These practical gifts for someone going traveling are some of the most valuable items you can pack for a trip.

If you’re new to the packing cubes club, your life is about to change. 

Packing cubes do 2 major things for travelers: they create more space in your bag, and they keep things organized. 

How packing cubes create more space: You place (or stuff) your clothes into the packing cubes, zip the cube closed, and then zip shut the exterior zipper that squishes everything together. 

How they keep things organized: packing cubes create balance in an otherwise chaotic existence. It may sound dramatic, but your luggage becomes your home when you travel, and your home needs to not be a heap of clothes. 

I organize my packing cubes this way: 

  • small cube: socks, underwear and bras 
  • medium cube: things I don’t wear every day, but still need (like my warmest layers, a dress, etc.)
  • big cube: my daily closet 

These packing cubes by Well Traveled are made with the road in mind. They save space in your bag, keep things organized, and are made from water-resistant and rip-stopping fabric. 

While we’re already on the subject of water.. who would like to avoid getting soaked to their socks if possible? *raises hand*

This specific rain coat is super practical:

  • This jacket zips up, rather than pulling over your head, so you can air yourself out a bit if things are getting sweaty
  • There are 2 waterproof pockets, perfect for your phone
  • The whole jacket packs up super compact, and comes with it’s own perfectly-sized stuff sack to store it in
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Getting soaked in a downpour, in a “raincoat” that was NOT in fact WATER proof at all. Costa Rica, 2017

If you’re not sure what size to buy, I recommend choosing a bigger size rather than a lower size. Depending on the weather, you may have layers on underneath and extra room is always better than not enough.

Women’s Waterproof, Packable, Lightweight Rain Jacket with Hood on Amazon

8. Tips to help you travel cheaper, longer and smarter

“How to Travel the World on $50 a Day” is brought to us by Matt Kepnes, or better known as travel blogging icon Nomadic Matt. He’s a legend in the travel blogging community for a reason – he traveled and lived nomadically for an entire decade. 

In his New York Times bestselling book, he shares his wealth of knowledge of budget travel and how to travel cheaper, longer and smarter. 

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day by Nomadic Matt on Amazon

9. Double-sided cable lock

No traveler is ready for adventure without a lock. When I go traveling, I actually take two. You can read all about my super-preparedness routine (all my security tips and tricks) in this blog post: 2 Tips For Securing Your Backpack.

If you’re only buying one lock, I recommend a double-sided cable lock. It’s the more diverse of the 2 locks. This gift for someone going traveling is really the gift of peace of mind.


The just in case things you should take traveling_travel preparedness_Writing From Nowhere

Use the shorter loop to secure the zipper pulls of your backpack together so that the bag can’t be opened up. A standard combination lock doesn’t always work for this – sometimes the metal shackle is too big to fit through the zipper pulls.

Next, lock the longer cable loop through a stationary object, making it impossible for your bag to be picked up and walked off with. On a bus or train ride, this could be the seat or the luggage rack. I’ve locked my bag to a fence while going swimming in the ocean.

Lewis N Clark Triple Security Lock on Amazon

10. Personal alarm SOS device

This is a small personal safety device, kind of like a small-scale car alarm. You pull the bottom piece off from the anchor point, and a 130-decibel alarm sounds until the two pieces are put back together. 

diagram showing how a sound grenade works

Aside from attracting attention in the event of a crime, this could also be helpful if you have an encounter with an unwanted animal. I’ve never tested it with an animal, but I’ve had my SOS device in my hand when I’ve had encounters with bears and stay dogs. I’ve never needed to use it, but it was a relief to have something. 

When it’s pulled outdoors, it’s not ear-piercing but it’s still loud and surprising, and draws attention. When pulled indoors, it’s much louder and actually hurts my ears. 

130dB Personal SOS Device Sound Alarm on Amazon

11. Multipurpose headband with SPF

There were so many times I wished I had a headband like this while I was traveling through Central America.

The most common culprit: long bus rides where every window on the bus was left open. This was pretty much every bus ride. Even if I had my hair tied back, strands of hair would still always come loose and end up wound together like ramen noodles. 

That’s when I swore I would travel again without a headband. This headband from Tough gets a gold star because it’s multipurpose. It can cover the head, hair and neck in 12 different ways.  

I’m not sure what’s more exciting: the word “multipurpose,” the SPF to keep adventures from turning ugly (and peel-y), or the fact that this is essentially weightless in your pack.

This practical gift for someone going traveling gets 3 thumbs up (and comes in a bunch of cute patterns, not just bank-robber black).

Tough Headband 12-in-1 SPF 30 – Ultimate Protection from Sunburn & Dust on Amazon

12. SteriPen Ultra

This practical gift idea for travelers is ALSO a gift for the environment. The SteriPen is a UV water sanitizer that makes water safe to drink with the click of a button.

SteriPen has been gracing the packs of travelers for years, so you’ll see lots of models available.


This specific model is one of the best gifts for someone going traveling: it’s recharged via UBS instead of disposable batteries. This makes it more convenient, and doesn’t send any batteries to the landfill!

