Among this list of my favorite travel gear, I hope you'll find some ideas for a great gift. Some of these are things that I found after hours of research and testing, while others were discovered through recommendations or spontaneous shopping on the road.
I have personally used, tested, and love each of these products listed below. Most products are available on Amazon, which means you have plenty of time to order before the holidays roll around later this month.
Sleeping on planes is tough. My secret is to splurge on a solid travel pillow that helps make a redeye or transatlantic flight comfortable in economy. After trying all of the top rated pillows on Amazon and the Wirecutter, I've settled on the BCOZZY. Note: dog hair not included.
The BCOZZY pillow has the right amount of support, offers multiple configurations for sleeping upright or against a window, and is easy to hook on the outside of your carry-on bag. I've now used this pillow on 16 hour flights to Australia and short 2 hour domestic hops.
The runner up? Trtl Pillow - this one might look strange, but performs extremely well. It is essentially a fleece-lined neck brace, that can pack almost flat and slide into any bag. The drawback is that you have to wrap it tight to get full neck support.
Plane temperatures can be unreliable, so I always have my Patagonia Houdini Jacket on hand. At 3.6oz, it is extremely lightweight, yet keeps you perfectly warm on a flight. Plus, when you're not using it, the jacket can be rolled up into a small pocket for storage.
You can also use this as a light rain jacket, but I would not count on it keeping you dry in a monsoon.
Traveling with heavy books is a thing of the past. I always travel with 3-4 books on my Kindle, ensuring that I always have something to read. I can highlight and take notes on the Kindle, making it easy to look back and search through my readings. Kindles come in a variety of configurations and sizes. I would recommend that you skip the LTE connected version as WiFi is easy to get everywhere.
Looking to save a few bucks? Take a peek at the used and refurbished tab on the Amazon product page. I picked mine up this way and saved $85 off the regular listing price.
Free books? Check to see if your local library offers Libby. Libby is a free app that allows you to use your regular library card to checkout eBooks for up to 21 days, and syncs them with your Kindle. I've read dozens of books this way and the app works flawlessly with my Kindle Oasis. Pro-tip: you can keep reading books well past the 21 day limit if you leave your Kindle in airplane mode.
Most planes now offer some form of inflight entertainment, but there is no substitute for having your personal favorites on hand. Netflix now allows you to download individual movies and episodes to watch offline, which makes binging on your favorite show(s) even easier.
The Moko phone/tablet stand is a perfect accessory to prop up your phone on a small tray table. When not in use, I slip it in the back of my headphone case. Pro-tip: If you are traveling with a friend, pack a headphone splitter so you both can watch Lego Batman at the same time.
Once you try noise cancelling headphones, you will never go back. You will also wonder why it took you so long to finally take the plunge. Save your friends and family that hassle and gift them a pair of the most reliable headphones out there, the Bose QC25's.
These pack into a compact case when not in use and cost a bundle less than their bluetooth siblings (the QC35's). You can also pick these up used or refurbished on Amazon for $150 less. Regardless of which ones you pick out, all are backed by the generous Bose warranty if anything goes wrong.
Hands down something that every international traveler should have in their bag. The MOGICS donut travel adapter is both an international plug converter and surge protector all in one convenient and compact product. I've used this everywhere from New Zealand to Greece and it has wowed everyone that has seen it in use (sounds stupid, but 100% true).
The MOGICS has 5 US AC sockets along the outside of the circle and two USB (2A) plugs. You will no longer have to fight for that single hotel room power outlet or worry about packing the right adapter power tips on multi-country trips.
I wrote about the benefits of Global Entry a few days ago here. In short, the benefits include fast-track US customs and Immigration processing at nearly all US gateways, and free TSA-PreCheck membership, which is handy for all domestic flights. Plus, Global Entry membership lasts for 5 years, so it will be a holiday gift that keeps on giving.
If you're looking to make travel more comfortable for someone, a lounge day pass is the perfect gift to let them get first class treatment at a fraction of the cost. American and United sell day pass vouchers for $59 that you can easily gift to friends or family.
Lounges offer complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, coffee/tea, snacks, newspapers, and most importantly a comfortable and quiet place to relax. This is a great gift for your parents, siblings, or friends, and one that they will certainly appreciate when traveling back home during the busy holiday season.
Passport $115-145 (Direct) - Did you know that 64% of US Citizens do not hold a passport? This would be the perfect gift to nudge your friend towards traveling and one that could change their life. Did you know that babies are even required to hold a passport to travel internationally?
Since there is no formal way to 'gift' a passport, you will have to get creative. I'd recommend printing out the forms and including a check or cash to help them get their application out the door. Cost varies $145 for adults 16+ older, $115 for children 15 and younger.
Altitude Subscription $5-50 (Direct) - I might be a bit biased on this one, but Altitude is a great way to start teaching your friends and family how to travel more, for less. They will be amazed by the flight deals from their home airport(s) and will be booking cheap flights to Europe before you know it.
Plus, Altitude members have access to ask-me-anything (AMA) travel related, which will help lessen the load of questions you get sent before that trip to Mexico. Send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org – to get a gift membership setup!
If you're new here, welcome! Altitude is an ad-free, member-supported travel community, which means none of these products are paid endorsements. We do not receive a commission or referral credit on any sales, and all of our recommendations, flight deals, and travel tips are unbiased recommendations.