42 Amazing Gifts For Backpackers (That They’ll Actually Use!)

Travel Gifts for Backpackers

Buying a gift for the backpacker in your life can be daunting, especially if your own experience of travel is different from theirs. After all, what do you buy for someone who treasures experiences over material things?

The key to choosing a backpacking gift for your loved one is to invest in something that adds value to their trip. To help you pick the perfect present, read on to see what our community of avid travellers recommended in our gift guide this year!

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Best Gifts for Backpackers – Quick Answers!

42 Amazing Gift Ideas for Backpackers

The items on this list are ranked in ascending price order so stick to the top of the list if your budget is tight, or scroll down to the bottom if you’re looking to splash out!

1. Waterproof Playing Cards ($)

Playing cards are a cheap and easy way to pass the time. As backpackers spend a lot of time waiting for buses in bars and coffee shops where spills are common, waterproof playing cards are a great gift that will last for many trips.  

ACELION Waterproof Playing Cards, Plastic Playing Cards, Deck of Cards, Gift Poker Cards (Black)

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2. Headphone Splitter ($)

Twelve-hour bus journeys can be challenging, especially without stimulation and conversation. Headphone splitters allow travellers and their buddies to listen to the same music, movie or podcasts without bothering everyone else on the bus. Just remember to get a splitter that works with your phone/tablet!

3. Lip balm ($)

All those late nights spent drinking Bia Hoi at roadside bars can seriously take their toll on your lips. Even after just one night of drinking and dining al fresco, my lips begin to chafe. If you’re looking for a small gift, grab a tube of lip balm for the backpacker in your life. To make this extra travel friendly, opt for something eco-conscious which also contains SPF. Sunburnt lips are not fun!

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4. Hippie pants ($)

If your loved one will be on the Banana Pancake Trail, chances are they will be buying and wearing a pair of elephant pants before you know it. So, why not get them a pair before they leave so they fit in as soon as they arrive in their hostel?!  

Banjamath Women's Smocked Waist Harem Hippie Boho Yoga Palazzo Casual Pants (S,Peacock Black)

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5. Permethrin Spray ($)

Permethrin spray keeps most of nature’s nasty biting critters away. Unlike traditional insect repellent, this type of spray is applied to clothes, backpacks and tents to prevent mosquitos and other pests from infiltrating equipment.

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6. Shampoo and Conditioner Bars ($)

For the eco-conscious traveller trying to make sustainable choices, these plastic-free toiletry bars make for a great stocking stuffer or small gift. Unlike traditional hair care products, they don’t count towards your liquid allowance and are much lighter to carry. According to Nat Geo, a standard bar can outlast two to three bottles of liquid shampoo. That could do an entire trip!

Our friends at Tangie are giving you 20% off shampoo and conditioner bars, as well as all their eco-friendly products, when you enter the code – BACKPACKER – at checkout.

Ethique Shampoo and Conditioner Set for Dry Hair, Tame Those Locks (Frizz Wrangler & Guardian) - Sustainable, Natural, Soap Free, Vegan, Plant Based, Eco-Friendly 100% Compostable & Zero Waste, 6oz

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7. Sleeping Mask ($)

Whilst this may strike you as more of an aeroplane item, sleeping masks can really come in handy for backpackers who spend a lot of time moving from place to place. Whether you’re on a night bus or trying to grab some shut-eye in a hostel room, a sleeping mask is a useful present. 

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8. Journal or Diary ($)

When it comes to backpacking gift ideas, a good journal never goes out of fashion. Although blogs are ever rising in popularity, being able to scribble down reflections about daily life on the road will give the backpacker in your life something special to look back on later.

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9. Money Belt ($) 

If you’re exploring a busy city or are in a country where safety is a concern, you’ll want to keep your money out of sight but close to hand. A money belt allows backpackers to store their cash, cards and other small items they might need to access at a moment’s notice.

Money Belt for Travel - Slim Passport Holder Travel Pouch to Protect Your Important Papers and Money - Soft Innovative Rip-Stop Fabric, Secure and Water Resistant w/ RFID Blocking Sleeves Set

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10. Universal Travel Adaptor ($)

Instead of focusing on a specific region, give a backpacker an adaptor they’ll be able to use on virtually any trip they take. Universal travel adaptors are an essential part of every backpacker’s gear and this is a practical gift that has long-term potential.  Remember to choose an adaptor with surge protection!

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11. Backpacker Business – Nikki Scott ($) 

If you want to know how South East Asia Backpacker came into being, look no further than Backpacker Business, written by our founder and editor in chief, Nikki Scott. From novice backpacker to world-renowned Southeast Asia expert, the journey to self-discovery was not a smooth one but this book will surely leave you inspired to follow your own dreams!

