Monday, July 15, 2024

Best gifts for travelers 2023

As the holiday season quickly approaches, it’s time to start thinking about what to get your friends and loved ones. Gift giving can seem like such an overwhelming task, especially when you’re shopping for your jet-setting friends who are always on the go. Speaking as the friend who is always on the go, I know how difficult I make my friends’ lives when it’s time for them to buy me a birthday or Christmas present. Of course, I always appreciate a nice outfit or a pair of shoes, but the best presents are gifts that can be put to practical use for my travels.

Related: Best travel organizers: Tangle-free storage for your cables and tech

If you’re not a traveler yourself but want to get the best present for the travelers in your life, we’ve got you covered. Here are gifts that will make the best gifts for all types of travelers. Trust me, I will be sending this list to my friends and family as a subtle hint for what to get me this holiday season.

Best travel gifts: Our top 8 picks


Monos Carry-On Plus Pro

1. Best travel gift overall

A carry-on bag that has enough space for your clothes and technology.

The first thing any explorer needs to get started is a bag to pack their items in. The Monos Carry-On Pro Plus allows travelers to pack their clothes and tech all in one space.


  • Spacious
  • Laptop Sleeve
  • Large color variety

  • Laptop sleeve makes the bag a bit bulky
  • Pricey

Monos’ Carry-On Plus Pro is one of my favorite carry-ons I’ve gotten over the past few years. The bag has a hard-shelled case which can withstand hard throws and drops plus the bag has a TSA approved lock, so you can add an extra layer of security to your items while abroad. The biggest distinction of this bag from the rest is the laptop sleeve featured on the front of the bag which can fit a 16-inch laptop and a few smaller items.The only downside to the bag is that since there’s the extra laptop sleeve, the bag can be a bit bulky and may be deemed “too big” by some airlines to count as a carry-on. For the most part the bag is able to fit in all overhead bins, so you shouldn’t have any issues.

She’s Birdie

She’s Birdy/Pocket-lint

Birdie Personal Safety Alarm

2. Best travel gift for safety

Solo travel safely with the Birdie

Traveling alone can be daunting but the Birdie personal safety alarm can help put your mind at ease. Simply pull the top of the keychain off and an alarm will sound if you’re in danger.


  • Can be brought into every country and on planes
  • Attach to your keychain
  • Can be reset

  • Can be easily triggered
  • Not to be used for actual defense

Whether I’m exploring new cities or walking home from work I’m always looking over my shoulder as I walk the streets alone or even when I’m with my friends. The Birdie Self Defense Alarm gives me some peace of mind while traveling alone. All you do is pull the top of the device off and a loud alarm will blare, hopefully attracting attention to you and frightening off anyone trying to cause you harm.

Just a heads-up, the alarm is loud so make sure not to accidentally pull it like yours truly did, causing an extremely embarrassing scene. The Birdie Self Defense Alarm made our list for best travel tech, topped our list of best personal safety devices (and why you should have one) and is an item I confidently, personally recommend.

Apple AirTag

Apple/ Pocket-lint 

Apple AirTag

3. Best budget travel gift

Don’t lose your baggage, wallet or keys ever again

Don’t lose your baggage ever again with Apple’s AirTag. Simply attach the AirTag to any item you fear you’ll lose and track the tag via Find My on your Apple devices.


  • Small and convenient
  • Can easily track from your Apple device

  • Harder to use with Androids
  • Need to buy a holder for them

In 2018 my baggage got lost going from New York to Australia; oh how I wish Apple AirTags were a thing then. AirTags change the game when it comes to losing luggage, keys or wallets. It’s simple, you attach the tag to any item you fear you may lose, and then you’ll be able to track your items wherever you go. AirTags are a great way to never be subjected to lost luggage ever again.

Airtag - 1

AirTags can’t be set up using an Android but Android users can track AirTags using the Tracker Detect app. The app tracks Bluetooth trackers and is compatible with Apple’s Find My programming. Although the app helps Androids track AirTags I would recommend looking into other Bluetooth trackers to track your items while traveling.


