Our definitive list of clothes, gadgets, gear, and beauty products to buy for the traveler in your life.
Do you have somebody on your holiday shopping list who seems to be in a different place every week? Here’s what to get to help them look their best while traveling.
Top Picks for You
An All-Natural Beauty Set
Alighten’s Skin Care Ritual Set is a luxury product with a conscience. Made from cruelty-free, vegan, all-natural ingredients, the set includes a facial cleanser, a restoring serum, and a face oil.
Perfect For: Your hippie friend who buys all their makeup at the health food store.
A Super Hi-Tech Backpack
Consider the Lifepack backpack from Solgaard as a survival tool—with a built-in rain cover, its own solar panel (and USB port) for charging, and a set of Bluetooth speakers, this thing is all any adventurous traveler really needs to hit the road.
Perfect For: Your gearhead friend who’s obsessed with the latest gadgets.
Smart & Stylish Carry-On
There’s smart luggage and there’s super-smart luggage. Stylish luggage brand Arlo-Skye, founded by veterans of Louis Vuitton and Tumi, is of the super variety: it’s super-lightweight with a polycarbonate shell that is easy to hoist into an overhead bin; super-silent with whisper-quiet spinner wheels that glide so smoothly you can’t resist twirling it at security; and super-handy with a built-in dual-port lightening-fast charger (that you can remove to carry as a charger on the go when you land in your destination). Design features also include a zip-free exterior with one-touch TSA-approved snap locks, leather handles, microbial lining, and removable compression packing panels. Can you tell we are super excited about this carry-on?
Our pick: The chic new Arlo Skye x Sight Unseen collab features a pretty sage exterior and a two-tone pink-and-tan interior designed with Finnish illustrator Antti Kekki.
A Candle That Brings the Outdoors In
This set of candles from Paddywax comes in scents like Evergreen & Embers and Fresh Air & Sea Salt, bringing the scents of the wilderness home.
Perfect For: Your friend who’s stuck in the city for the holidays.
Packable Puffer Jacket
PSA: not all puffers are created equal. The zips fail after a few wears on some (we’re looking at you, Uniqlo) while others (oh hi, Michael Kors Packable puffer) lose their feathers at the slightest provocation/scratch. Fjallraven’s Keb Touring jacket, available for men and women, is hardy, lightweight, and stylish and made with sustainably and ethically sourced down which is really nice if it also keeps you warm and dry … and guess what? It does.
Why we love it: Tested on both a damp and cold boat ride in Ireland and a put-hair-on-your-chest windy hike in Upstate New York, this compressible down jacket performed. We loved the wind and water-resistant fabric, the lightweight coziness, the zippered pockets within pockets, and the fleece-lined high neck that keeps your chin and mouth toasty wherever you are.
A Wanderlust-Inducing Passport Cover
A passport is the ultimate travel accessory and this passport cover from Hobo Bags makes sure that this ultimate accessory stays safe (and cute, too).
Perfect for: Your friend who’s always talking about miles and upgrades.
A great pair of earbuds is like a great pair of sunglasses–either evasive or just plain lost! We’re always looking for the perfect pair but hate spending the usual $300+ price tag because a. they are soooo easy to lose and b. they are sooo easy to damage (and then lose). JLab Epic Executive Earbuds help you comfortably tune out your coughing co-passenger and tune in to Oprah’s zen podcast. The price is right, they’re built to last, and have some clever design features to make sure they are comfortable on the go, including noise cancelling (they block out 90% of background noise), up to 11 hours of Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and an included adapter to plug into movies in flight (or to use wired if you run out of charge).
Why we love it: With a removable neckband for extra cushioning around your neck, adjustable cable length, and a variety of gel tip earbud sizes, these earbuds are actually comfortable when you’re desperately trying to nap on a red-eye.
A Top-of-the-Line Carry-On
The Sympatico carry-on bag from Briggs & Riley has everything a suitcase needs: style, durability, spinner wheels, and a hard shell (that also expands!) to protect belongings.
Why we love it: Though it feels roomy, this bag meets international standards for carry-on bags.
A Blanket You Can Bring Anywhere
This colorful blanket works as a towel, a scarf, a picnic blanket, a beach throw, or even indoors.
Why we love it: Lightweight and big enough for two people, it’s the ultimate picnic blanket.
A Versatile Travel Pant
Constructed from a four-way stretch fabric that’s both water and stain resistant as well as quick drying, the Nomad pant will not just cover your man’s legs; it will fill the work-play-travel hole in his wardrobe. They’re part chino and part athletic pant, so all good for biking, hiking, walking, and working. They’re also just comfortable to sit in. Great gift for the guy on the go.
Why we love it: There’s a hidden pocket designed for travel, so you can safely stash your passport, wallet, and phone while on the go.
The Perfectly Packable Dress
A simple silk dress can be dressed up or dressed down for nearly any occasion and this silk slip from Cuyana is no exception. Simple and sumptuous, it will quickly become a wardrobe staple.
