Do you have a friend who is about to embark on an exciting journey? Perhaps they’re gearing up for a long-term trip around the world, or maybe they’re a digital nomad who’s always on the move. Maybe it’s just their birthday and you’re stumped on what to get them. However, you might wonder, what do you give to someone who’s always on the go, traveling light, and living a minimalist lifestyle?
The decision about what to give can be a tough one. We want them to receive something useful, which doesn’t take too much space in their luggage. I got you covered with this comprehensive gift guide for digital nomads and travellers. Drawing from over over four years of hands on experience as a digital nomad, I have gathered a list of 14 material and non-material gift ideas. They strike the perfect balance between practicality and thoughtfulness. Because one thing is for sure: With your gift you can show your support and appreciation for your globetrotting friend. Dive in & get some inspiration!
Material gifts for digital nomads and travellers
Let’s start off with a selection of practical and portable material gifts. These items are not only compact and lightweight but also incredibly useful for digital nomads and travellers. Without giving too many hints you might want to check with your friend first whether they already have these essential travel companions. It would be a shame if the gift has to stay at home in the end!
1 Personalized passport cover
I’ve carried my passport around without a cover for years! Thinking about it now it worked well but also this document is so important, it’s the ticket to many different countries. Last Christmas my mum gifted me a personalized passport cover which was one of the most useful gifts I’ve received. I absolutely love it! It doesn’t take too much space and keeps the passport in great shape. It also provides space for passport photos, change and credit cards. What makes it even more special is the personal touch – my name and a meaningful quote chosen by my mum. I can’t deny the fact that I automatically think of her whenever I’m about to cross the border. A personalized passport cover is a very special and useful gift you can give to any traveller!
Click here to find a passport cover.
2 Credit card protective case
Another item travellers should always protect are credit cards! Imagine you lose your card or become victim to credit card theft – this could affect the whole trip. The credit card is more than just a piece of plastic; it’s the lifeline to financial transactions, bookings, and peace of mind. One of my top recommendations for travellers is to have a backup card on hand. But let’s dive even deeper into protecting these plastic companions. Something incredibly useful for any digital nomad and traveller are protective cases for credit cards. The sleeves protect the NFC chips against unauthorised data reading.
Now, you might wonder why this is essential. Well, in the modern world of contactless payments, the credit card’s NFC chip is incredibly convenient. It allows us to make quick, tap-and-go transactions at various merchants. However, it also makes the credit card vulnerable to a particular type of cybercrime called RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) skimming. Thieves equipped with RFID skimming devices can surreptitiously read the data stored on the card’s NFC chip, potentially putting your financial information at risk. That’s where credit card sleeves come to the rescue. These sleeves contain a special lining that blocks these unwanted scans, ensuring that the card’s data remains secure.
Click here to find protective cases for credit cards.
A lightweight daypack is incredibly useful while travelling. But why is that? Well, imagine you are going on a day trip or just want to take a few little things with you. Rather than unpacking the main bag it’s so much easier to carry a few essentials in a lightweight ‘daypack‘. Daypacks can be folded into a tiny ball when not in use. One of the standout features of a daypack is its water-repellent nature. With a daypack, the belongings stay dry and protected despite unexpected weather changes. Despite its lightweight and foldable design, a quality daypack can fit up to 20 liters.
Due to the fact that a daypack is a backpack, it’s much easier to carry compared to a tote bag. Let’s not forget the zipper – it ensures that the belongings won’t spill out unexpectedly. In essence, a daypack is a very useful gift for any digital nomad or traveller.
Click here to find a lightweight daypack.
A padlock is a rather tiny gift but a very valuable game-changer. It can be used to lock the zippers of a backpack (my favourite travel backpack has zippers which can be locked) and is even more important when visiting hostels. Many hostels around the world provide lockers for free but you have to pay extra to rent a padlock. These costs can easily be saved by using a trusted padlock, with its numeric code instead of a key. I always travel with my padlock and needed it countless times! It’s a must have for me when travelling.
Click here to find a secure padlock.
