20 Gifts for Friends Going Abroad

Looking for gifts for friends going abroad?  Check out this comprehensive guide of practical travel gifts.  I have either personally used these items or they are items I have researched extensively and would buy myself.

I can give you my word that these products are true essential recommendations.  These gifts are either items I won’t travel without, or will be purchasing to try out on my own.

I travel light and practical- so welcome to the roundup of my travel necessities (AND two splurges at the end) to help you choose the best travel gift for your friend.  From Spain back to the US, we got you covered.

We have compiled a list of gifts for friends going abroad to fit the bill, no matter the budget!  Beginning with lowest cost, and ending with highest cost:

By Ekaterina Shevchenko via Unsplash

Gifts for friends going abroad:

1. Journal

Sometimes, solo travel can be long and cumbersome.  Or, it can be joyful and exhilarating.  For both the happy and the sad moments, allowing your heart to unwind with simple pen and paper can do wonders.  I recommend a soft-cover journal because it’s easier to squeeze into my bag.  There’s also no need to go fancy- if you really want to budget down, grab a quick journal from your local dollar store.

2. Snacks

Yup, snacks.  Your friend going abroad is going to want snacks.  If they are an active traveler, enjoy taking hikes or outdoor adventures, consider some electrolyte chews.  I think honey stingers are delicious!  There are plenty of other options from other brands as well.

3. Zipper Scrunchies

Zipper scrunchies are one of my BIGGEST game changers while traveling!  I literally stash my cash in here for the day and put my hair up.  How simple is that?!

4. Money Belt

I either take this or the zipper scrunchies- usually not both.  You can wear a lightweight money belt under your shirt so it is not visible, like a purse that could be easily snatched.

5. Travel Adapter

This might be the most essential item on this list.  Countries around the world have different electrical outlet systems.  Research the country your friend is visiting to determine which adapter they may need, consider a universal adapter that will fit into a variety of outlets, or buy them a pack.  I recommend the smaller adapter, the better, because sometimes bulky ones can fall out of the wall.

6. Power Bank

Travel days can be long, and your friend probably won’t always be near an outlet.  Consider a lightweight power bank so your friend can charge devices on the go.

7. Collapsible Backpack

I don’t know if there is anything I can recommend more, truly.  It is SO light and packable, meaning it fits into your suitcase or backpack of choice.  AND it’s the perfect size for day trips.  I own a couple of collapsible backpacks and they have gotten me far.  Usually pretty cheap, consider a variety of colors or patterns.

8. Collapsible Water Bottle

I don’t own it myself yet, but I NEED to.  I am ALWAYS losing water bottles, often because I can’t find one that fits in my suitcase.  But I’m always trying to work on staying on top of my hydration, and I think this collapsible water bottle is just the one.

9. Travel Towel

Not every hostel has a towel, and you never know when you’re going to have a random beach day.  Towels are not always the first thing we think of when planning a trip, but they come in ridiculously handy, take up a ridiculously small amount of room in your luggage, and are ridiculously worth it.  They also double as an airplane blanket.

10. Lewis N. Clark Neck Pillow

I have tried a myriad of neck pillows.  For me, it has got to be inflatable or NOTHING.  I AM going to lose those chunky cushion pillows people figure out how to strap onto their backpacks.  I think it’s just too bulky for long-term travel.  But the Lewis N. Clark neck pillow inflates with three breaths, deflates by pressing one button, AND has a removable fabric cover that you can throw in the wash.  It’s so comfy, easy, practical, and barely loses air (as compared with many alternatives).

11. Packing Cubes

You’ll usually see this recommended on a LOT of lists, but it’s for good reason- not a scam.  Let me repeat- this is NOT a scam!  Packing cubes are a GAME CHANGER for both organization and space saving.  These are two prime areas new travelers may take for granted when planning a first time trip abroad.

12. Foldable Jewelry Case

It’s like a packing cube, for your jewelry!  I can’t tell you how many times my necklaces or bracelets have gotten tangled (more like, TRIPLE KNOTTED, to one another) in a ziploc bag.. or just lost altogether.  Consider a lightweight jewelry case, taking up barely any space, to stash your jewelry items.  This was a game changer for me!

13. Hydration Backpack

This one depends on how much space is in your friend’s luggage, and the types of activities they plan to do while traveling.  For longer hikes, I find a hydration backpack pretty essential- less weight on my back without shortchanging my water.  Most hydration packs have a couple of small pouches so you can still throw in your camera, phone, a snack, etc.

14. Packable Puffer Jacket

This depends on what climate your friend going abroad will be visiting, but I can’t recommend items that are collapsible enough (can you tell?)  Leave the parka at home, and bring a packable jacket.

15. Supportive Shoes

I know many have entered the era of choosing our daily outfit for how it’s going to look on the Gram- whatever your sense of fashion is, I honor and support it.  This is a form of self expression.  But please make sure you are comfortable with supportive shoes.

This could turn into the most expensive item on this list, because I have learned NOT to budget down for the health of my feet.

I highly consider researching the most comfortable and supportive shoe for your friend’s own feet.  Do their feet pronate inwards, or supinate outwards?  These are crucial things to consider when you are planning a LOT of walking.  This is where a gift card may come in handy, so your friend can do the research!

16. Hiking Sandals

If your friend is traveling to a hot climate, tell them to consider nexting the flip flops or fashion sandals, and buying a sturdy pair of hiking sandals.  So many fun colors and styles have risen over the years, so your fashionista friend won’t sacrifice style!  Comfort is key.

17. Gift Card

Let’s be real, there are some mega specifics on this list (like type of shoe), or maybe your friend going abroad loves to shop and choose travel items on their own.  At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with a gift card.

18. Action Camera

I have been eyeing action cameras like GoPro for YEARS to document my rock climbing adventures.  Action cameras are tiny, lightweight cameras that strap onto the user’s head or helmet- the camera goes where they go- we’re talking hands free!  Let me know if you make the move- and let me know how it goes!

19. Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless is all the rage, because it is a professional grade camera that unlike a DSLR, can usually fit into your pocket.  This is a game changer for photographers on the go who can’t afford to bring all of their camera equipment with them.  It still is a professional grade camera, so it’s not cheap.

20. Language App

Consider a language app subscription service for your friend going abroad.  Being familiar with the language of any country you visit is always important.  If your friend is planning on being abroad long term, they seriously might consider diving even deeper into the language.  Consider Babbel or Duo Lingo.

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As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).