Holiday’s 15 Stylish gifts for Travellers

Holiday’s 15 Stylish gifts for Travellers

Every morning when I drive to work, I hear them now, adverts for Black Friday, mixed in with the first Christmassly chimes. It’s time for my gifts for travellers post! My mother decided to spend Christmas  in Spain and is heading off, which gets me thinking about seasonal gifts, especially gifts for travellers in my life. There are tons of gifts for travellers style guides out there already, I won’t lie to you, but this one is different.

Of course it is. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother, right?

Update 2020: As we travel very little right now, I still stand by everything I recommend here. I have updated this post and removed all affiliate links, linking to the manufacturer instead. Remember that there are many other stockists of these gifts except than the big huge ones who profit incessantly while continuing to their aggressive anti-union tactics. 

Do we need another guide with gifts for travellers now?

Firstly, I have seen enough neck pillows, power banks or water bottles. If I needed one of these, I would have bought one already. I would run a mile of given a globe or a scratch map of the world – seriously, friends, does anyone buy these for real? And I wonder how many of the gift guide authors have actually bought and use the things they recommend? Well. I have. These are all things that don’t scream “Traveeel!” when you see them but are really useful.

So, without fail, lets join the annual gifts for travellers round-up! These are all things that I have either bought myself or given as gifts. Most of them cost under 1oo Euro, with most in the 20-40 Euro range.

I didn’t bother with a rehash of last years gift guide, which was focused on quality sustainable products made in Germany. If you want something staunchly and solidly German, feel free to visit my  Sustainable and Stylish German Gift Guide!

Essential gifts for travellers

A Freitag bag and document pouch

I am a big fan of Freitag bags and purses. They are not cheap, but most designs last forever. I have various permutations of their messenger bags, and recently bought a Lassie bag. You can just about squeeze a DSLR and an extra lens plus phone and wallet in. This little bag is, in fact, the most expensive of my gifts for travellers, but I promise that you will get a lot of mileage out of it.

Freitag Lassie messenger bag


When I travel, I also have an A5 Chuck Pouch for my passport and travel documents in my hand luggage. They are super versatile and currently priced at 35 Euro, they don’t break the bank.

Freitag Chuck A5 pouch

A great quality notebook and travel journal

I’ve had the Leuchtturm, and several stationary shop-branded notebooks and I always return to the classic black lined Moleskine Notebook. Its binding and paper are of superior quality, and despite being thinner than Leuchtturm, you have almost no bleeding through pages, and books from about 20 years ago still look good. ANother really great travel diary I discovered this year is the Letts Travel journal. One of the perfect smaller gifts for travellers!

Moleskine Classic Ruled note book


Simple but stylish Clothes for Travelling and Everyday

I am pretty anti-fashion. And I don’t buy a lot of stuff. Some clothes I sew, and I shop very little for fashion. I prefer well made sustainable clothes that still look good after years. I don’t buy clothes just for travelling – okay, I might have a pair of Thai fisherman pants somewhere… but in general, I travel light and I cannot justify to buy a garment just for travelling – they have to look good on my everyday activities, too.

Is there such a thing as the perfect jeans?

If there is any item of clothing that got me excited this year, it is a pair of Mavi Jeans.

Kendra hogh rise straight leg jeans by MAvi

Made in Turkey from material sourced in Turkey, they are of great quality for an incredible price.

I first directed my even more fashion-phobic husband into a large Mavi store in Izmir, and 45 minutes later we emerged with two pairs of jeans and two shirts. I bought some organic denim jeans last year, but they did not stand the test of time very well and needed replacing.  Dropping into a Mavi store in Istanbul, looking longingly at the nice dark denim stacked up, I casually mentioned to the shop assistant, I’d love a dark denim jeans in a big size, belly nicely confined instead of a muffin top, straight leg and no bum crack showing, please.  He decided I needed the “Kendra”. At first, I was sceptical. I am usually too big for most standard size jeans! Then I put them on, and whoa! They looked snug but felt comfy like sweatpants. I bought them. 28 Euro, and yes, that’s full price, not sale.

Gifts for travellers who need smart hard-wearing clothing

Years ago, I bought these Musto Sailing shorts but, sailing primarily in the North Sea, never used them for sailing. So I took them travelling, and hey, they turned out to be the perfect travellings shorts.  They are  a little longer, look very smart, and are indestructible. At a push, they are okay for cycling, too.

Musto Womens shorts

Another travel wardrobe essential is a light, long sleeved Breton shirt. Saint James and Armor-Lux make the best ones.

Saint James Breton shirt

Add some trousers good for everyday wear as well as hiking. I like these prAna trousers – lots of different colours and sizes, as well as ethically made, and not expensive.

prana Halle trousers

Add a smart travel dress

I tend to have at least one mid-length dark colour dress on rotation for slightly smarter wear when I travel. It must be washable, good quality, preferably from organic cotton or viscose, and not make me look like a lump. I had various successes with a German company called Hessnatur, and dresses like this one…. which has sold out in the meantime.

