1. Waterproof phone case 2. Kate Spade laptop bag 3. Wool socks 4. Amika dry shampoo 5. Dr. Bronner’s soap
6. Mudder silicone containers 7. Baggu tote 8. MiraPure hair tool 9. R+Co hair care 10. Wash&Wear bags
Welcome back to the Ultimate Gift Guide series!
Last week, I shared my top picks for the best gifts for solo travelers. This week, we’re tackling the best gifts for budget travelers, which is probably my most requested gift guide! Traveling while on a budget means that you need to make everything you bring truly count. Budget travelers often opt for carry-on luggage only (I know I do!) in order to save money on the crazy, sky-high baggage fees that most airlines charge these days.
That means choosing products and items to pack that you know will last your entire trip and be genuinely useful. I have put together a gift guide for budget travelers that has tons of great ideas for what to get the frugal traveler in your life. Any of these gifts would be helpful, useful, or improve their trip in some way!
Enough chit chat, let’s get into it!
Let’s face it – when you’re on a tight budget, it often means that you need to bring your work with you and get some tasks done on the road. These gift ideas make bringing work gear on your travels much easier and more comfortable, which any work-on-the-go budget traveler will appreciate! Practical and useful, most of these items are on the budget-friendly end of the scale, so you don’t have to break the bank to be helpful. With so many people working remotely these days,
The one exception to that rule is this beautiful Kate Spade laptop bag. Many laptop cases and bags are boring and ugly (if we’re being totally honest). Why not add a little style and class to your friend’s laptop bag collection? If you’re looking for a gift on the slightly more splurge-y end, this classic black and white striped beauty is the perfect option! (This is its big sister, the Kate Spade Daveney laptop bag, which comes in the same design but is slightly bigger.)
If you’d rather gift something a little more budget-friendly, these gorgeous Tomoc padded laptop cases are slim, super protective and come in a variety of stylish prints and colors! (Bonus: they start at just $16.99!)
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Bonus tech ideas:
If the budget traveler in your life likes to document their trips with photo and video, they likely need a place to store all those memories safely! This 2TB hard drive by La Cie is one of the highest-rated and most durable drives on Amazon, and for good reason. It is shock-resistant for drops up to 4 feet, dust and water resistant, and great for all-terrain use! If they already have their own hard drive, you can gift them a sturdy slimline hard drive case like this one by Amazon Basics (bonus: it’s a great idea for a low cost stocking stuffer)!
A phone/camera tripod is also a great gift idea for the budget traveler who wants to jump in and get some photos of themselves on the road!
Lastly, a waterproof phone case is a fantastic gift idea for budget travelers who may want to use their smartphone for underwater photography or videography! This case by MoKo is IPX Certified and can safely withstand underwater dives up to 98 meters deep. Pretty cool! This is another great stocking stuffer, low budget item with great practicality – only $6.99!
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For the chilly traveler:
Many budget travelers choose to take their trips during the off-season to save money, which means that they are often traveling during the cold, winter months! If the traveler in your life is heading to a chilly destination this winter, help keep them cozy and warm by gifting them a pair of these awesome, made in the USA, comfy wool socks by Darn Tough, suggested by fellow budget travelers Scott and Hayley:
These socks are great. They’re made in USA, have a lifetime unconditional return warranty, and they are reasonably priced. Fantastic socks! I think they would be a solid choice for budget travelers because they are a high quality product, at a reasonable cost, and guaranteed for life. I’m a very frugal traveler (beans & rice, rice & beans) but spending a little extra on comfy, durable socks is worth it to keep your feet healthy and happy.
– Scott & Hayley Hornberg, International Hot Dish
By the way, Scott and Hayley are from Minnesota, so they know how to keep warm during super cold weather! These socks are made in the Green Mountains of Vermont by family-owned company Darn Tough, who have been making high quality, long-lasting socks for over forty years. The best part? They come with a lifetime guarantee: “If our socks aren’t the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you’ve ever owned, we’ll replace them free of charge, for life, no strings attached.” Can’t get much better than that! Bonus: you’ll be supporting an American-made, family-run business and gifting a high quality pair of socks at the same time. Great size for a budget traveler’s stocking stuffer too – hint, hint!
