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15 Useful Gifts for FIRST-TIME Travelers [2020]

Looking for travel gifts for first time travelers?

You’re in luck!

If your loved one is about to take their first adventure overseas, there’s a BUNCH of new gear they’ll need. That means plenty of gift ideas for you!

When I set off on my first adventure, I went CRAZY ordering stuff on Amazon (a little bit too crazy…at the last minute, I realized only half of it fit in my backpack 😳).

If you’re able to squeeze in your gift before your aspiring traveler goes on their own shopping spree, you’re golden.

In this list, you’ll find all the essentials that ALL first time travelers will need. If you choose one of these items, you can be sure it’ll be something they’ll use on a regular basis!

Can’t find what you’re looking for on this list? Never fear! I’ve got TONS more travel gift ideas for you right here.

Pin these ideas for later ⬇

open suitcase on the floor with text overlay 15 cool gifts for first time travelers

#1.) The Nomatic Travel Backpack

Nomatic travel backpack

If your travel rookie is planning on traveling light with just a carry-on bag, this is hands down the bag they’ll want to use. 

Nomatic is a company obsessed with making the “perfect travel backpack”. Check out this video to see what I mean.

They’ve literally thought of everything!

#2.) Osprey Farpoint 70 Backpack

While the Nomatic bag is probably the best travel bag out there, they don’t offer anything larger than carry-on size.

So if your traveler needs more space (most do), I recommend the Osprey Farpoint 70 backpack.

A high-quality backpack is a long-term traveler’s best friend. It’s literally their “house” and needs to be strong enough to take endless beatings. (Imagine lugging a heavy load around the world with a broken strap…not fun).

I personally use the old version of the Osprey Farpoint 70, and over the past 4 years of rough use, it has proven virtually indestructible.

#3.) Shacke Pak Packing Cubes

Traveling without packing cubes can be an organizational nightmare. It’s one of the biggest rookie packing mistakes.

If you’re looking for a great gift for someone traveling abroad, especially if that someone has never done a big trip before—these packing cubes will save them loads of frustration and headaches.

#4.) Eagle Creek COMPRESSION Packing Cubes

An alternative to the traditional Shacke packing cubes above are the new Eagle Creek COMPRESSION packing cubes.

I have yet to test these out myself, but from the looks of it, they’re like packing cubes on steroids.

Not only do you get the organization of regular packing cubes, but now you can compress everything down to save space in your bag…brilliant!

#5.) eBags Pack-it-Flat Hanging Toiletry Kit

A toiletry bag might not seem like a very unique travel gift…but the key here is HANGING toiletry bag.

This will make your traveler’s life so much easier. 

When I first started traveling, I had a regular non-hanging bag, and let me tell you…it sucked!

Turns out, many bathrooms have nowhere to set your bathroom stuff. So unless you want to set your toothbrush on the grimy floor, you have to set it in the wet sink…or balance it on your knee…or tuck it under your chin. You might think I’m exaggerating, but the struggle was real!

After I bought a hanging toiletry bag, everything changed. As long as the bathroom has a doorknob, towel holder, or shower rod—you have somewhere to put your stuff. (Plus it’s super slim and easy to pack!)

#6.) EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter

If you need a good gift for someone traveling abroad for the first time, a universal travel adapter is a great option.

Many newbie travelers forget about the fact that other countries use different types of outlets. Without an adaptor, they won’t be able to charge anything! 

A basic universal adaptor would make a so-so gift, but most only let you charge one device at a time – not very practical.

That’s why I recommend the EPICKA Travel Adapter, which has 4 USB and 1 USB-C charging slots, all in one compact adapter.

#7.) Quick Dry Microfiber Towel

Do not let your rookie traveler leave home without one of these towels. Seriously, DON’T DO IT!

If you haven’t traveled much, you won’t appreciate the difference between a regular towel and a microfiber travel towel. But trust me, the difference is huge. 

A good microfiber towel packs down to half the size of a normal towel, dries 10x faster, and takes longer to start smelling like butt.

