micro-SIM card)
Giant 2016 Travel Gear Roundup (Ultimate Travel Jacket, ROLO and TUO packing aids, Tieks, Revolve Dress, Anatomie designer travel clothing, Sudio Sweden wireless earbuds, RFID tools, J-Pillow, IP Vanish, VPN, and more)
Awesome Travel Gear, Gizmos, and Services (2014 Edition) (Ultralight filter water bottle, ion5 Solar Ionic Toothbrush, Tunnelbear VPN, Evolve Top, Compression Socks, and more)