Another great comfort item for budget travelers is a good travel pillow. Now, if you’ve ever tried to sleep using a traditional travel pillow, you know that most of them kinda suck. They slip around, don’t provide adequate head and neck support, and end up being more frustrating than helpful. Enter the Turtl. (I know, I’m picturing an adorable turtle right now too.) But it’s way cooler. Ergonomically designed by real mechanical engineers (ooh, fancy!) the Turtl is a travel pillow unlike any other I’ve ever seen.
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Fellow traveler K.J. personally swears by this particular neck pillow, which also looks awfully comfy!
This neck pillow has come in handy for every trip I’ve taken over the past two years. It’s especially useful on long-haul flights on budget airlines that don’t provide pillows or blankets.
– K.J. Aponte, KJ Around The World
Body care ideas for budget travelers:
Just because they’re a budget traveler doesn’t mean they want to look like one! Here are some of my favorite hair and body care products for travel, which would make a great gift package when bundled together, or the perfect individual stocking stuffer.
The best dry shampoo (in my humble opinion) is this Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo, which now comes in travel sizes! It smells great and works great for reviving second or third day hair (or fourth, or fifth…ahem, you get the gist). Amika also makes a great Touchable Hair Spray in 1 oz size, making it perfect for a budget traveler’s carry-on bag.
My all time favorite all purpose product is Dr. Bronner’s soap. If you already know about Dr. Bronner’s, you probably need no further introduction (and already love it). If you’re new to the Dr. Bronner’s cult, here’s the lowdown: you can use this soap for just about anything. Washing dishes, washing your body, washing your clothes, washing your hair…whatever you can think of! This lavender scent is newer to the Dr. Bronner’s line, and I think it’s the perfect soothing all-purpose gift for a budget traveler.
This Marvis Strong Mint toothpaste is another great natural body care gift for the budget traveler. Marvis also makes a whitening toothpaste, if your traveling friend is worried about all those Italian espressos staining their teeth while on the road!
My holy grail body care product is this Kaufmann’s lip creme. I know it looks a little kooky, and has a German baby on the tin, but trust me…this stuff is absolutely life-changing. I’m not exaggerating. One tin of this stuff lasts me about 1.5 years, no joke. I use it every night as a lip moisturizer and nothing else I try even comes close. It is made with lanolin and vaseline and some other magical ingredients, used in hospitals and by babies and adults in Germany, and I truly cannot sing its praises enough. Once you try it, you’ll know why I’m so crazy about it! I have used this stuff for a myriad of skin-related issues, and it clears things up and soothes the skin like nothing I’ve ever tried. Highly, highly recommend.
Last but not least, these R+Co hair care products are a beautifully-packaged, unique gift idea for the budget traveler in your life! They have a travel size shampoo and conditioner, and tons of other hair care products in full size and travel size that you should totally check out (seriously, their packaging though).
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This combo hair straightener and hair brush by MiroPure is an excellent choice for a budget traveler looking for an easy, compact way to combine two items and conserve on space!
Other great stocking stuffer ideas: aloe vera hand sanitizer by L’Autre Peau that won’t dry out their skin, a perfume atomizer so they can bring their favorite scents on their travels, or some stylish TSA-approved pouches by Squeeze Pod to put all their products in!
These items may seem like small gifts, but as a fellow budget traveler, I can attest to the joy of practical, useful gifts. Bundling together a few of these products in a travel care package or stuffing a few into your budget traveler’s stocking will be greatly appreciated by anyone looking to pack and travel more efficiently (and save money).
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For the organized traveler:
Alright, truth time: I will probably include packing cubes in every single one of these five gift guides, because they are just SO useful! I can’t believe what a huge difference they make in packing efficiently, saving space, and staying sane on the road. Really. Giving the gift of packing cubes may seem silly, but trust me, they are incredibly helpful and life-changing.
