Gifts for someone traveling abroad

Here’s a fun, practical guide for those of you who are trying to buy gifts for someone traveling abroad indefinitely. Whether they’re becoming a digital nomad, taking a job abroad, or have just decided to use their savings and see the world, you don’t know when they’re stopping if ever!

I’ve definitely become this person at that moment, and I can tell you more than anything else — I’m incredibly picky about what I buy. I simply do not have the room for superfluous gifts. As tempting as it is to buy me everything on sale at Bath & Body Works – I can’t. Their lotions aren’t even moisturizing enough, and I already have three versions of those cozy socks!

I usually spend quite a few months abroad every year. In fact, I wound up “stuck” in Vietnam for sixteen months when the world shut down! That trip was supposed only be on month, and I never quite knew how long I was staying so I couldn’t fully settle in. This kind of lifestyle has ensured I don’t hold onto things I only kind of like and I pack as efficiently as possible every time I unzip my suitcase.

Before You Shop!

Before you dive into this practical gift guide, the first thing you should do is ask your forever nomad what she/he/they wants or needs. After all, if you think your pal would love an Aeropress so they don’t spend $4 on a coffee every day, maybe see that they don’t already have one.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are some gift ideas.

20 Practical Gifts for Someone Traveling Abroad Indefinitely

Budget – $

1. Travel playlists

This is free! If you have no budget, make your friend a playlist or a series of playlists. Trust me, we’re always looking for new music, new books, and new podcasts. For me, this is the best on the list just because it shows how much effort you put in and how well you know your traveler

I’m a big Spotify fan because you can download things offline, so what I would do is create some different playlists. Make one with podcast episodes, a huge music one, and, because I’m obsessed, an ASMR playlist to help with sleep and relaxation. Spotify’s ASMR collection is constantly growing as more and more creators join.

If you’re wondering how to present it to them as a gift, you could always decorate a card and add the URL for them to go to. Rifle Paper Co. has the cutest physical and digital card options.

Promptly Journals

2. Travel journal (and stickers!)

Okay, if your traveler isn’t much of a journaler, this might seem wasteful. But if they’re known for enjoying a little scrapbooking or journal writing, see if they’d like a nice, unique one for their travels. The Midori notebook is a classic, and I recently got the travel journal from Promptly Journals to try on my next trip. I’m also a big fan of stickers, so if you know where they’re going, see if you can find some fun stickers they can use to decorate with!

3. A Daypack

I’m mildly obsessed with my daypack because it’s super durable, light, and it folds up so I can squeeze it into my carry-on if I need to lighten my load. I used to carry my laptop and my heavy DSLR in mine, and it hasn’t shown a single sign of strain!

Even if your traveler isn’t a huge outdoor adventurer or backpack person (I went through a very anti-backpack phase from high school through college), having one of these will come in handy.

Another option is the Troubadour Goods backpack. It doesn’t fold up, but it’s chic enough to be used for daywear and durable enough for hiking and travel. I’ve actually been using it more often as my personal item for flying and on smaller day treks.

4. Good Packing Cubes

I can’t believe I’m only on this packing cube hype train now, but I am, and I cannot recommend getting a quality set! If your friend doesn’t already have them, they’ll thank you later. And I mean quality ones. I have these Eagle Creek ones as well as a free set I got from a conference, and the difference is huge.

5. A little kit of reusable things

Help them be sustainable! The way we travel already does leave its own carbon footprint on the world, so anyway we can offset that, the better! Get them a little kit of reusable, packable things like metal straws, a bamboo cutlery set, reusable remover pads, and more. This can be budget friendly or easily more of a mid-range gift depending on how much you add to the kit.

6. Some sort of quick dry towel

If they’re on a budget, a lot of places they go might not have proper towels or towels at all. Even in Korea, the towel guesthouses offer is the usually the size of a hand towel! So making sure they have something that dries quickly can make a huge difference. Heck, even if they’re going to beachy areas, this will come in handy. I personally like turkish towels.

7. Cute cord organizer

My friend, Stacey, got me this little cord organizer from Daiso for my birthday, and it’s easily one of my favorite things ever. I didn’t realize how disorganized I was with my tech until I started using it. Mine fits four cords and has a mesh zip pocket where I store my passport, SD cards, camera remote, and flash drives. The nice thing with it, too, is that I can fit my 1TB external harddrive comfortably when I zip it all up. This one from Amazon or this one from The Container Store are a slightly fancier versions of mine.

Mid-Range $$

8. A cute smaller bag.

When it comes to traveling around, I can no longer do tote bags. My mom and sister carry these giant bags filled to the brim, and I still cannot for the life of me figure out what’s in them! Sometimes I really only need my card case and my phone and at most, I need something to put my DSLR in.

