Somehow the holiday season has rolled around again (no, I can’t believe it either), and it’s time to start thinking about that difficult person in your life: the traveller. Let’s face it, we’re hard to buy for — pretty much everything we carry has to be small, light, durable and most of all, useful.
Never fear. Here are 25 gifts I’ve hand-picked to keep even the most discerning wanderer happy, broken down by price from stocking-stuffer to splurge-worthy. There are even a few options for that impossible specimen, the traveller who is already on the road.
Gifts Under $50
Energi 2K Travel Charger ($29)
If there are two things that always seem to be in short supply when travelling, it’s juice in your smartphone and wall sockets to charge everything up.
The Tylt Energi 2K Travel Charger deals with both issues at once, combining a wall charger for a phone or tablet with a portable battery big enough to fully charge an iPhone 5S.
The gadget will first charge whatever is plugged into it via a 1amp USB socket, before automatically switching to charge its own battery afterwards.
EatSmart Digital Luggage Scale ($20)
It’s small enough to take on a trip as well, for those concerned about the armfuls of souvenirs they’re planning on buying.
KnowRoaming SIM Sticker ($30)
Users can still make and receive calls using their usual number, and can buy local numbers for a few dollars in most countries.
Calls and texts are much cheaper than roaming, and unlimited data costs $7.99/day. While we still recommend local SIM cards for longer stays, the KnowRoaming sticker makes sense for those who travel regularly and only spend a few days in each country.
The sticker comes with $15 of credit included.
What’s Good eBeanie ($40)
Heading somewhere cold? Check out the eBeanie, which lets you keep your head warm without missing out on music, podcasts or city guides in your ears. The inbuilt Bluetooth earphones avoid dangling cables, and can be removed when the beanie needs a wash.
Unlike other models, you can also answer and make calls using the eBeanie — a useful extra feature.
SleepPhones are a smart way of dealing with that problem, integrating a pair of earphones in a soft, padded headband that let the wearer lie on them and move around in bed without damaging them (or their ears). There’s also a wireless Bluetooth version for those who’d prefer not to deal with cables.
Gifts Under $100
The Roost Portable Laptop Stand ($75)
It’s something we’ve talked about in the past, and I deal with it myself on a daily basis.
Most ergonomic equipment is far too bulky and heavy to carry around on the road, but the Roost laptop stand was designed with travellers in mind. It folds up into a small carry sack and weighs just six ounces, yet can handle the weight of any laptop easily.
Raising the screen by over 10″ means better posture and fewer injuries for location-independent workers.
Logitech Bluetooth K811 Keyboard ($79)
This Logitech model is particularly well regarded — light and compact, it can be recharged over USB even while in use, has backlit keys for typing in the dark and can be switched between Mac, iPhone and iPad connection at the touch of a button.
It’s equally useful for those using a laptop stand like the Roost (above), when typing on the inbuilt keyboard is out of the question. A similarly-priced version is available for Windows / Android users as well.
GOcase Hero4 Case ($59)
While GoPro cameras themselves feel like they’re almost indestructible, the same can’t always be said for the array of accessories that end up accompanying them.
Enter the GoCase, a small range of padded cases that protect GoPros and their batteries, remotes, cables, mounts and all the rest, in a waterproof hard shell that manages to remain both small and attractive.
There’s also an even smaller ‘Compact’ model that keeps the space requirements down to an absolute minimum.
Knomad Air Portable Organiser ($69)
Looking for a case for that new tablet that’s more stylish and useful than usual? The Knomad Air portable organiser holds a full-size tablet (there’s also a Mini version), phone, cards, cables, passport and travel documents, in an attractive slimline case.
There’s even space for a portable battery (sold separately) to keep things powered up on the move.
Shure SE215 Noise Isolating Earphones ($85)
Right up until I left them on a plane recently, I’d been using Shure’s SE-215 earphones for over a year, and was a huge fan.
They’re small and light, comfortable to wear for long periods, have great sound reproduction and most importantly, silence the outside world very effectively. As soon as I get to a part of the world I can buy another pair, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.
Gifts Under $200
Kindle Paperwhite ($119)
We really like the Kindle Paperwhite around here, and at little over a hundred dollars it’s not going to break the bank. Forget carrying around heavy books, disturbing others while reading at night or trying to find a book shop in the middle of nowhere.
It’s one of our must-pack travel gadgets.
MAZZO PowerDrive 64GB ($199)
The MAZZO Powerdrive is the first device I’ve seen that combines extra storage and battery life for iOS devices into a single package. Backing up data from an iPhone or iPad is as simple as plugging in the existing cable, or individual files can be moved backwards and forwards using the app.
