Our annual list of 10 Christmas gifts for travellers, be they bookworms, shutterbugs, adrenaline junkies or culture vultures.
Every year, we write a quick update about where we’re spending Christmas. Right now, we’re home in the UK settling into our new home in the Yorkshire Dales.
It won’t be for long though. We’re heading off to Namibia and South Africa for November and some of December, then we’ll spend a quick Christmas with family before flying to Costa Rica to welcome the new year.
We’re excited about the travels ahead, but also looking forward to a few weeks at home. It’s not Christmas in Tahiti, but it’ll do just fine.
In another of our yearly traditions, we’ve put together our list of 10 Christmas gifts for travellers, perfect for long sojourns abroad or comfy Christmases spent at home.
1. Tinggly gift box, from $76
Tinggly gift boxes are an ingenious Christmas gift for travellers. Instead of buying someone a specific experience, you can buy them a Tinggly gift box, a curated collection of experiences from which they can choose the experience they want most.
Collections are created around themes and hold hundreds of experiences from over 100 countries across the globe. For example, the Bucket List collection has over 600 experiences be it skydiving over the Namib Desert or hunting the Northern Lights in Iceland while the Key to Europe collection offers over 200 experiences including dinner and a concert in the heart of Florence or a sunset cruise in Santorini.
You simply buy the collection that most suits the recipient and they select the specific experience. With hundreds to choose from, you really can’t go wrong.
2. Adventure Travel pack, $150
The backpacks have many of the usual elements of a hiking backpack combined with everyday features such as laptop and gadget compartments, a zippered shoe compartment and a separate wet/muddy gear compartment. They also have a more rigid exterior similar to that of a suitcase.
The packs open like a suitcase, but also provide the comfort of a traditional backpack. There are two models available: the Praxus designed for men and the Proxy for women. Both models come in a 45-litre and a 65-litre version.
3. Portable Waterproof Speaker, $299
Peter and I enjoy watching a good movie after a busy day, but using the tinny laptop speakers or, worse, a muffled smartphone is not ideal. (We’re not teenagers on a London bus after all.) This wireless JBL Xtreme 2 bluetooth speaker is excellent for boosting audio from mobile devices and laptops when travelling.
The speaker delivers crystal-clear audio for up to 15 hours on one charge. It is also waterproof, durable and has integrated hanging hooks, a carrying strap and built-in bottle opener – ideal for travellers. It can also be used as a charging station for other mobile devices.
The JBL Xtreme 2 is the perfect companion for an activity-filled road trip or vacation days spent by the pool, but it may be a bit on the big side for longer backpacking trips. For lighter-weight, smaller alternatives, consider the JBL Charge 4 or the even lighter JBL Flip 4.
4. Hikng map of the world, from $39
We’ve selected a 97.5 x 56cm hiking map that comes in paper ($39) or canvas ($139) featuring 300 trails and hiking areas from around the world. The map includes information on landscape, terrain and distance as well as specific icons for different trail types, serving as a lovely reminder of those precious days spent on the trail.
5. MSC Power Stick portable phone charger, $13
This USB charger is the size of a lipstick but provides enough juice to get a device or two back up to speed in an emergency.
The stick can be powered up via mains USB, PC or car USB prior to leaving civilisation and then used to provide a full charge to a variety of gadgets including all smartphones, e-readers and digital cameras.
The stick includes an LED display of the remaining charge, and is light and portable enough to keep in your daypack.
It has been invaluable on our many forays into the wilderness and is one our most highly recommended Christmas gifts for travellers.
6. Orei Worldwide Travel Adaptor, $26
With over 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, the OREI travel adaptor is a clear favourite among frequent travellers. It works in over 150 countries meaning you no longer have to carry numerous adaptors on long trips abroad.
The different components slide in and out of the compact self-contained unit which means you won’t lose any vital pieces. It also doubles up as a USB charger, making it the perfect Christmas gift for the practical traveller.
7. Olympus action camera, $366
We’ve been searching for a resilient action camera ever since the waterproof casing on our GoPro failed a couple of years ago. We’ve since used a Nikon and a Canon, but have been less than impressed with the film quality.
With this in mind, we were keen to try the Olympus Tough! TG Tracker. This 4K action camera is waterproof to 30m without needing external casing, freezeproof to -10°C, shockproof to 2.1m, and crushproof to 100kg. We’re not sure in what circumstances we’d need the last feature, but it’s good to know that this toughcam lives up to its name.
We found the film quality to be excellent after testing it on our trip to Ethiopia and Djibouti where we swam with whale sharks and trekked to Erta Ale in the Danakil Depression, otherwise known as the hottest place on earth.
8. Packing cubes, from $52
Peter had been banging on about stuff sacs and packing cubes for years and I’d never heeded his advice – until my horse riding trip to Montenegro last year. These changed the way I pack and made life on the road so much easier.
These packing cubes have changed the way I travel
I no longer find myself pulling out a pair of black leggings when I’m really after my black cardigan, or rooting around for a fresh pair of underwear. I use Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Specter Tech Starter Set in S/M/M to organise tops, bottoms and smalls while Peter packs Ultralight Packing Cubes in a seven-piece set from eBags to organise his clothes and photography gear (of which he has a lot).
Take my word for it: add these to your Christmas shopping list and you’ll change someone’s life.
9. Kindle Oasis, $290
Last year, I upgraded from the Kindle to the Kindle Paperwhite. I was pleased to gain backlighting and touch screen capabilities, but I did feel that there was a compromise on battery life and I wasn’t exactly enamoured by the loss of the physical page-turn buttons.
With this in mind, I was delighted with the arrival of the Kindle Oasis which combines all the best aspects of its predecessors with added functionality to boot.
Along with backlighting, touch screen capabilities, an extended battery life and physical page-turn buttons, the Kindle Oasis adds audiobook integration and, most importantly for travel, it’s waterproof! This is especially appreciated given that I ruined my original Kindle thanks to a massive unexpected wave on Tonga’s Ha’aluma Beach.
What’s more, the Kindle Oasis is offered in a wifi + free 3G version with Amazon footing the bill for 3G downloads. What more could a bookish traveller ask for?
10. Vintage globe, $65
Peter bought a vintage globe for his father last year and plans to buy one of his own as soon as we’ve settled into our new home.
The globe works as a decorative accessory and as a reference point, but more than that it’s an excellent conversation starter. Guests will invariably comment on a surprising realisation, whether it’s the fact that the Pacific takes up nearly half the globe, or that there’s only one country between Finland and North Korea. Clearly, if you’re not travelling, the next best thing is dreaming about it.
Opt for a globe around the $65 mark for a decent level of quality.
Finally, there’s a whole range of stocking fillers useful for active travellers.
- Don’t Offer Papaya: 101 Tips for Your First Time Around the World
- Moleskine Voyageur Notebooks are perfect for the traveller who dreams of distant lands, long overland journeys and the romance of a time long past. (Let’s face it: we all know one of those.)
- Wrightsock hiking socks: these come with a patented double layer and anti-blister guarantee, ideal for hikers, runners and climbers
- Hygienna Solo: a portable bidet ideal for anyone averse to public commode
- Foldable toothbrush
- Passport holder
- Head torch