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Travel tips

The travel essentials gift guide: top picks for globetrotters and jet-setters

Nov 13, 2020 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

Looking for the perfect gifts for those who are always on the move? We’ve handpicked some of our favorite travel must-haves for jet-setters who always seem to be planning their next Go Ahead trip, whether it’s a sweeping Multi-Country Tour or a solo adventure. If this sounds like someone on your list this holiday season, check out our choices for the best travel essentials to give to your friends and family.

On-the-go comfort and convenience

Even if they’re gliding through the Swiss Alps on our Switzerland by Train: Lucerne to Zurich tour or drifting down a canal aboard a gondola on our Venice, Florence & Rome tour, frequent fliers will appreciate some added luxury. Help your travel-loving friends and family feel pampered while savoring every moment of their tour with these portable gifts.

  • A cooling portable fan. European air conditioning isn’t as strong as in the United States and Canada, and visiting Europe in the height of summer can mean hot, sunny weather. “If you go in July like us, expect hot weather beyond your imagination and little AC, so bring fans!” said traveler Katie, who joined us on our A Week in Italy: Venice, Florence & Rome tour. Give the gift of a cool breeze with a portable fan like this one, which can be hand held or placed in an included stand.
  • A soft travel towel. Whether your family members or friends are planning on soaking in Budapest’s thermal springs on our Budapest, Vienna & Prague tour, snorkeling in Santorini on our The Greek Islands: Mykonos, Santorini & Crete tour, or lounging on the beach in Barcelona on our Grand Tour of Spain, a luxurious towel will be one of their most-used travel gifts. These highly packable, quick-drying towels will ensure that travelers are always ready to seize the opportunity for a quick dip on faraway shores.
  • Motion sickness wristbands. Don’t let a little queasiness stand between your globetrotting friend and their once-in-a-lifetime train tour or cruise. These motion sickness wristbands are a simple and effective gift that they may not even know exists. “They’re super cheap and absolutely help with all kinds of motion sickness—especially on bus tours!” said staffer Greta.

Tech gadgets for modern explorers

A new adventure is the perfect opportunity to test out some new gear. Below are our favorite essential gifts for tech-savvy travelers.

  • A travel telescope. If you’re looking for travel gifts for someone who is planning on stargazing during our Iceland: Reykjavik & the Northern Lights tour or visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park on our Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic tour, we recommend a portable, easy-to-use travel telescope. It’s a novel gift idea that can also serve as an icebreaker when the recipient is making new friends on tour.
  • A compact solar charger. Ensure that your friend never runs out of power—even when wandering through the Colosseum on our Rome: The City Experience tour or exploring Machu Picchu on our Ancient Peru & Machu Picchu tour—with a mini solar charger. The panels can even be clipped to a backpack or jacket to recharge on the go.
  • A Bluetooth keyboard. If your traveling buddy likes to blog about their adventures or keep in touch with friends and family back home via email, consider gifting them a lightweight, portable Bluetooth keyboard. It pairs with their tablet or smartphone and means they won’t have to type the epic tale of their adventures using only their thumbs.

Stylish travel accessories

As frequent travelers, we love multi-functional accessories that are as fashionable as they are practical. They allow us to save precious luggage space while feeling confident and put together on our journeys. Below are some of our favorite stylishly versatile traveling essentials.

  • A pretty scarf or shawl. One of the things we most frequently recommend for travelers joining us on a tour of Europe is a lightweight scarf or shawl. It’s a versatile wardrobe piece that can protect travelers from the sun when touring the Acropolis on our A Week in Ancient Greece: Athens, Delphi & Olympia tour or cover their shoulders when visiting Westminster Abbey or Vatican City on our London, Paris & Rome tour. Plus, if your travel-enthusiast friend joins us on our Croatia & Italy: Dubrovnik to Venice tour, it will keep them warm in the event of a cool coastal breeze while dining on the beach in Dubrovnik. A stylish scarf will also help them look put together on the go with very little effort. Traveler Stephanie wrote in her packing tips from a fashion industry insider that “packing a few scarves or pieces of jewelry will allow you to add a pop of color to any ensemble, without weighing down your suitcase with additional outfits.” We like this handmade Mossi Cloth from the Ubuntu Life Foundation, an organization empowering local women in Kenya that we visit on our Kenya Culture & Wildlife Safari: Samburu to Maasai Mara tour.
  • A chic, collapsible bag for souvenirs. A way to carry all of the souvenirs you’ve acquired throughout your trip is a must on any travel essentials list. Why not give your loved one a stylish, packable, eco-friendly bag to carry those bottles of Greek olive oil and Amalfitani ceramics that they pick up on our Italy & Greece tour? This Smart Shopping Bag from Trashy Bags Africa is made from upcycled plastic and zippers into itself, making it compact and easy to carry when not in use. Your jetsetting friends can even visit the Trashy Bags enterprise when they join us on our Ghana Adventure: Accra to Cape Coast tour.
  • The ultimate carry-on bag. We’re a little obsessed with this Away Carry-On. It’s durable and roomy, with 360-degree spinner wheels and a ton of color options. “It’s the best bag, hands down,” said staffer Josh.

