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10+ Actually Useful Gifts For Backpackers And Travelers

2. Aeropress – $29.95

Do you love coffee? OF COURSE YOU DO, COFFEE IS EVERYTHING! (If you’re a tea person, you should probably move to the next item before I get too manic.)

Good coffee makes for good days… but finding good coffee on a backpacker budget ain’t easy, and sometimes it’s downright impossible.

Caffiends, fret no more: introducing the Aeropress coffee press.

It’s light and won’t weigh you down. It’s small and easy to pack. It’s plastic and thus indestructible (trust me, I would know). You can even buy metal filters for it so you don’t have to generate paper waste.

Aeropresses are THE solution to making coffee on the road while traveling. I’ve tried everything, and I swear this is the best and most travel-friendly way to ensure you’ve got coffee everywhere you go. If you need coffee while traveling, you need an Aeropress.

  • Perfect for: Coffee addicts, people who have resorted to drinking instant coffee out of necessity
  • No good for: Tea people, people who legit enjoy instant coffee (heathens)

Do yourself a favor: buy an Aeropress now. Don’t forget a reusable metal filter!


3. Colorful portable Bluetooth speakers – $139.99

Music is life, amirite? Unless you’re deaf or filled with disdain for all things good in this world, you probably agree with me.

Headphones often suffice, but sometimes there are moments when you need to be marginally more inclusive of the people around you. That’s why portable speakers are the perfect gift. This bad boy from UE is waterproof, can get impressively loud with solid bass, and has a strap to attach to your backpack/shower head/tree/whatever suits you. I literally never pack my backpack without using it.

Speakers are perfect for setting a soundtrack for afternoons outside with new friends. Impressing your worldly backpacker date as you share discount supermarket snacks. Blasting your favorite guilty pleasures as you enjoy your first real shower in days. Or you can just use them to passive-aggressively get under the skin of that one asshole in the dorm who keeps drunkenly shouting at 5 AM.

  • Perfect for: Audiophiles, sociable humans, people with taste
  • Terrible for: People who will just use them to blast Skrillex all day

6. A super compact retractable headlamp – $29.95


8. Kindle – $99.99

Backpacker holding a kindle

All the books, none of the weight.

Backpack space is precious… but books are precious, too. What do?

Sure, there are book exchanges in hostels, but experienced travelers know that most of the time those shelves are filled with crap John Grisham or Katherine Steele books. Hard pass.

Enter the Kindle! It’s light, can hold literally thousands of books, charges with the same cable as Android smartphones, AND you can illegally download books for it for free it opens up a whole new world of book acquisition possibilities.

If you’re an extra awesome gift giver, you’ll load a couple of travel-related books onto it, too.

  • Perfect for: Bookworms, pretentious literary douchebags, introverts
  • Terrible for: Illiterate people, fans of 50 Shades of Grey (don’t encourage them)

Desirable? Get a Kindle right now!

9. Noise-reducing earbuds – $45.99

Bluetooth noise reducing earbuds

Jams on. Other noises off.

Travel is a cacophony of sounds—people hawking their wares, the honking of motorbikes, music playing on the streets, travelers chatting, the local lingo.

… and sometimes that cacophony is really freaking annoying.

As wide and wonderful and thrilling as the outside world is, sometimes backpackers just need to shut it out for a moment of peace and quiet and/or some bonding time with their favorite album. Noise-reducing earbuds are perfect for just that, but many a time they’re forgotten from the packing list until it’s too late.

I promise you—these are one of my favorite purchases in the last few years. You should’ve seen my meltdown when I lost my first set on a bus in Pakistan. I actually have a set of Sony wireless noise reducing earbuds, but I prefer the (now lost, RIP) Taotronics earbuds… and they’re cheaper.

  • Perfect for: Anti-social trolls, music aficionados, people that generally hate the outside world
  • Terrible for: Tech-free purists

Ya feel me? Buy noise reducing earbuds right now.


10. The Tinggly Gap Year Collection – $229

Sounds useful? Get the Tinggly collection right now.


12. Shampoo and conditioner bars – $15.99+

Showering with shampoo bar

Shower time is about to change forever.

These bars changed my life. Not in an I’ve found myself! kind of way, more in a thank the shower gods, I’ll never have an oh-sh*t-my-shampoo-exploded-in-my-backpack moment again kind of way.

Rather than carrying around bulky, spillable bottles of shampoo and conditioner, backpackers can carry these tiny bars instead. They look weird, but they’re easy to use. Shampoo bars you rub to make a lather, and conditioner bars you rub along the length of your hair. If you’re feeling snarky, you can also use them as a platform to brag about how plastic-free and ~*sustainable*~ your life is to other travelers.

  • Perfect for: Environmentally conscious travelers, people who sit on backpacks often
  • Terrible for: Filthy souls

Seems clean? Buy Shampoo and conditioner bars today.


13. Hydro Flask insulated water bottle – $37.99

Hydro Flask insulated water bottle for travelers

This bottle has stuck with me through thick and thin.

“You should get this insulated bottles! It’s the best bottle ever!” my best friend insisted years ago.

“Paying more than $10 for a bottle of water is BS.” insisted.

… yeah, I was wrong.

I’ve taken this Hydro Flask water bottle everywhere (as you can see), and I begrudgingly admit it’s pretty much the sh*t. It keeps cold water cold even when it’s boiling hot outside, and I’ve used it to carry hot tea for hours while hiking in cold mountains.

In short, it’s a magical fluid transporter that will keep any backpacker’s morale up even when the weather is trying to kill you. Oh, and it’s not plastic.

  • Perfect for: People tryna cut down that plastic use, anyone who values cold water on a hot day
  • Terrible for: Literally no one. Stay hydrated, y’all.

Love fluid? You should. Buy a Hydro Flask insulated water bottle now.


Annnnnd those are my recommendations for actually useful gifts for travelers and backpackers! Is there another item you really love, or another perfect gift for backpackers you think people would find useful? Let me know in the comments!


Need to buy a gift for a backpacker or traveler? Forget lame gift lists, here's a list of actually useful gift ideas for travelers and backpackers, straight from a full-time backpacker. All of these items are light, affordable, and important to pack for any long-term backpacking trip or travels. Read on for this backpacker's suggestions! #backpacking #gifts #travel

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