It also includes a 7800mAh battery that can charge an iPhone up to three times. Those long flights and bus rides are about to get a whole lot less boring.
The PowerDrive comes in four different storage capacities, ranging from 16 to 128GB.
NYNE TT Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($129)
Nice extra touches for travellers include a carry case, the ability to charge other gadgets from the speaker’s USB port, and a full set of international adapters as part of the package.
It’s probably a little too big to carry round the world for months, but it’d be great for a shorter trip. Check out our full review here.
TLYT Energi Backpack ($149)
The ~25 liter bag comes with dedicated pockets for laptops, tablets, sunglasses and headphones, a management system to stop cables from tying themselves in knots at the bottom of the bag, and is water resistant (although not waterproof, so don’t plan on walking in the rain for hours with all your gear).
It’s reasonably stylish and robust, too, which matters a lot when using this thing every day for weeks or months.
Gifts Under $300
Dalys Sterling Silver 16GB USB Cufflinks ($249)
Looking to buy something a little higher-end for the travelling businessman in your lift? Unlike most wearable tech items, these USB cufflinks are surprisingly stylish.
Made from sterling silver, one of the cufflinks incorporates a 16GB USB key to store those important documents — we presume so the wearer can feel a little more like James Bond than usual.
There’s a limited edition hand-engraved model (pictured), as well as the slightly cheaper standard edition.
Garmin Edge 810 Bike Computer ($289)
For those to prefer to travel on two wheels, consider the Garmin Edge 810 Bike Computer. With city or topographical maps, real-time location tracking, high-end ride and performance data and the ability to wirelessly upload routes to the device, it’s an impressive gadget for those embarking on a cycle tour of any length.
Gifts Under $400
OKIDOKEYS Smart Lock ($349)
It attaches to your existing deadlock, and access can be granted to anyone with a Bluetooth 4 phone using the companion app, or via a swipe card to anyone else.
With entry notifications, time-limited access and the ability to lock and unlock your door from anywhere, it’s a much better option than just leaving the key under the mat. Prices range from $189 to $349, but it’s the high-end “Connect” pack that allows full remote management.
Google Nexus 5 16GB ($349)
Even though Google has just released the Nexus 6, I still think the Nexus 5 is a better option for travellers. It remains a powerful, lightweight unlocked smartphone, and at $349 is far better value than the latest model.
It’s also noticeably smaller, meaning it fits in a pocket much more easily.
ASUS Transformer Book T100TAM 64GB ($359)
This convertible tablet/laptop from Asus is one of the few that functions well as both a tablet and laptop at a sensible price, while still remaining light enough to justify carrying. The latest model is surprisingly speedy and, with Microsoft Office 365 preinstalled, offers great value for money.
It’s good enough for most of the computing tasks a traveller needs to do, and also comes in interesting alternative configurations with 32/64GB of storage in the tablet, and a further 500GB in the docking unit, for not much more money.
GoPro Hero4 Silver ($399)
New models were released a few months back, and for the first time my pick isn’t the top of the line Black model — it’s actually the somewhat-cheaper Silver version, the only one that ships with an LCD touch screen on the back.
Prices vary from $129 to $499 across the range, depending on the features and versatility required.
Already Travelling? Go Virtual!
12 Month Crashplan Subscription ($60)
Backup is boring, but it’s a lot better than losing every photo from an entire trip. For ultimate security I use and recommend Crashplan to back up to both a physical hard drive and online in the cloud.
It’s simple, and it works.
Amazon Gift Certificate
12 Month Tunnelbear VPN Subscription ($49)
If backups are boring, data security isn’t much more interesting — but keeping personal information safe on dodgy wireless networks is even more important than usual when travelling.
There are many VPN companies out there, but Tunnelbear combines good speeds with competitive pricing, simple software and fast, friendly customer service. Even better, you can use the service for free to make sure it works for you first.
Boingo Wi-Fi Hotspot Subscription ($9.95/month)
With something like a million hotspots worldwide, you can’t complain that Boingo has a shortage of options for getting online — in fact, you’ve probably already seen the company’s hotspots pop up when you’re in an airport or other public place.
The company has recently added a “Passpoint” service in several airports that automatically logs subscribers using iOS into a secured version of its network whenever they get in range.
Hammocks and Hard Drives ($5)
To sweeten the deal, I’m offering a huge holiday discount: 50% off the PDF or Amazon version until the end of the year.
After that it’s back to the usual price, so get in quick and help support the site when you do! Use the code HOLIDAYS at checkout to get your discount on the PDF version.
Main image via Fauxen, all product images via their respective vendors