There’s a bit of a tradition for young Australians to take some time out travelling and seeing the rest of the world. Many of them take a ‘gap year’ between the end of high school and going to university and others through their early twenties. That first big trip can be scary and exciting and nerve wracking even if you’re the just the family that’s staying behind. Because so many jet off in January and February, I thought I’d share some of my favourite gift ideas to get your first-time traveller to say bon voyage.
What to get them:
- A Shockproof/Waterproof Camera Depending on your budget and whether they already have a camera, this could be a great gift for them to capture the memories of their adventures
- A Travel Alarm Clock, Spare Wallet, Money Belt I was gifted this travel alarm clock and it was great for those times when I was in a youth hostel dorm room and needed to be up early. Spare Wallets are great for putting a little cash in in case someone wants to rob you. Give them the false one! My Money belt got a lot of use whilst backpacking around Europe, but it depends on the type of travelling that will be done.
- A Sleeping Mask, Luggage Tags, Passport Cover, Coin Purse Sleeping Masks are a must for a long flight. Having your own luggage tags makes it easier to find your bags on the carousel (and in case they get lost). Passport covers can be a pain when they make you remove them, but they are ace for being able to spot where yours is in your bag. I found the coin purse was great for having some quick cash and even a travel cash card in my pocket so I didn’t have to rummage when I was making quick purchases.
- A Guide Book and a Phrasebook for their destination of choice This is such a great gift, particularly for anyone who might be deciding where to head next along the way. They also have digital versions these days, if your traveller is taking their devices.
- GRID-IT Organizer This is an excellent gift for anyone travelling with tech. It keeps cords and external drives and whatever else they might be taking and you can get them in quite a few sizes. I love mine and use it every time I travel. I got mine from Amazon here.
- Adapter Plugs and a Power Board This is my favourite travel tip ever! Now we all travel with so many things that need to be plugged in for charging, having a power board and just one adapter plug makes it so much easier than carrying all the plugs! (I often hear traveller’s in the airport lamenting that they didn’t think of getting an adapter plug earlier, so it really is a great gift!
- A Thermos So great for camping and backpacking holidays.
- A Chain, A Padlock, A Swiss Army Knife The chain is great when you need to secure your backpack to the hostel bed, padlocks – because not everyone is above board (unfortunately) and a swiss army knife for when you forget your scissors or need to open a can.
- Hydralyte and Immodium Zapid in case your traveller gets food poisioning along the way. So much better to have these in your bag than to try to ask for them in a language you don’t speak when you feel like death warmed up. (The Zapid ones don’t require water) May be a weird gift, but at least you know they have them should the worst happen
- Snap Lock (or Ziplock) Bags These are awesome for backing your bag with. They reduce the risk of liquids leaking and can be great for putting documents and other things that would be ruined if something happened to leak or if your bag gets left out in the rain at an airport.
- A Travel Purse with cross body strap, Portable Luggage Scale The purse is great for keeping the important things close to hand when your traveller is out exploring and the cross body strap makes it more difficult to snatch. The luggage scales are great if your traveller is like me and tends to fill their bag to the weight limit on the way home (every time) ;)
- Music from Home This CD started a tradition I have to buy some Australian music that I can listen to when travelling and missing home. I buy a new one and load it on my iPod before each international trip. Would be a nice tradition to start with your traveller.
- Sketch Book and Pencil This is great for taking trip notes on long flights or train journeys or just for sketching out ideas as the adventure happens. Especially good for a creative traveller
- Luggage This is a great gift for a close family member or friend as a travel gift. Something that’s easy to spot on the baggage carousel and fits the kind of travelling they will be doing. Makes for a wonderful 18th or 21st present too!
Travelling for the first time, whether it’s solo or with friends is an amazing experience and I think it’s made all that little bit easier with the support of those who are staying behind and will be there when we get back. I don’t think it matters whether you’re 18 or 28 or 48 when you take that first trip. It opens your eyes to the world and can give you a clarity that nothing else can.
These are just some of the things that your first-time traveller might like. Things have changed a lot since I took my first trip at 18, where everything needed AA batteries and the cameras were disposable. Back then I would have put a phone card on the list and all the batteries, but now so much has gone digital, you probably don’t see so many people tearing out the pages of their guide books after they’ve been to that place (just to make them a tiny bit lighter). And you probably don’t have people queuing at the pay phone to call across the world just to check in.
But there’s still people sitting on backpacks, headphones out of their ears, just taking in the hustle and bustle of the world around them. Listening to people having conversations they can’t follow and just marvelling in how big the world is and how small we are in comparison. There are probably still Londoners yelling at the “stupid tourists” for reading a map, though maybe the GPS in phones makes that way more stealthy.
You can’t always be there to experience it too, but I think that you can help them get the basics down. Tell them to take “twice as much money and half as many clothes”. They probably won’t listen, but that’s all part of the experience too.
Other things I might add to the list are: a travel SIM (if they’re taking their own phone), a toiletries bag that’s the official carry on size, with the little bottles too, extra warm socks, if they’re going somewhere that’s cold, some photos to remind them of home (especially if they’re going for a long time) and a little note that they’re not to read until they feel they really need it, that’s tells them how awesome you think they are (because everyone needs that if you’re away longer than a month).
What’s your go-to gift for a first-time traveller? What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear. Tell me in the comments.