SteriPen Ultra UV Light Water Sanitation, USB Chargeable on Amazon

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13. Scrubba wash bag

A Scrubba bag, at its core, is the gift of clean underwear anytime, anywhere. And that’s priceless. This bag is lightweight and folds up into a small triangle that can be easily tucked into a nook or cranny of any bag.

This is #1 on my list because laundry is a pain point when traveling. Personally, I hate not being to do laundry on my own. I’ve tried washing clothes by hand in the sink to no avail.

I wish I had known about the Scrubba Bag years ago, and I sure won’t be going on another big trip without one.

When you seriously can’t wear those pants one more time: unfold the bag, add clothes, water and soap. There’s a flexible washboard on the back of the bag with little plastic nubs that scrubs the clothes clean.

Scrubba Wash Bag, Portable Washing Machine on Amazon

14. Travel-ready multipurpose soap

Take the Scrubba Bag to the next level by giving the perfect laundry soap along with it.

This soap from Trek & Travel is perfect for traveling for 3 reasons:

  • It’s multipurpose, so it’s the only soap you need to pack. It can clean your clothes, spiffy up your shoes or wash breakfast off your plate.
  • Clocking in at 250 ml, this meets the TSA liquids requirement. This is bottled as a concentrate, so you get maximum bang for your buck in your pack.
  • Not only is it safe to use on skin and eating surfaces, it’s also safe to rinse into the environment if you’re outdoors. Trek & Travel Soap is Leave No Trace certified.
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Since this is a concentrated soap, you only need a little bit to get the job done. I’m still using a bottle I bought years ago. 

Sea To Summit Wilderness Wash on Amazon

15. Vaseline

I had a dermatologist say to me once, “we tell most patients to go home, put some Vaseline on it, and then call us again in 3 days if they’re still having trouble. And about half of them don’t call.”

Now, in case there was any confusion, I am not a doctor and am not dishing out medical advice.

What I am is a 26-year-old who’s seen more dermatologists in my life than I can count. I have sensitive skin and allergies, and have to take seriously good care of my skin on a normal basis, let alone when I’m traveling. 

And, really, who doesn’t want to take care of their skin? Bug bites, rashes, sunburn, harsh soaps used to wash the sheets you’re sleeping on – irritating stuff will happen. Vaseline calls themselves “the healing jelly,” which in my experience is spot on.

These travel-size containers are sized just right: they’re safe to take in your carry-on, and are small enough to have one stashed away in every bag. 

Travel-size baby Vaseline, set of 6 on Amazon

16. Listerine Pocketpaks

There’s nothing like the feeling of being fresh and clean. Likewise, there’s nothing like the feeling of being gross and desperately needing a shower.

A pocketpak won’t exactly bathe you, but it will help take away some of that unpleasant feeling.  

Take a few pocketpaks and stash them in handy places, like the brain of your backpack, your toiletries bag or your wallet. 

Listerine Cool Mint Pocketpaks Breath Strips Kills Bad Breath Germs, 24-Strip Pack, 3 Pack on Amazon

17. Steripod clip-on toothbrush protector + cleaner

Getting sick is the killer of joy and the taker of time. And that’s just in normal life! Let alone when you only have 2 more days in Cambodia before your flight leaves.

I’m prone to getting sick, so I always take a Steripod toothbrush protector with me traveling.

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A Steripod helps keeps your toothbrush clean in two ways. Like all toothbrush protectors, it keeps your brush safe from dirt, hair, leaked sunscreen, etc.

But this toothbrush protector goes a step further: It contains thymol, an ingredient also found in mouthwash and oral antiseptic. It should help stunt the growth of bacteria on your toothbrush.

The design also allows your toothbrush to air dry, instead of keeping bristles damp. Mouth bacteria isn’t a very pleasant topic, so I’ll leave it at that.

Steripod clip-on toothbrush cover and sanitizer on Amazon

18. Biodegradable body wipes

Long flights, sweat, sleeping in less than prime quarters: travel leaves you distinctively unfresh at times. A quick wipe down can feel like a whole new world.

These Combat Wipes describe themselves as the “ideal outdoor wipe” for people without access to a shower.

In addition to making you more pleasant to be around, these wipes can also leave your skin feeling great. They’re made with aloe and vitamin E and are 100% biodegradable.

Active Outdoor Wet Wipes – Extra Thick, Ultralight, Biodegradable, w/ Aloe & Vitamin E on Amazon

Gift Ideas For Someone Going Traveling Summary

I hope these gift ideas for someone going traveling help you pick out the perfect gift for your friend (or for yourself ).

Let me know in the comments or on Instagram (@kayla_ih) what you bought and how you like it! 

And as always, wherever the road takes you, happy trails! 

Are you reading this gift guide, dreaming about traveling yourself but worrying that you’re too introverted? It’s actually a travel hurdle that I hear about often, and as an extrovert I really can’t relate. But my good friend Renee at Young And Trekless has a post to help you get over those fears: An Experts Guide To Solo Travel For Introverts