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holiday gift guide

Our 2023 Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Gifts for Travelers

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Travel is coming back – and bigger than ever! And there's no question that gadgets, accessories and other travel must-haves will be at the top of holiday wishlists this year.

Stressing over what to buy your jet-setting friends or globetrotting family members this holiday season? Don't worry, we got you.

Behold, our annual Holiday Gift Guide. We've rounded up our favorite travel gear, technology, and wanderlust-worthy gifts for travelers that will improve anyone's adventures. Gift the gift of better travel at any price point with these favorites, spanning from under $10 to $399.

We've tried almost every single product below – and in many cases, we use them on each trip we take. We've divvied up our master shopping list into these categories:

Keep in mind that prices and availability may change slightly over time! All deals and prices are current as of publication.


Give the Gift of Travel: Cheap Flight Alerts

We saved the best for first.

Sure, you could give your favorite travel companion some luggage or travel gear this year. But why not give the travelers in your life the gift of cheap travels next year with Thrifty Traveler Premium, our flight deal alert service?

We'll send them alerts for the cheapest domestic and international fares for 2024 and beyond straight to their inbox – with up to $250 or much more off normal prices on each and every flight! It's the gift that keeps on giving and the best way to travel more for even less.

With our Thrifty Traveler Gift Cards, you can gift your favorite traveler a full year of cheap flight alerts. That includes dirt-cheap domestic and international deals, discounted business class tickets, and even award alerts to use your points and miles – from 200-plus U.S. and Canadian airports!

Attention, current Thrifty Traveler Premium members: You'll get a $10 toward your next renewal for each gift card you purchase! 

You can either schedule an email to send their gift automatically or print out a code for them to enter when you're ready for the big reveal! Click the image below so you can print something out for a card or stocking!


tt promo code gift


Luggage, Bags & Gear for the Frequent Flyer

Away Carry-On Luggage

Nearly every member of the Thrifty Traveler team is a proud owner of an Away carry-on bag. Away luggage is sleek, durable and functional. It comes with a built-in battery to keep your phone and other devices charged. These carry-ons have an unbreakable polycarbonate shell, a TSA-approved combination lock, and a hidden laundry bag.

Pick from the Carry-On, the Bigger Carry-On, the Expandable Bigger Carry-On, and more. Select from several classic and sleek limited edition colors. My personal favorite bag – the Away Carry-On Flex with an expander – is even on sale in select colors for just $260.

Away allows you to test the piece for up to 100 days with a money-back guarantee. And best of all, the bags have a lifetime warranty. If you're looking for a big-ticket item for a loved one this year, make it an Away bag!


A close up of a suitcase
Photo courtesy of Away


Buy one from Away from $275

Calpak Ambeur Carry-On Luggage

Calpak may not have the same explosive brand power as Away, but their luggage is just as stylish and sturdy. The internal organizing system is perfect for any trip, the wheels glide like butter, and the four aluminum corners on the suitcase make it look far more pricey than its actual cost. The Ambeur carry-on comes in five colors: Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black, and a special Copper edition.


calpak carry on
Photo courtesy of Calpak


Buy it from Calpak for $195

Delsey Aero 25” Expandable Rolling Luggage

We encourage all travelers to fly with just a carry-on bag, but sometimes you just need some checked luggage. The Aero 25” Expandable Roller is made from 100% polycarbonate which makes it lightweight yet durable. Within the suitcase, there are two full packing compartments with a handy divider to avoid your items moving around. There are also tie-down straps and a smaller pocket for safe storage of your accessories.

This is the only checked bag my wife and I ever use, and it's held up great through a few transatlantic trips. Best of all, it's currently on sale on Amazon for just $145 and change.


Gifts for Travelers
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon from $145


eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Backpack

Looking for a backpack that can fit a week's worth of travel necessities, but doesn't look it? This backpack can do it all: pack a ton while carrying with ease (and maybe can even sneak through as a personal item!)

If you prefer to travel with a backpack and don't need a three-month backpacking behemoth, this is a perfect fit. For a smaller (and slightly cheaper) version, get the Mother Lode Junior.


eBags backpack
Photo courtesy of eBags


Buy it on eBags for $80


eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

This bag is officially Thrifty Traveler approved! Many members of our team use it for work and travel.

