From travels tools to help you get organized to beautiful keepsakes of adventures past, here are 10 unique gift ideas for the traveler in your life.
By Allie Albanese
Now that you have gifts for the cocktail lover in your life sorted, it’s time to focus on your favorite traveler! No, 2020 wasn’t exactly a year of exploration for many of us and no, we don’t know when we’ll be able to travel again like we used to, but I’m sure I speak for my fellow travel addicts when I say that doesn’t mean we’re not suffering from a crippling case of wanderlust!
So instead of focusing on what we can’t do, I thought I’d focus on ways to satisfy the wanderlust within even if that doesn’t mean packing a bag and getting on a plane. Be it tools to get organized or advice on how to prepare for your next journey or beautiful keepsakes of adventures past, here are 10 fun and unique gift ideas for the traveler in your life.
MAPLANTIC Map (from $100): One of my favorite discoveries this year is MAPLANTIC, a company making the most gorgeous and incredibly unique maps of cities and towns around the world. Founders Amelie (from Germany) and Dean (from England) met while traveling through Asia four years ago, fell in love, and using their backgrounds in architecture and design, together came up with the idea for MAPLANTIC as a way to create contemporary maps for their own home of cities they loved and that held special memories for them. But what began as a personal project has blossomed into designing maps for every major city in the world, and while the collections listed on their website represent bigger cities or more popular destinations, they also take requests and can create a map of any place that’s special to you. (Yes, Blenheim, NZ will hang on my wall one day.) Their creations are each made from scratch and available in 12 different color schemes, and have purposely been left nameless so that they look more like pieces of art, hanging on your wall to tell a story of their own. I feel lucky to have crossed paths with Amelie this year, and as someone who is completely obsessed with maps, I fell instantly in love with this concept. In fact, one of the only items on my Christmas list is a MAPLANTIC map of NYC! So for anyone in your life who is missing someplace they love or that you share a special travel memory with, gift them with a “return trip” through this beautiful memento.
Photographing Wild by Paul Nicklen ($20): If you’re not wanderlusting after Paul Nicklen’s National Geographic wildlife photos, your life is not complete. He’s one of the most incredible photographers in the world, and has now put together a 122-page eBook with 16 real-world lessons for taking compelling photographs. Whether you’re a beginning photographer or looking to improve as a visual storyteller, this book contains every piece of advice Paul has acquired over 20 years and includes some of his favorite images and anecdotes from his time in the field. I've purchased this as a gift to myself, and can’t recommend it enough for anyone who has a passion for travel photography. You simply can’t get advice from anyone better. (6.8 million Instagram followers tells you something.)
Try the World Subscription Box ($29 per box paid annually): Take a trip around the world without ever leaving home! Each month, receive a curated selection of gourmet foods from different countries across the globe. Complete with drinks, snacks, and ingredients to cook with, Try the World sources items directly from their country of origin through small, family-owned companies, and provides tips for creating an authentic culinary experience at home. This subscription offers a clever way to discover artisans and cuisines from around the world.
Periodic Table of States Platter ($85): This platter is hands down one of my favorite finds this season! I'm a sucker for fun and funky serving ware, and this is right up my alley. Each platter showcases the best of each state, from famous foods to iconic landmarks to cultural icons. This is playful way to celebrate places lived or visited that hold a special place your heart.
Prints for Nature Fine Art Print ($275): Featuring the work of more than 85 of the world’s most renowned photographers, Prints for Nature is an initiative aimed at raising money through the sale of fine art to protect our planet and to save the nearly one million species at risk of extinction. Organized by National Geographic Photographer and Wildlife Conservationist Ami Vitale, 100% of the net proceeds from each sale will go to support core Conservation International initiatives. These stunning prints would provide beautiful memories of countries visited or moving inspiration for bucket list destinations to come. The sale ends on Thursday, December 10th, so you have to act fast!
The Wander Club Necklaces and Wanderchains (prices vary): The modern day charm bracelet, collect engraved “tokens” to commemorate places you’ve visited and meaningful dates of your travels. Offered in collections from states, to national parks, to countries, to continents, this is a beautiful and unique way to remember to celebrate your travels. And the icing on the cake is that for every order placed, a meal is donated to a child in need.
Apple-Certified iPhone Flash Drive ($62.99 for 256GB): I bought this drive for myself earlier in the year and I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the best money I’ve spent in the past decade. Like many travelers and photographers I know, 2020 has been a year to get organized, to edit and file photos, and to get our phones and computers cleaned up and prepared for travels to come. And this little gadget has completely transformed that entire process (and my life)! To be able to simultaneously download and backup my iPhone photos on the go wherever I am, and then have the capability to upload them directly on to my computer and/or backup drives, is like a gift that keeps on giving. Not to mention that this drive provides an instant solution to that annoying “storage full” message you get when you’ve used up all the space on your phone. (Which inevitably happens when you’re in the middle of nowhere.) Efficiency and protection in one, I highly recommend this for anyone who has a passion for travel photography.
Homesick Candle ($34): Over these years, Homesick candles have made a regular appearance under the Christmas tree at my house. When my sister moved to Colorado. When my brother and his family left LA. When I said goodbye to the Big Apple. And now with travel keeping many of us from visiting our "home away from home," there’s more reason than ever to celebrate the places we love. With a candle for every US state, most major cities, and a handful of countries around the world, Homesick candles are a great way to bring a taste (or a scent!) of those destinations home to you.
Etekcity Digital Luggage Scale (10.99): Never pay an excess baggage fee again! If the traveler in your life is anything like me and has a tendency to overpack, this handy little gadget will be their best friend. I bought this before my last move to NZ and instead of guesstimating what I could or could not squeeze into my suitcase that would still keep me under the weight limit, this took the mystery out of the equation and made the decision for me. Not to mention it's super helpful to have when trying to calculate your luggage weight plus all of your souvenirs when it's time to come home!
I Was Here: A Travel Journal for the Curious Minded ($15): This whimsical, colorfully illustrated, guided travel book is the perfect gift for anyone looking ahead at travels to come! With plenty of space to capture addresses, itineraries, and tips from locals, a reference section with time zones and measurement conversions, a pocket for collecting paper memorabilia along the way, and a number of surprises with each turn of the page, this planner encourages travelers to explore the easily overlooked and wonderfully meaningful everyday details encountered while traveling. Which are those simple things that we've all come to appreciate a little more this year.
Happy shopping and cheers to a year full of safe and healthy travel adventures to come! It will happen. I demand it.
Allie is the founder of Parched Around the World and the owner of Parched Global, LLC, a communications company based in Atlanta, GA. She's a Certified Sommelier and a foodie at heart, and is forever suffering from a severe case of wanderlust! When life allows, you can often find Allie traveling around the world and photographing her adventures both domestically and abroad. Feel free to get in touch with her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or to connect on Instagram at @aaalbanese and @parchedaroundtheworld.