You know how important it is be smart about what you pack when you travel. Many of you have seen our previous recommendations, including Ultimate Video Camera For Travelers, Travel Pillows and Portable Travel Digital Luggage Scale. What to bring and what to leave at home? We’ve been testing some new travel products and have put together a list of some of our favorites. Here are some unique gift ideas for travelers.
Gift Ideas for the Adventurer
ZeroWater Portable Filtration Tumbler
This is a great idea. Now you can have filtered water anywhere you go. This 26 oz tumbler is designed to take with you to work, to the gym, etc. I think it would be great for travelling too. I like that you can use it with or without the filter so even if you don’t need to filter your water, this is a better option than using throw-away plastic water bottles. While I’m not a huge fan of drinking from plastic, this one is made from safe materials. It’s even okay to put in the dishwasher’s top shelf.
So many times I have used water filtration pitchers at home and never knew when to change the filter. This tumbler has a color-change window so you know exactly when it is time to change it. I love this feature!
We think we are being healthy by drinking water but oftentimes we are drinking dissolved solids that can remain, including Zinc, Nitrate, Lead, Aluminum, etc. ZeroWater portable filtration tumbler filters 99.6% of dissolved solids so all you taste and drink is the water. It’s available in blue and in silver.
Chawel Hybrid Basic Towel
Until recently, I always brought towels from home when camping or using my RV. I never really thought of there being a better alternative. I have seen travel and fast-drying towels before but hadn’t realized how practical they could be when traveling. I tried one from Chawel Towel which is a 5-in-1 towel. I used it on two trips and have since been keeping it in my car for emergencies.
I suppose all towels can serve dual purposes: You can fold them up in place of a pillow or spread them out to use as a blanket. This one from ChaWel is that and more. It is fast drying, lightweight and also cozy. It’s unique in that you can change your clothes under it and also use it to line your sleeping bag while camping.
I enjoyed using it to keep warm in the evenings. My kids have enjoyed it in the car as a pillow too. The best way to describe it is that it’s cozy like a blanket but absorbent like a towel. It makes a great gift for someone who hikes, camps, or RV’s. It is great to pack when you need each item to multi-task.
It has its own small, drawstring bag to keep it clean which I really like. It also has an elastic loop for keeping it bound which I also used for hanging it to dry. When you’re in a pinch, you can wear it to change under – there is a hole for your head and the bottom is open. Their other styles of towels have armholes too but I didn’t miss them when using this to change under. It measures 36” x 58”.
HubPlus 6000 mAh Portable Charger by myCharge
We really love this portable charger by myCharge. It offers up to 45 hours of power for your iPhone and iPad. It even came pre-charged!
We’ve seen a few different portable chargers on the market and what makes the HubPlus Portable Charger unique is that it has its own self-contained wall prong to charge the battery.
It even has a built-in micro-USB cable so you don’t need your own. That’s great because so many cords become misplaced when they are used for several devices.
I absolutely love that this unit has everything included to do what I need it to do, when I need it. Unfortunately, so does my husband, who collects and owns many portable chargers. It seems that this is also becoming his favorite as well, it mysteriously disappears from my bag on occasion and finds it way in to his. Even more: It can charge two devices at the same time, and it’s a rapid charger too.
It is gender-neutral in style, color and design, and it easily fits in a backpack, briefcase or tote. It’s nicely packaged – perfect for a gift – and it’s sleek in anodized aluminum. It measures approximately 4″ x 2.25″ x .8″.
I brought this with me for a convention where I wasn’t going to have access to my charger until the evening. I used it twice, and it worked great.
I’m looking forward to bringing it and showing it off at my kids’ all-day sports’ tournaments and math competitions where we sit around all day. I’m sure I’ll be helping several grateful parents who have smart phones that run out of battery!
I love this portable charger!
Chic Buds Clutchette Power and Chic Buds Slim Power Phone Charger
We do love portable chargers. I couldn’t decide which of the Chic Buds products to choose, as there were so many colors and style choices. I didn’t realize these portable chargers were now becoming fashion accessories too. Who knew phone chargers could be so fun?
The Chic Buds Clutchette Power is a carry-all for your smart phone, credit cards, and keys. I love it. It comes in 16 colors; I chose it in plum.
I like that it’s a wristlet so that I can use it as an easy way to carry my phone when I don’t want to tote around a purse. Since receiving it, I’ve used it every time I pick up my kids from school. I usually have to walk at least a block away, and I always bring my phone and car keys with me. Now I’ve been putting both of them inside this clutch. I never owned a clutch before, so this has been a great way for me to protect my smart phone from dropping. I wanted it for the technical features and am so surprised by how much I am enjoying using it for everyday living.
