11 Travel Gifts for Yourself

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With the gift giving season right around the corner, why not add a little gift for yourself to your shopping list?

Perhaps you’re still receiving gifts from your oh-so-brief but still not forgotten Bieber phase? Perhaps you have a generous benefactor who’s landed a pot of Christmas cash in your lap. Or perhaps you just think – I’m amazing, I’ve worked my bottom off this year and I deserve a little something from me to me. Here are 10 travel themed gifts for yourself.

1. A plane ticket

otres beach in cambodia
Beautiful Otres Beach in Cambodia that I visited this year

What greater travel gift can there be than the gift of actual travel? Gift yourself a flight and you’re not just reading about it or journalling about it or pinning it or planning it, you’re doing it.

Buying tips:

  • Wait until just after Christmas when many airlines have a January sale. You’ll got more miles for your cash.
  • Go somewhere on your travel wish list. This is a gift, it’s not a practical trip to see Aunte Maude who you’ve been meaning to visit for the past three years.
  • You don’t have to spend a lot – local travel is still travel.
  • Or go all in – this is your gift to yourself, remember. Personally, I currently have my eye on flights to Fiji.

You can find all the products mentioned in this post on my Travel Store.

2. Lonely Planet’s Guide to The World

Lonely planet book: the world

Wait, what? Gift yourself the world? Yep – it’s perfectly possible and all for under £25/$40 thanks to Lonely Planet’s guidebook to the world. I still need to purchase this for myself. But Fiji comes first.

Buying tips:

  • Lonely Planet often has 3 for 2 events (post Christmas is a good period to look) where you can pick up the world guide, another book for a destination on your wish list and then why not go for a wildcard – who knows where it might take you?

3. A hammock for the home

travel hammock

I installed one of these in my office this year and my life hasn’t been the same since. Of course, my preference is to languish in a hammock under the Mexican sun but, failing that, languishing in a hammock at home isn’t so bad. Especially when I have a bottle of Corona in hand. And what better place to plan and dream about future travels than swinging in my home hammock?

Buying tips:

  • go for a cotton hammock. As someone who has spent hundreds of hours in hammocks, those mesh ones might be cheaper but they’ll leave an imprint that lasts for hours – and who wants to look like they’ve been hanging out in a bag of satsumas?

I bought mine from Simply Hammocks

4. A travel journal

travel journal by Smythson

You’ve probably heard that you’re much more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. That being the case, why do we spend so much time jotting down our chores and so little time committing our dreams to paper? Looking back, I realise that I travelled a lot more in those years when I wrote down my travel wish list compared to the years when I decided to ‘see how it goes’. This year, I’m heading back to the formula that worked and I already have a list of places I want to go next year.

Buying tips:

  • As a stationary lover, I have a weakness for all things pens and paper so my favourite diary/journal is from Smythson. They are pricey so any journal will do.
  • Hate paper (yes, it is the 21st century, you’re not alone), find an app that works just as well.

5. A travel-themed activity near home

Taste of Italy cooking demonstration

Anticipating something you’re looking forward to is reported to have a significant impact on our happiness. Of course, taking a dream trip is an obvious thing to look forward to but sadly we can’t travel all of the time. The answer: build smaller, travel themed activities into your year. If you book your summer holiday in January and you’ve got a long six-month stretch until you go, why not plan a mid-point activity that will get you in the mood and bolster your anticipating for the main event.

Travel themed ideas:

  • A cookery class to learn the cuisine of the country you’re visiting.
  • A photography course so you’ll produce holiday snaps you’re proud of.
  • Dinner at a restaurant with food from the country you’ll be visiting. (Yes, two food activities. What’s wrong with that?)
  • Snowboarding or skiing on the dry-slopes.
  • Anything with an adrenaline rush you might experience abroad – rock climbing, abseiling, horse riding, surfing lessons.

6. A travel money box

piggy bank

Yeah, that might seem like lamesauce considering this is a list of gifts for yourself and who buys themselves something sensible. However, by buying a travel money box, what you’re actually doing is setting an intention – giving yourself a reminder – of the importance of travel. I’m the last person who’d be willing to sacrifice her thrice daily (underestimate) coffee habit but do I really need that cute scented candle that I’m just going to burn? Buy your money box, place it somewhere prominent and feed it regularly. Before you know, you might be gifting yourself number 1 (flights) this time next year.