Bose / Pocket-lint

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

4. Best value travel gift

Block out all the crying babies and engine noise on the plane

$279 $379 Save $100

Bose’s Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are perfect for those in need of a pair of headphones to block out all the background noise. The Bluetooth headphones have adjustable noise cancelation and come with a charging case.


  • Adjustable noise cancellation
  • Good battery life

Whenever I fly I always make sure to pack a pair of headphones that can be connected to the in-flight entertainment systems, so I don’t need to buy a pair of cheap wired earbuds they sell on the plane. I previously owned the Bose Noise Canceling Quiet Comfort 45 headphones which were good enough for the small daily tasks I was using them for but the Noise Cancelling 700 headphones are definitely a step-up.

best wireless headphones photo 2

When walking around New York City I’ve always been weary of headphones that completely cut out all the surrounding noise, but these headphones allow for you to adjust the noise-canceling levels on the Bose Music app which gives users more control over volume levels. Plus, the Noise Canceling 700 allows you to use Alexa and can be used without power.

Compared to competitors such as Apple’s AirPods Max, which run a hefty $500 price tag, the Bose Noise Canceling headphones prove to be better value. Bose’s Noise Canceling headphones easily connects to both Samsung and Apple devices plus they have a typical battery life of 21 hours compared to the 20-hour battery life of AirPods Max. Overall, I’d say the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 boast solid ANC quality, and definitely worth the more expensive price tag.

Best waterproof speakers 2021: Top portable picks for any budget photo 10

JBL/ Pocket-lint 

JBL Clip 4

5. Best travel gift for music lovers

Blast music anywhere you go

$70 $80 Save $10

This portable and weatherproof beauty is still an excellent pick for showers and on-the-go users.


  • Can clip onto any bag
  • Lightweight
  • Good sound for the size

  • Sound isn’t as loud as bigger speakers
  • Runs on the more expensive side

The best type of person to be is the person with the speaker. When you’re traveling you want to limit the amount of bulky items you bring with you as much as possible which is why the JBL Clip 4 makes for the best speaker for travelers. Although the speaker is small it still produces pretty good sound. I always attach this speaker to my personal item and bring it with me when I go hiking, head to the beach or even when I’m going on a quick bike ride.


Kodak PixPro

6. Best travel gift for memory keepers

Take pictures the early 2000s way with the Kodak PixPro

$99 $120 Save $21

Tired of smartphone pictures? Bring this portable digital camera out with you on your nights out to capture every memory.


  • Good quality pictures for a digital camera
  • Has the ability to record video
  • Portable

  • Not a travel necessity
  • Need an SD card reader slot to upload photos to computer/phone

Two years ago I invested in a real digital camera to document my travels. What I didn’t see being an issue was that the camera I bought was pretty bulky and very expensive, so I didn’t want to bring it on fun nights out which is why I bought the Kodak PixPro to capture casual bar nights and adventures. The PixPro can easily fit into your bag or pocket making it the perfect travel-sized camera for those who are tired of standard smartphone pictures.

After your night of taking pictures you can just come home, put the SD card in your computer and upload all your photos to share with your friends.


Etekcity Luggage Scale

7. Best stocking stuffer travel gift

No scale, no problem

$10 $11 Save $1

In need of a small stocking stuffer for your travel lover? This portable luggage scale can weigh your luggage and more.


  • Portable
  • Relatively accurate
  • Budget-friendly

  • Can only handle up to a certain weight

Anyone who’s ever checked a bag in on a plane before knows the anxiety-inducing moment of standing in front of the bag drop desk hoping your bag is under the maximum weight. When I was packing my bags to move to London from New York I tried weighing my bags on my bathroom scale the night before but still managed to mess up resulting in me having to pay an extra fee for an overweight bag. Etekcity’s portable luggage scale helps to eliminate added stress.The handheld scale hooks to the handle of your luggage, after you attach it you simply lift your bag and the scale will show the weight of your bag. The luggage scale can handle up to 110 pounds and is relatively spot-on with its accuracy. The scale includes an overload indicator, so you know when your bag is too heavy, plus the scale gives you the ability to save previous baggage weights. Help your traveling friend avoid the stress of overweight baggage with the Etekcity portable luggage scale.

anker 2

Anker Nano Power Bank for iPhones

8. Best travel gift for lengthy trips

Never let your phone die

$30 $32 Save $2

A portable charger is an absolute travel necessity. Anker’s Nano Power Bank is perfect for all iPhones.


