2019 Holiday Gift Guide: Must have travel items for all travelers

Trying to figure out that perfect gift is always a challenge – for travelers in particular who often prefer experiences over things. As frequent travelers ourselves, we have some gift ideas for you for your favorite families that are travel lovers. For the oldest family member to the youngest, whether they rarely make a trip or are always on the go, you can find something for everyone on our list of must-have travel items for families.

Check out some of our favorite travel items. These are all items we’ve used regularly and could be valuable to other families. We prefer to pack minimally when traveling, so we are choosy about what we bring along.  

 The opposite of packing minimally, what it looks like when you move cross country with a baby (Pictured: Travelpro suitcases, DadGear diaper backpack, J.L. Childress car seat bag, Lotus travel crib and more)
The opposite of packing minimally, what it looks like when you move cross country with a baby (Pictured: Travelpro suitcases, DadGear diaper backpack, J.L. Childress car seat bag, Lotus travel crib and more)

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Gift ideas for parents who travel

Packing cubes

We’ve tried a bunch of different brands of packing cubes. These Gonex ones are my favorite so far. They’re sturdy without being too rigid to stretch and fit more. They come in many colors, and you can find different sizes and sets.

Travelpro Maxlite Carry-on Luggage

Luggage is always a welcome and useful gift. Our Travelpros have proved themselves over again and again on countless flights and across varying destinations. The carry-on size is often useful and most flexible.

Space saver compression bags

When you need to pack bulkier items (i.e. winter coats, sweaters) these bags can be great for making sure you have enough space for everything. I even use them at home to store extra pillows and blankets.

Electronic accessories bag

From phone chargers to SD cards, adapters, tablet cords and beyond there are so many electronic accessories to keep track of when traveling. This bag has several small pockets and elastics to keep everything organized and together.

Travel wallet and passport holder

This travel wallet is purposely larger than a typical wallet. It’s sized to fit multiple passports and has plenty of other slots and pockets for tickets, additional cards, and money.

Multi USB charger with adapter plugs

Charge several devices at once with this handy 4-port USB charger. This one is extra travel-friendly since it comes with a pack of adapters to work all around the world.

Portable noise machine

It’s amazing how much noise this little machine blocks out – great for ensuring you get a good night’s rest even with excess noise around you.

Universal power adapter

We bought travel power adapters 10+ years ago and they’re still going strong. This isn’t the exact one we have, but it’s similar. It’s helpful to have a universal adapter like this that can adjust to any country’s power source and is altogether in one unit (no need to switch out different plug pins).

Portable power bank

Snapping and sharing photos, finding the best route, researching things to do and translating are all great benefits of having a smartphone when traveling, but all these things quickly drain the battery. A portable power bank is a travel essential to keep your phone charged so you can find your way back to the hotel.

GoPro Hero7 Black

GoPro cameras are meant for shooting on the go. Their small size, waterproof feature, and lightweight make them ideal for travel. I regret not getting one sooner.

Mini flexible tripod

Asking a stranger to take your photo doesn’t always work out how you imagined. This tripod is light and flexible (we’ve wrapped it around fences, trees and more). You can attach a camera, phone, and GoPro to it. 

Kindle Paperwhite

For any traveler that loves to read, a Kindle is essential as packing multiple books is impractical. Also, being able to read with only one hand is important for parents stuck under a sleeping baby on a long plane ride.

Airbnb gift card

Airbnbs have grown exponentially in popularity, there are some amazing homes to stay in on the site. Most any traveler would appreciate an Airbnb card. NOTE the gift recipient will have to use an American based payment in order to use the gift card for their stay.

Southwest gift card

One of the friendliest airlines, a Southwest gift card is a great gift for travelers.

Hotels.com gift card

We almost always book our hotels through hotels.com. We like their simple loyalty program, and it allows us to try all different types of accommodations at all different price points all over the world.

Gift ideas for families who travel with babies and toddlers


Getting there is often half the battle for parents traveling with little ones. We’ve been there and we get it. Win bonus points with your parent friends and buy one of our favorite toys for entertaining babies and toddlers on flights.

DadGear diaper backpack

We put our diaper bags through the wringer. Diaper backpacks have won out over shoulder bags, and specifically, the DadGear diaper backpack has been our favorite to date. It’s well designed and has specialty pockets to keep high need items (diapers, wipes) in convenient, quick grab spots.

Ergobaby 360

One of our most beloved baby (travel) items. A baby carrier allows parents to do many more things you cannot do with a stroller when traveling – the gift of flexibility.

Lillebaby Carry-on toddler carrier

For those with toddlers, a toddler carrier is still really useful so travel parents can climb that 498 step tower. This lets you comfortably wear a toddler who may not be up for trekking longer or tougher distances.

Car seat travel bag

For those who need to travel with a car seat, this bag is well padded to protect the seat and keep it clean. It also has backpack straps for easier handling.

Babyzen YOYO+ travel stroller

Regular strollers aren’t as compact or lightweight as travel strollers, and it can make a big difference if you want to lighten your load or travel frequently. I wasn’t sure this stroller was going to live up to the hype and be worth the expense, but I’m so glad we got it. Steve and I both love it (despite significant height differences). It pushes like a dream, folds and pops back up in a snap and the boys enjoy their ride (evidenced by many naps on the go).

Kids Kindle 

The best tablet for kids, Amazon knows what they’re doing with the the kid-proof case and FreeTime (popular apps, videos and more) content. This has saved us on a bunch of flights.

Lotus travel crib  

We use this when we stay at Airbnbs or with family. It’s easy and quick to set up and breakdown, super light, and much more compact than the age-old Pack n Play. It folds up small enough to be a carry-on bag, and some airlines have let us check it for free.

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