The only list you will ever need to surprise your traveller or backpacker friend with the perfect gift. A list of awesome gifts for long-term travellers and backpackers that are lightweight, maybe virtual and actually useful!
So you want to buy a gift for your traveller friend? This may prove more difficult than you originally thought.
As a traveller myself, I don’t like people buying me gifts unless they ask me what I want, or they are travellers themselves. Why? I’m on the road a lot and my life must fit into my backpack.
Of course, some travellers (many in fact) have some kind of home base. In that case feel free to gift them an awesome wall art print, framed photo of your adventures together or a new reclining chair. But what if you want to buy a travel-related product they will actually use and be very happy to receive?
If you are buying a gift for long-term travellers or backpackers it has to be something that:
- They actually need
- Will fit in their backpack
- Is light and compact
- They would buy for themselves but maybe can’t spare the mone
If they are always on the road and hardly at home, or maybe they don’t really have a permanent home and live off the suitcase (a little like me), it is really hard to choose a perfect and actually useful gift. Especially if you are not a traveller yourself and you just have no idea.
To be honest, the best gift you can get them is the one they ask for. I asked my family for a gift card to my favourite travel gear shop – it’s where I’m going to buy my new backpack and jacket.
If you can do that, ask them and forget about this list. My personal advice.
But, if you want to surprise your traveller friend or family member with a thoughtful useful gift they will really appreciate – I have you covered. From virtual items that you don’t need any space for and affordable items that can fit in the pocket, to a little more valuable but incredibly essential travel gift ideas- in this post, you will find a complete list of perfect gifts for long-term travellers and backpackers.
Netflix or Spotify subscription
Entertainment that you can take with you everywhere around the world is sometimes a perfect travel companion. Especially on those long bus trips or long-haul flights.
If your traveller friend is budget conscious, paying for the subscription (even just for a couple of months) will be very welcome, trust me! It is one of the best gifts for long-term travellers.
The best way to gift Spotify is by getting a Spotify Premium gift card from Amazon. You can also purchase a Netflix gift card from their website. So easy!
This is an absolutely essential travel item for any type of traveller. For those moments when we lose access to power sockets or electricity altogether and want to keep the phone charged – a good power bank can be a life saviour.
When travelling to foreign lands having access to things like Google Maps, a translator or simply email is essential. I mean, people used to travel without those things in the past, I know. But it seems we can’t survive without them anymore – and for that, a charged phone is a must!
If you are buying a gift for a traveller who is a passionate photographer, videographer or works on the road – an external hard drive is always a great idea. And it’s one of those things you’ll never have enough of if it’s a good one!
A good external hard drive needs to be durable and reliable – nothing worse than losing all your travel photos because the hard drive gave up. Depending on the type of traveller your friend is, you can either opt for a solid, life-resistant drive or a sleek and small one that fits in the smallest pocket.
Seagate makes awesome slim hard drives of very good quality, but I swear by my Western Digital My Passport. I just bought a second one and will be buying another one before I take off again.
For the best durable, portable and shock-resistant hard drive consider SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD or LaCie’s Rugged USB-C portable external hard drive.
This is the type of gift that you either buy a good one or don’t buy at all and opt for a head buff instead.
Hiking socks with a flare
If you want to surprise a long-term traveller or a backpacker who likes to hike, these Smartwool Performance Hike Light socks would be a great gift!
Those socks are made with a blend of merino wool, nylon, recycled nylon, and elastane. These socks have a high percentage of merino, contributing to their comfortable, light and breathable feel. They are also super cool!
A packable day bag
The best day bag is one that is comfortable and can be tucked into your pocket. This Tropicfeel day backpack (I love this brand!) is just perfect! It is light and pretty versatile too! It has a water bottle pocket, is sustainable and even waterproof! If this is not a perfect gift for a traveller, I don’t know what is!
Check it out on the Tropicfeel website.
A travel Tech Pouch
Tread lightly with this one though. It can be very person specific depending on how much tech your traveller carries, what type and their personal preferences. Some like it soft, some like it sturdy.
For me, it is crucial to keep my technology organized. There is nothing worse than looking for that one specific cord all over my backpack. If you had given me this Peak Design tech bag, I wouldn’t say no, that’s for sure!
A language course
Knowing a little bit of the language of the place we travel to can transform a good experience into the amazing one! Give a gift of knowledge and buy your traveller friend a language course!
Babbel is a premium language-learning app that can be used on the go and for as long as you need! And Babbel allows you to buy it as a gift as well!
Matador FlatPak Soap Bar Case
Matador FlatPak Soap Bar Case is my latest discovery and it is a total game changer. As a type of traveller who is using toiletries in solid forms like shampoo, soap or conditioner bars – carrying those wet soap bars around was a bit of a pain.