Backpacker Business: One girl’s journey from wide-eyed traveller to worldwide entrepreneur.

Check out this post for more unforgettable travel books!

12. Netflix Subscription ($$)

Just because backpackers have left their normal lives for a bit of new scenery, doesn’t mean they want to miss out on their favourite source of entertainment!

A Netflix subscription is a useful gift for backpackers as they can log in anywhere across the world to enjoy a movie or catch up on a popular series. No matter whether you’re searching for gifts in the UK or the US, Netflix comes through.

13. Pack Cover ($$) 

No matter where you are in the world, it will rain at some point. Help your backpacking buddy keep their stuff safe and dry with a waterproof pack cover for their bag. Whether you want to opt for a high-end product like those from Osprey or something more budget-friendly, there is an item on the market for you. 

Joy Walker Backpack Rain Cover Waterproof Breathable Suitable for Hiking/Camping/Traveling(for 40-55L Backpack)

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14. Rechargeable Head Torch ($$)

The only thing worse than being woken in a dorm room by someone tripping over their backpack is having someone whack on a light at 3 am. Buying a backpacker a head torch means you can save them from being that guy.

Head torches are also super useful when camping, hiking at night or finding your bag at the bottom of the bus in the dark. To get the most out of this gift, opt for a rechargeable one. They can usually be charged via USB and have around 20 hours of constant use between charges. 

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15. Travel Scarf ($$)

You can never be too careful about where you keep your money and important cards when travelling. Travel scarves come designed with hidden zipper pockets ideal for keeping cash or credit cards. The pocket isn’t at all noticeable or cumbersome and the scarf doubles as a comfortable pillow for plane and bus rides.

ELZAMA Infinity Loop Solid Color Scarf With Hidden Zipper Pocket For Women - Lightweight Travel Neck Wrap…

16. Travel Underwear ($$)

Even though many people think of backpacking as an elongated holiday, it can be exhausting. Long bus journeys, early flights and less than desirable accommodation options mean that feeling clean is something that sadly can be a rare occurrence for a backpacker. 

Although a traveller won’t necessarily need specific underwear for backpacking, they’ll love you for thinking of their undercarriage. Opt for something breathable, anti-microbial and moisture-wicking to give the gift of maximum comfort. Merino wool products are a good shout. 

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17. Sleeping Bag Liner ($$) 

Sleeping bag liners serve multiple purposes during a backpacker’s journey. In addition to adding warmth and padding to a sleeping bag, liners play an important role when it comes to hygiene at hostels. No matter how filthy the bed, the sleeping bag liner will keep the user in a clean cocoon.

Sea to Summit - Reactor Extreme - Thermolite Mummy Liner, One Size, Red

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18. Travel Towel ($$) 

If you’ve never been backpacking, you may wonder how backpackers deal with the towel situation while travelling. The answer is that many use travel towels. Travel towels are usually made from microfibre so that they dry quickly and pack down small.

19. Scratch Map ($$)

Every traveller loves to keep track of their voyages and a  scratch map is the perfect way to help backpackers log each place that they visit. The novelty gift is a fun memento that will bring a smile to the recipient’s face.

Scratch The World ® Travel Map - Scratch Off World Map Poster - X-Large 23 x 33 - Maps International - 50 Years of Map Making - Cartographic Detail Featuring Country & State Borders

20. First Aid Kit (Approx $$)

When thinking of gifts for the backpacker, it’s important to think practically. Safety always comes first which is why every backpacker should be equipped with a practical yet compact first aid kit.

You never know when a backpacker may need a first aid kit to help themselves or others around them. Go for a kit that comes with a convenient travel bag.  

First Aid Kit - 100 Piece - Small First Aid Kit for Camping, Hiking, Backpacking, Travel, Vehicle, Outdoors - Emergency & Medical Supplies

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21. Socks ($$)

There is a shed load of walking involved with travel, whether it is across a city, through a jungle or a day spent exploring a temple complex. For the average backpacker, a pair of standard walking socks will be well received. 

If the backpacker in your life doesn’t miss the opportunity to scale a few peaks while they’re exploring, consider opting for something more heavy-duty such as Darn Tough Socks. They have a lifetime guarantee!

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22. Packable Raincoat ($$)

Let’s face it, getting caught out in the rain sucks. A packable raincoat is a godsend for travellers as they weigh very little, take up only a small amount of valuable backpack space and help them to stay dry.

