Holiday Gear Guide: 8 Under-$50 Gifts for the Modern Traveler
Forget the typical holiday gear guides that feature $400 travel espresso makers and Bluetooth-enabled luggage that sings to you. Here are eight legitimately useful travel gifts for the modern nomad in your life.
HooToo TripMate Elite Travel Router
Even the most remote lodges provide some form of internet connectivity. However, the problem is that guests are often stuck paying per-device fees that add up quickly. The HooToo TripMate Elite Wireless Travel Router is a cigarette-pack-sized device designed to help you sidestep that headache. Simply plug it into the wall, connect it to the hotel Wi-Fi (using the free smartphone app), and you have a secure, personal wireless hub just like the one you already have at home. The latest HT-TM06 version also packs dual USB wall charging capability and a 6000mAh backup power bank. Available from Amazon for around $40 USD.
Related: Last-minute Travel Gift Guide
Custom Etched Glasses
We’re long-time fans of TheGrommet.com — the site that’s equal parts Etsy and Shark Tank. Among their long list of artisans is Susquehanna Glass Company. The company’s hand-made, and appropriately named Custom Etched Glasses are a simple, fantastic way to create a highly personalized gift for almost any traveler on the cheap. Each set of glasses (available in pint and stemless wine, among others) is laser engraved with latitude and longitude coordinates that you specify. It’s a great way to memorialize a destination that has special meaning to you and the recipient. Available from The Grommet, starting around $27 USD per pair.
Boneco Portable Travel Humidifier
In recent years, the travel market has been flooded with overpriced and mostly useless gadgets. At first blush, the Boneco Ultrasonic Travel Humidifier appears to be another such product. But we love it because humidifiers offer two key things for travelers: they help alleviate the symptoms (headache, sleeplessness, etc.) associated with jet lag, high altitude, or any combination thereof. It’s lightweight, compact, and works off almost any standard plastic water bottle. Available for around $50 USD from Target.
Roku Streaming Stick
Every year, Roku’s entire product line keeps getting better. Their newly revamped Streaming Stick is one of the smallest, slickest, and best streaming media players available. Plug it into any HDMI-ready TV (this includes most relatively modern hotel room sets), connect to the nearest available Wi-Fi, and you’re ready to roll. It features a point-anywhere remote, a best-in-class, quad-core processor (faster than Google’s Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick), and works with thousands of streaming channels like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. Available directly from Roku for less than $40 USD.
Belkin Dual-Outlet Travel Rockstar
There are plenty of compact, multi-outlet power adapters on the market. But two things set the Belkin Travel RockStar™ (that’s really what’s it called) apart from the also-rans. First, it offers 615 Joules of surge protection with $75,000 in connected equipment coverage; second, it features a 3,000 mAh backup battery. While that won’t get you too far with today’s juice-hungry devices, it’s enough to top-up most large-screen smartphones to get you through another long-haul flight. Available from Amazon for around $40 USD.
Nomad Goods Carabiner for iPhone/Android
Most smartphone accessories — backup batteries, cables, and the like — look like smartphone accessories. That is: plastic and mass-produced. Nomad Goods’ products are designed to be as stylish as they are functional. Their simple Carabiner is a stainless steel reinforced carabiner with a built-in USB charging cable; nothing more. It makes a great backup (or primary) cable for any smartphone. For travelers, just clip it to your pack and forget it until you actually need it. Available directly from Nomad for around $30 USD.
Würkin Stiffs Silicone Doppel Bags
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of a bottle of cologne, shampoo, or Bulleit break in your luggage, you’re not alone. Würkin Stiffs’ Silicone Doppel Bags are designed to prevent such scenarios. The one-piece, 100% silicone interior and exterior are leak-resistant, ensuring that any liquids inside the bag stay inside the bag. The 10-inch by 5.5-inch footprint make it ideal for packing toiletries. But it can pull double duty as a small tool kit or secondary laundry bag for damp clothing and gear along your next trip. Available from Würkin Stiffs for less than $50 USD.
Rolo Roll-up Travel Closet
Packing is usually a question of suitcase or backpack? The Rolo is uniquely designed unlike either. It’s a roll-up travel “closet” that’s part wardrobe, part organizer, and part compression bag — all aimed at helping travelers pack better. Inside, four mesh compartments (two small and two large) help tame your travel kit. Using the Rolo is a matter of filling the individual compartments, rolling it, and buckling it. It can be carried alone via a shoulder strap or strapped to a backpack to provide auxiliary packing space. Available from Rolo for less than $50 USD.