Do you have an outdoors-loving or jet-setting family member who doesn’t return texts when you ask for ideas for an upcoming birthday or the holidays? We know all about that daughter, or brother, or grandson… because we are guilty as charged. It’s hard to think of gift ideas when we’re building fires, climbing trees, or planning our post-pandemic global adventures! If you or a family member need holiday gift ideas for travelers of all kinds, read along.
We are first and foremost advocates of giving experiences over material gifts. From concert tickets to passes to National Parks, experiences always make the best gifts. But even minimalist families need a few things to support their adventures. These great gift ideas for travelers are our favorite items and items on our wish list this holiday season.
Gifts for Outdoor Adventurers
We do a mix of backpacking and car camping but lean more heavily on car camping with the kids. When we first started out, we were hanging hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire with sticks. We’ve since leveled up from there and are trying to do more cooking that doesn’t require building a fire.
Car Camping Stove – Great for those car camping adventures either when a fire is not allowed, or when you just don’t feel like waiting around for your fire to burn out before moving on to your next adventure.
Bocce Ball – Now this isn’t a great gift idea for the outdoor family backpacking trip, but car camping, beach vacations, etc, are always better with some lawn games.
Leatherman Multitool – You’d be surprised how many outdoor families cludge together pliers, knives, bottle openers, and screwdrivers rather than fork over the cash for an all-in-one tool like these. Not that we know anyone personally who did that for a few years…
Portable Power Bank – We try to stay unplugged while outdoors and traveling but we also like taking lots of photos and feel better knowing we have access to GPS. Like when we realized we might have missed a trail marker or made a wrong turn in a city center with the kids. For any traveler, an extra power bank or two is an essential travel buddy. This one while a bit heavy will charge both our phones for 2 days and has outlasted several smaller cheaper models.
Helinox Chair Zero – Almost every backpacker carries a luxury item, and for Mike, this item is his camp chair. It is ideal for backcountry treks, but the size is also convenient when you have limited trunk space on those car-camping or beach vacation adventures.
REI Co-op Camp Roll Table – Even if you car camp at a site that has a picnic table, it’s nice to use something like this as a food prep and serving station nearby so you can sit around and eat snacks or play cards with the sometimes messy food prep out of the way.
Outdoor Blanket – Another useful gift idea for outdoor families uses sleeping bag technology, as a blanket! These are so versatile as either a comfy blanket to wrap up in next to the fire at night or as a picnic blanket with the kids in a park or on a beach. They’re warm on a cold day, water-resistant, and pack nice and tidy in a stuff sack for any adventure. We love ours!
Foam Roller – My mind was blown when I discovered the foam roller. These are great for getting rid of leg knots after a long day of hiking, especially if you’re carrying a pack… or that knot in the middle of your shoulder blades after carrying a kid on your shoulders, oof.
Carabiners – Great for backpacking or snapping water bottles onto the stroller, baby carrier, or diaper bag. Once you start using them, you can’t have enough of them, but make sure you don’t get the cheapest ones you can find, they cause more trouble than help!
Waterproof Clip Speakers – Hangin out is just more enjoyable with some nice tunes. It’s great to hang one of these from the tent or a tree branch and enjoy the company of your buds. It works on Bluetooth, no wi fi required!
Yeti Tumbler– This stainless steel travel coffee tumbler is a powerhouse keeping beverages hot all day long, and dishwasher safe. We have used it to warm water for baby bottles as well, just be careful it will keep the water as hot as it goes in! It’s too heavy for any serious back-packing but for car camping and car trips it’s our favorite.
Osprey Day Pack – Having a good day pack is a huge bonus for anyone who likes a good hike. We’ve tried to re-purpose book bags, but having a pack that is fit for purpose is great. This Osprey pack comes with a back panel for comfort and support, a pocket for a hydration system, and is easily attached to larger backpacking bags.
Eno Hammock– We highly encourage the double on this one for any family with kids! And don’t forget the straps.
Gifts for Photographers
Joby Gorilla Pod for DSLR Cameras – Feel free to substitute in a lightweight traditional tripod, but the Joby Gorilla pod is our preferred multi-purpose travel-pod. It’s rugged enough to sit on rocks and wrap around trees, and the maneuverable legs actually work well as a (rather large) selfie stick. Just be sure to buy a model that will support your camera. Our first purchase was rated for a lightweight DSLR, so when we put a heavy lens on our camera, it tipped over.