  • Easily portable
  • Long battery life

  • Only compatible with Apple devices
  • Not compatible with USB-C device

Before I got a MagSafe phone case and charger, the Anker Power Bank was my go-to portable phone charger. Unlike other portable chargers this charger can fit in your jean pocket without your pocket busting at the seams. The battery life is pretty long, and Anker consistently releases solid, reliable chargers that have never failed me in the past.

Related: Best portable chargers for USB-C phones: Universal charging on the go

This portable charger in particular only works with Apple devices but if you own an Android or a device that has a USB-C plug there are dozens of options available on Amazon or Anker’s website.

The bottom line: What is the best gift for travelers?

It’s hard to say exactly what the best gift is because everyone is different but if you want to give a gift that your loved one will get the most use out of then I would splurge on the Monos Carry-On Plus. A solid bag you can rely on is the most important product a frequent traveler can own. Give the gift that keeps on giving with the Monos Carry-On Pro Plus.


Monos Carry On Plus Pro

Editor’s Choice

If the Monos Carry-on Pro Plus is a little out of your price range or not what your loved one needs, two other items I highly recommend gifting from the list above are the Apple AirTags and the Etekcity Luggage Scale. I’ve raved about AirTags before, but I truly think they changed the travel accessory industry for the better. AirTags are an easy and convenient way to keep track of your items especially in the case of luggage that gets stolen or lost in transport during a flight.

Apple AirTag

Apple/ Pocket-lint 

The Etekcity Luggage Scale may not seem like the most glamorous gift, but it definitely is one of the most practical. For only $10, the scale eliminates so much of the stress that comes with packing. Weighing baggage and getting an accurate reading using your own at-home scale is a skill few have mastered. The small handheld luggage scale gives an accurate reading and allows you to weigh your luggage anywhere you go making it the perfect stocking stuffer surprise for the jet-setters in your life.


Etekcity Luggage Scale

$10 $12 Save $2

How did I pick the best gifts for travelers?

Over the past couple years I backpacked across Europe, flew back and forth from Hawaii to New York and made the move across the pond to London. Throughout the course of my travels I found all the products above to be the most helpful on my adventures. The best gifts for travelers are ones that will enhance different aspects of their journey which is why I made sure to include an array of products that add to everything that comes with going on a trip.

Related: 11 AirTags tips and tricks: Get the most out of your Apple tracker

You don’t need to attach an AirTag to every single item you own, but I highly recommend attaching one to your checked bags at the very least. AirTags are TSA approved and don’t have enough lithium in them to mention, so there’s no reason not to get one. You can track your AirTag easily on any Apple device using the ‘Find My’ feature. Whether you’re known for constantly losing your keys or worry about your luggage being lost in the hustle and bustle of things, AirTags are a great way to ease your nerves.

Can I travel with a smart suitcase?

Yes and no. I personally never used a smart suitcase which is why I didn’t include any on the list, however most smart suitcases include lithium batteries which are not allowed on planes and typically aren’t TSA approved. If your suitcase includes a removable lithium battery then you should be okay to travel with them. Before you purchase any suitcase make sure the website says that any special features such as locks and built-in phone chargers are TSA-approved.

Does Southwest Airlines allow smart luggage?

As of 2018, Southwest Airlines requires that a smart bag can travel in the aircraft cabin as long as it has a removable battery. Additionally, if you check your bag at any time, the airline makes it clear you must remove the battery before boarding. Other major airlines, like United, Delta, American, and JetBlue echo this removable battery policy, but it’s best to double-check with the arline before packing and flying.


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