Gift Ideas For Backpackers

Last updated on: 48 Comments

Have you got a friend or family member who is about to set off on a long-term, overseas adventure? Is Christmas or a birthday just around the corner and stuck for an idea on what to buy your friend or family member? Want to buy them a going-away gift but have no idea what to buy for them? You’re in luck! We have compiled a list of gift ideas for backpackers which would be ideal for anyone about to jet off to a faraway land!

(NOTE: All price are an estimate and are in Australian Dollars)

$20 and Under

Stainless Steel Water Bottles gift ideas for backpackers

Stainless Steel Water Bottle ($10- $20)

We have found stainless steel water bottles are the best. They are eco-friendly, durable, rust free, safe and do not contain any harmful chemicals. Best of all, they can save money on the road by allowing the traveller to buy water in bulk or refill the bottles. You can pick one up at you local adventure store or even from a supermarket. Make sure it is good quality. Aluminium is also a good choice.

Diary ($2- $15)

It is great to have a diary when you are travelling. I write down what I have done everyday so I remember names of places and attractions. Writing down contact details of the people you meet is also important. A small pocket diary is best and you can pick one up from your local news agency or super market.

Travel Containers gift ideas for backpackers

Cosmetic Travel Bottles ($10- $15)

Cosmetic travel bottles come in handy. You can store any creams in them and they are reusable. These days with the liquid allowance on planes set at 100mls and under, they make it possible to take them on a flight. You can pick them up at your local adventure store and supermarkets.

Sewing Kit ($5- $20)

At anytime, you could lose a button or get a hole in a piece of clothing. A sewing kit is great to have. You can get compact ones that are light or if you have items at home make up a homemade gift. You can pick up one just about anywhere.

Manicure Kit ($5 – $20)

Great for your nails, eyebrows, splinters and whole lot more. These days they come in small kits with everything you need (including scissors, which are extremely useful) for a reasonable price. I have had mine for over 8 years now. You can pick up these up at any department store. When you are purchasing, just check the quality of the items. You don’t want to cut your first nail and have the clippers break!

From $20 – $50

Packing cell gift ideas for backpackers

Packing Cells ($20- $30 or there are deals 3 for $25)

These are brilliant. We can’t believe we waited so long to purchase packing cells! Makes packing and unpacking your suitcase/backpack a breeze. They have made it so much easier for us as we both have top loading backpacks (meaning our only entrance is from the top). You can divide up your contents, so pants/sweater in a larger one, shirts are in a medium one, and underwear in a smaller one. That way if you need one thing in particular, you aren’t pulling everything out of your bag just to get a pair of socks.

First Aid Kit ($30- $50)

Every traveller needs a first aid kit. I have found getting it from your local ambulance service has been the best value for us. You can add things to your kit later on. Items we would suggest- cotton tips, painkillers, diarrhea tablets, anti-inflammatory pills, (a lot) more band aids, hydration satchels, disinfectant, anti-septic and various creams. It might even come in handy if you end up in a bus crash!

Waterproofing Bags gift ideas for backpackers

Waterproof (Dry) Bags ($20- $50)

These dry bags come in different designs and sizes. We have a couple and they have saved our valuables on countless occasions (especially during Thingyan). We keep our passports in one as this is our most important possession. When you are out on a boat or kayaking you can put your iPhone/camera in a clear dry bag to take photos. You can pick these up at your local adventure store.

Camping plates  gift ideas for backpackers

Camping Plates/Cup ($20 – $50)

Surprisingly these have been very useful for us quite regularly. We bought kits that have a plate, bowl and cup but flatten out and fit into each other. Very compact and lightweight. You can chop up fruit, have cereal in the mornings and have a tea or coffee. Some street food stalls serve take-away food in little plastic bags, so having something to serve it up in is a necessity. Also buy a fork/spoon/knife utensil.

TSA Padlock gift ideas for backpackers
TSA Approved Travel Padlocks ($20- $50)

These padlocks are great to have. They act as a deterrent for any would-be thieves who might want to get inside your bag. If you travel by air, airline security can open the lock with a universal key so they won’t break it open to gain access. Some cheap hostels also don’t have door locks so you have to rely on padlocking your door when you leave. Consider getting a larger, heavy-duty one as well.