If this is the gift you want to get someone, I’d recommend you know ahead of time what they like. If they’re anything like me, they’re very picky, and they wouldn’t want you to potentially shell out a few hundred dollars on a bag they dislike or is wildly impractical.

For a bag that can go in all seasons and climates, I’d recommend a tan or cognac bag (not brown) in either pebbled or Saffiano leather in a classic, zip to shape. I’ve had the same bag from Michael Kors for almost a decade, and it’s still fresh as a daisy despite having been dragged on all sorts of adventures. I also think Tory Burch, Coach, and Kate Spade have good quality bags that aren’t crazy expensive but will last through many trips and excursions.

Again, and I cannot emphasize this enough, know 100% what your traveler will like!

9. Gift cards to their favorite brands

In general, I don’t think it’s a good idea to get someone clothing items unless it’s something basic like a sweatshirt. Brands mess up proper clothing sizes and you truly don’t know someone’s clothing style unless they’re a brand whore or they give you a list. I think in all my years of people trying to buy me clothes, I had one friend who absolutely nailed my style and size.

The best bet is to give someone a gift card to their favorite place and let them run wild with it on their own. Some brands I’d want gift cards to:

10. Portable Charger

I mean, if your traveler doesn’t already own a portable charger, they’re going to thank you for getting them one later. Nothing is worse than trying to find a hotel at night in a foreign country with only 3% battery, and it happens too often!

11. Aeropress

I got my friends an Aeropress for their bus after seeing so many nomads loving it. Seeing how they use and love it, I know it’d make a great gift if your traveler is a coffee addict! Save them some money at coffee shops, especially since iced lattes are now like $6+?!

12. An insulated, reusable water bottle

Again in the name of sustainability! If you only get them one thing, get them this. I love Hydroflask because it’s insulated, and you can get the different lids for them.

13. A nice airplane pillow

I just got the Trtl Pillow because I’m officially old. Between flights, boats, trains, and car rides, my neck is definitely feeling it now. I’ve heard good things about the Trtl Pillow, so that’s what I decided to try out!

14. Comfortable Headphones

For the best are bluetooth earbuds and I caved this last year and got the Apple ones! They’re stupidly expensive, but I’m not gonna lie – I love them and have pretty much only used these.

Luxury – $$$

15. Travel shoes

I think this really depends on what your friend’s style is like and where they’re going. For example, if your traveler has a bit more of a relaxed, boho style and is planning on chasing the sun, a pair of Birkenstocks will be perfect for them. (I love the Mayari style.)

However, if they’re planning on traveling through bigger cities and have a chicer sense of style, then a pair of loafers would be much more appropriate. I just got a pair of Birdie slides that I’m excited to wear once the weather cools!

16. Mirrorless Camera (or a new lens for their camera)

Mirrorless cameras, like the Sony ArII, can actually be super nice and even better than a full-frame DSLR. However, if your traveler is more of a beginner, something like the Sony A6000 is a great camera to start with.

If they already have a camera they live and die by, ask if they want any new lenses or accessories for it. I just got a 35mm lens for my Canon EOS 6D. My next lens buy will probably be a telephoto one!

17. A fancy new suitcase

Don’t underestimate a quality suitcase for long-term travel. I definitely prefer hardshell over soft shell after having both. I got the Away carryon back in 2017 when they were newer and still have it! I also bought the Delsey Chalet 24″ in white. It’s very cute but got banged up almost instantly. I wish the Navy version had been available when I was buying. I’ve also gotten the Paravel aviator carry-on for a different color, and it’s held up so far with a total of 4 months of travel!


18. A nice piece of jewelry

I find that a really nice, simple piece of jewelry can help make an outfit. I’m in love with gold hoops or a gold medallion necklaces. See if your traveler likes to wear a little jewelry and what metal they prefer. Then get them a really nice version of what they have. My mom got be a cute pair of 14kt gold hoops for Christmas, and I’ve been wearing them constantly.

19. The Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite

I love, love, love my Kindle! It really does make reading while traveling so much easier. Once I got it, I found myself reading a lot more over listening to Audible.

Always a Good Idea

20. Donate to a charity or cause they care about

Of course, when all else fails in your gift planning, I think donating to a charity or cause your traveler cares about is the ultimate when it comes to considerate gifts. It shows you care about what they care about, and you’re helping someone who probably needs it a lot more than either of you do. I personally love Liberty in North Korea as they help NK refugees resettle in either the US or South Korea.

And there you have it! 20 gifts for someone traveling abroad that they’ll ACTUALLY appreciate. What would you want from this list?

For more packing and gift advice for travelers, read these next:


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  1. This is such a great post! One of my BFF’s is moving abroad and I’m buying so many of the items you suggested for her. Thank you so much! Keep on posting!

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