5 Insulated travel water bottle
Travelling with a refillable water bottle is a no brainer, but there are still many travellers who don’t own one yet! More and more hotels as well as airports and bus stations offer free water refills. So, aside from being an eco-friendly choice, it’s also a money-saver! There are certain features which should be considered when buying a water bottle. I used to have a Tupperware plastic water bottle. Due to the heat it started to become a breeding ground for mold that seemed to make itself at home in the plastic. No matter how hard I tried to clean it, I couldn’t get rid of it entirely. I also noticed tiny particles swimming around in the water after a while. No matter what bottle you choose to buy, I highly recommend to only use it for water as juices can lead to mold inside. The perfect travel water bottle should have the following features:
- Insulation to keep the water cold or warm
- Space for at least 750 ml
- A holder and option to put on a carabiner
- Durable material
- BPA free
- Stainless steel
- Leak proof
Click here to find an insulated travel water bottle.
6 Travel adapter
A travel adapter is a must when leaving the home country. You don’t even need to travel far to realize that you can’t use every socket. I mean, the UK and Germany can’t even agree on plugs. This travel adapter can be used around the whole world. It comes with two USB ports which makes it very easy to charge the phone without bringing another plug. It glows while it’s charging. I’ve had the same adapter for years and would buy it again. It’s a bit chunky but I know that I can rely on it and have a lot of socket-flexibility. Some extra advice to pass onto your friend: Always put in the adapter first, then connect your cable to your phone or laptop. It saves you from those little sparks at the socket ruining your device.
Click here to find the perfect travel adapter.
7 Laundry detergent
When travelling certain countries it’s super easy to go to a laundry place for an affordable price. Yet, there are times when it’s easier and cheaper to handwash, especially when it comes to swimwear and underwear (underwear just runs out too quickly). I personally swear on Rei in der Tube, which is a German product. However, it comes in liquid form and depending on the size it can’t be taken in the carry-on luggage. I therefore did some research and found these dry laundry detergent washsheets. Compact, no liquid fuss, and it gets the job done. They can be used both in laundry machines and for hand wash. Super smart!
Click here to find laundry detergernt.
8 Bag compartments
Vacuum bag compartments might seem useless when you first think about them. They are super helpful though to: pack smarter, keep the luggage tidy and more compact. My partner was skeptical about them until he saw the magic in action. Pack all shirts in one bag, all pants in another, and then one bag for the rest. Or you can even distribute your clothing by outfits. The beauty of it is that whenever you need something from your bag, you don’t have to unpack and repack everything. The bags keep all your clothes in place. Due to the vacuum seal they also help to save some space.
Click here to find vacuum bag compartments.
9 Travel notebook
During our travels we are constantly soaking in new experiences, are going through out of comfort moments, making friends, and uncovering layers of ourselves we never knew existed. These moments and experiences deserve to be captured. A travel notebook gives space to document all thoughts while travelling. On top of that one can stick in flight and bus tickets, collect messages from fellow travellers, and just write down or draw everything one wants to remember.
You could either purchase a blank notebook or guided travel journals. The guided journals make the whole writing process a bit easier. I’m personally a fan of blank notebooks but in the end it very much depends on what type of person your friend is! I also found this friends book for all the friends one makes along the journey! In general, a little travel diary is something which will (if taken good care of) last forever. It’s like a little time machine that can transport you back to these memories in a few years.
10 Traveller key chain
A thoughtful way to help your traveller friend keep track of their globetrotting adventures is this Vagabond key chain. It’s not only super useful to hold keys from hotels for example; it’s a personalized collection of memories. Each engraved ring represents a continent, country, or city your friend has explored. You can give this gift a very personal touch by starting off with a ring engraved with a personal message. As they journey through new places, they can add more rings to their collection, creating a unique and personalized accessory. Those engraved travel rings can also be slid onto bracelets or necklaces. A beautiful blend of a gift to remember all travel highlights combined with a personal touch that makes it truly special!
Click here to explore the Vagabond collection.