Quick-Dry Clothing /Underwear ($30- $50)

The cost of laundry adds up on a long trip. Being able to wash your clothes in the shower or sink, hang them up over night and have them dry to wear in the morning is very handy. It takes less than 5 minutes and becomes a part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth. Also some places will hold onto your clothes for 24 hours in order to clean them, and who wants to wait around for that? We use Ex-Officio underwear. Also we suggest Ice Breaker merino wool clothes. Highly recommended!

Speakers gift ideas for backpackers

Mini Speakers ($25 – $40)

If you are travelling for a while, they are very useful for those times when you just want to chill out. We use ours regularly as we both love music. You become the life of the party when everyone is sitting around having a few beers and you can provide the tunes! It isn’t really a necessity, but ours weighs in at 100 grams and you can recharge it via USB, so we barely even notice they are in our packs. You can also pick up Bluetooth mini-speakers which eliminate all those messy cables.

From $50 – $100

Gorilla Tripod gift ideas for backpackers

Gorilla Pod ($30- $90)

These great Joby Gorilla tripods are perfect to take travelling. They will vary in weight depending on the type of camera it is required to hold. Small tripods designed for point and shoot cameras will be about $30 but if they use a SLR where the weight of the camera is more you may be looking at $90. If the person is into photography this is a great gift to keep those night shots steady, taking selfies and shooting video. They wrap around any pole and stand on any uneven surface. Find them in your local camera store.

Mini MP3 Player ($50 – $70)

Our mp3 players get used each and every day. Whether it’s walking around the city, passing time on public transport or providing atmosphere for evening drinks, these are a must! They are small and weigh nothing. Plus you’ll be surprised how often the opportunity to exchange music with fellow travellers comes up!

Swiss Army Knife gift ideas for backpackers

Multi-Purpose Tool ($70- $100)

The miraculous, all purpose tool could possibly be the most useful item in anyone’s luggage. Fixing zippers, cutting fruit, tightening nuts on old scooters, you can do so many things with one! Either the Leatherman brand, or the famous Swiss Army Knife are great purchases that will get the traveller out of more pickles than you can count! I’ve had my Leatherman multi-tool for years and would be lost without it.

Have we missed out on any other items that you would recommend as gift ideas for backpackers? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Disclaimer: Throughout this post are embedded Amazon affiliate links to products we use and recommend. Purchasing these items using our links, at no extra cost to you, helps us with the costs of maintaining the NOMADasaurus site. If you do choose to buy something from this post, we will give you a huge high 5 when we meet up, somewhere in the world!

About the author

Alesha Bradford

As one half (some would say the better) of NOMADasaurus, Alesha has been travelling extensively since 2004. Her backpacking missions have seen her take on most of North America, Central America and parts of the UK. Now she is in South East Asia, backpacking overland to South Africa without taking any air transport. With an insatiable appetite for adventure and happiness, she aims to inspire others to realise their dreams by sharing her experiences through photography and travel advice. You can follow her journey on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

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48 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome suggestions! Putting a package together for my friend who’s headed overseas and this is a great guideline! Should have known to look here first but was lucky enough to stumble upon it through my Google search! Happy travels 🙂

    Great list and most items are not only for backpackers but travellers in general. I am sure family never know what to buy for those who backpack and this makes it easy for them.

      Thanks for reading Lyn. I agree, you don’t just have to be a backpacker to get a lot of use out of these items.

    Great list! I’ll have to send this over to my parents before Christmas, haha! Those dry bags would be really useful and mini speakers would be super fun to travel with, as well!

      Dry bags have saved us numerous times. Also consider getting a large one that goes on the inside of your backpack. Just an extra layer of protection that weighs nothing. Thanks for reading, Christine.

    Awesome list!! I have some quick dry underwear, and they’ve been such a great travel companion! I would add packaged food, like granola bars! Often times, these simple items are expensive or nonexistent abroad, so they can be such a special treat to receive abroad!

