Terrible travel presents and what to gift instead

If you have a world explorer in your life, you might like to gift them with some travel-themed presents. But be warned, there are a lot of gimmicky products that may seem like a great idea, but in reality just take up valuable packing space.

Here are some tricky travel presents I tend to avoid gifting, and other items to consider instead. Of course, you know the recipient much better than I do, so these are only suggestions. Listen to your heart.

Money belts
I have worn a money belt in the past and while it was secure, it was also quite inconvenient. You have to stop and think where you feel safe enough to dig around in it to get what you need and mine ended up being so tight that it was almost stuck to my body with perspiration!

There are some options that you wear around your neck. I would avoid these too as, if the loop is visible at the top of the shirt, they can be cut and the money pouch yanked away.

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What to gift instead

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Clothes with secret pockets show you put a little bit more thought into your travel gift. For example, an infinity wrap scarf with a zipper pocket can stealthily hold money, a passport and a debit card.

A hair scrunchie with a hidden pocket is another great option. If you’re handy with a sewing machine you could whip one up yourself in a colour you know the recipient will love.

For men, I have seen ties with pockets, blazers with multiple zippered pockets and even jeans with a sixth ‘hidden’ pocket.

A suitcase
I feel like a suitcase is a very personal thing and often frequent travellers invest in a sturdy bag that will last for years.

So, unless you’re very familiar with what kind of luggage your recipient likes, a whole suitcase can be among those travel presents that are hard to get right.

What to gift instead

Bags that are multi-purpose, such as a versatile backpack, often make for better travel presents. If you’re unsure of the style and size they might like, a gift card for a well-known brand such as Crumpler would be well received.

A passport cover
Covers for passports have always perplexed me as an unnecessary accessory that annoys security agents and highlights your most important and at-risk travel document. Passports should be tucked into a secure place, not made bigger and harder to hide. Most document checks at airports will require you to remove it anyway.

Read: Gadget gifts to put on your list

What to gift instead

A secure, waterproof, anti-theft crossbody bag will do a lot more to protect a passport from damage and theft. They come in many styles and colours and are stylish while still being secure.

Luggage tags
These often get quickly ruined thanks to the bag being thrown on and off the plane and onto airport conveyor belts. Most travellers tend to stick with very basic ones or opt for a more noticeable accessory to make their bag more eye-catching.

What to give instead

Aim for something that won’t get thrown onto a suitcase and forgotten about. Consider a leather-bound travel journal if the recipient enjoys writing or could simply use a nice notebook to jot down some of their favourite travel memories. Journals are also great for keepsakes such as tickets and photographs. Plus, the recipient will think of you every time they store some new travel memories.

A generic travel book
Try to avoid the run of the mill travel books and guides out there and go for something a little more niche.

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What to gift instead
A cookbook that focuses on one country or region could be a great way to gift travel in uncertain times.

Australia: The Cookbook ($65) is a celebration of Australian cuisine like never before. The 350 recipes showcase the rich diversity of Australia’s landscapes and its people. It’s a perfect gift for those who love nostalgia baking, cooking and travel.

The Latin American Cookbook ($65) is the most comprehensive and varied selection of recipes yet published from one of the most fascinating and diverse regions of the world – under the expert tutelage of globally renowned Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez. It would be perfect for those who love cooking, travel, and coffee table books.

Alternatively, a book showcasing nature around the world could be another option.

Bird: Exploring the Winged World ($79.95) is a visually stunning survey of birds, chronicling their scientific and popular appeal throughout the ages and around the world. It showcases the remarkable diversity of species in the avian kingdom and would be perfect for those who love nature, bird watching, wildlife, art and travel.

All three books are available at phaidon.com.

Are there any travellers in your life you need to buy for? Do you find it hard to find gifts for them? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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