I love pretty things. There, I said it. Guess what else I love? Travel. So naturally, when the two are combined, there are little sparks of happiness going off in my brain. You see, the beauty of buying gifts for travel lovers is that there are endless gift options out there. If you do any Google search for travel gifts you’ll soon find bottomless lists with practical items like packing cubes and purifying water bottles. Whilst they’re obviously great items, they don’t exactly set your (or anyone else’s) travel soul on fire.
Instead, this gift guide focuses on travel themed gifts that will inspire wanderlust in the weekend travellers and holiday dreamers out there. As a result most of the list is shamelessly impractical but perfect for injecting some travel magic into daily life.
1. Travel Art
Travel themed art is forever my favourite kind of travel gift (and in my opinion underrated!). There are just so many talented artists out there who create marvellous pieces of travel themed artwork. However, more importantly, a beautiful displayed piece of art will always remind your loved one of (you guessed it) travel.
If you are buying gifts for an anglophile, I would strongly recommend MehaArt’s collection of colourful UK city skylines. I’ve got one of her Manchester prints and the happy colours and familiar landmarks always put a smile on my face. Perfect for someone who wants a print of their hometown or favourite city!
Some other Etsy finds are this illustrated Copenhagen skyline by LoveThatView, this stereotypical illustration of London by BJEartshop and these bold travel prints by LauraAmiss. I’m also in love with the prints by artPause; they have incredibly beautiful maps and skylines. All in all, it’s impossible to not find a great travel inspired art print.
2. Travel Journals
Ok, so I know we live in the 21st century and all that but you know what smartphones can’t give you? That satisfying crunch of opening a brand new notebook and the smooth feeling of putting ink to paper. I began writing travel journals when I was 8 (start ’em young) and has a serious soft spot for stationery. Like, the stationery spot in my heart is pretty much a marshmallow.
So if you’re on the hunt for journals for your travel loving friend, mother or Tinder date, then allow me to assist with my self-proclaimed expertise. Pro tip: don’t go too big on the size or thickness, you want to make sure the journal is easy to shove into a daypack. Try to stick to A5 or smaller.
If your travel loving recipient loves a sleek and modern look, then why not start with these incredible personalised travel journals from ReStationery. I love that you can add destinations to the spine and create your own library of travel stories!
If pretty prints and colours are your travel lover’s jam, then what about these illustrated city print journals from SukieStore? You can even personalise the covers!
Finally, some travel lovers want the really hardcore travel journals. You know, the ones with hidden pockets, bullet point lists and all that. If you think that’s what it takes to really progress that Tinder date, then why not check out this travel journal by Luckies of London.
3. Time Capsule Letters
“Letters to Open When” are a more quirky and unique gift to a traveller. Basically, you can buy a collection of letters with different themes, such as “Letters to Open When“, “Letters to my Future Self“, “Letters to my Baby/Daughter/Son/Grandchild” etc.
The idea is that your traveller writes a letter about their trip, their thoughts etc and then go back and open that letter at some point in the future. Alternatively, they write a letter for their children to, for example, encourage them to travel. Or perhaps they’ve travelled to a country to reconnect with their ancestry and want to share those thoughts with future children or grandchildren. Either way, this could be a really thoughtful gift for a travel lover.
4. Travel Scrapbook
Is your travel loving acquaintance the kind of person that whips out their crochet on a Thursday morning commute and brings homemade Christmas gifts for everyone in the office? If so, carry on reading.
After every trip, you always end with a stack of ticket stubs and random local maps. I keep all those in a shoe box (cause I’m lazy) but there are plenty of people out there who know their way around a scrapbook. As a matter of fact, in my dreams I’m one of those crochet-on-the-commute-whilst-also-scrapbooking-my-life kinda people.
For your creative travel friends, look into scrapbooking materials. Start with a beautiful book, such as this one with a world map cover or this with a personalised cover (you choose a country shape and words that you want to fill the shape with). Alternatively, I really adore these books with city skylines and a cute ribbon.
To further fuel your traveller’s creativity, you can gift them a scrapbook starting kit with e.g. plane cut outs, thread and map prints. Alternatively, these travel themed stickers that look like watercolour illustrations are cute.
5. Scratch Maps
Let’s be real, we all love a good scratch map where you slowly reveal colourful backgrounds as you scratch off your travel destinations. I’ve got the Deluxe Edition from Luckies of London that comes in a black colourway with gold foil. It’s a very pretty map, especially if you want to keep it on display. My only slight gripe with this map is that it can be hard to scratch small areas (I only scratch areas, not whole countries), but it wouldn’t put me off recommending it! If you don’t fancy the black map, Luckies of London also have a standard map.
