2020 has no doubt been a difficult time for travellers and the tourism industry as a whole. With the pandemic still marching on around the globe, it can be challenging to know what to buy for that special traveller in your life. Maybe you’re shopping for someone who loves the wilderness. Or perhaps you’re looking to buy something for someone who is Paris-obsessed. From history buffs, city-lovers, mountaineers and culture vultures it can be hard to know what to shop for. That’s why we took the guesswork out and narrowed it down for you. If you’re in the market to treat an adventurer and aren’t sure where to start, our travel gift guide has you covered.
The Ultimate 2020 Gift Guide for the Special Traveller in Your Life
Subscription Boxes to Suit Every Type of Traveller
Subscription boxes are a great gift for your special adventure seeker. From foodie oriented boxes to more explorer style options, there are tonnes to choose from. They are essentially a vacation in a box and perfect for the holiday season or otherwise. Here are some of the best:
For the Tea Connoisseur – Tea Runners
Tea is an integral part of many cultures around the globe. Whether fancy English tea times or serene forest side Taiwanese tea houses, these dried leaves are celebrated worldwide.
Tea Runners is a monthly subscription box that brings a slice of tea culture to your doorstep in the form of top quality loose leaf teas. With four boxes to choose from ranging from herbal to black, you’re sure to find the right fit. Each box contains approximately 40 cups of world-class loose leaf teas along with steeping instruction and notes on each blend. Prices start at just $20/month with free shipping in the US and Canada. Take your pick here.
Fun fact – tea the second most-consumed drink worldwide! Water, of course, comes in at number one.
For the Foodie – Try the World
Try the World is the ultimate gourmet box for the foodie in your life. Each month’s box is themed with a specific country’s cuisine. They offer a variety of 7 gourmet foods, cooking ingredients and unique snacks from countries all around the world. Some of their featured products have included Argentinian olive spread, Moroccan couscous and Chinese roasted chana. See their options that range from $29/month onward here.
For the All-Around Tourist – Vacation Crate
Vacation Crate’s subscription box is the perfect way to quell a travel bug. Each box is carefully curated with destination themed items from all around the globe. The package includes everything from local artisan goods to bath and body products. All of Vacation Crate’s products are ethically sourced and cruelty free meaning you don’t have to worry about who you’re hurting with your purchase. Choose from any of their boxes starting at $38/month.
For the Slavic Obsessed – The Russia Box
The Russia Box is precisely what it sounds like. This travel-themed subscription box covers all things to do with Russian, Slavic and Soviet culture. Each package contains 1-2 large items, 5-10 small items and one cultural item. Past items include matryoshka dolls, Russian chocolates and Soviet-era games. If your adventure seeker has an affinity for Eastern Europe or Slavic culture, this is the perfect gift idea. See your options as low as $23/month here.
For the Bibliophile – The Wordy Traveler
If you want to give the gift of experiencing a new culture without having the receiver ever leave their house, The Wordy Traveler is the way to go. Bibliophile slash wanderlusters will love the monthly handpicked cultural books that come with tea, trinkets and art prints to match the theme. Best part? Each box goes toward helping women all over the world gain access to education. Prices start at $50. Browse past boxes and pick yours here.
Stories and Tales For the Worldly Bookworm
Speaking of books, there’s nothing like cracking open a new hardcover and slipping off to another world. Books have the ability to transport readers to a new world of adventure, culture and vibrant colour. Whether you’re shopping for someone who loves the mountains or is obsessed with history, there’s a book out there that fits the bill. Here are a few ideas.
The Alchemist – Paolo Coelho
Coelho’s The Alchemist is relatable to every wanderer out there. It’s a book about following your dreams, about being bold and learning the meaning of life through some old fashioned trial and error. The Alchemist is also one of the most read books of all time and follows the journey of a young shepherd boy who travels from Spain to Egypt.
“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” –Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist
Less – Andrew Sean Greer
This 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner follows the story of Arthur Less on his journey around the world. Following heartbreak, Arthur embarks on a literary journey around the globe to rediscover himself and the world around him as he nears 50 years old. The book inspires wanderlust to places such as France, Morocco, India and Germany and is described by many as satirical yet moving.
A Year in Provence – Peter Mayle
Francophiles rejoice! This nonfiction account of British novelist Peter Mayle is just what you need to transport your someone to France. After he and his wife trade their lives in England for an 18th century farmhouse in the Luberon Mountains they are met with quite a few surprises. All in all, A Year in Provence is chock full of culinary adventure, wit, self-discovery and the intense skill required to navigate French culture and customs.