It’s got a dedicated sleeve for a laptop, another spot for a tablet, and room for whatever clothes or accessories you need. A zip-up front flap is perfect for your passport, paperwork, pen, and anything you can imagine. We've even used it as a weekend bag in a pinch. All this in a compact bag that can fit underneath the plane seat in front of you.


Gifts for Travelers
Photo courtesy of eBags


Buy it on eBags for $60


eBags Classic Packing Cubes

Once you use packing cubes, you never go back. This set of six packing cubes from eBags are the perfect way for travelers to stay organized without adding bulk or weight.

Enter promo code EXTRA10 at checkout to save 10%!


ebags packing cubes
Photo courtesy of eBags


Buy them on eBags from $17.10


Away Packable Backpack

Our co-founder Nick swears by this bag. Sure, you've got your luggage and a personal item, but a daypack will come in handy for hiking, day trips, and exploring.

This chic-looking daypack can fit everything you need for a day trip, but easily folds into a small pouch for when you don't need it. It's available in four colors: Black, Navy Blue, Pacific Blue, and Teal.


away backpack
Photo courtesy of Away


Buy it on Away for $60


4monster Packable Daypack

This packable bag from 4monster is another perfect way to bring the necessities without weighing you down at a much cheaper price point.

This 4monster Packable DayPack is made of some magical, stretchy and water-resistant fabric that is up for any job. But the best part is that it folds into itself, stuffing into a tiny, fist-sized pouch. That means you or your favorite traveler can throw it into your luggage and break it out only when you need it. It’s available in two sizes and many colors.


travel backpack
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon from $18.99

BagSmart Electronics Cable Organizer

Nothing clutters up luggage quite like a tangled mess of cords. This bag is the perfect stocking stuffer and helps travelers keep their electronic chargers and cords organized. It comes in five colors and can hold just about any cord, battery or electronic accessory you can think of. 


Gifts for Travelers
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $18.99

Electronics & Gadgets for Techy Travelers

4 Pack of Apple AirTags for $79

Concerned about your luggage getting lost? Apple AirTags are a must-have travel accessory, and they're on sale for Black Friday!

You can buy a four-pack of AirTags for $86.88 – down from the $99.99 list price. Give all four to your favorite, forgetful traveler, or throw each one in a stocking for the family.


apple airtags


Buy them on Amazon for $86.88 


Anker PowerCore Ultra Slim Portable Charger

Talk to any frequent traveler, and odds are they have an Anker portable charger – or need one. Anker portable chargers are a lifesaver and a mainstay in all of our backpacks. This model will provide 2.25 charges for iPhone 12, 1.6 full charges for Galaxy S20, and 1.2 charges for iPad mini 5 before it needs to be recharged.

Be sure to click the 30% off coupon before adding it to your cart to save even more!


portable charger
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $16.78


Anker USB-C Charger

Want to charge your phone or tablet freaky fast? Our team swears by these Anker USB-C Charger plugs, which live up to the hype: They can get you to a 50% charge in under a half-hour – three times faster than your typical charger. Just keep in mind you'll need your own USB-C cord.

Be sure to click the coupon before adding it to your cart to get another 15% off!


anker charger
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $11.89


Kindle Paperwhite

Even book lovers have to admit it’s not always practical to schlep around books in your suitcase. The Kindle is the perfect solution. And the Paperwhite is the best, as the adjustable backlight allows you to read in any condition. This version is waterproof and comes with at least 8GB of storage. 


amazon kindle
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $139.99


Apple AirPods Pro

AirPods will definitely be one of the big items under the tree this year, and it's likely the traveler in your life wants some … bad.

These second-generation AirPod Pros for just $189.99 feature newer noise-canceling to make tuning out during travels a breeze. A few TT team members have these and swear by them!


Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy them on Amazon from $189.99

AirPods Case That Looks Like a Suitcase

This is just fun. Check out the Rimowa luggage-inspired Koreda suitcase design Airpods case cover. The case comes complete with a set of luggage stickers to help you personalize your case as well.


airpods luggage case cover
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $13.99 


Bose QC45 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

There’s simply no better travel accessory than a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. And for over-ear headphones, nobody does it better than Bose. These are perfect to shut out the world – and drown out engine noise – during a long-haul flight. At nearly $300, they're not cheap. But what a gift this would be for the favorite traveler in your life. 


bose headphones
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy them on Amazon for $299.00


Bluetooth Transmitter for Wireless Headphones

Want to use those new Bluetooth headphones on the plane? Here’s the solution. Twelve South's AirFly Pro will allow you to connect up to two Bluetooth headphones to the seatback entertainment.

airfly pro
Photo courtesy of Amazon

Buy it on Amazon from $54.99


Bose Soundlink Micro Bluetooth Speaker

This great little Bluetooth speaker is perfect for travel. It's fully waterproof with a rugged exterior that resists dents, cracks, and scratches.

That makes it the perfect speaker to throw in your bag for a day at the beach or at the pool. Oh yeah, and it sounds great, too!


Gifts for Travelers
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $99.00

EPICKA Universal Power Travel Adapter

Long gone are the days when you needed a four-piece system to stay plugged in across the globe. There are plenty of single-unit options that allow you to charge your devices no matter where you rest your head. Our favorite is the EPICKA Universal Power Travel adapter, a compact cube that offers not just a power port, but four USB ports as well – plus even a fast-charging USB-C slot.

Unless if you’re traveling with heavy-duty electronics, this can be the one-and-done solution for staying powered up on international travels. It's the one I have in my bag at all times.


epicka charger
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon from $22.98

Family Travel Essentials

Pockit Lightweight Stroller

Preparing someone for the wild world of family travel?

What better way to show the new parents in your life that their days of travel don’t need to be over than giving them this ultra-compact stroller? Thrifty Traveler co-founder and girl-dad Nick Serati uses this one and swears by it.


Gifts for Travelers
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $139.99


J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Padded Car Seat Travel Bag

Here's another favorite for the traveling parents out there. It’s no breeze bringing a car seat with on your travels, but this bag makes it easier. When it comes time to haul the seat around or check it, this bag is a lifesaver.


Gifts for Travelers
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $39.99


Apple iPad

You can never count on having movies to watch on your flight. As more and more airlines are pulling seatback entertainment out of their planes, it pays to bring your own device.

Snag an iPad for $399 for a 64GB model. That should be plenty to save a few shows or movies on Netflix to watch during your next trip. Traveling with kids? Get them an easy-to-carry case (pictured) and provide hours of entertainment on travel days.


Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon starting at $399.99


Must-Haves for the Adventurer

Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker

Okay, this is a fun one! Get the most packable little espresso maker for that loved one on the go.

This is perfect for campers and off-the-grid travelers who love their morning routine. No battery or plug-in needed: this bad boy is manually operated! Yes, you can expect a hot shot with a crema top from it. This hot new item is sure to wow your gift recipient!


gift guide
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Get it on Amazon for $69.90


Xenvo SquidGrip Flexible Tripod

You don't need to be a professional to put this gadget to use! Use this tripod to mount any iPhone, Android, Samsung, Pixel, Huawei phone or GoPro for the best shot.

Mold these strange-looking but oddly-effective textured gripping legs into any formation you need: stand them straight, bend them into octopus tentacles, wrap them around a chair or a tree. There are no limits to the angles you can get! This is the perfect gift for the unofficial travel photographer in your group.


xenvo tripod
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $39.99


Our Favorite Trip Accessories

TRTL Travel Pillow

This goofy travel pillow might look more like a turtleneck or neck brace, but it’s truly a godsend. There’s no better way to help someone survive a long flight in economy than this travel pillow, which the Thrifty Traveler team swears by. In our minds, no other travel pillow comes even close.


Best Travel Gear and Accessories
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $59.99


Huzi Infinity Travel Pillow

Not everyone can get behind the Trtl trend. Another go-to travel pillow is actually this infinity pillow. It's made of bamboo fabric that somehow stays cool and fresh even when it's a bit too warm on the plane. You can finagle this loop pillow into so many configurations: figure eight for your arms, double up for a supportive neck pillow, around the ears to cancel out noise, and more. Unlike most other travel pillows, you can support your arms with it. Oh, and it's machine washable!