The Chic Buds Clutchette Power zippers all along the top and down one side. Mine opens to reveal a fun black polka dot lining on a white background. (I’m not sure if this is the lining for all the color options.) Inside is a zippered pocket which holds the battery. It is easy to charge. There is a USB cable included to plug into your computer or wall adapter. You keep the battery inside and just plug in the cable right from this mini-purse.
After the battery is charged, you can use it wherever you are and can charge your smart phone. You do need to use/bring the charging cable that would have come with your smart phone. It’s unbelievably convenient as so many times I’m running out the door with a low charge to my phone. I often forget to plug it into my car adapter, or I’m just going on a short jaunt so it’s not worth it. Now I can charge for however long I need right from this clutch. I imagine it would charge tablets too – I haven’t done that as I don’t tote my iPad around.
I also wanted to try the Chic Buds Slim Power Phone Charger. This one is portable also. It is a stand-alone battery, not in a clutch or any type of purse. It’s small and mighty! I love the chevron pattern I chose. It comes in 14 colors/patterns so you can pick one that will be easy to spot in your purse, backpack, etc. I keep mine in my purse to always have an extra charge when I need it. It is basically the same idea as the clutchette in that it enables you to charge your smart phone wherever you are, as long as you have pre-charged the battery. It comes with the power cable to charge into the wall adapter or computer. You just need the charging cable for your particular device.
What I didn’t realize about this Slim Power Phone Charger before I ordered it is that it has a way for you to see how much charge the battery has. There is a button on the side of it that you press and there are three small lights that will indicate if you have a 0 – 33% charge remaining; 34 – 67% remaining; or 68% – 100% remaining. I love this feature.
I also love that this is small, the size of a credit card, and about a quarter of an inch thick. This has been easy to just keep in one of my go-to purses and charge up my phone as well as my husband’s and kid’s devices as well. We don’t generally rely on it as a power source, but it is sure convenient to have and can be so helpful in an emergency situation if I was ever low on battery. When the Slim Power battery is fully charge, it provides up to 10 hours of talk time. I will definitely be bringing it when I go hiking. I haven’t taken it either the Clutchette or the Slim Power on a vacation yet, but I will bring both of them with me from now on.
Go Caddy by BVT Products
I feel like this product was invented with me in mind. Whenever I walk for exercise, I carry my water bottle and smart phone and maybe my car keys. I typically carried them in one of those cinch-type, lightweight, nylon backpacks. I like using them but my concern was always my phone getting damaged by my stainless steel or glass water bottle. I also was always making sure the cap was on securely so that it wouldn’t leak and damage my phone. Another annoyance was that I would have to stop mid-walking to get to my water bottle.
This compact Go Caddy tote and water bottle carrier has been great for when I walk. I can fit any sized water bottle I have in it. My smart phone sits safely in the outer pocket, and I have still more room for keys, a wallet, sunscreen, and more. It’s amazing I can fit this much as this is a small tote, measuring just 9.75” in height by 5.75” in width.
I like the adjustable strap so that it sits comfortably over my shoulder at my side, or I can make it longer when I want to wear it cross-body style. The bag itself is very lightweight and comes in black, brown, or red. It seems to be a gender-neutral product, however, the white stitching on the strap makes it a tad more feminine than if it was all black.
It comes with removable sleeve to keep a water bottle cool. I have never used it as it fits the store-bought plastic 16 oz bottle, not my reusable water bottle. (But it is still a nice feature, and I have been now putting that sleeve on my son’s drink when I pack his school lunch.)
There are two outside pockets, one that has elastic and can expand open. It would be for things you want easy access to, like a phone, camera, a map, etc. The other pocket has a Velcro closure and has room for a wallet, keys, etc. Inside this Velcro pocket is a hidden pocket to hold individual credit cards or money. I’ve never used the metal clip for my keys but it is a handy feature.
Since receiving my Go Caddy, I have used it every time I walked for exercise. I live in the hot southwestern part of the US so I am really excited to be able to carry this around with me to hold my water bottle in the 100+ degree summer months. It will enable me to be hands-free and to access my water easily. I also look forward to using this on my next vacation as it is more convenient than a purse and will hold everything I need as I sightsee and explore. I am thrilled with this product. It’s a very simple and practical idea, and it is designed perfectly to suit what I usually carry with me.