11 For digital nomads: The Anywhere Desk
For the friend starting the digital nomad lifestyle, here’s a gift that’s a bit of a splurge but could be a game-changer. The Anywhere Desk is a portable office setup that can hitchride with a laptop. It’s a second screen that can easily be attached to all laptop sizes. The screen can rotate, has a built-in kickstand and it’s easy to pack. Starting at only one screen for hours can be draining. With The Anywhere desk your friend can boost productivity and hopefully give their digital nomad career a serious lift. And hey, a productive nomad is a happy nomad, right?
Click here to explore The Anywhere Desk.
Immaterial gifts for digital nomads and travellers
Let’s have a look at immaterial gifts for our digital nomad and traveller friends. These gifts are a great way to express your support and appreciation without adding any weight to their luggage.
12 Workaway membership
Volunteering while traveling makes it possible to experience a country’s culture and people in a genuine way. It’s more than just exploring, it’s about getting a close insight into the daily life and becoming part of it. You get to understand the challenges faced by the local people and the way live works in their country. What makes the experience even more unforgettable is that you not only learn about your surroundings, but you also learn about yourself. In 2023 I completed two volunteer projects in a school in Laos and Cambodia through the platform Workaway. Workaway connects volunteers with over 50,000 volunteer projects around the world. The projects are in areas like social work, animal welfare, farm work and hospitality. Most of the projects offer free accommodation and food in exchange for the volunteer’s efforts. Volunteering while travelling is therefore an amazing way to keep the budget in check.
To fully access the volunteer opportunities on Workaway, a membership is required. So, why not gift a one-year membership to your friend? By doing so, you’re contributing to unforgettable experiences and making it possible for your friend to save money while exploring a foreign land.
Click here to find out more about the gift options for a Workaway membership. The recipient can activate their membership once they receive the present via digital or print-at-home gift card.
13 Travel & medical insurance
Travel insurance is a MUST when travelling. Amidst the excitement of planning a trip, people often forget the associated costs. While there are many different insurances available, I consider the medical insurance as the most important ones. If your friend’s trip is still a distant plan, you could suggest to partly or fully cover their insurance costs. Or how about doing some research for a good travel insurance which covers their valuables? This isn’t merely a financial gift, it’s an investment in your friend’s well-being. Accidents and losses can happen while travelling, and having the right insurance provides financial protection. As insurances can only be purchased by the insured person, it’s best to bring up the topic in advance.
Are you a digital nomad looking for travel medical insurance?
Travel exhaustion can not only be mentally draining but can also affect your physical health. Therefore it’s even more important to have a proper travel medical insurance. Accidents can happen all the time and treatments can get very expensive. SafetyWing* offers an international travel medical insurance which is specifically made for digital nomads, like: long-term travellers, remote workers and traveling freelancers.
What I like most about SafetyWing:
1) You can get insured even though you’ve already started your trip. In Germany almost all insurance companies require you to sign up before leaving the country. Also if your current insurance policy ends and can’t be extended you can get insured through SafetyWing from outside your home country.
2) You don’t need a registered address to get the SafetyWing insurance (only a postal one). This is especially beneficial for digital nomads who are moving around a lot without a constant home. Or if you decide to live in a country which doesn’t offer great insurances you could just use the SafetyWing insurance instead.
*This is an affiliate link, meaning I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link. The price for you doesn’t change! Learn more.
14 Monthly support
If you are really not sure what to give to your friend, consider the beauty of simplicity: monthly money transfers. While some don’t like of giving money directly, from a traveller’s perspective even getting 10 Euros per month can be a delightful indulgence. To elevate this simple gesture, you could add a thematic touch. Instead of a generic money transfer, add a personalized theme that resonates with your friend’s passions. Here are some ideas: ‘Have a nice coffee once a week’ or ‘do something that’s out of your comfort zone’. These themes add a thoughtful and personalized touch to the financial support.
I hope this gift guide could give you some inspiration on what to give to your traveller friends. In the end, always remember that the gesture is the most important thing. I would say that especially for travellers it’s actually not the value or size of the gift that matters most. It’s the support and love that comes with it. And the fact that you’re thinking about your friend.
Are there any other gift ideas you would like to mention? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below! Happy gifting!