Some travelers I know are hooked on this pillow. Trust me: It won't disappoint!


A woman with Travel Pillow
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $44.99


Collapsible Travel Water Bottle

Just because you can't get water through airport security doesn't mean your reusable water bottle should stay at home. This versatile travel water bottle scrunches up into a fraction of the size. Help the traveler in your life save on space and stay hydrated without purchasing single-use plastic bottles. This 20-ounce silicone bottle come is several different colors.

Be sure to click the coupon before adding it to your cart to save $3!


gift guide
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $9.99


GoToob Reusable 3.4-oz Bottles

Never have a bottle of shampoo or body wash leak in a bag again. I've got these and will never go back to those cheap 99-cent ones. Rather than hard plastic that cracks, these rubbery silicon toiletry tubes will withstand whatever you throw at them. Plus, these 3oz bottles are well under the TSA carry-on requirements, so you’ll be set.


Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy a set on Amazon from $25.17

Travel Pill Case

Whether you’ve got prescriptions to bring on the road or just want to be prepared with a mini-emergency kit of painkillers and antacid, you shouldn’t be bringing full medicine bottles on your trip. These travel cases are perfect because they're compact yet have 10 separate compartments to store your pills.


travel pill container
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon for $6.97


WiseOwl Travel Towel

Packing a full-size towel is a traveling sin. Your favorite traveler needs a compact microfiber towel instead … or a few of them. 

This three-piece set of microfiber towels from OlimpiaFit rolls up into a single, hand-size pouch – but will dry you off like the plushest hotel towel you’ve ever used. Plus, these travel towels dry fast, too. There's a body towel, a hair towel, and a face towel in this set. 

It’s the perfect solution for travel when you can’t count on having a towel readily available, like camping and impromptu trips to the beach. Some colors have a 10% coupon via Amazon.


pack towel
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon starting at $15.29


Mack’s Ultra Soft Earplugs

A good pair of earplugs is a must for any long-haul flight. Planes are loud, neighbors can be louder. But not all earplugs are created equal.

We’ve found none better than the Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, which are insanely comfortable while remaining effective at cutting out excess noise. A container of 50 will last any traveler a while. I always bring a few pairs for my flights and hotel or Airbnb stays – you never know when you'll need them!


Gifts for Travelers
Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy them on Amazon for $14.99


JOTO Waterproof Underwater Phone Case

Your travel buddy will thank you for saving him or her from having to buy a new cell phone. This pouch from JOTO comes in several colors and seals watertight. You can even take underwater photos and videos with this case: it's that good. Perfect for the clumsy friend in your life with some wanderlust and a beach, pool, or boat in their future.


Photo courtesy of Amazon


Buy it on Amazon starting at $8.99

Memberships & Experiences

TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

Tired of waiting for your travel buddy on the other side of security? Or just want to improve the airport experience for a loved one?

There's truly no better gift than speeding through airport security. And while there's no “formal” way to gift this, you could offer to pay for a loved one's TSA PreCheck for $78 or Global Entry for $100 (which includes PreCheck) for a five-year membership. Or better yet, use one of your travel rewards credit card perks for it and don't pay a dime! Here's how to use your credit on someone else.

This gift keeps on giving for years! Once you've got PreCheck or Global Entry, it's good for five years.



Have a frequent traveler that's already got Global Entry or PreCheck, and want to make their airport time even smoother? Get them a year of CLEAR® Plus to speed through airport security!

It's much more spendy at $189 a year and isn't available in as many airports, but can be a huge time-saver when paired with PreCheck. Plus, there's an easy way to drop that cost to just $179: Anyone with a United MileagePlus or Delta SkyMiles account can get that price!


clear price increase 

Read our full review of CLEAR!


Airline & Airbnb Gift Cards

If you know someone in your life is planning a big trip in the coming year, there's no better gift than to contribute to those travel costs. If you know what airline they plan to – or always – fly, an airline gift card can be a welcome surprise for the holidays. Or, send them an Airbnb gift card for a trip or staycation!

