I love to travel whether for work or as a family. The many frequent flier miles and stamps in my passport have made me extremely knowledgeable about the best gear for streamlining travel and minimizing space in my carry-on bag. I’ve whittled down my must-haves to a short list to make packing and unpacking quick and easy while also ensuring I have everything I need whether for a quick cross-country work trip or a 3 ½ week family trip to Thailand and Vietnam.
Here is my list of must-haves for frequent fliers, road warriors, and families who love to travel that will make your time away enjoyable and your packing efficient.
Best Gifts for Frequent Fliers
Yes, my carry on bag is from Costco! All bag snobbery has gone out the window because this bag has crisscrossed the country and traveled the world with me. It’s been to Haiti, Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand, and beyond and is still going strong after many years, flights, and passport stamps. I love that it always fits in the overhead bin, holds a ton when packed efficiently, and is incredibly durable. It’s a favorite among fellow frequent fliers who nod in your direction when waiting on the jetway, acknowledging your travel savvy with this budget friendly workhorse of a bag. In the years that I’ve had this bag, the only problem I’ve had is the little Kirkland Signature logo detaching and getting left behind in some airport but it’s not a problem that has affected the functionality of my favorite carry on. For $99 it’s a bargain and definitely a bag that’s worth every penny. Pro tip: Get one for the kids and get them used to being responsible for their own luggage now! Available in Costco stores and online.
For those times when I do need to gate check my carry-on (grrr!), I make sure it’s easy to spot thanks to Mabel’s Labels Bag Tags and Travel Label Pack. Mabel’s Labels bag tags are metal tags that can be personalized with designs of your choice, text, and a phone number. The durable tags can be affixed to backpacks, duffels, roller bags, and more to make it easy to identify your bags at a glance. The Travel Label pack consists of 4 large luggage labels (3.91″ x 2.91″) perfect for checked or carry-on bags and 15 personalized name stickers (2-3/4″ x 5/8″) to affix to travel essentials. Even if you’re a die-hard carry-on traveler like I am, Mabel’s Label’s also ensure your bag stands out from the rest on the parking shuttle so it’s not grabbed by another harried traveler.
Collapsible Hydaway Bottle and Travel Case ($35 for the set)
Frequent fliers know the importance of staying hydrated on the go and when you clip a travel case containing a collapsible Hydaway bottle to your carry-on bag, you’ll never have to buy a plastic water bottle at the airport ever again. Ultra-portable Hydaway bottles collapse down to a slim 1.5” profile, are dishwasher safe and feature a wide mouth opening for handwashing, and are nontoxic thanks to being made of food grade silicone and BPA-free plastic. I love clipping my Hydaway pack to my backpack or slipping the case and bottle in my purse whenever I’m on the go because it helps me leave bulky empty bottles behind while helping to save the planet. Hooray for hassle-free hydration! Use the code LETICIA15 to get 15% off your purchase on hydawaybottle.com.
Stowaway Cosmetics (starting at $9)
Why let full size makeup take up precious space in your bag? Stowaway Cosmetics are the perfect size for everyday use and traveling. The smaller sizes are premium products packaged in thoughtful, minimalist, portable ways and are also more budget friendly because you’re more likely to finish all of the product rather than tossing a half empty tube. I have my eye on the Take Flight Set ($60) that contains 6 products in a Stowaway Makeup Pouch!
Samsung Smart Things WiFi ($249.99)
Last year I shared must have gadgets for frequent fliers and this year Samsung Smart Things WiFi is on my list because it’s a way to get all of those gadgets to work together and manage them through a single app. Samsung SmartThings WiFi home kit comes as a 3-pack of WiFi APs to blanket your home in WiFi + SmartThings home automation with Zigbee, ZWave, and Bluetooth to make it easy to connect many smart home devices in one place. Using next-generation cloud WiFi management by Plume, you can take control over the growing number of devices on your home network. For more information, read my full post: Samsung SmartThings WiFi: A Must-Have for Connectivity & Smart Homes.
Well known for sound engineering that makes their noise cancelling headphones best-in-class, a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones are every traveler’s dream. The world-class noise cancellation provides the ability to block out engine noise, the clinking of ice when the drink cart rolls by and muffles the sound of a movie on that person’s iPad who forgot their headphones. Once you get to your destination, these Bose headphones also help you be your most productive at work thanks to the ability to issue commands hands-free. Just speak to control the volume of a call, listen to your day’s schedule, or find your favorite music to listen to on the plane ride home as you wind down your day.
Ventev Chargesync 2 in 1 USB Cable ($24.99)
Save some room in your bag by packing a cable that features two connectors in one cable. I love my 2 in 1 Chargesync USB-A to Micro and USB-C cable because it lets me carry a single cable to charge two different kinds of devices. The USB-C tip is always ready to use thanks it being tethered to the tangle-free cable which makes it great for those who own multiple devices or are transitioning to USB Type-C devices.
Minipresso Portable Espresso Machine ($49.99)
Frequent fliers know how hard it can be to find good espresso in some parts of the globe and this compact handheld espresso machine will put an end to this very first world problem. Grind your favorite beans separately and then use the included scoop to put the right amount in the minipresso and voilá- rich bold espresso that doesn’t require electricity to brew.
Cauldryn Heated Mug ($129.99)
Commuters with a long ride to work will appreciate Cauldryn, a temperature-controlled mug that allows you to choose any temperature (between room temperature and boiling) for drinking the perfect cup of coffee, brewing tea, or heating up soup. Once you get to work, you can refill your mug, set the temperature right on the mug, or use free app to control your Cauldryn from your phone. Cauldryn comes with a battery pack, or can be plugged in, and is a great solution for those constantly on the go who don’t want to worry about having to drink lukewarm beverages.
400 Thread Count 100% Cotton Sheets from California Design Den (starting at $41.99 for queen)
Everyone loves hotel beds because of the pillow top and crisp sheets that await but there’s no substitution for coming home and sleeping in your own bed especially when you gift your frequent flier high quality sheets from California Design Den to make their dreams even sweeter. These high quality 100% cotton 400 thread count sheet sets are just like what you’d find in premium boutique hotels and should cost a fortune but don’t. They’re also eco-friendly and ethically made and come in a variety of solids and tasteful prints.
Looking for more gift ideas for travelers?
- Take a look at these 17 Wonderful Gifts for Travel Lovers from Clarissa on Clarissa Explains It All
- Visit my 2017 Frequent Flier Gift Guide to see my past gift picks
- Lovers of the National Parks will love shopping apparel and accessories from the Parks Project. I’m a big fan of their prints! (order by December 14 for Christmas delivery with standard shipping)
2018 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDES
AGE APPROPRIATE GIFT GUIDES:
- Toddlers & Preschoolers
- Early Elementary Ages (grades K-2, ages 5-7)
- Tweens (ages 8-12)
- Teens (ages 13+)
SPECIALTY GIFT GUIDES:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Best Gifts for Gadget Lovers
- Shop Small Businesses
- Best Subscription Boxes
- 9 Gifts that Make it Easy for Families to Give Back
- Gifts for Teachers (from the perspective of a former teacher, with input from current teachers)
No compensation was received for the listings in this post but affiliate links are included.