Perfect for: Your friend who already has six weddings on the schedule for next summer.
The Ultimate Travel Backpack
You cannot beat traveling with just one bag, especially when that bag is a backpack designed like a suitcase, that you can carry like a duffel, pack like a ninja, and travel like a pro, i.e., never pay baggage fees again. There are a lot of great features with this backpack, but our favorite has to be the ease of packing and organization: Tortuga’s Outbreaker backpack opens like a book for easy packing and even easier access when you need that emergency pair of dry socks. There are pockets aplenty, inside and out, as well as a padded hip belt to distribute weight more evenly.
Why we love it: The hip belt has pockets to keep your passport and documents at hand, the waterproof sailcloth won’t tear and the zips are built to last, and the separate laptop compartment unzips easily for expedited security screening.
We became fans of Timbuk2 for their stylish, well-made backpacks, and the new Quest duffel bag just reinforces our fan-club membership. It’s a solid, durable, waterproof duffel bag with—pause for emphasis—long padded handles that allow you to wear it on your back, and reinforced grab handles on all sides for baggage claim or for navigating those narrow airline aisles. With zippered mesh inner pockets, compression straps, and different sized external pockets, this bag packs as smart as it looks.
Perfect for: A no-nonsense, high quality, well-designed duffel is a good gift for any traveler but an especially good gift for a college student planning a semester abroad or a college graduate with ambitions to start a travel bucket list.
Perfect for yogis and adventurers, these waterproof leggings from OKIINO are built for fun in the sun. From yoga to hiking to surfing and snorkeling, these sunproof and waterproof leggings are a must-pack item.
Perfect for: Your friend who loves stand up paddleboarding.
Overlooked and underrated, a stylish fleece pullover is a travel wardrobe hero: it’s an extra layer on a no-frills (aka freezing) flight, and a stand-in for a jacket when you are sightseeing between seasons. Herschel’s new Holiday offerings include fleece pullovers in modern cuts and colorways with high quality and no-pill fleece, a hidden chest pocket with water-resistant snapcover, and secure snap button closures.
Perfect for: The Herschel brand is synonymous with quality and cool, and while we’d usually say Herschel is a great gift for the teen traveler on your list (it is), these fun new styles are a style upgrade for anyone who likes to be cozy but cute on the go.
Elevated Undies Travel Set
Gifting socks and jocks used to be considered a cop out, but not only has Mack Weldon reinvented the humble—and long-neglected—foundations of a man’s closet, but they have also made it okay, and even cool, to gift underwear basics. The designs are modern and smart, with attention to every detail, while the fabrics are premium quality and made for daily wear.
Our pick: With natural antimicrobial and thermo-regulating properties, Mack Weldon’s Silver fabric keeps you cool and fresh on the go, making it a no-brainer for the traveler on your list. The Silver Pack includes socks, two pairs of briefs, and a t-shirt. Tip: Mack Weldon’s polo shirts and micro-waffle crews and excellent additions to a wardrobe and gift bag.
A Beauty Set For Bros
Who says that ladies are the only ones who get to primp? The Every Man Jack shave kit lets the dudes in your life feel manly while making themselves pretty with aggressively masculine packaging and scents that are more sophisticated than your average shave cream.
Perfect for: Your friend who isn’t allowed to go to work with a beard.
Travel-Sized MakeUp Set
The popular wisdom that the best things come in small packages is especially true when it comes to travel; every item needs to earn the valuable space it occupies, regardless of how small. Stowaway’s Every Day Kit includes everything you need for a 5-minute face on the road: a BB cream, a creaseless concealer, a lipstick, cheek-and lip rouge, an eyeliner, and mascara–all sized to carry and finish. It’s simple but genius and a great gift for the traveler who usually hauls half the beauty aisle when she travels.
Why we love it: Obviously, we love that Stowaway’s products are sized to travel but we also love that they are not just small, but quality. And they’re not just for travel: we stash these compact lipsticks in work pockets and party purses, too!
A Shirt for Any Occasion
Not quite a jacket, not quite a flannel, this quilted camping shirt from Marine Layer works for a day in the city, at the office, on a plane, or, you know, actually camping.
Perfect for: Your significant other, who you can permanently “borrow” this from.
Cozy Cashmere Sweatpants
Cashmere + sweatpants. What more do you need to know? Well, maybe that Everlane’s cashmere sweats are 100% grade-A Mongolian cashmere, ethically-produced, and—hold on to your money bags—fairly priced. The jogger style is an elevated-basic, so it looks athleisure but feels all leisure — we are only slightly exaggerating when we say that we sat in Economy in these and felt First Class. Perfect for long flights, city-sightseeing, and jet-lagged Netflix sessions.
Why we love it: Everlane’s transparent pricing model means there’s no retail markup, which makes it easier to rationalize going for cashmere gold and gifting the sweatpants with a matching cashmere crew or hoodie!