Not only are gift cards easy and always in stock (no shipping delays here!), but they can help you meet a minimum spend requirement on a new travel credit card, too.


Airbnb Experience

If you have a trip coming up with a partner, family or friends, why not surprise them with a fun excursion? Airbnb Experiences are a great way to book a day trip, tour, and pretty much any activity you can imagine in your destination. They've got everything from walking tours to tea tastings to cliff jumping.

Apart for the holidays this year? Come together for a cooking class, magic show, or cocktail making class on Airbnb Online Experiences. It's a great way to learn something new, support hosts worldwide, and get together even if you're physically apart.

Thrifty Tip: Charge your Airbnb experience to a Capital One card like the *venture x*, then go back and use your Venture Miles to cover the purchase!


Memorabilia & Stocking Stuffers for Your Travel Buddy

A Travel Photobook

Travel memories are priceless. Give your travel buddy a lifetime's worth with a custom-made photo book from a service like Mixbook or Artifact Uprising. Both services say your gift should arrive in time for Christmas so long as you submit your order by Dec. 14 – maybe even a few days later, depending on which kind of book you're ordering.

artifact uprising book
Photo courtesy of Artifact Uprising

Order yours via Mixbook or Artifact Uprising!


Personalized Adventure Map Print

How stunning is this?! There's no better way to memorialize an epic trip (and remember it) than a thoughtful, personalized map print like this. Pick 3-8 maps to include, and your “mountains” will be on display as a memory of that adventure! Perfect for your favorite travel buddy.

map print
Photo courtesy of Etsy

Order it on Etsy from $34

Carry-On Cocktail Kits

Some people just need a stiff drink at 35,000 feet. These cocktail kits help travelers make it a good one. From a simple Gin and Tonic to an Old Fashioned and even a Bloody Mary, these little kits make the perfect stocking stuffer for travelers.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Buy them on Amazon starting at $9.50


5 Pairs of Sushi Socks

Yes, you read that right: Sushi socks! This pack of sushi is actually five pairs of socks. If your loved one is missing Japan – and sushi trains – this year, this is a must-get.

sushi socks
Photo courtesy of Amazon

Buy it on Amazon for $24.99


Anywhere Travel Guide Cards

These travel cards are the cutest way to enhance a fellow traveler's next trip! Pull out a card during your travels and do or ponder what the prompt suggests. Step outside your typical travel ways and make lasting memories with these fun and thought-provoking suggestions.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Buy it on Amazon for $12.95

City Map Coasters

Celebrate your favorite city with these impeccably designed coasters. Each set of coasters is made of Sapele wood. Pick from hundreds of cities around the country and the world. From Montreal to Moscow, there are plenty of cities to choose from!

city map coaster
Photo courtesy of Etsy

Buy them on Etsy from $23.90


World Bucket List Scratch-Off Print

Which U.S. cities, national parks, or global destinations have you crossed off your bucket list? This hands-on activity will have the fellow travel-lover in your life “itching” to scratch off the next one in 2024. Make this a couples or family bucket list!

scratch off
Photo courtesy of Etsy

Buy on Etsy starting from $37.80


Airport Map Wall Art

There are plenty of airport map manufacturers out there, but these from Etsy are our favorite. Whether it’s a home base or a favorite destination, help the traveler in your life commemorate their favorite airport. There are multiple sizes and several dozen airports in the U.S. and abroad to choose from.

Gifts for Travelers
Photo courtesy of Etsy

Buy them on Etsy starting at $15


Bottom Line

Get the traveler in your life these fun travel essentials for the holidays. What travel gifts are at the top of your wish list this year? We want to know!


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

2 Responses

  • Great list! I’m having trouble getting the discount when using the referral link for the first item (Away Carry On Luggage.) The price shows $225 on the product page and in the cart. Am I doing something wrong?

  • I purchased two of your recommended items: the 4monster Packable Daypack and the Wise Owl towels for our trip to Maui. Worth every penny! I used the backpack daily and it was so lightweight I often forgot I had it on. And the towel–perfect to carry in the backpack everywhere! It made quick stops to put our feet in the ocean easy! You earned a ton of credibility with these to recs! Just stopped back to look at your other recommendations! Thank you!

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