This soap bar changes everything! It is a leak-proof design featuring Dry-Through Technology and will store your wet bar soap while still allowing it to dry through the material. It’s lighter and more compact than plastic soap cases and it’s TSA-approved. I’m obsessed with this thing! (Their Pocket Blanket mini is also awesome!).
Bamboo utensils or a reusable straw.
If you read some of my posts already you probably noticed I am big on sustainable travel. That’s why I love Earth Hero.
It’s a wonderful marketplace offering hundreds of products for those who want to make sustainable choices. Some of the best gifts for long-term travellers and backpackers are those which will serve them well and also serve the world! Consider then buying them a set of bamboo utensils, metal reusable straw or this super cool tote bag!
Solid shampoo and coditioner Bars
A set of solid toiletries like a shampoo and conditioner bar is a great gift for a long-term traveller. These things last forever and save a lot of money and plastic in the long run. Take so much less space in the bag as well!
Nowadays, even when I’m stationary for a little bit, I still opt for a solid soap bar.
Ethique does incredible solid shampoos but also body creams and face scrubs! A couple of Other shampoo bar companies worth looking into are HiBAR, Lush and J·R·LIGGETT’S All-Natural Shampoo Bar.
A good travel water bottle can save money and reduce plastic contamination. These days majority of hostels offer free filtered water and water bottles become an essential travel companion.
A LifeStraw water bottle will filter water on the go and it’s a great investment hence a great gift for a traveller. An awesome gift idea for a traveller and backpacker is also a water bottle that will keep cold water cold and hot drinks hot. EcoVessel or this stylish bottle from Jungle Culture are great gift ideas!
I love recycling books while I’m travelling. Great books should be shared. The last time I travelled for a longer period of time I bought a great book at the beginning of the trip and then recycled it for the rest of the trip. Every time I finished a book I left the one I finished in the hostel and swapped for one that was already there.
But if a traveller in your life is an avid reader and they have an extensive list of books they want to read on the go – a Kindle could be a great gift! Opt for a paper white as this can be read in any conditions including in strong sunlight.
Noise cancelling earbuds
For many months, I have travelled with my reliable JBL headphones and loved them! But I always had a backup of small portable earbuds (I even had some old-fashioned headphones that came free with my phone) and I never met a traveller who didn’t have some kind of headphones with them.
When buying a gift for a traveller you don’t want to risk buying cool larger over the ears headphones so opt for awesome noise-cancelling earbuds – your friend will thank you, guaranteed!
Buff or a light scarf
I am more of a scarf/pashmina type of traveller but I know some who can’t go anywhere without their buff. Maybe I just haven’t found the right one yet (feel free to get me one lol).
A buff is a very versatile travel gift as it can work as a scarf, face covering on dusty roads, head bandana, sweatband – anything you want, really.
Same with a good scarf. These can be used as coverings but also as a beach towel, a towel altogether, a shawl or a dorm bed curtain. I tested the last one, and it worked so well! If you are buying a shawl, make it lightweight but good quality. If you decide to go for a buff you can get one in every travel and adventure shop.
Travel documents organiser - Travel Wallet
If you are travelling for an extended period of time or change countries frequently, it is crucial to keep all your documents not only organized but also safe. A good travel documents organizer will do just that.
In order for the document organizer to be a perfect gift for a traveller or backpacker, it has to be lightweight, durable and have enough space to put all those important documents, a passport and then some. That Fjallraven travel wallet is awesome and pretty stylish too! You can also opt for the Travel Neck Wallet.
Collapsable Mug and spork
Fantastic gifts for a traveller who stays in hotels or likes to eat in the great outdoors. I mean, a good spork comes in handy no matter what!
I love this idea of a collapsible cup. I used to carry my pink plastic mug everywhere. I would have my morning hostel coffee in it and it would give me this feeling of being home away from home when I had my favourite mug to drink coffee from. I know it’s weird, but when you travel a lot, a little familiarity goes a long way.
Both mug and spork come in handy in hostels when the kitchen isn’t equipped too well, when ordering take out – so we can say no to plastic cutlery or even when hiking or picnicking.
This Hydro Flask Mug is also awesome although not collapsible.
Ethical travel themed jewelery
This is the part where we get not-so-practical. But good quality and ethical travel-themed jewellery will land well with most travellers.
If you do it, do it right. Ethical and sustainable, travel-themed jewellery can be a wonderful gift! Life Less Ordinary Jewellery was inspired by travel, no ordinary life and making a change in the world. Who wouldn’t wear a bracelet that was born this way?
Ethical, Fairtrade and cruelty-free products are at the heart of everything they do and their jewellery is also beautiful! 10% of their net profits go to their selected charities of which you can read here.
I’m totally biased here. The Garmin watch that has been gifted to me by my ex is still one of the best travel gifts I’ve ever received. Thanks, Andy! Then, on top of that my sister got me a cool green strap for it and now I’m sticking to this watch for the rest of my life.
