Every year at Christmas, my mother asks me what I want for a present, and each time I try to think of gifts that won’t weigh down my suitcase.
I know how hard it is for my friends and family to find gifts for people like me. Without a permanent home to decorate and with limited space in my luggage, I just don’t need or want any more material possessions.
If you’re a frequent traveller like me and you need gift suggestions to give your friends and family, this list of minimalist ideas might just come in handy.
Or, if you know someone like me and are struggling to think of what to get your travel-addicted friend/family member this holiday season, here are 6 perfect gift ideas for travellers!
If you don’t like the idea of handing over cash, why not give an experience gift? My parents once funded a skydive in New Zealand as a present for my 23rd birthday. It was an experience I’ll never forget!
Another experience I’ve enjoyed receiving is a restaurant voucher for a somewhat fancy vegetarian place in NYC, gifted to Rob and I by some of our friends in Australia. We loved the opportunity to try out a new restaurant in our area.
Other experiences you could consider are tickets to a museum, a broadway show, a music festival, or an interesting course/class. A few years back my brother and I gifted our mother with a photography course that taught her how to use her DSLR for photography, and she loved it so much that she booked herself a follow up course a few months later.
Sometimes when I have upcoming travel plans, I’ll check out some tours in the destinations that I’ll be visiting and ask my family members to gift them to me for Christmas.
My brother once gifted Rob and I with a beer tour in Brooklyn, and we had a great day exploring some local breweries. For our backpacking trip through Europe in 2013, my parents gifted us with a communist Moscow walking tour and a French Bakery cooking class in Paris. You can find worldwide tours on sites like Viator.
Another option is to purchase a photo tour for a particular city that your giftee will be visiting. In the past I have done photo shoots for visitors to Sydney via Shoot My Travel and I would honestly love to see more people using services like this!
3. Equipment upgrades
Lets say your giftee has a suitcase or backpack that’s looking rather tattered. Why not take them to a store and let them choose a brand new one? My parents did this with me when I was about to spend 3 months backpacking through Europe.
Equipment upgrades can be anything from eco-friendly travel items to a new camera gear. Take note of what items your giftee already uses on their trips, and ask them whether they would be interested in a new and improved version.
4. Consumable items
What I want the most is something that won’t take up room in my luggage, so a gift that will have disappeared by the time I leave for my next trip is absolutely perfect.
Consumable items (like chocolate! or wine!) are perfect gifts for minimalist travellers.
5. Carbon Offsets
Our travels actually have a huge negative impact on the environment – flights especially dump a huge amount of carbon into the air. If your giftee insists that they don’t want anything for Christmas, then why not buy some carbon offsets as a gift?
There are plenty of websites that you can use to buy carbon offsets (check out these 4 suggestions by Sabina of Girl vs Globe). I personally use carbonfund.org to calculate how much carbon is produced by my flights in a year, and then donate that amount. The proceeds go towards funding green energy schemes and planting trees!
6. Charity Donations
When I was living in the US, buying physical presents for my family members in Australia and posting them over the Pacific was super expensive, so last Christmas my family decided not to exchange gifts. I decided to make a donation to charity on their behalf instead.
I chose a few charities that I thought each of them would like, then donated the amount that I would have spent on a gift. I know it’s not quite the same as a regular gift, but I think my family appreciated that some charities received some much needed funds at Christmas.
Even more ideas:
- Money – To a minimalist traveller, a gift of cash means that we can afford the things that we usually skimp out on when we travel. We’ll always welcome the extra funds for our trips!
- Drinks – Why not take out your giftee for a few drinks at a nice bar? They’ll appreciate that you want to spend some time with them as well as buy them a few rounds.
- Tattoos – I know plenty of travellers who get tattoos as a way to commemorate their trips. I haven’t got any tattoos, but if I had the guts to get one, I would!
- App subscriptions – There are so many apps out there that would make our lives easier. Ask your giftee if there any apps that they desperately want. Maybe a flight tracker app or a trip organiser app would be useful!