To choose the perfect microfiber towel, you need to think about size. Small towels are nice because they don’t take up much space in your bag. Big towels dry you better and are great for the beach.

For me, XL is the perfect size (30 x 60 inches). Not too small, not too big.

#8.) Passport Holder

When traveling abroad, your passport is your life. It’s not something you just throw in your bag willy-nilly. It needs to be protected from both physical elements, as well as digital thieves.

That’s why a passport holder is a great gift idea for someone going traveling for the first time. There are tons of different designs and styles., so you might want to poke around Amazon to see which your traveler would like best. 

I personally prefer compact passport holders (like this one) that are easy to fit in my pocket.

Whichever you choose, make sure it has RFID-Blocking technology so hackers can’t scrape the data embedded in your passport and steal your identity.

#9.) Osprey Packs Daylite Plus

If your traveler’s main bag doesn’t have a detachable day pack (like the Osprey Farpoint 70 recommend above), they’ll need a separate day pack.

This is the backpack they carry around site seeing (while their bigger bag is stored in their accommodation). 

The Osprey Packs Daylite Plus is one of the best day packs on the market—a useful travel gift your little explorer is sure to love.

#10.) Travel Laundry Sacks

Your traveler is going to need a way to separate clean clothes from dirty clothes within their backpack/luggage. 

The best way to do this is with a dedicated laundry sack designed to prevent dirty clothes rank from seeping out into the “clean area” of their bag. 

Friends don’t let friends travel wearing ranky clothes. So if you need a great gift for friends going traveling, this is it.

#11.) Money Belt

While I think there are definitely better ways to hide your money while traveling (which I’ve scattered all throughout this list), a classic money belt is a travel staple that is bound to come in handy. 

This one sports RFID-blocking technology, is water-repellant, and has a few extra pockets to help keep things organized.

#12.) Hydration Fanny Pack

I used to think fanny packs were just for fashion-challenged dads visiting Disneyland with their family.

Boy was I wrong.

These things are AWESOME. They totally transformed the way I traveled, and now I recommend EVERY new traveler use them.

They let you whiz through airports with all documents organized (and are basically like a free extra piece of luggage).

They’re perfect for carrying essentials when you don’t want to lug around a big backpack.

And best of all, thanks to me (and other savvy travelers), the style is catching on—now it’s uncool to NOT be wearing one of these 😎

#13.) Lonely Planet Travel Guide

A lonely planet travel guide—one of the best gifts for travelers—sitting on  a table overlooking Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

With the internet giving us instant access to anything we want to know, physical travel guides are becoming less and less popular.

That said, there’s something romantic about putting the phone away and following a good ‘ol travel guide. 

#14.) Pocket Language Dictionary

Yes, there is an app for that. You can look up anything you want to know on your phone. 

But when traveling, there are many times when pulling your expensive smartphone out isn’t the best idea.

A handy pocket dictionary will help your traveler pick up the local language whenever their phone isn’t available. 

#15.) Leather Travel Journal

My travel journal is hands-down one of my most prized possessions. 

I’ve carefully recorded all of my favorite travel memories, and one of my favorite things to do is sit back with a beer, crack open the journal, and relive those memories. 

That said, it wouldn’t be the same if it were written in a normal notebook. The feel of a high-quality leather journal in your hands makes the experience more magical. (Make sure to pair this cool travel gift with a waterproof pen).

Gifts for First Time Travelers Recap

If I were about to leave on my first trip, these are the exact items I would have LOVED as gifts. (Unfortunately, my b-day had passed, and I had to scrape together money to buy it all myself…)

Many of the items I bought on this list I still use today, 5 years later, almost every day.

That means if you choose something from this list, you can be sure your loved one think of you during their adventures around the world for many years to come.

And that’s the whole idea, right? 😉

Need even more gift ideas? We’ve got ya covered. Choose the type of traveler you’re shopping for below:

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Want to learn how you can afford to travel forever?

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