Blu bags – reusable shopping bags by Rockflowerpaper
According to the Ocean Conservancy, the average American uses 300 plastic bags per year , and a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to disintegrate. Wow… here’s a company who is doing something to make a difference.
I love my blu bags. They are reusable, strong, stylish and fun. During my years living in Bellingham, WA, they instituted a ban on plastic bags; stores would not give them out, and if you didn’t bring your own, you could buy a paper bag for 10 cents or buy a reusable cloth or nylon bag in some stores. I became really good at remembering my bags, and felt good about doing it. The only downside was that the ones I had were all mismatched in color and in type (some cloth, some nylon, all different sizes) and after washing them weekly, they looked even worse. I love that these blu bags come in chic patterns and all go well together.
These blu bags from rockflowerpaper are offered in colorful patterns which make using them fun. They are sold individually or in sets of three. They measure 24” by 19” when opened.
I love that they each can hold up to 50 pounds and come with a little pouch to put them away easily. There is a small elastic loop so that you can fold and secure them. I like that I can hold them in my hands, looped on my arms, or even on my shoulder like a purse.
What’s also great? Through March 2018, Rockflowerpaper will donate 20 cents from each blu bag sold to Ocean Conservancy.
Hydrapak Stash Collapsible Bottle
Ingenious! Here’s a water bottle that you twist and can fold down to less than a quarter of its size. It holds one liter of water – that’s a full 32 ounces – and includes a fold-down handle. I’m not a fan of plastics in general, and I especially do not like drinking from them; however, this collapsible bottle is BPA free and PVC free. This is easy to take on a hike, while backpacking, and to an airport. Anyone going on an extended trip, where packing light is essential, will find this useful.
I packed it in my backpack before I headed to the airport to fill at a water fountain once I passed security. After I finished drinking it on the plane, I just pushed down the top while lightly twisting the body of it. It’s easy to “lock” into place. Then I put the lid on and put it back in my backpack. I do like to dry out water bottles to prevent mold growth so when I arrived at my hotel, I rinsed it out and set it out to air dry.
It’s also come in handy for my sons’ baseball and soccer games. We often send them with just one water bottle. Often mid-game, one of them will run out and will want to drink my water. Twice now, I’ve brought this Hydrapak Stash Collapsible Bottle filled with water to pour into their water bottles. What I loved is that afterwards, I wasn’t dealing with toting a second regular sized water bottle. I collapsed this and put it in my purse and was done with it.
Some might consider it a downside that it doesn’t have a flip-top lid or a smaller spout to drink from; it has a wide-mouth opening like a regular drinking glass would. It might take kids some time to get used to it but for me, it is actually a benefit in that it is so much easier to clean. We own it in Lime. It’s also available in Blue and Smoke.
We’ve heard of and used money belts before, and we love them, but this takes the “hands free” concept to a new level. The Flipbelt is great for when you exercise or travel. It is form-fitting, comfortable and not bulky. It is made from a single piece of fabric – no zippers, etc. – and is able to hold your smart phone, keys, money, ID, or other small items you want to bring with you but don’t want to carry. The micropoly/Lycra fabric stretches to put on, and then once on your waist, it stretches so you can easily insert or access your items from multiple access points. We like that you have somewhere to put your essential items so you can be hands-free and worry-free.
There are lots of colors to choose from. Maybe you want a bright color if you will use it more for exercise activities and a more neutral black color if you will use it primarily for travel security. Available in sizes XS to XL, their sizing chart is helpful for you to get the perfect fit. We love that it’s easy to machine wash and dry. We have used this product for hiking and cycling and walking. We look forward to using it on our next trip for more of a security measure, like we would use a money belt. We LOVE that the FlipBelt is made in USA.
Pick-Pocket Proof Clothing from Clever Travel Companion
We thought this was one of the more clever gift ideas we’ve seen so we ordered the women’s tank top in gray. It was a true-to-size, flattering fit, made with 100% cotton. What’s different and unique about this shirt is that it has a sizable zippered pocket right on the front which can hold a smart phone, passport, and/or money.
We tested the shirt out while cycling, walking, and hiking while toting our phone and keys in the pocket. It proved to be comfortable to wear. We didn’t have occasion to test it out for actual travel or in a crowded venue but can see how safe and convenient it would be to guard one’s belongings. This would be great for safely carrying your passport around while abroad. Locally, it would work for amusements parks (think, upside down roller coasters!) crowded concerts and fests, and for times when you want to be hands-free. They also offer men’s and women’s tee shirts (in neutral colors) as well as underwear and long johns, all with zippers to hold your essential items. This shirt is machine washable and should be air dried.
