1. Instax camera // 2. Memory card // 3. Hanging toiletry bag // 4. Money belt // 5. Headphones //
6. Away x Gray luggage // 7. Bando luggage tag // 8. Wild by Cheryl Strayed // 9. State bracelets
Keep reading for more ideas!
Gift guides are all the rage whenever the holiday season rolls around, with family and friends looking frantically for the perfect gift to give. I’ve always wanted to be one of the cool kids that releases an annual holiday gift guide, but until I started my blog for real earlier this year, I never really had a place to put it. Nor did I know how to create one of those fancy Photoshop graphics up there (I’m pointing to the top of this post, you just can’t see me because…it’s the internet). I thought I wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but with the help of some savvy friends and about 42 Photoshop tutorials, here we are! I’m so happy to finally be able to share these gift guides with you! The process of gathering your favorite products and brands together is surprisingly enjoyable. Almost…therapeutic? It’s like shopping, without all those embarrassing text alerts from your bank at midnight asking if you just spent $250 on Amazon or if someone stole your card.
That’s why I am super (like, super duper) excited to get this gift guide series out and into your virtual hands! It has been so much fun putting each of these posts together, and I hope they prove legitimately useful, giving you some inspiration for what to buy the different types of travelers in your life. Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty – there are five (count ’em, FIVE) of these bad boys coming your way over the next few weeks: one for solo travelers, one for couples, one for backpackers, one for budget travelers and one for traveling with kids!
P.S. I recommend signing up for my mailing list (it’s that little form on the top right-hand side of the blog!) if you want to keep track of these gift guides as they’re released, because there are so many fantastic ideas in each of them. Also, there are some affiliate links in this post, which won’t cost you anything to use, but if you choose to purchase any of these items, I’ll get a teeny commission, which will help me keep this blog going. Thanks for your support!
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
*drum roll please*
The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Solo Travelers
Speaking as someone who does the majority of their traveling solo, I can guarantee that I would be ecstatic to receive any of the following gifts! They range from budget-friendly to luxury, and will help you narrow down what to get for the solo travelers in your life. I also asked some fellow travelers for their top recommended gifts for solo travelers, so keep an eye out for some of their genius suggestions below!
For the Photographer:
Polaroid cameras aren’t just for girls who look like Zooey Deschanel, y’all. Instant cameras are a great way for solo travelers to document their journeys as a tangible keepsake. When traveling solo, people often make friends along the road, and it’s fun to have your new pals write a little note on a photo for you (or them!) to take home and remember each other by. This one (pictured above) is the classic Instax re-done – it comes in multiple vibrant colors, weighs less than a pound, and is very sturdy. (Bonus: it won’t break the bank.)
If you think they would enjoy something with more of a classic look, check out the Instax Mini 90 or the Polaroid Snap! Don’t forget to grab some Instax film to throw in their stocking too. Lastly, if you think they would rather just print out their Instagram snaps instead of toss another camera in their backpack, give the gift of an adorable tiny mobile printer that can print photos on the go straight from a smartphone or tablet!
However, if you’re feeling really generous, you can always go all in and buy them a serious camera, like a Nikon D5300 or my current favorite camera to travel with, the Sony A5100. Another nice, less expensive option is an Amazon gift card, which they can put towards a big camera purchase. (Or even a memory card for their camera – just make sure to get the right one!)
Lastly, if you want to be sure your solo traveling friend gets some photos with themselves actually in the picture, a basic tripod is a must! Sure, they could perch their expensive camera on top of something shaky and try to use the auto timer, but who wants to take that risk? (Not me, that’s for sure.) To go along with the tripod, grab a camera remote as a stocking stuffer!
For the Music Lover:
For some legit, wireless, noise-cancelling headphones, check out these “best of the best” (as told by a bajillion reviews) by Bose. These headphones boast world-class noise cancellation, stunning audio quality, and 20 hours of battery life per charge, making them perfect for crazy travel days.
Noise cancelling headphones are a great gift for frequent flyers. Solo travelers can use them to block out noise on airplanes and sleep on long flights, or put them on when they don’t feel like having a conversation with their fellow travelers. – Matilda, The Travel Sisters
If you don’t have the budget to gift Bose, there are lots of other, lower-priced options to choose from, including the pretty pink headphones featured at the top of this post or the most basic (and legitimately, my favorite ever) pair of earbuds by Panasonic, which only cost $9.99! They may not look like much, but trust me, when you pop these babies into your ears, they’re incredible. The comfortable fit, audio quality and ability to block out outside sounds makes them kiiiind of amazing. Especially at that price point.