6. Personalised Map
Whilst we’re on the topic, let’s just establish that most travel lovers are pretty into their maps. Like, really into their maps. If the travel aficionado in your life wants a map, then who are you to argue with that? To make it extra special, you can personalise it.
If you want a sleek look, the custom options from MapMasterPrints are really stunning. Alternatively, the gold foil print maps from 23maps are gorgeous. If you’re looking for a quirkier alternative, then check out this personalised map from FirefliesUK that comes complete with push pins.
The most natural progression in a travel lover’s evolution is to go from flat maps to globes. When your travel loving recipient has evolved into their highest level (much like a Pokémon), it’s time to get serious with a globe.
One option is to go for a more vintage look, which is great if your travel lover likes a more traditional interior. Alternatively, you can go for a traditional map or look into some modern options, such as a black and silver globe, a customisable alternative (perfect for travel loving couples!) or a night sky globe.
8. Inspiring Travel Books
There are few things in this world that are as visually appealing as a Lonely Planet travel book. I’ve got the Travel Book (catchy title) that dedicates a page spread to every country in the world. I take some of the text with a pinch of salt after reading the description of Sweden (sexually liberated socialists….what a reputation), but the photography is stunning and it’s a fascinating coffee table book.
If you want to gift a book that’s more applicable to travel planning, then have a look at Lonely Planet’s Where To Go When that suggests multiple destinations for each month of the year. I also like Great Adventures by Lonely Planet which lists big bucket list adventures, perfect for inspiration!
9. Instant Camera
Polaroid cameras are a fairly recent comeback that are a fun gift for travel lovers. Why, you ask? Sure, it’s an extra thing to carry but imagine yourself on the road. You make friends with some locals and want to take a picture together. Just whip out the polaroid camera, print the picture on the spot and leave it with your newfound friends (or bring it with you). Of course you can always email or text images, but that’s not quite as special as holding a polaroid image in your hand. Besides, in a world where your phone can take a thousand pictures, it can be nice to only get one shot.
Some of the options out there include the Polaroid Snap Instant Camera as well as Instax Square SQ6 and Instax Mini 9. I’ve tested the Polaroid and the Instax Mini and both produce decent quality images. They’re obviously not as high quality as a normal camera but decent for a camera that prints on the spot.
If your travel friend already has the camera, you can always get them some extra film (Instax here and Polaroid here) or a cute case. I find the Instax cases adorable, regardless of whether it’s a standard plain one or a cute alpaca one.
10. Travel Documentaries
Few things inspire wanderlust quite like a travel documentary or travel show. For epic adventures, check out Ewan McGregor’s and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Round which follows their motorcycle journey from London to New York City.
For something slightly less hardcore, why not have a look at Stephen Fry’s car journey through America? Although the title suggests otherwise, Fry only travels through the USA in this series (all 50 states though!). For more shows that combine travel and humor, check out Travel Man: 48 Hours In, which stars Richard Aoyade and his extremely deadpan jokes.
I know I said that most of this list was impractical, but backpacks are too awesome to ignore. For city breaks, backpacks are perfect for sightseeing as you have both hands free to take photos (and eat ice cream). They also make a cute fashion statement, carry your umbrella and are great for storing souvenirs throughout the day.
I’ve spoken at length about my love for the Delsey Quarterback Premium backpack, which is perfect as a carry on bag. However, if you want to gift a backpack that’s more of a daypack, then Grafea does the most beautiful backpacks. They’re on the expensive side so it’d be a treat for your travel loving friend or family member!
For a more budget friendly alternative that’s still unique, have a look on Etsy. I like this old school mustard backpack with a roll top. Finally, since I’m Swedish, I couldn’t possibly leave out the classic Fjällräven Kånken backpack!
12. Tote Bag
I never quite realised how handy a canvas tote bag is until I started to permanently carry one in my backpack. They are sooooo useful. For grocery shopping, to carry your extra thick cardigan or if your umbrella gets wet.
If you want to gift someone a tote bag, pick one that matches their personality. For a travel lover, I adore these map print bags from SuperCoolTotes. If your travel lover is more of a slogan kinda person, then this Wanderlust tote from AlphabetBags could be a good option. Finally, the Cotton & Canvas Company has some pretty skyline totes (along with funny vegetable puns and travel slogans).
13. Travel Themed Jewellery
Jewellery is always a popular gift and when combined with travel you’re onto a winner for travel fans. It’s easy to drift into cheesy territory with travel jewellery but there are also some stunning pieces out there.
For travellers who love mountains, the bracelets by VinciWoman are cute and perfect if you want to give matching sets to e.g. mother and daughter. A similar but equally cute option is this mountain bracelet with more of an amulet look. The same shop also has a lovely world map version.