Moleskine Classic Tote Bag
We love the Moleskine line of travel bags and totes. Their new addition, the Moleskine Classic Tote Bag, is as stylish and purposeful as their other products. This smart bag comes in neutral black with an ivory interior. We like it because it is large enough for digital products up to 13” with lots of room to spare without being bulky.
The top of the bag zippers completely so I felt good about carrying it while on public transportation and walking the busy downtown areas in Boston. Commuting to and from work with this bag has been great with the water resistant, polyurethane exterior. Living in a diverse climate with rain and snow, I don’t have to worry about ruining one of the leather bags I previously used. I am actually excited to carry this tote in the rain!
The handles are long enough to carry comfortably as well as loop on a chair, and I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it even stands upright on its own.
I used the Moleskine Classic Tote Bag to carry my belongings to and from work and meetings. And when I went out to a restaurant directly from work, I was able to use this as my purse. It held my tablet, wallet, my makeup bag, a sweater, and a few other random things. I could easily use this for an overnight as well, as it measures just over 14” in height and is just over 16” in width.
There are three easy-to-access interior side pockets, one with a zipper, and then there is the main compartment. There are two exterior pockets on each side as well but I haven’t used them yet. They would fit a water bottle, keys, or a smart phone if you needed easy access. The entire bag can be closed with the top zipper.
What do I love best about this bag? It can be casual or business-like. It is versatile enough for me to use most everywhere I go. I don’t have to “change purses” when I’m running from a work meeting to social occasion to an event at my boys’ school. It holds everything I need and matches everything. The Moleskine Classic Tote Bag features a timeless style, is functional and is overall just a classic piece.
The Ultimate Charge – Sync Cable from Lifedge
What makes this a great gift when everyone probably has charging cables already? The Ultimate Charge/Sync Cable from Lifedge are 100% waterproof and are guaranteed for life. With past cords/charging cables, I’ve had to discard and recycle them because I twisted them as I tried to connect them to either my phone, the port or the outlet. These from Lifedge are thicker and tougher. The connectors won’t fray because they offer extra-strength strain relief. And again, should something unexpected happen, they can be returned for a replacement with the company’s lifetime guarantee.
I also like that the Lifedge cables charge my devices faster than the chargers that came with my smart phone and iPad and the other chargers I own. You can purchase them for an iPad, iPhone, and iPod.
These are awesome for travel and trekking when you are sure to be expecting the unexpected. So far, I only used them for home, car, and work use, not traveling but they are completely sealed, enabling them to be 100% waterproof. They are also tangle-free. The cables are extra long, measuring 6.5 feet. They also come with a cable organizer which is fast and easy to use and keeps it together nicely in a backpack or drawer.
Travel Essentials Pack by The Jojoba Company
Just grab and go with this five-piece travel set from The Jojoba Company. Their Travel Essentials Pack already comes in a sleek travel pouch for easy packing. The products are perfectly sized and ready to pass TSA screening. These enriched skin care formulas will keep your skin hydrated and rejuvenated even after a long flight. The Travel Essentials Pack includes: hydrating day cream; jojoba bead facial cleanser; lemon & coconut hand cream; intense overnight renewal cream (includes marine collagen and CoQ10 to encourage overnight skin renewal); and 100% natural Australian jojoba.
A little goes a long way with these products as they feature 100% Australian jojoba. Jojoba is a naturally hydrating antioxidant rich in vitamins A, D, and E.
Violet Love Headbands
Here is an easy way to change up your look and have a little fun while traveling. Violet Love Headbands take up hardly any space so they are a perfect way to add some flair and to change your look when you are trying to pack light. These premium headbands come in unique, specialty patterns in bright colors. They can be worn lots of different ways, and they receive rave reviews for their slip-free fitting.
We love the company’s many green practices. Their printing process takes advantage of the opportunity to be environmentally conscious from reusing the printing cylinders to recycling the inks. The best part? They use only environmentally friendly inks, free from allergens and from hazardous chemicals.
New gift ideas that are unique
We strive to pack light and need the items we pack to serve multiple purposes and to be versatile. We are always on the lookout for new travel products and gift ideas and are interested in how companies continue to innovate with practical travel items to help travelers pack light and be safer.
Be sure to checkout our Best Travel Gear for Wherever You Are Going