Hessnatur simple smart black dress

A similarly nice dress for travel is this organic cotton one, which I have just snapped up in the sale myself!

All their clothes are organic and ethically made. They have a wide size range, clothes have a good fit, and still look good in larger size.  If you are in Germany,  look out for them – they have retail stores in Frankfurt, HAmburg, Munich and Dusseldorf as well as a large store and outlet in their HQ in Butzbach near Frankfurt.

Swimwear gifts for travellers

I love a one-piece that’s okay for swimming and snorkeling but looks smart. This prAna one-piece with formed cups and underwiring is perfect. Their “Loreley” sun tops are perfect for changing or swimming when more cover-up is required.

prana swim wear

What about men?

I bought some chino trousers from Reyn Spooner (when in Hawaii…)  for my husband on sale on my last US trip in 2016. They’ve stood the test of time and after three years of very frequent wear still look good!  The Breton shirts mentioned above are unisex and so versatile. Haha, looks like I would send men off with even less!

Reyn Spooner chino trousers

And boom, travel wardrobe sorted! I cannot remember the time I ever checked luggage on the plane. Even when I travel for 3 weeks, which, because of my full time job is the longest I can be away, I get a way with a 40l backpack or a carry-on suitcase.

Books inspired by Travelling

I started late in Lightroom, and bought the introductory  Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby. Its a 2018 edition that includes many new functions in Lightroom. Mine is the  German translation. I like the layout and the lessons, but not the fuzzy, jokey writing. I’ll get the English language original next time. I noticed in retrospect it reads much better.

I love a good shop when I travel, but I don’t through stuff away. If you don’t shop wisely, you’ll end up a hoarder, or you buy things you consume. Food makes an excellent holiday souvenir! I try to get a cook book to match it, but this past year I’ve been totally inconsistent in matching my travels with my cookbook choices, Nevertheless… the cook books that really impressed me this year were “Every Grain of Rice” and “Japanese Farm Food”, which I got for Christmas last year. As a vegetarian, I cannot cook all the recipes, but I still prefer “standard” cook books to purely vegetarian ones although I tend to check beforehand that there are enough vegetarian recipes within a book.  I also love “Plenty More”. In fact, any Ottolenghi Cookbook is wonderful, although the long ingredient lists do put me off sometimes and I tend to simplify.

three great cook books


Photography Gifts for travellers

It’s sometimes difficult to give photography-related gifts without knowing the giftees preferences and what camera they use. But every one needs something good to put their camera in!

I recently bought this Manfrotto “NX” backpack. It’s well-priced, durable and doesn’t scream “camera backpack” too much. When I go places where I’m happier with a cross-body bag, I just use one of my Freitag messenger bags with a camera insert .

Manfrotto Camera backpack

To avoid the “slash and grab” theft while using the camera, you can play it extra safe by using this secure camera strap from PacSafe. I make an admission here, because this is a product that I have not bought yet, but it’s actually on my own gift wish list.

PAcsafe camera security strap

Health and Beauty

Anything from Aesop

If money were no object, I would have one of those humongous bottles of shampoo and handwash and almost everything Aesop. I use the Rind Concentrate Body Balm, and it seriously is the best body moisturizer I ever had. . Their own website actually has a pretty good gift guide, too. Except the  Post-Poo drops … I mean… would you give someone a toilet de-odorant ???

Aesop Rind Concentrate Balm

Pestemal – the wonderfully versatile Turkish bath towel

I buy mine only from Jennifers Hamam in Istanbul. They last a century, so you only need one or two. They are more expensive, but the best quality, hand loomed organic cotton with beautiful patterns. I wouldn’t recommend anything else, because I would not buy them. Unfortunately, they do not have a web shop but you can order online, or better, make sure to visit their shop if you ever visit Istanbul.

Travel-friendly and zero-waste toiletries

I’m getting travel toiletries packing to a point where everything is very minimal.

I use Aleppo Soap for washing and shampoo, and you can also wash clothes in it. It keeps skin and hair smooth and moisurized. It doesn’t smell too great, although I like the slightly medicinal “clean” smell which comes from the laurel oil. The solution? Use scented moisturizer or Eau de Toilette in a travel spray. The bars are large and last for ages. You can just cut a small piece off for travel. Look for genuine Aleppo soap from Syria, although there are good quality soaps coming from other Middle Eastern countries and even France.

Aleppo Soap

On my recent trip, I suffered no ill effects from smearing Weleda Skin Food in my face for a fortnight, although I missed my usual moisturizer. Unless your skin is oily, its perfect!

Weleda Skin Food Creme


So… off I go and dream of my next trip! These are al pretty much travel essentials that go into my suitcase or travel back with me as holiday souvenirs. Is there anything that you cannot live without when you travel?  H

Happy gifting! And don’t forget to get a gift to yourself, too 🙂


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