To crib a line from William Morris, the 19th-century British designer, you should never give a gift that you do not know to be beautiful or believe to be useful. Thankfully, AFAR’s favorite travel gifts often not only combine substance and style but also include another important element of gift giving: good value. From a packable duffle made from recycled water bottles to a cheeky luggage tag, here are 25 travel gift ideas that cost less than $100.
1. Thule Compression Packing Cubes
Buy now: $45 for two, thule.com; rei.com
Once you try packing cubes, you’ll be hard-pressed to go back. Our newest favorites are Thule’s Compression Packing Cubes, which are made with Bluesign-approved ripstop nylon that is water-repellent, ultra-durable, and manufactured with minimal impact on the environment. A set of double YKK zippers allows you to close the cube and then zip it even tighter to eliminate extra air and reduce bulk.
2. Yeti Rambler Straw Mug
Buy now: from $38, yeti.com
Drinking water out of a regular screw cap bottle while driving is not only frustrating—it’s dangerous. Yeti’s new Rambler Straw Mug is designed to fit into all cup holders and comes with a reusable straw lid so you can easily take a swig without taking both hands off the wheel. Available in a 25-ounce or extra-large 35-ounce style, this travel mug is also great for iced coffee runs.
3. Cincha Travel Belt
Buy now: $40, cinchatravel.com
These colorful belts allow travelers to secure any type of personal item to a suitcase handle so it doesn’t slide off while maneuvering through the airport. Here’s how it works: Simply slip the elastic loop of the belt over the handle of your carry-on and snap its buckle around the front of your personal item. It’s made with vegan leather accents and is adjustable to 45 inches to accommodate even the most overstuffed tote bag. Plus, for every belt sold, Cincha donates 100 airline miles to Miles4Migrants to help reconnect migrant families.
4. Rumpl NanoLoft Travel Blanket
Buy now: $99, rumpl.com; rei.com
Know someone with a redeye flight booked? The Rumpl NanoLoft Travel Blanket is the closest you can get to bringing a sleeping bag on an airplane—minus the bulk. When stuffed into its included carry sack—just like a packable jacket—the puffy blanket is the size of a Nalgene water bottle and weighs only 0.7 pound. Use its “Cape Clip,” a simple loop and clasp on two corners, to secure the blanket loosely around your neck so it doesn’t slip off your shoulders while you’re sleeping. This also means you’re free to use your hands to sip tiny bottles of airplane wine or adjust your seat-back movie screen without sacrificing any coziness.
5. Baggu Go Pouch Set
Buy now: $39, baggu.com
Baggu’s Go Pouch Set includes three all-purpose pouches that are essential for keeping your bags organized. The small one is perfect for stashing your keys, Airpods, and lip balm, while the medium doubles as a toiletry bag. The large is big enough to use as a packing cube for clothes. New patterns are released frequently—the set of Sanrio characters with Hello Kitty and Keroppi on it are particularly fun.
6. BL+ the Cream
Buy now: $85, skincare.bluelagoon.com
Dry airplane air wreaks havoc on your skin. Prevent that by layering on an ultra rich face cream like the new BL+ the Cream from Blue Lagoon Iceland, which is made with microalgae and silica sourced from the same geothermal source as those famous blue pools. The travel-friendly 15 ml pot may be pricey—but a little goes a long way and makes for a luxurious gift.
7. Twelve South Airfly Pro
Buy now: $55, twelvesouth.com; amazon.com
It’s possible to use wireless headphones to watch movies on in-seat screens on airplanes with the Twelve South AirFly Pro wireless transmitter. It plugs into the headphone jack in airplane seats and sends audio signals via Bluetooth to headphones. (It also works as an AUX IN adapter in a rental car.) It has a 16-hour battery life and is roughly the size of a matchbox.
8. Paravel Cabana See-All Vanity Case
Buy now: $95, tourparavel.com
Crafted from two recycled water bottles and leather details ecocertified by the Leather Working Group, Paravel’s vanity case is spacious enough to hold all of your travel toiletries and has see-through side panels for keeping its contents easily visible.
9. Apple AirTag
Buy now: $29, amazon.com
Anyone who is staunchly Team Checked Bag needs an Apple AirTag, a Bluetooth tracking device the size of a quarter that can be tucked into luggage and tracked through Apple’s Find My network (just like the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods). Lost bags will be a thing of the past.
10. Yina Divine Bio-Cellulose Sheet Masks
Buy now: $20 for one, $85 for five, pinkmoon.co
Flying can be harsh on your skin. These moisturizing sheet masks from Yina, an organic skincare brand founded by doctors of Chinese medicine, are packed with skin-soothing ingredients like cucumber root, ginseng, and white peony root. Though they may seem expensive for a sheet mask, just consider them an affordable alternative to a facial at the hotel spa. They’re really that good.
11. Calpak Luka Laptop Backpack
Buy now: $98, calpaktravel.com
Weighing just 1.75 pounds, this lightweight backpack has a pocket for all your travel essentials. There’s one for a 15-inch laptop, as well as a hidden zipper pocket in the luggage sleeve to keep your phone or passport handy. There’s even an entire compartment to keep shoes separate from everything else. The Luka Laptop Backpack is available in classic colors like black and gray, plus limited-edition ones that sell out quickly.
12. Bombas Gripper Slippers
Buy now: $45, women’s, bombas.com; men’s, bombas.com
Nobody wants to pack a full pair of slippers when they travel, but cold feet can put a damper on a cozy cabin getaway. Regular socks may suffice in a pinch, but this pair of Bombas comes with special grippy bottoms to prevent slipping and sliding. Also available in youth and toddler sizes, starting from $22.