BALEAF Light Running Rain Jacket for Men Waterproof Pullover Nylon Hoodie Cycling Hiking Packable Windbreaker Black Size M

23. Menstrual Cup ($$)

This is quite a personal gift so we’d recommend giving this item to very close friends only. For female travellers, a menstrual cup might be the best thing they ever discover. Finding menstrual products on the road can be challenging and expensive. This little cup will allow them to save dollar, reduce their environmental impact and travel worry-free. Popular brands include DivaCup and Mooncup. 

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24. Solar Power Bank ($$)

It seems like everyone carries a power bank with them wherever they go these days. Although power banks can be picked up for cheap online, we advocate being kind to the planet and grabbing a solar-powered one. Backpackers are often outdoors in sunny places – allow them to make the most of it!

Solar Charger 26800mAh, Riapow Solar Power Bank 4 Outputs USB C Quick Charge Qi Wireless Portable Charger with LED Flashlight for iPhone, Tablet, Samsung and Outdoor Camping

25. Buff ($$) 

A buff is a great practical gift for backpackers. It can be worn as a sweatband when hiking, a neck gaiter for scaling mountains, an eye cover for bus journeys or a hairband to calm those pesky flyaways. Opt for something sweat-wicking to keep the wearer comfortable in all climates. 

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26. Pocket Blanket ($$)

A pocket blanket is a multi-functional piece of kit. They can be used as a picnic blanket, a rain shelter or even as a groundsheet for your tent!

Pocket Blanket -Compact Picnic Blanket (60"x 56") - Sand Proof Beach Blanket / 100% Waterproof Ground Cover. Great Outdoor Blanket for Hiking, Camping, Picnics, Travel and Beach Trips!

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27. Travel Yoga Mat ($$) 

Yoga mats offer more than just the chance to head to a yoga class abroad. Backpackers can use yoga mats to complete just about any type of workout wherever they find themselves. A good travel yoga mat is super lightweight and easy to fold for seamless packing. A mat with a non-slip grip like the Jade Voyager or Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Yoga Mat is always a plus!

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28. Phone Camera Lens ($$) 

Not everyone can or wants to carry along a full-sized camera on their backpacking adventures. The next best option is using a travel gadget that will improve the camera on a cell phone. Gifting a backpacker a lens that attaches to their phone will allow the traveller to up their Instagram game with very little effort!

Xenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone, Samsung, Pixel, Macro and Wide Angle Lens with LED Light and Travel Case

29. Tile Luggage Tracker ($$)

If you know somebody who is paranoid about losing their luggage on the road, grab them a Tile luggage tracker. These Bluetooth gadgets pair with a smartphone app and can be used to keep track of their belongings. Whether you know somebody going interrailing or island hopping, this is one practical gift that they’ll definitely use. 

30. World Coffee Subscription ($$)

Ask any backpacker what the worst part of travelling is and they will tell you ‘coming home’! But what if you could still journey around the world from the comfort of your armchair?

It might not be a trip to the Mekong Delta but a world coffee subscription can help grounded travellers keep the dream alive while they plan their next trip. Check out Atlas Coffee Club who allow backpackers to have an adventure with every cup. 

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31. Noise-Cancelling Headphones ($$$)

Being able to enjoy music or podcasts while travelling is an almost universal pleasure. Whether they are used solely for trips on planes and buses or are a constant companion in a backpacker’s day, they shouldn’t be left behind. 

When buying noise-cancelling headphones, make sure that they are good enough to block out badly dubbed movies on the bus and other people’s tunes. When it comes to practical choices, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is one of the best gifts for backpackers!

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones with Mic for Phone-Call and Alexa Voice Control, Black

32. Portable Speakers ($$$)

The best way to get everyone in on the party is to break out the portable speakers and put on some great music. Sending a backpacker on their way with a reliable portable speaker is a great way to remind them to have fun. Make sure you choose portable speakers with Bluetooth capabilities for listening anywhere!

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33. Travel Shoes ($$$)

Buying travel shoes is something that many backpackers intend on doing. However,  a decent pair comes at a cost and something else more pressing always seems to take priority. 

A good pair of shoes for travel can be used on the beach, along hiking trails and for short walks around town. We love the TropicFeel Canyons, which in our opinion, are the all walking, all talking shoes of travel. However, Loom Shoes and All Birds also make some top quality travel shoes!

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34. Filtered Water Bottle ($$$) 

If you know a backpacker who likes to save money, a filtered water bottle is the perfect gift. In a lot of countries, it is not possible to drink tap water and doing so can even make you ill. Seeing no other option, most travellers tend to buy bottled water which quickly takes its toll on their budget and the planet! 

Water purifiers excel at keeping travellers safe on the road and remove everything from particles to viruses, making water from any source safe to drink. Our favourite is the Grayl GeoPress which performs reliably and is simple to use. 

In 2021, Grayl also released a smaller, more streamlined version of the GeoPress, the UltraPress. You can read more about it in our Grayl UltraPress vs GeoPress comparison.