A wireless speaker is also a great gift idea for any solo traveler staying in their own space. This one by SoundWorks is very highly rated (I mean, seriously, 4.5 stars from over 22,000 reviewers – can’t beat that) as well as affordable, water-resistant, Bluetooth capable, and less than 10 ounces in weight. Technology is wild, y’all.
As a bonus, give the gift of music and buy them something they’re sure to use: a subscription to Spotify Premium! (Note that you do have to log in to access the subscription gifting page.) Travelers encounter lots of dead air, from waiting for late buses to killing time on long airport layovers, and having your favorite playlists downloaded and ready to go makes things far more bearable. This is a great budget-friendly present and is the definition of the gift that keeps on giving! I personally use Spotify every day, all day, and love having my favorite songs with me on my travels – whether they are providing the perfect soundtrack to a slow stroll through Paris or helping keep me calm during some crazy turbulence. Let’s not get into my feelings on turbulence. Okay. Moving on.
For the Traveling Bookworm:
There are many options for solo travelers who don’t want to lug a bunch of heavy books with them, but still want to read a lot. Through some kind of magic (I know guys, it’s just technology, but I’m still impressed), e-readers can store a bajillion books for reading on the go, and any bibliophile will appreciate something like the almighty Kindle.
A Kindle is a great gift for anyone that likes to travel but it is especially useful for those that travel solo. Reading on their Kindle will help them pass the time and survive long flights in economy or long bus rides when they can’t sleep. Having reading material is also handy for solo travelers when dining or drinking alone at a restaurant, cafe or bar. – Patti, The Savvy Globetrotter
Bonus gift idea: get them a subscription to Audible so they can listen to audio books on the go while traveling! By gifting the solo traveler in your life a subscription to Audible, you’re giving them 1 audio book credit per month, plus crazy good discounts on any extra audio books they choose to purchase. If they also happen to be single (or just want to nod along in agreement), Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance is a great listen!
To Keep All Their Devices Powered Up:
These days, most people use their smartphone for everything travel-related: for taking pictures, looking up directions on maps, for listening to music on 10-hour bus journeys – just about everything! But even the most expensive smartphones have a limited battery life, which rapidly reduces when you start using Google Maps or anything internet-related. That’s why a power bank is a great gift idea for solo travelers! – James Cave, Worldwide Shopping Guide
This sleek and portable Anker charger weighs only 12.5 oz yet charges the iPhone 7 almost seven times, the Galaxy S6 five times or the iPad mini 4 twice. That’s probably more than the average solo traveler needs, allowing them to comfortably make use of the second USB port if they need to charge their Kindle or other electronic devices. It’s so nice to be able to roam freely as your devices charge up in your bag.
Especially when traveling alone, having your devices charged up and ready to go can bring more comfort and ease to a trip, save time, and help travelers stay connected to their friends and family while on the road. I knew I had to include this in my solo traveler’s gift guide, because when I travel, I usually have a lot of devices to charge: my iPhone, Amazon Fire, Sony camera and even my laptop! Being able to charge multiple devices at once (and quickly!) gives me one less thing to worry about.
Speaking of electronics, why not throw in an international adapter as a stocking stuffer? Everyone needs one! This one by Syncwire has 4 (count ’em!) USB ports for charging phones, tablets, and anything else that you can charge via USB, thousands of great reviews, and works in the US, EU and UK! Don’t let your solo traveling friends end up like me, sheepishly buying a grossly overpriced adapter in the airport before taking off.
For something a little more heavy duty that has two full size outlets, check out this Poweradd travel adapter kit with two USB ports, and five different adapters that include even more countries!
For the Savvy Solo Traveler:
A money belt (with RFID blocking technology, no less). I know, you’re conjuring up images of Rick Steves or your grandma traipsing around Canada looking like a total nerd. But money belts have come a long way! And they really do their job. With pickpocketing on the rise in many major destinations, it can’t hurt to keep valuables extra close by. Especially when traveling solo, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is someone stealing their bag and getting stuck alone, in a foreign country, with no money and no passport. Noooo thank you! Keep your solo traveling friends safe and give the gift of security – they’ll be thanking you when they come back with all their valuables in tow.
By the way, no shade to Rick Steves. I adore him, and think he’s one of the coolest, smartest human beings alive. But I don’t think anyone immediately thinks “style icon.” And yes, I love Rick enough to write this silly disclaimer.
This one by AlphaKeeper is sturdy, affordable, well-reviewed, and even blocks “digital pickpockets” because, welcome to hell…thieves can now use scanners to steal people’s credit card info THROUGH their bags and purses. Yeah. Hard pass on that nightmare!
This RFID-blocking travel wallet by Zoppen is also awesome at keeping a traveler’s valuable documents and money secure. And, bonus, it’s only $12! What a steal. (Except, you know, not literally. Because this wallet wouldn’t let you.) It has plenty of space for credit cards, passports, and all the random currencies a traveler is bound to accumulate while trekking around the world. Perfect for keeping everything easily reachable and in one place – so you can spare your friends and family the horror of digging through all of their luggage at the airport security line trying to locate their travel documents.