Buying tips:

  • Go cheap – it would be ironic to spend a fortune on a box for saving money.

7. Travel Books

pile of books

I completed the 52 books in 52 weeks this year. It was a challenge I failed at last year and one I wasn’t convinced was realistic for someone with a busy life. But, it turns out it is possible by making some adjustments (I am possibly the only person on the planet who still hasn’t watched Stranger Things 2). It also requires an initial burst of motivation, which I found through travel. Adding a significant number of travel themed books to my reading list, I found myself squeezing in a lot more reading time than I thought possible…because I really did need to know what happened at the end of Marching Powder.

Buying tips:

  • No idea where to start or looking for fresh inspiration? Check out my list of the 50 best travel books of all time.
  • Otherwise, Mark Twain is ideal for vintage travelogues while Bill Bryson has a humorous take on modern travel.

8. Travel-Themed Wall Art

etsy wall art old map

In hindsight, I probably didn’t need a 1.5 metre framed vintage world map in my bedroom but it sure does make me happy every time I look at it. And I look at it every morning when I first get up and every night before I go to sleep. Next up, I think I’ll add some vintage-styled posters to my living room and one day…one day, I’ll get round to framing some of my favourite photos from my own travels. My point is: even when you’re in between trips, you can surround yourself with visible reminders of what lies beyond your own front door.

Buying tips:

  • Measure your walls – my 1.5 metre map was too big for most of my rooms…but you smarties knew to do that already, right?
  • Have a look on websites like Etsy and eBay for originals which can feed your wanderlust while feeding an artist.
  • Try a DIY effort. Pinterest is full of fantastic craft ideas. You can see my Pinterest board on wall maps and travel crafting here. I also love this post by the Travel Tester on creative ways to keep your travel souvenirs.

9. An airport lounge pass

airport in the USA
The only times you avoid airport crowds is with a lounge pass or a 6 am flight

I don’t have as much brand loyalty as I used to so I’ve long fallen off all of the frequent flyer airmile schemes that I used to belong to. And in that, I have lost airport lounge access. Fortunately, you can buy access independently of any airline. I like Priority Pass, which grants access to a huge number of lounges around the world.

Buying tips:

  • Do your sums – these passes mostly work out if you travel a lot. That said, given airport food and drink prices are almost universal regardless of country, it doesn’t take too many airport trips for a lounge pass to pay off.
  • I wouldn’t wait for sales – lounge pass companies very rarely offer them (in fact, I’ve never seen one on sale). Discount codes are also pretty rare for these passes so don’t chew up too much of your life trawling the internet for them.

10. A pair of Birkenstock sandals

Birkenstock sandal in blue

If you were to give me the once over right now, in my comfy sweatpants and thermal top (it’s cold in England right now), you’d quickly conclude that I don’t ‘do’ fashion. So know that when I recommend you invest in a pair Birkstock sandals, I’m doing so from the perspective of pure function. After years of trying many different types of sandals for my travels, Birkenstocks have hit the top of my list and stayed there for years running. Ergonomic, robust and just downright good for your feet, all of this is without the wow-factor of this ultra-popular shoe brand.

Buying tips:

  • These sandals are on my list of gifts for yourself because, in the northern hemisphere, they are currently out of season. Meaning: there are plenty of deals to be had.
  • If you’re travelling from the USA to Europe any time soon, save your cash and buy them in Europe where they are much cheaper.

11. A charitable donation

I won’t give you the ‘giving to charity is good’ spiel. You already know there are plenty of people less fortunate than you. Even £1 / $1 can make a difference so why not make a donation? Not sure where to start? I regularly donate to DEC (Disaster Emergency Committee) and Water Aid is a going to benefit most when I finally depart planet earth for the eternal unknown.

So, that’s 10 quick gifts for yourself this season. Is there something you regularly treat yourself to this time of year? Something on your list that you’d recommend for others? Let me know in the comments below. 

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Author - Jo Fitzsimons

Hi, I'm Jo, the writer behind Indiana Jo. In 2010 I quit my job as a lawyer and booked an around the world ticket. As a solo female traveller, I hopped from South America to Central America, across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It was supposed to be a one-year trip but over a decade later, it's yet to end. I've lived in a cave, climbed down a volcano barefoot, spent years as a digital nomad, worked as a freelance travel writer, and eaten deadly Fugu. Now I'm home, back in the UK, but still travelling far and wide. You can find out more About Me.

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