Grayl Geopress

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35. Backpack ($$$) 

What makes a backpacker? There’s no hard answer but a backpack is usually a pretty good start! 

Buying a backpack for travel can be a challenging task and everybody’s needs and preferences are different. To make sure you hit the mark, ask the recipient what kind of pack they want:

When you’re looking, don’t forget to pay attention to sizing and check out our backpack guide for some recommendations from the community. 

If you want more detailed information about backpacks, check out our in-depth reviews:

36. Kindle or other eReader ($$$)

Reading is a wonderful thing to do while travelling. Backpackers are often gone for long periods of time which means that they can easily go through several books. While classic printed books may feel nicer and provide a sense of nostalgia, they’re not convenient for backpacking. An eReader allows backpackers access to as many books as they want, right at their fingertips.

All-new Kindle Paperwhite (8 GB) – Now with a 6.8" display and adjustable warm light – Ad-Supported

37. Travel Coffee Maker ($$$)

A lot of people have the idea that backpacking has got to be proper shoestring travelling. While this is true to an extent, it doesn’t mean that travellers need to say goodbye to all of their home comforts. 

If your backpacker friend loves nothing more than a good cup of joe first thing in the morning, buy them a coffee maker which they can take on the road. Portable coffee makers have been a game-changer for travellers and save them from the horror of those instant powdered coffees that most hostels offer. After all, life is too short to drink bad coffee. 

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38. Action cam ($$$)

People want to share their trips with friends and families back home. Help them do this by setting them up with a lightweight, hard-wearing action cam. Many are waterproof so they can even take photos of their diving trips!

Of course, the most popular of these is the GroPro Hero range, however, if your budget is a little tighter than this, there are reliable options available for less. Don’t miss the DJI Osmo Action which is waterproof up to 10 metres. 

GoPro HERO10 Black - Waterproof Action Camera with Front LCD and Touch Rear Screens, 5.3K60 Ultra HD Video, 23MP Photos, 1080p Live Streaming, Webcam, Stabilization

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39. Sponsor a worthwhile cause (Prices vary)

Whether it’s sponsoring a village to get clean water, helping put kids through school or keeping elephants out of the hands of poachers, there are plenty of worthwhile causes you could sponsor in the name of your travelling loved ones. 

They will usually receive updates and photos from the charity to keep them informed as to where the sponsorship money is going.

40. Experience days (Prices vary)

With more people today collecting memories rather than physical items, a group tour or experience day is a great choice. From jungle treks to cooking classes, there are plenty of options for tours and experience days that a traveller will never forget.

If your loved one is heading over to Southeast Asia or South America then check out the local, community tested tours sold through our sites. They all come backpacker approved, directly benefit the locals on the ground and make great gifts for that special backpacker in your life!

41. Travel Insurance (Prices vary)

Travel insurance is something that rarely crosses the mind of backpackers until the last moment and by that point, they have usually forgotten to budget for it. Despite this, travel insurance is super important for anyone travelling abroad.

 Travel insurance comes in different packages across varying price ranges. Learn more about the type of backpacking trip that your loved one is embarking on before purchasing to make sure that they are properly covered. Our Facebook Group members most often recommend World Nomads, SafetyWing and True Traveller.

#1 Backpacker's Favourite Travel Insurance
SafetyWing Nomad Insurance

SafetyWing is the travel insurance of choice for scores of backpackers! 

  • Subscription style insurance
  • Cheap and flexible
  • Available after your trip has started

42. El Camino Jewellery ($$$)

For a thoughtful gift that they will cherish forever, consider immortalising their travels. El Camino makes personalised bracelets and necklaces suitable for all genders. 

You start by buying the base jewellery and then add ‘steps’ to it. These can be countries visited or specific attractions such as Machu Picchu. You can also get custom steps created. 

Essentially a charm bracelet for travellers, this is a gift that can be added to over the years – that’s the next few birthday and Christmas presents sorted too! 

Sheree Hooker | Editor @ South East Asia Backpacker + Winging The World

Sheree is the awkward British wanderluster behind wingingtheworld.com, a travel blog designed to show that even the most useless of us can travel. Follow Sheree’s adventures as she blunders around the globe, falling into squat toilets, getting into cars with machete men and running away from angry peacocks. In recent years, Sheree has also taken on the role of editor at South East Asia Backpacker.

Find her on: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

2 thoughts on “42 Amazing Gifts For Backpackers (That They’ll Actually Use!)”

    1. The list of gifts is not in order of importance, but price order. The smaller, cheaper gifts are first, followed by more expensive gifts later. We definitely recommend that every traveller gets travel insurance!

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