13. “Tripping” Luggage Tag
Buy now: $10, genuinefred.com
This luggage tag is a trifecta of gift perfection: It’s useful, beautiful, and just plain funny, too. The pastoral scene emblazoned with the word “TRIPPING” is the work of multimedia artist Wayne White, who’s also known for his Emmy-winning art direction on Pee-wee’s Playhouse in the late ’80s. He’s designed a similarly saucy passport wallet, if you’d like to complete the set.
14. Cadence Capsules
Buy now: from $14, keepyourcadence.com
Made from recycled ocean-bound plastic, these capsules from AAPI-owned brand Cadence also help eliminate the need to buy miniatures of your favorite travel toiletries. Simply dispense up to 0.56 ounce of your favorite face wash, moisturizer, etc. into each capsule from the larger bottle you keep at home. They’re seriously leak-proof, too. (I found them upside down in my dopp kit after checking my bag recently and not a drop had spilled.) Sold individually and in sets, each capsule magnetically attaches to the others so you can build a honeycomb of sorts.
15. Away Jewelry Box
Buy now: $85, awaytravel.com
Traveling with jewelry doesn’t have to be a tangled nightmare. This smooth leather boîte from hard-shell luggage maker Away is cleverly designed with a flat panel for storing earrings, a padded cord for rings, as well as slip pockets for keeping necklaces separate. Chunkier earrings and bracelets can be stored in the center.
16. Anker Magnetic Battery
Buy now: $45, amazon.com
Every traveler needs a powerful portable charger in their tech kit. This one delivers its juice wirelessly to all models of iPhone 12 and newer and magnetically attaches to the back of your phone, so you can use it on the go. It also features a built-in foldable kickstand so you can watch videos on your phone while it charges. When the charger needs recharging itself, just plug it in with a USB Type C cord.
17. Aesop Adventurer Roll Up
Buy now: $65, aesop.com
Even though hand sanitizer shortages are so 2020, it never hurts to upgrade someone’s hand care regimen. This trio includes TSA-friendly bottles of Aesop’s Rinse-Free Hand Wash Gel, Rinse-Free Hand Mist, and Aromatique Hand Balm, all in the Aussie brand’s Resurrection scent—a refreshing blend of mandarin, rosemary, and cedar. The gift set comes with a roll-up pouch designed specifically to hold each one of the bottles.
18. Baggu Packable Sun Hat
Buy now: $36, baggu.com
With a brim diameter nearly two feet wide, these sun hats from Baggu are so large it’s hard not to make a statement wearing one at the pool. Thankfully, they fold down neatly into an included circular pouch, so you won’t have to wear it through the airport. Go ahead and purchase one for your friend who hides from the sun but basks in the glow of a little extra attention poolside. Available in more than a dozen fun patterns and colors.
19. Trtl Travel Pillow
Buy now: $50, trtltravel.com; amazon.com
Can you put a price on a good night’s sleep on an airplane? Yes, if you pick up a Trtl Travel Pillow. Ergonomically designed using a lightweight padded frame wrapped in fleece, this $50 invention provides neck support without the bulk of a traditional travel pillow.
20. Dare to Roam Steward Dopp Kit
Buy now: $48, daretoroam.com
Sure, everyone already owns a toiletry bag. But it’s probably coated with a few years’ worth of makeup stains and toothpaste smears. Replace it with this roomy dopp kit from Dare to Roam (founded by singer Ciara) that’s made with a special antimicrobial and water-resistant nylon fabric.
21. Matador Laptop Base Layer
Buy now: $60, matadorup.com
From reusable toiletry bottles to packable beach blankets, Matador makes some of the most durable travel accessories out there. This padded laptop case is no different. Suitable for 13- to 16-inch laptops, it comes with an inner drybag liner that can be rolled over and secured for waterproof protection. Plus, there’s an external pocket to store a charger and a mouse.
22. Teva ReEmber Camp Shoes
Buy now: $80, teva.com; rei.com
The Teva ReEmber Moc is the ideal travel shoe. Thanks to its easy slip on/off design, you’ll want to wear these slipper-like sneakers everywhere from TSA security lines to lounging around campfires.
23. Royce New York Leather Vaccine Card Holder
Buy now: $75, saksfifthavenue.com
Though local vaccine requirements may have been dropped, many countries still require travelers to show a hard copy of their vaccine card to enter. Protect it with this luxe vaccine card holder from Royce New York that is made of real leather, has a clear vaccine card panel on one side, and includes card slots on the other.
24. Nomadix Original Towel
Buy now: $40, nomadix.com; rei.com
Sustainable travel accessories are a thoughtful gift for the recipient—and the environment. Made from postconsumer recycled plastic bottles, these fast-drying, stylish travel towels are a multi-purpose solution to any traveler’s towel needs—shower, beach, yoga, camping. Plus, purchases help fund the brand’s beach cleanup initiative, Bare Coast, which organizes coastal community groups to comb shorelines collecting plastic waste. Nomadix also donates 1 percent of its sales (not just profits) to environmental causes via 1% for the Planet.
25. Paravel Fold-Up Bag
Buy now: $70, tourparavel.com
Made from 22 recycled plastic water bottles, Paravel’s ultra-light nylon bag collapses and zips down neatly into a small pouch when not in use. It’s a suitable gift for both notorious overpackers who always need a spare bag to bring home souvenirs, as well as for minimalists searching for a new weekender that takes up virtually zero closet space. That said, it holds so much more than you’d expect.
This article was originally published in 2021; it was updated with new information on November 2, 2022.