If you want to make your friend, or future ex as happy as I am, this could be the best gift ever. It’s a truly awesome watch! The battery lasts forever, you can load up great hiking apps for your expeditions, it has all the smart watch features and it is indestructible!
if you really love them, get them a high-quality action camera. Okay, get them a GoPro!
It is a pricy gift I admit, but worth every penny. A GoPro is the crème de la crème of action cameras but you can also consider the DJI pocket – the built-in gimbal makes it a fantastic camera for action vloggers! By the way – although the GoPro Hero 10 is the best out there, the Hero7 is still a very good camera and much more affordable.
Waterproof phone case
But please make it a good one! My sister gifted me a waterproof case which I happily tested in the waters of Tayrona Park in Colombia. Unfortunately, it didn’t pass the test and it was impossible to open it for 10 minutes after the water came inside just so I could take my phone out. The result? You guessed it – it was an aquarium with a phone swimming in it.
So if you decide to buy a waterproof phone case go for something like CaliCase which will also float on the water if dropped!
Nothing worse than running around the airport looking for a scale to check if we fit within the airline’s weight requirement. Been there, done that.
An easy solution is the travel luggage scale.
Get your guide gift card
This is such a great way to give a gift of fun and adventure!
Joining an organized tour or adventure is a great way to have fun, meet other travellers and discover new places. The Get Your Guide gift card will allow your traveller friend to redeem it wherever they want and for whatever experience they choose. You can load the card which the amount that suits your budget and give it to your friend by email.
There are no restrictions on where they can spend the gift card and they will be able to choose from over 60,000 tours, activities, and attractions in over 3,600 global destinations
As a blogger, I appreciate how priceless it is to be able to look back on your adventures. Memories fade, but the written words stay forever. Many travellers journal, and this is one of the best gifts for long-term travellers as there are just so many memories to store!
There are some beautiful yet lightweight travel journals you could buy. I used mine for notes, but also for travel planning, budgeting, blog planning and everything in between.
This journal is a great gift option for man travellers and if you wanted to buy me one – this vintage notebook is just perfect!
It’s one of those things you don’t know you need until you need it. A headlamp is great for early morning or evening hikes, reading in the hostel dorm bed or simply going to the toilet in jungle hostels. Trust me I’ve been there. Yeah, you can use a torch on your phone, but nothing worse than dropping a phone in the dark. In the forest or in the jungle.
A lightweight headlamp is a great gift for long-term backpackers and travellers.
A great idea for a gift for a traveller is an Audible subscription. If you know that your friend or family member is enjoying audiobooks, this could make a great travel companion.
A scratch Map
A scratch map is a perfect gift for a traveller or backpacker who after coming back home loves to ponder over their adventures and tick the destinations off their bucket list.
If only I had a permanent home I would get one of those. Who knows, maybe one day I will!
I hope this list of useful travel gifts for long-term travellers or backpackers gave you some inspiration and you found it helpful.
If you have another great idea, share it with us!
Until then, happy buying and safe travels!
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Hey! make sure you read my 101 tips and hacks for solo travellers! And while you are there check out all my other travel tips for solo and budget travellers!
My favourite Travel Resources
- For most of my accommodation management, I use Bookings.com and Hostel World. With both booking platforms, you will often get free cancellation and access to tones of reviews. Read them! You will also get the most extensive selection of all types of accommodation. I hardly ever look elsewhere. If you are travelling in Asia – Agoda is definitely worth checking out!
- Make sure you download Google Maps and, on the first day, download an offline map of your location. This way, even without the internet or Wi-Fi, you will be able to get to your destination.
Moovit is also an excellent and very underrated travel and journey planning app. It works great in many countries and will show you all possible routes by public transport, including the timetables.
For busses, I mainly use Busbud or Omio and Flixbus to travel in Europe.
123Go — Great for tickets for trains, buses, ferries and charters in Southeast Asia! The best way to buy your ticket for the overnight Bangkok train! Rome2rio – Another great journey planning app. If your way of travel is mainly public transport – you will use this app for sure!
- For staying safe online and accessing streaming services like Netflix no matter the country I use a Surfshark VPN. Another great and high-quality VPN provider is Express VPN.
- I carry two debit cards with me. Given I don’t have a permanent country of residence, Revolut and TransferWise work fantastic. In case one gets frozen, stolen or simply lost, I have a backup. The great thing about both cards is that you can freeze them straight from your phone and transfer money between them in case you need to. You will also get a great exchange rate and create separate foreign currency accounts.
- I booked most my tours via either Get Your Guide or Viator. I also use TripAdvisor when I spot a good deal. You can also book locally, but I advise you to ask around and follow the local recommendations. For cooking classes and workshops, consider checking out Eatwith.
For more travel tips and recourses, visit Pati’s Travel Tips page!