I’m not speaking from experience or anything, nope. Not at all.
For the Neat Freak:
This wouldn’t be a traveler’s gift guide without a packing section! Any traveler knows that it’s easy to let yourself become a bit of a disorganized hot mess when you’re living out of a suitcase! Make it easy for the solo traveler in your life to keep things neat and tidy, no matter where they are. One of my favorite inventions is the hanging toiletry organizer. This one is both budget-friendly and cute, not to mention sturdy! With multiple compartments for different items, this organizer will keep their toiletries safe and clean, easy to access – far more convenient than wasting valuable bathroom counter space trying to rummage around a traditional toiletry bag!
For the toiletry bag to beat all toiletry bags (that was a mouthful), gift your solo traveler this lightweight Pack-It Flat Toiletry Kit, which is full of secret compartments and magic packing juju. Okay, so it might not come with the magic juju, but hey. It will certainly help in the organization department!
Lastly, but probably the most important thing in this entire post…packing cubes. I cannot sing the praises of packing cubes enough. Write it on my tombstone: “Here lies Sierra, who deeply loved packing cubes.” I wish I were exaggerating, but the discovery of Eagle Creek packing cubes rocked my world. They are my ride or die. Yes, they’re on the pricier end of the packing cube spectrum, but I swear to you – they are worth every penny. They last forever and hold so much! Any solo traveler will be eternally grateful for a set of durable, light-weight packing cubes because it means they’ll finally be able to keep their suitcases and backpacks organized. Life-changing, I tell you.
If you don’t want to pony up for Eagle Creek, I totally get it. There are lots of other good brands out there, like these by TravelWise. Take a look around Amazon and you’ll find a bunch of other options!
To Inspire Solo Travelers:
Two of the books that have meant the most to me (both in life and in regards to travel) are Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I admire both writers deeply as human beings and reading their stories truly affected me on a core level. If you want to encourage someone in your life to be courageous, take the leap, and go on their own solo travel adventure, these books will certainly do the trick!
In a nutshell: their stories are heartbreaking, courageous, bravery-inducing, and inspiring. They are also both phenomenal writers! I won’t pretend I can do these books justice by trying to explain either of them, but trust me – any solo traveler will be grateful for such a soul-stirring, adventure-inspiring read. I’ve noticed quite a few other gift guide posts skip over book recommendations completely and focus solely on the traditionally “useful” gifts. However, I think that bringing inspiring, courageous stories like these on a trip will encourage and motivate solo travelers to keep doing their thing!
There are plenty of other great books out there for travelers, including incredibly well-researched guide books by Lonely Planet or Fodor’s Travel if you’d rather give them something more specific to the destination they are traveling to!
For A Personalized Touch:
There are lots of beautiful travel-related pieces on the market, but these State Cuffs by Mark & Graham are so unique and pretty, I knew I had to include them in my gift guide. If you have a solo traveling friend who gets a bit homesick while on the road and wants to bring a little piece of home with them, these cuffs are perfect. They are personalized with the state’s latitude and longitude, and are a unique gift for the traveler who likes to subtly show some hometown pride. Only drawback: they are only available for select states in the U.S. Check their website for more details!
Another one of my jewelry favorites is this World Map Ring by Bubblebox on Etsy. It’s a simple but beautiful gift (and surprisingly affordable!) that any solo traveler would love to wear on their travels or at home.
A personalized gift that is also extremely useful is a passport cover! Any solo traveler knows how much wear and tear a passport can get while traveling – and it’s the one item that needs to last. These beautiful personalized covers are the perfect gift for a solo traveler looking to keep their passport safe and stylish at the same time!
For the Stylish Solo Traveler:
Luggage company Away teamed up with photographer Gray Malin to create this line of beautiful suitcases, each featuring a custom interior printed with one of his aerial photographs. My favorite is the “Ocean” carry-on, and I love that it’s functional as well as being nice to look at! Each suitcase features a USB charger (built-in!) and TSA-approved locks, which makes it perfect for a solo traveler looking to stay charged-up and keep their belongings safe!
My personal favorite carry-on suitcase is the Delsey Helium Aero International Carry On. It is only 19 inches tall, which meets even the strictest European budget airline carry-on restrictions, and it’s incredibly durable, making it perfect for the solo traveler who travels often! My suitcase has survived many a cobblestone street and even the steepest staircases with no issues. Delsey also makes a less expensive version, with a slightly different design.
Hooray! You made it to the end!
I hope this gift guide gave you some great ideas for the solo travelers in your life!