The ones pictured above are these compression packing cube set by Lean Travel (right now, they’re only $29.99!) and while I don’t have any personal experience with this brand, they have a lot of good reviews and seem to be great quality. My favorite packing cubes of all time will forever remain Eagle Creek’s Specter line, which is just a little bit pricier. However, giving the gift of high quality, top-of-the-line packing cubes is something that will last forever (or at least…a really, really long time). Any budget traveler knows the frustration of trying to tetris all your clothes and products into one small carry-on bag. Packing cubes make that task a whole heck of a lot easier and less stressful!
One gift idea that many might forget to include is a luggage scale. Having one of these little gadgets has saved me hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in surprise baggage fees at the airport. Totally worth the money (and they’re super affordable). I highly recommend gifting the budget traveler in your life a luggage scale so they can weigh out their bags at home and avoid paying the exorbitant overage fees most airlines charge!
Another one of my favorite packing accessories are these GoToobs by Human Gear. Perfect for storing your favorite liquid and cream products while traveling, GoToobs are durable and easy to squeeze, which sounds silly…but trust me, there are a LOT of annoyingly hard plastic imitators that make it impossible to use up your products fully (which is important when you have such little product volume to start with)!
Lastly, these silicone cosmetic jars by Mudder are another great option for storing favorite products from home while on your travels.
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For the sustainable budget traveler:
A tote bag, like this one in adorable polar bear print by one of my favorite brands, Baggu, is a great gift idea for the eco-conscious budget traveler who wants to practice sustainable travel and still wants to carry around a cute tote bag! Baggu makes super lightweight (seriously, they’re like feathers!), compact, easy to store reusable shopping and tote bags, perfect for small jaunts to the grocery store or a stroll through a Christmas market. Okay, you may need more than one tote bag at a Christmas market, but I digress…
A fellow traveler’s thoughts on why tote bags are awesome for those on the road:
Plastic bags are a budget traveler’s nightmare when entering foreign supermarkets to buy food rather than eat at restaurants. Bringing along a (personalized) tote bag makes it easier to say no to the 931 plastic bags offered, especially when you don’t speak the native language. You’re also setting a good example for other travelers you meet along the way (and it can even be a conversation starter).
– Jub Bryant, Tiki Touring Kiwi
If you’re looking for a sturdier tote bag option, Baggu also makes beautiful canvas totes, like this one:
For an extra special touch, gift your budget traveler one of these unique “Wash Me!” laundry bags. They’re cute and practical, which is the best of both worlds, right? Having a special dirty laundry bag helps keep their already jam-packed suitcase even more organized and clean. Side note: the adorable Wash/Wear bags featured pictured in the graphic above have sadly already sold out!
Another great gift idea is the Scrubba, suggested by fellow budget traveler Jean:
The Scrubba Wash Bag is the ultimate budget traveler gift. It’s a lightweight wash bag that also doubles as a dirty laundry or dry bag. The Scrubba Bag saves a ton of money when you’re on the road, allowing you the opportunity to wash your delicate items and frequently worn clothes. This means no longer having to laboriously hand wash your items in the shower of your hostel room!
– Jean Cheney, Traveling Honeybird
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Bonus unique gift ideas for budget travelers:
Give the gift of reading and think about signing up the budget travelers in your life for a Book of the Month Club subscription! Each month, they’ll be able to choose which books they want, add on extras, and gather fresh reading material for their travels. Such a fun, unique gift (and one they probably won’t be expecting)!
Another wonderful, slightly unconventional idea is donating to their favorite charity in their name. Find out which causes are most important to them and make a donation in their name as a holiday gift! There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing your dollars are going to a reputable organization that’s doing good in the world. Check out Charity Navigator for ratings on different charities to narrow down your search.
Thanks for reading my Gift Guide for Budget Travelers!
I hope you found some unique, helpful gift ideas for budget travelers in this gift guide! Which of these gifts do you think you might buy for the traveler in your life? (Or just buy for yourself, shhh…I won’t tell!) Let me know your favorite ideas in the comments below, and let me know if I missed anything! Thanks for sticking with me ’til the end.
If you missed last week’s gift guide for solo travelers, be sure to go check that out! And don’t forget to come back next weekend for the third gift guide – I’ll be polling my Instagram audience to see which post should go up next, so go follow me there if you want to give your input. Always appreciate your feedback!
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