A Travel-inspired Gift-giver’s Guide for Globetrotters

By Morgan Abate

As the final week of the holiday season begins, I find myself stumped on a gift for a good friend of mine. His family made traveling a priority growing up, and thus it has evolved to be an important part of his life. He wants to continue traveling, learning about different cultures and opening up his mind.

Knowing this about him, I wanted to come up with a gift that encompassed his love for travel, the places, cities and countries he has explored, and his future plans for travel. At first, I tried thinking of gifts off the top of my head. The ideas weren’t original, creative or neat. When I had exhausted my energy thinking, I turned to Pinterest, a great resource for anything original and creative.

Sure enough, multiple searches involving “travel” yielded hundreds of results. Some of them were crafty while others were useful and practical. Not only did I end up finding great gift ideas for my friend, but also future ideas for family members and other friends.

Passport covers– One of the best gifts I have received was a passport cover. It helps tell passports apart in a family or in a crowd. MindMap, an online shop on Etsy, the entrepreneurial hub for original goods, sells handmade leather passport covers, wallets and magnets—among other things—with travel themes. Each leather cover costs between $25-$30 and fits U.S., U.K., Canadian, European, Australian and Singaporean passports. If you’ve never ordered from Etsy, don’t worry. MindMap has more than 250 reviews and 2,200 sales. A search for leather passport covers can also lead you to other cool, crafty items.

Scratch maps – Some people love to track and mark the places they have visited in the world. Sometimes it can be as simple as hanging a laminated map and using stickers or tacks to mark the spots they have been. Mix it up a bit! Scratch Maps sells maps of the United States, Europe and other regions around the world for you to scratch away the countries—or even parts of a country—that you have traveled to. The maps cost $28 to $40. They also sell products like scratch journals with cards for each continent.

PANDORA charms & cufflinks – Jewelry to commemorate where you, a friend or a loved one has been or to simply tap into the travel bug can be a perfect gift, even if it is on the more expensive side. For men looking for a classy gift for a mom, sister, girlfriend, fiancée or wife, PANDORA has beautiful travel charms that represent travel in general, specific countries and traditional symbols associated with certain places, such as the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Ladies searching for something for the men in their lives can look to cufflinks. Most of them are basic in design, such as globes or airplanes, but Etsy has a few shops that sell customizable, handmade cufflinks if you’re looking for something more personal.

Scrapbox – For those with a little more time on their hands and a creative side, Martha Stewart has directions for a travel keepsake box. If you know someone who keeps ticket stubs, prints out photos and holds onto other mementos of their travels but has not organized them into a scrapbook, you can make them a simple box with the name of the city or country on it.

Photo coasters – As someone who has access to digital copies of photos from family vacations, this idea is quite appealing. If you have access to photos from a family vacation/exploration, a son or daughter’s abroad experience, or a friend’s favorite travel destination, Shutterfly makes it easy to create coasters as a way to remember travel highlights. They are available in sets of four for $19.99. Just upload the photos and crop them to your liking.

Puzzles – I love puzzles. They are great presents for those who like to think and great activities for families and friends looking for quality time and less screen time. Ravensburger has a one-of-a-kind, 540-piece 3D Earth Puzzleball for $44.45 on Amazon. The Ravensburger website also has a plethora of puzzles of landmarks, rivers, castles, cities and maps.

Maps barware – Uncommon Goods is a company that sells exactly what its name suggests. The site sells map glassware with the streets of Atlanta, Berlin, Chicago, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Montreal, New Orleans, Paris, Rio de Janiero, Sydney, Washington, D.C. and many more cities. Some glassware also has topographical maps of some of the most well-known sites in the world, such as Machu Picchu, Krakatoa, the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest. There are pint glasses, carafes, wine glasses, lowball glasses, mason jars and mugs, with the selection varying depending on the city or site.

National Geographic Atlas of the World – Last year, Nat Geo published its tenth edition of its atlas to celebrate 100 years of cartography. It’s chock-full of maps, data, trends and facts about the world in which we live. This is a fantastic gift for the family and friends who love learning and educating themselves and others about the world. Not only is it useful for learning, but also to help plan future travels.

iPhone camera lenses – Lifehack, a tech and media website, published a list of the best attachable lenses for your phone. They vary in price, but allow you to take almost-DSLR-quality photos on your phone without needing to carry an extra piece of equipment along with you. If you know someone who likes to document their travels—or even their lives—in photos, this would be a perfect gift. Consider including a little case for the lenses so they don’t get lost.

Biaggi bags – When you’re traveling around a country, staying in small hostels, it can be hard to find space for your luggage. Or when you’re storing your luggage until the next trip, it may need its own closet because of how much space it fills. Biaggi bags, made famous through Shark Tank, were created to eliminate this problem. The luggage fits everything you need, and when you no longer need it, it folds into a neat handheld bag until next time.

TAXI wallet – The Grommet is a quirky website with a bunch of niche gift ideas, and this is one of them. The TAXI wallet is thin with just enough space for an ID, the cards you need and some cash. It folds up and can fit on any part of your person.

After searching for and thinking about the perfect gift for my friend, these ideas offer me a much better idea of what I can give him that is both personal and original. There are, of course, plenty more ideas. This list serves a starting point for those looking for travel-inspired gifts for just about anyone!

Morgan Abate is a soon-to-be graduate of Elon University hoping to pursue a career in international communications and cause marketing. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is currently teaching herself Portuguese to be able to live in work in Brazil, the business hub of Latin America.