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Wellness and self-care necessities

We think that one of the sweetest ways to show how much you care is to give your loved one traveling essentials that will keep them healthy and revitalized throughout their adventures. These are some of our favorite wellness-focused gifts.

  • A portable first aid kit. Make sure your loved ones feel prepared, no matter where their adventures take them, with a portable first aid kit like this one from Welly. It’s small enough to toss into a bag or backpack and contains medical travel essentials like bandages, hand sanitizer, and ointments. Or, if you’re feeling crafty, follow our instructions to create a DIY first aid kit as a personalized gift.
  • A collapsible foam roller. Any experienced traveler will tell you that fighting jet lag is often unavoidable. Help your traveling buddy stretch their muscles and recover from a long plane ride with a collapsible foam roller, which packs flat to save precious suitcase space.
  • A hydration and recovery kit. If your friend is planning a trip to Europe, chances are they’ll encounter plane rides, train rides, changing altitudes, and more than a few glasses of locally produced wine or beer. Keep them hydrated with a care package stocked with Liquid I.V., Emergen-C, and a hydrating face mist tucked into a cute pouch. “I try and drink Emergen-C mixed with water every few days while traveling and definitely whenever I have to be in a bus, train station, or airport,” said staffer Shannon. For more ideas for stocking their kit, check out our wellness travel essentials list.

Sustainable essentials

We’re all about responsible travel, and that means that whenever possible, we try to keep our gear as sustainable as possible. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly gift, choose an essential from the list below.

  • A reusable water bottle. European cities are overflowing (see what we did there?) with fresh drinking water. If your jet-setting pal is planning a trip to Rome, a reusable bottle—like this BPA-free one from Nalgene (which also supports access to clean water in underserved communities)—is an eco-friendly gift that will allow them to fill up at any of the city’s nasoni, or public drinking fountains.
  • Plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bars. Not only are plastic-free toiletries better for the environment, but they also ensure that travelers won’t need to worry about checking bulky bottles that may leak in their luggage. These shampoo and conditioner bars make excellent travel gifts: They’re pretty, they last forever, and their light, citrusy scent will have travelers dreaming of their next trip to Sicily.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen. Reef-safe sunscreen is one of our favorite eco-friendly travel essentials and is especially indispensable for trips to any of the world’s must-see beaches. Chemical sunscreens can be very harmful to the ocean, endangering marine life and causing coral bleaching. Keep your friend’s skin and the planet safe at the same time by giving them this reef-safe, organic, cruelty-free sunscreen.

Practical upgrades

Some frequent fliers pride themselves on packing as light as possible. They have travel down to a science and don’t have much need for extra gadgets and accessories. Below are our picks for the best gifts for travelers who are minimalistic, pragmatic packers.

  • Travel coverage. Travel protection will ensure that your loved one is covered in the event of the unexpected.
  • Five years of Global Entry. If your friend regularly leaves the country, consider giving them the gift of hassle-free travel and less time spent in TSA lines. With Global Entry, your friend can speed through airport security and customs—and a five-year membership will only set you back $100. Your friend will need to schedule a short interview to complete the sign-up process, but it’s a small price to pay for extra time to decompress at their gate before a flight. Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about Global Entry.
  • A flight anxiety journal. Even the most seasoned travelers sometimes experience flight anxiety. While going guided can certainly help, this travel anxiety journal and activity book is one of the best gifts for travelers who get nervous on plane rides. It’s packed with activities and journaling prompts to ease your loved one’s mind when they take to the skies.

New adventures and experiences

We know plenty of globetrotters who will tell you that travel itself is essential and that their favorite things are new adventures and experiences. Below are our picks for the best gifts for travelers who never seem to keep their feet on the ground.

  • An all-access membership to America’s Test Kitchen. It’s no secret that we love cooking up adventure with America’s Test Kitchen, and this membership will give your loved one unlimited access to thousands of recipes, product reviews, instructional videos, and more. It’s the perfect experiential gift for the foodie traveler in your life.
  • Travel books. Give your favorite wanderer the gift of adventure without leaving home. Our go-to travel books are ideal for getting inspired for a new journey or relaxing during downtime on one of our guided tours.

Want to give the gift of travel to yourself or a loved one? Check out our guided tours to start planning your next adventure!

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About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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