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
This list just wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild. The heartbreakingly triumphant book takes readers along the Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed wows readers with stunning depictions of the Californian coast and dense Oregon forests making it perfect for any nature lover. The memoir also confronts her struggles with addiction, love and self-discovery. Needless to say, this book is perfect for the solo traveller who enjoys soul searching and the natural world.
“It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B.
It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. “
–Cheryl Strayed, Wild
Circe – Madeline Miller
Madeline Miller’s Circe is perfect for those who wander for history. This book weaves together all the best parts of ancient Greek life and mythology, making for a truly fascinating read. Following the life of Circe, it’s a bold retelling of the Greek goddess of magic and wows at every turn. It’s exciting, emotional, historical and a must-read for anyone with love for Greece.
Purchase this epic Hellenic read from Barnes & Noble right here.
Ethical Cultural Goods For the Consious Traveller
Is the vagabond in your life one who always heads for the first handmade shop they can find? Do they love researching local arts and crafts to get to know a place? Why not surprise them with something straight from the source.
Oaxacan Crafts and Goods – The Little Pueblo
Emilio and Lauren are the husband and wife duo behind The Little Pueblo. The Little Pueblo specializes in traditional Oaxacan goods such as aprons and ornamental tassels. Their alebrije figurines make for a meaningful gift and bring a little bit of Oaxacan flare to any space. Browse the colourful alebrije here from quirky owls to vibrant jaguars.
Handmade Ethiopian Textiles – Mudai Ethiopis
Ethiopia is home some of the most incredible crafts and textiles in the world. Mudai Ethiopis offers beautiful handcrafted scarves in a variety of designs and colours. These scarves are made using the traditional Shema technique making the gift even more meaningful. Shema is a type of traditional cloth that is handwoven on a loom to create scarves and blankets. Shop the delicate scarves here to find the perfect gift this holiday season.
Traditional Romanian Garments – Blouse Roumaine
Blouse Roumaine is the first online shop of its kind that sources handmade Romanian blouses. Their goal is to keep the extraordinary art of hand embroidery alive by bringing a spotlight to local artisans and their pattern-work. Each blouse is carefully handcrafted in traditional folk patterns that have been passed down from generation to generation. You’ll find a variety of delicate peasant blouses with folk embellishments that vary by region from flowers to shape patterns. Shop here.
Icelandic Hand Knit Sweaters – Álafoss
Does the person you’re shopping for dream of swimming in the Blue Lagoon or strolling the streets of Reykjavic? Why not surprise them with a warm wool sweater straight from The Land of Ice and Fire. Álafoss’ online shop offers locally handmade wool sweaters to keep your special someone warm all winter long. Each hand-knit sweater is embroidered with the knitters’ name to add a special touch. Not feeling a sweater? Check out their handmade “elf shoes” that make the perfect house slippers
Ethical Aboriginal Artwork – Art Ark
Art Ark celebrates the oldest unbroken tradition of artmaking world wide – Australian Aboriginal art. At Art Ark they are dedicated to the preservation of the Aboriginal culture which spans as far back as 80,000 years. Here you’ll find ethically sourced Aboriginal art pieces that are fairly traded from some of Australia’s most remote communities. Browse their extensive collection here.
Air BnB Virtual Experiences for the Armchair Traveller
In response to COVID, AirBnB has created virtual experiences that make excellent travel gifts. Here are some of our top picks.
This virtual experience allows guests to learn how to identify Sri Lankan leopards while learning about their fascinating habits. The host is equipped and ready to answer any and all burning questions about one of the world’s most interesting wild cats from behaviour to mating techniques.
If you’re shopping for a parisian foodie, this french pastry experience is the way to go! The experience shows how to make choux dough along with key characteristics of several famous pastries. We’re talkin’ eclairs, religieuse and even the french marriage cake.
History buffs will love this Pompeii guide directed by a real life Archaeologist named Roberto. Guests will experience the rich Roman history of Pompeii from its luxurious baths to massive amphitheatres showing what the once vinbrant city was like.
Jaipur, India is one of the world’s most vibrant cities full of colour, culture and authenticity at every turn. This online experience tours the pink city with interactive storytelling that will transport you right back to the 16th century.
The bustling Argentinian capital is home to some of the best street art in Latin America. Give the gift of an art walk with AirBnB’s virtual street art tour. Guests not only get to experience the vibrant city’s artwork but will also learn how to sketch.