Let’s face it: Travelers are a pretty unique species, and regular gifts like shopping vouchers, household items, decoration pieces et al just won’t float. In fact, the best gifts for travelers are simple, practical things, that could enable traveling. Or make it easier. Or safer. Or contribute towards their efforts to travel more responsibly. Take these unique gift ideas for all budgets, and impress your traveler friend with your thoughtfulness!
1. A Weekend Getaway.
Who wouldn’t love you for gifting them a free holiday? Almost every kind of accommodation (including those on India Untravelled) offers gift certificates these days, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Scroll through TripAdvisor (or booking.com, depending on the country you’re looking at), and find a cosy home stay or boutique hotel at a place close to where the recipient is based. Your gift not only offers the convenience of flexible dates, but has the potential of developing into memories that’ll be treasured for a long time.
The best part is that this gift idea applies very well even to people who don’t travel much at all. I’ve gifted a weekend getaway on two separate weddings, to brides and grooms who weren’t setting off on their honeymoon right after the wedding. Needless to say, they loved it.
2. Travel Booking Vouchers.
If researching or booking a weekend getaway for someone else is a tad too much, or if you’re pressed for time, buy a gift certificate for a travel booking site instead – aggregators like Expedia or Goibibo are excellent options. It’s like giving cash, but better. Cash tends gets used up in general expenses without much thought. But a booking voucher used to book a memorable trip will always be linked back to you. Again, you don’t have to go overboard in terms of expenses; scope out your budget and let the recipient top up the rest.
3. An Exotic Souvenir From Your Own Travels.
Depending on how well you know a person or how much richer than you they might be, you might not feel completely comfortable giving them a gift that has an absolute value attached to it (just like cash). So, what’s the next best thing to gifting someone a trip to an exotic destination? Getting them a little piece of it. If you happen to find something exotic (and rarely available where the recipient lives) on your travels, buy it. Or better still, make a note of it and find out if it can be delivered when the need arises. Your thoughtfulness is bound to touch the traveler on the receiving end.
I found myself in such a situation recently, where the people in question could afford to travel way more luxuriously than anything I could afford. So I racked my brains, and got in touch with a family I met in Assam, who are the first (and probably the only ones in India) to make beautiful lamps out of rhino and elephant dung! No trees cut, no paper used, and no, they don’t smell. I’d like to think the gift was quite a hit.
4. The Steripen.
A magic stick, as someone recently referred to it on Twitter, the Steripen might be technology’s biggest contribution to individual travellers who aspire to travel more responsibly. It mirrors the technology employed by countries like Singapore to purify drinking water, and makes it available in the form of a tiny, portable stick that can be recharged via a USB port. That means you can fill water from a waterfall or a river or a tap anywhere in the world, and treat it within seconds to make it safe for drinking. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:
Steripen’s distribution network is extensive, and a simple Google search can reveal if other stores in your country carry or ship it. I’ve recently become the proud owner of one; it was a self-chosen gift, and I can’t wait to take it on my travels.
5. A Social Good Gift Certificate.
Any traveller knows that the world is an unfair place. There are people all over the world who have access to less opportunities, purely by virtue of where they are born. And there’s only so much an individual can do to change that. On what is obviously a special occasion for the recipient, gift an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.
I recently gifted a gift certificate for Milaap, a platform for making micro loans to rural entrepreneurs in India. The certificate comes with a redeemable code, and the recipient can choose a borrower of their choice to make the loan to. If the code isn’t used in three months, the money is loaned out automatically by the system. Unless the money is withdrawn from Milaap upon repayment of the loan, it is automatically loaned out to another borrower; that makes it a lifelong gift, essentially. Depending on which country your recipient is in, you could opt for a similar gift through Kiva, the pioneer in micro entrepreneurship globally.
Your turn, what do you think are the best gifts for travellers?
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I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.