2020 Traveler Gift Guide
2020 Traveler Gift Guide was originally published in November 2020.
The holidays are right around the corner, so there’s no better time than now for me to release my 2020 traveler gift guide.
Despite travelers feeling grounded in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, it seems that we all found a way to continue exploring. Since road-tripping ticked up in popularity, I’ve included a section of car camping gadgets this year in addition to my regular favorite recommendations.
2020 Traveler Gift Guide Table Of Contents
Outdoor Adventure Traveler Gifts
I have been a pretty big fan of Osprey for over 10 years now. From giant backpacking packs for multi-day expeditions to day packs and more, they’ve always been my go-to ever since I bought my first serious backpack in 2010 before I took my first trip outside North America.
Shop Osprey’s 50% off sale now that’s on until November 30th.
Shopping for an adventurer that braves all the elements? A dry sack is a perfect, inexpensive gift to give to help your buddy/relative/etc’s gear safe from water damage.
I always pack at least one dry sack for my travels, no matter where I’m going. If I’m heading somewhere on the water, then I know I can keep my cameras and electronics safe. Dry sacks come in handy too for other things- I use mine like a compression sack inside my back to reduce the bulk of clothing, and they can also second as a pillow on a backpacking trip.
As a kid, I despised getting socks as a gift, but as an adult I love it. If you’re looking for a small gift for your adventure traveler, a good set of hiking socks make a great stocking stuffer. My favorite are Smartwool’s various hiking socks.
Years ago, a friend of mine used to throw this wild Christmas party that included purchasing the most hilarious gag gifts for each other, as well as nifty little presents. Well, one year he got me one of these hatchet multi-tools which easily became one of my most favorite camping and travel tools.
Unfortunately, that first hatchet multi-tool was confiscated while I was traveling through Xinjiang a couple of years ago, but have since picked up a new multi-tool to replace it. I’ve also invested in one of these Leatherman knife multi-tools that I carry with me everywhere.
Trekking poles are a handy tool to have in your hiking arsenal, especially if you oftentimes find yourself trekking in precarious environments.
I personally use the Mountainsmith Halite trekking poles (that are currently 25% off!), which have so far withstood all the abuse I’ve put them through, from incredibly steep and uneven terrain, long expeditions through tussocks and tundra, to tricky glacial crossings.
I love a good lightweight tent that’s easy to set up. My all-time favorite are MSR’s various tents, light as a feather and with super straightforward set up. I have been using their NX Hubba Hubba solo tent for several years now.
Another reason I love MSR’s tents (as well as Mountainsmith’s) is because broken parts are easily repaired (I just replaced the tent pole bungee cords in both my MSR and Mountainsmith tents this summer with relative ease). MSR also offers repairs to tent fabric as well as replacement of broken poles, while Mountainsmith sells this awesome tent field repair kit. I know these tents are expensive, but I can attest to the fact that they are great investments if you spend a lot of time in the outdoors.
Another good investment to make is into a quality sleeping bag. Nemo is my favorite sleeping bag maker. I started using the Nemo Disco sleeping bag a couple of seasons back and still absolutely love it from my adventures at home here in Alaska, all the way to the remote backwaters and high mountain passes of Tajikistan.
For many years I traveled and backpacked sans sleeping pad because I didn’t want to carry that little bit of extra weight. well guys, in 2019 I finally invested in a Thermarest sleeping pad and can honestly say that I will never go back to sleeping on the ground again (except for when I forget to put it in my backpack when running out the door for a camping trip, which happens more often than you’d think).
Road trip & Car Camping Gifts
If you’re road-tripping or car camping for several days on end and may not have access to ice to replenish your cooler as it melts (think road tripping in remote areas where there may be few services along the way), one of these insulated Yeti coolers can come in handy.
I haven’t yet invested in one myself, but my neighbor-turned close friend and travel buddy did this past summer and she absolutely loves it. We’ve brought it on car camping trips for berry picking and Alaska road trips this summer and I was pretty impressed by it.
One thing I will say about these Yeti coolers is that their size can be a bit deceiving because of the thickness of the walls (which is what keeps your food and drinks cold in there), make sure you look at the specs on the different cooler sizes to determine if it will be the correct amount of space you’ll need.
If you like car camping and road tripping, then one of these Primus campground stoves will be a perfect addition to your impromptu camp kitchen set up. If you want something small and lightweight that will bridge the gap of both car camping and backpacking, I’d either with an MSR pocket rocket set up.
I love cooking on a cast iron, both when I’m camping on a road trip and when I’m cooking up something (in my indoor) kitchen at home.
This one is a big investment to make and one I haven’t yet made, but these rooftop car tents look pretty awesome. We’ve looked at them for the past couple of seasons and this will likely be one of our next big gear investments in the (hopefully near) future.