GoPro! – GoPro’s are so versatile. It’s always amazing to see great photos from the paddleboard, video from a bike ride, or really cool selfies that you just can’t get from a phone or a DSLR.
Camera Clip– Great for your daypack or a larger hiking backpack. When you’re walking long distances and definitely when hiking, it’s annoying to either have to put your pack down to dig out your camera or have your camera swinging around on a strap. A clip like this is really nice to have.
Gifts for the Kids
Headlamps– Originally purchased for camping but we use these for reading “lamps”, looking for lost toys under couches at home, etc. Our kids are always borrowing ours and have the kids model of our favorite brand on their wishlist this year.
Adventure Kit – Now this thing is really cool. We bought one of these before our trip to Costa Rica. It was a great way to get the kids energized about the trip ahead of time. They also tend to play with the kit around the house, not just on outdoor adventures. I mean, what five-year-old doesn’t like shining a flashlight around the dark bathroom or playing with a mini fan?
Kids Headphones– Essential for plane travel. Even car travel if your kiddos don’t get carsick and can use screens on long car rides! There are more budget-friendly options on the market but we like this wireless and Bluetooth ready set that adheres to WHO recommendations to limit volume protecting little ears!
Kindle Fire-Kids Edition– Screen time rules are tossed out the window when our kids are trapped on a plane. We always start out with the puzzles, crafts, and educational games, but before too long, here come the tablets and headphones! It’s such a treat and they will space into educational games and videos as long as we will let them. We love the Kindle Fire for kids and will be getting a second one before our next international flight for sure!
Illuminated Kids Globe– Our well-loved globe has been a center and starting point for every big and small trip. We assess the distance, the plane or car route, and have a long educational discussion around our travel and the surrounding states or countries. Often mistaken for a ball by our toddler, our globe has served us well for 5 years and its time for a new one!
Picasso Tiles Building Blocks– Our kids have the large Picasso Tiles set at home, but love this smaller collection for travel. The same quality as the other big-name version of the same magnet blocks!
Walkie-Talkies – Fun and highly functional when backcountry exploring. These aren’t a kids model but are holding up much better for not much larger of a price tag with excellent range.
Dry-Erase Boards– We have purchased more expensive brands with a frame, magnets, and the works, but all kids end up needing is a simple board they can take in the car, on the plane, or work on in the tent and these are perfect for just that! No frills, super cheap, but they do last.
Dry-Erase Pens– Especially as our oldest gets older and is doing more actual writing a fine-point pen allows him to get more on the board. If you are looking for younger children, stick with fat dry-erase markers!
Gifts for Toddlers
Unicorn Horn Sidewalk Chalk– These unicorn horns are super fun for magical sidewalk drawings. Individually wrapped, you can tuck a few into your kiddo’s stocking and squirrel away the rest for spring.
Micro Mini Kickboard Scooter– The perfect gift for kiddos 2-5 for cruising around the drive-way, neighborhood, or park. These scooters last! Our third boy is using the first one we bought over 5 years ago.
Deuter Schmusebar Kid’s Backpack– This adorable kids backpack is perfect for hiking or international globe-trotting for kids age 2-6.
Puffy Reusable Stickers – These are fun in the apartment and on car rides or on the plane! We toss them into a reusable baggie between trips. Pro-tip: if they are having trouble sticking which they do sometimes on planes, lightly dampen them with a wet tissue or baby wipe.
For even more gift ideas check out the following FivePax gift guides:
Best 2020 Holiday Gifts for Outdoor-Loving Moms
Best 2020 Outdoor Gifts for Dads
Adventurous Gift Ideas for Kids
Toddler Gift Ideas to Inspire Adventure
Complete List of Children’s Books Every Adventurous Family Should Own
Great list. Hosting a Christmas link up on fridays if you want to swing by and add it there. #CulturedKids
Thank you, and that sounds awesome, will do!
Really good suggestions here – wondering whether Museum Dad might need moisture wicking underwear for our Lapland trip #CulturedKids
Haha. I bought them for a hiking trip and subsequently replaced my entire undie arsenal. Nothing worse than what I call “swamp a**” after a long hike or even after sitting for hours on an airplane.
Walkie talkies are so great for kids! Brilliant list and so useful! #culturedkids
The kids love them. Just be careful using in urban areas as we have picked up construction crew chatter… which in itself has also been quite entertaining. Cheers!
Wish I found this list in time for the holidays 2 weeks ago! Bookmarking this page now! Thanks for the thoughtful and unique but practical ideas!