If you’re after a necklace rather than a bracelet, this airplane necklace is really lovely (perfect if your friend is a flight attendant!). If you want a more customised look, then Gigimey has a fantastic selection. You can e.g. choose your own coordinates and have them engraved on a necklace disc.
For rings, your first stop should be JuJu Treasures, who have amazing looking planet earth rings (also available as earrings) and map rings. They even do cufflinks for the man in your life! For the Americans out there, you should check out these state rings. Simply pick your state and it’s translated into a stylish and dainty ring.
14. Passport Cover
Give the gift of stylish travel with an unique passport cover for your travel loving friend or family member. If you want personalised and matching sets for a couple, then check out these gorgeous leather covers. You can also get matching luggage tags from the same shop.
If you’re on the hunt for something more colourful, check out this tropical print with customisable initials or this pink candy stripe cover. Finally, for a sleek and modern look, you can’t go wrong with these passport cover and luggage tag sets with printed skylines.
Nothing is more traditionally associated with travel than a good ol’ compass (ok, maybe maps but I guess they go hand in hand). Whilst they’re not exactly an everyday use item, they lend themselves well to interior decoration. They’re also a nice symbolic gift for a travel lover.
For a traditional look that you can customise, check out this beautiful brass compass from KavyaLondon. It comes in a wooden box; perfect for gifting. If you’re after a nautical compass and UK based, this brass model has a nice rustic look. If you’re US based, this engraved sun dial compass in a leather case is a great option. For a more dainty alternative, have a look at this cute compass ring.
16. Airline Voucher
What is the perfect gift for a traveller? Why, travel of course. Some airlines let you buy gift cards / vouchers to use towards tickets. If you have a traveller who frequently flies with a specific airline, this could be a great gift. Some airlines that offer vouchers are Ryanair, Emirates (in the form of Skywards Miles), Aer Lingus and Qatar Airways (through Qmiles).
17. Travel Fund
Whilst travel inspiration is great, most travel lovers can’t wait to get on that plane. If you know your buddy is saving up for their next trip, then why not gift them an inspiring travel fund box? You could even get the collection started if you have some spare cash.
Wander Collective have a range of customisable framed options; from USA adventures to paradise holidays. They also have a range of fab money jars with inspiring text; perfect if you want to gift a more traditional look.
18. Christmas Ornaments
I first discovered the beauty of travel themed Christmas ornaments on a trip to Riga a few years ago. And frankly, this is a brilliant gift. Rather than having a generic Christmas tree, travel ornaments let your traveller show (off) their travel interest to anyone who’s interested. Just imagine the conversations uncle Phil and auntie Sarah can have about the fabulous Christmas baubles you just gifted them.
Travel themed Christmas baubles are trickier to find than some of the other items on this list, but Etsy has some good options. These baubles with map confetti are really sweet or what about these Italian baubles with handpainted cities. If baubles don’t quite cut it, this customisable wooden Big Ben ornament or London Eye alternative could be a good substitute.
19. Travel Themed Bedding
We spend a lot of our life asleep (at least I do) so what’s nicer than falling asleep surrounded by travel inspiration? There is loads of bedding out there with variations of a classic world map, for example gold foil print or watercolour effect.
If you’re after something that’s not inspired by maps (the horror), then why not have a look at bedding with city skylines? This city skyline by Catherine Lansfield is a classic look.
20. Travel Themed Towels
Every kitchen needs a towel and it’s such an easy thing to jazz up with a travel motif. Again, I really like MehaArt and she stocks kitchen towels with her amazing prints, check them out here.
Two other amazing looking prints are these London skyline and Paris landmarks tea towels by Jessica Hogarth. For some colourful illustrated tea towels, have a look at these skyline prints by Helena Carrington. Alternatively, Ray Stanbrook do some great London neighbourhood prints.
21. Local Experiences
A big part of travel’s appeal is experiencing new things. However, when holidays are limited, you soon learn to maximise your weekends. I’m a big believer in local experiences and it’s the perfect gift for any adventurous person in your life. Have a look at sites like Groupon or Living Social for deals.
Here are some fun ideas that I’ve tested: zip lining, paragliding, clay pigeon shooting, Segway, sushi class, life drawing, city food tour, street art class, escape rooms, tarot card reading and horse riding. With some creativity and an open mind, you can generally find some fun things to do locally.
And that sums it up! Hopefully you’ve found some inspiration to treat the travel lover in your life with an exciting travel themed gift. If you’re buying gifts for someone who loves Sweden, why not check out my guide to the best Swedish gifts?
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