This past summer we picked up one of these Luno Air Mattresses for the Crosstrek and have gotten quite a bit of use out of it in this first year. We used it to road trip all the way up the Dalton Highway and back home and have found it super useful for when we just want to sleep in the car (especially after you’ve backpacked for several nights on end into the wilds of the Alaskan Arctic).
The only thing I don’t love is that I can’t sit up all the way with the mattress blown up in the back of the car, but otherwise I can’t think of any complaints.
Eco-Conscious Traveler Gifts
If you’re shopping for an eco-conscious traveler gift, a water bottle makes a great stocking stuffer. I have a couple of Hydroflask water bottles in different sizes that I love to travel with since they will keep your drink hot or cold for the day.
Another goodie to pick up for the eco-conscious adventure traveler in your life is a water filter. I’ve been using a Katadyn water filter for many years now in my travels, however, the Steripen comes highly recommended by many of my friends. Not only is it good for backpacking in remote areas to make clean drinking water, but it’s also handy for avoiding the creation of more plastic waste when in developed areas without drinkable tap water.
Shopping for a coffee-lover? Check out these bamboo reusable coffee cups for someone that wants to combine their love of coffee with their love of the environment.
If you know someone looking to avoid disposable cutlery that is commonly encountered when eating out, a travel cutlery set makes an awesome stocking stuffer. There’s also a set of reusable camp chopsticks for those that prefer chopsticks over a fork.
Another cool item to pick up for an eco-conscious traveler is a solar panel charger. Whether looking to avoid using energy to make electricity or just needing something to keep your electronics charged when remote a solar panel is a great gift.
Luggage For Travelers
Have someone in your life that needs a new piece of luggage that will last and take a beating? This Northface rolling bag is a good option. Not only does it roll, but it also has straps that can convert the bag into a backpack.
Help someone you love to stay organized on the road with this handy set of packing cubes that are currently 30% off on Backcountry.
Awesome Miscellaneous Travel Gadgets & Accessories
I’ve recommended the Scrubba Wash Bag in the past and I’ll continue in the future. This handy little sack makes laundry a breeze whether you’re trying to avoid expensive hotel laundry service, or camping out in the wild.
Have you, or anyone you know ever had their credit or debit card number skimmed while on the road? Truth be told, it’s happened to me and plenty of others.
One small precaution you can take to help avoid this is to make sure you’re using an RFID blocking wallet. My go-to is PacSafe’s RFID blocking wallets.
When I started traveling one struggle I had was keeping my stuff charged. Whether it was a 12 hour long flight or camping for days on end, I remember having to switch my phone off aside from when I absolutely needed to use it to help preserve the battery.
Well, now there’s the option of battery banks (there nothing new, but they weren’t something I was aware of when I started traveling… I don’t think they were a thing quite yet).
Know a female traveler in your life that you need to find a gift for? Check out PacSafe’s crossbody purses. I’ve actually used a PacSafe purse on and off for about 7 years.
A friend of mine took a trip to Spain many years back and picked one up before she left home. After her trip, she gifted it to me since I was heading out on (yet another) trip. While I’ve only ever once felt like I was about to be robbed while traveling, I love the added comfort of knowing that my bag is slash-proof.
I actually own a couple of these pocketed scarves and find them incredibly handy when I’m traveling but don’t want to carry a purse that day. They’re perfect for holding your ID, passport, cards, room key, and cash.
Bradt is the leading independent travel publisher, began by none other than the travel pioneeress herself, Hilary Bradt. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Bradt Guides in the last year on their first edition of the Socotra Guidebook and the third edition of their Tajikistan Guidebook.
Bradt has put together a list of some of their coolest guidebooks, stories, travel quizbooks, wildlife books, and more this holiday season. They are also running a 35% off everything sale right now that’s ending soon. Not to worry if you miss their 35% off sale, you can always get 20% off your orders with them by using the code ‘ADVENTURESOFNICOLE‘ at checkout.
Give The Gift Of Travel
With lockdowns and shutdowns happening all around the world in 2020, I know a lot of you and the people around you are itching to get out of here (wherever ‘here’ is). Even right now as the year comes to a close, travel is looking pretty bleak. But if you need something to look forward to, you could book a future flight as a gift, especially as many are offering flexible date changes and free cancellation on bookings. Shop flights at Expedia and Skyscanner.
Surprise someone you love by booking them a future tour to somewhere on their bucket list. For great trips in countless destinations check out both G Adventures and Intrepid Travel. G Adventures is currently running a 21% off sale on tours, and Intrepid is offering price slashes on Antarctica, Mexico, and Costa Rica tours.
Since travel isn’t exactly easy right now, why not give the gift travel for the future? Check out these Hotels.com gift vouchers.