      Good call on the granola bars. Just leave them in the bottom of your backpack and munch on them when you can’t find a restaurant or cafe open. I always had a few in my snowboarding backpack for doing backcountry touring, but we don’t have any in our travelling backpacks. We might have to get some soon. Cheers for the tip, Casey.

    I sometimes think my family are stuck for what to get me for birthday or christmas but any of these would be perfect! Especially a diary…I always appreciate a new notebook 🙂

    Great list and not just for backpackers I think all travelers could use many of these items. We have the mini speakers that we use all the time when traveling or at home – since we are expats we continually move so these are super great! Fun list than you for sharing!

      Thanks for reading Stacey. The mini-speakers are definitely popular with a lot of travellers. We love using ours. We’re chilling at a beautiful beach in Vietnam right now. The speakers are getting a lot of use 😉

    Great gift ideas..! Your travelling friends are lucky 😉
    I like the packing cells..! Such a thing might help prevent the always-happening mess that sweeps through my luggage no matter where I go! 😀

      We can’t believe it took us so long to get these packing cells. Don’t know what we would do without them now. Thanks for reading, Veronika.

    What a great list of items, I’m sure any backpacker would love to receive these as a gift! I need to get one of those Gorilla Pods!

    these are some great gifts! I’d love to receive any of them. 🙂

      For sure, Cory. I wish we had of made this list before we started this current trip. Could have passed it onto our friends and family before we left and saved ourselves a bit of money 😉

    Great list! But no way anyone travels with all of that! not even half of it! Some of the items are very useful though

      Good point Elena. What things would you leave out? Between Lesh and I, we carry just about everything on that list. Some of things are so small and weigh nothing so you don’t even know they are in your backpack. I’ve got a 50L pack, Lesh has a 40L, and even with all this stuff, and our usual kit, our bags don’t weigh much. Thanks for reading?

    Those multi-purpose tools are good, but you have to remember to leave them at home if you are flying hand luggage only (they will be confiscated otherwise!)

      Definitely Karen! Don’t want to get to the airport and have it taken from you. We travel overland so the multi-tool is always on us. We love it. Thanks for reading.

    I’m just going to go ahead and print this out for my parents for my Christmas list! :p

      Haha, not a bad idea! We need some new items to add on there so we can mention them to friends and family for our own Christmas list! Thanks for reading, Allison.

    Some great ideas there, just in time for my birthday too 🙂 We never travel without our dry bags or mini speakers, and have just discovered packing cubes too, great for undies!

    For once a thread like this withOUT Amazon affiliate links – and extra “Like” for that!
    Interesting: we carry quite a few of these, though minus the First Aid Kit (but a bag with some medicine) and a much smaller (and cheaper) Swiss Army knife – it suffices…

    Great list! I love the way you put it into price categories too! The packing cells seem very handy!

      We can’t believe it took us so many years to discover packing cells! They make our lives on the road so much easier. Thanks for reading Els.

    Erm keeping this list to ask gifts for myself this Christmas… lol “Quick-Dry Clothing /Underwear” you have no idea how many times this would’ve come in handy!

      They are so brilliant! In a closed room with no air circulating, our shirts still dry in about 2 hours. Put them outside or in front of a fan, they’ll be ready to wear in no time at all! We love them.

    Quick dry towels are another good thing to give people. Essential while backpacking!

      Absolutely! We use our quick-dry towels heaps, and they are so handy. Takes a little getting used to with the different feel of the material, but an essential part of the kit!

    I have recently learned about the existance of a portable safe. It actually comes in very handy if you want to be supersafe in hostels 🙂

      Ah yes, we actually checked one of those out before we left on our trip! We opted out of it because we were trying to keep the weight in our backpacks low, but definitely a brilliant idea!

    Great post! We are considering buying those mini speakers for our forthcoming 11 month hitchhiking trip across Asia. We always take only the absolutely necessary stuff but 11 months without our favourite music?! Fascinating blog! Thanks for connecting with us on Twitter! Keep up the great work and travel safe!

      The mini-speakers are awesome. Smartphones have in-built speakers of course, but the sound quality is never as good or as loud compared to a dedicated setup, even if it is tiny.

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