10. Useful Gifts for Backpackers and Nomads

Do you have a budding globetrotter in your family circle?  Are you looking for gift ideas for backpackers to wish them a bon voyage or for Christmas, birthday or graduation present?

Usually, the first-time traveller is desperate for money.  But point them towards this guide to save money for travel and instead buy them a really useful backpacker gift.  A travel accessory that they would never have thought to add as a backpacker essential.  Yet for years to come, your budding traveller will be forever grateful that you bought one of the best travel gifts ever.  A travel accessory that they will continue to use on many more journeys.

So what useful travel and backpacker presents can you give?

In this Article on Useful Gifts for Backpackers You’ll Find

A useful travel gift guide for backpackers and travellers
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The Best Gifts for Backpackers or Nomadic Globetrotters

1. Sleeping Bag

If your potential nomad is planning on staying in a variety of accommodations including hostels or camping then a sleeping bag is a great thing to be able to strap onto their backpack or luggage.  Choose a sleeping bag that has a good thermal rating for the regions they will be visiting and take into consideration the seasons that the backpacker will be touring.

Top Trip Tip: Look for a sleeping bag* that can fully unzip open providing flexibility to be used just as a blanket or quilt.

2. Sleeping Bag Sheet

Sleeping for months on end in a sleeping bag will mean that the sleeping bag will get smelly if it is not washed.  Washing a sleeping bag is not easy so instead line the sleeping bag with a sleeping bag sheet.  The sleeping bag sheet is also useful when staying at a hostel in the warmer months, particularly if the hostel does not provide linen.  You don’t want to lay directly on a mattress where hundreds of others have without a barrier between you and the mattress.

Top Trip Tip: When looking at a sleeping bag sheet for a travel gift, pay the extra for a silk sleeping bag sheet* as they roll up very small and are lightweight.

3. Microfibre Towel

The next dilemma for a backpacker is taking a bath towel.  Bath towels are bulky, heavy and take a long time to dry.  The answer – a microfibre towel*.  They are lighter weight, fold up small, quick-drying, soft on your skin and come with their own bag; so even if you do have to pack it up wet you won’t get the rest of your travel packing wet.


Top Trip Tip: Use your bed rails to hang out the towel and don’t forget to add it to the washing when eventually visiting a laundry mat.

4. Toiletry Bag

When heading off to the bathroom with their microfibre towel the nomadic globetrotter will also need to take their essential toiletry items.  For ease of carrying all these little bottles and tubes, it’s best to put them into a waterproof toiletry bag.  This also saves everything else in your travel packing from getting wet.

Top Trip Tip: Choose a toiletry bag with a hook* as hostel showers are often all wet or there is no shelf to place a bag.

5. Cup, Bowl and Utensils

Looking for ways to save money as you travel will always be on the new globetrotter’s mind.  Don’t spend $5 on a cup of coffee and even more on breakfast – take your own.  Include in the travel packing a favourite instant coffee, a cup/bowl, eating utensils and buying some cereals and milk along the way.  I love these collapsible travel cups and bowls* this set comes with a spork (spoon on one end and a fork on the other- wish they had been around when I backpacked.  How cool are they for unique travel Christmas gifts?

Top Trip Tip: Ensure to rinse and dry before putting away for longer-lasting and preventing the spread of bacteria.

6. First Aid Kit

You see that bacteria could make your budding traveller get sick.  Not to mention cuts, scrapes, headaches and upset tummies can happen anywhere.  It is so much easier to have a few basic essential first aid items packed in your luggage than trying to source a pharmacy on the road in a foreign location.

You can create your own first aid travel kit using this list or buy a slightly more elaborate version as a gift.

Learn what to include in your…

Top Trip Tip: Don’t forget to add the traveller’s own medication, vitamins and take a copy of their script.

7. Sewing Kit

Your first-time backpacker probably won’t be staying in five-star accommodation that usually provides a sewing kit.  If your backpacker is on the road for some length of time buttons pop, zips break and hems fall down.  A simple sewing kit can fix most issues.

Top Trip Tip: Remember to pack the sewing kit in the main check-in luggage as it will contain scissors or pins that cannot be taken onboard a plane.

8. Clothes Washing Kit

As mentioned before, the first-time backpacker or nomadic traveller is all about keeping costs low.  Plus they have a limited amount of clothing packed to help keep their travel packing light.  Therefore they are needing to wash clothes frequently.  The backpacker doesn’t have spare cash to spend on hotel laundry services nor do they want to be spending every second day at the laundry mat.  The answer is hand washing.

Back in my days as a backpacker I took a cake of laundry soap, a universal plug and was given a pegless clothesline* – what a godsend.  Wrap the clothesline around the end of your hostel bed to dry your undergarments and tops overnight.

Discover all the options for…

Top Trip Tip: Handwash most nights of the week until the towel, sheet, shorts, trousers and jacket all need to be washed – then it’s off to the laundry mat with a full load of washing.

9. Packing Cubes

I wish these were around when I backpacked, but essentially I created my own with a selection of small toiletry bags.  I had first aid in one, washing kit in another, shoes in plastic bags and for the clothes – well sometimes you just had to dig through the backpack.

Backpacks are quite a pain to find certain belongings.  Everything is packed from the top of the bag, meaning whatever is located at the bottom of the bag.  Packing cells* will help the backpacker to organise their travel items making packing, unpacking and repacking faster and more efficient.  Not to mention easier to find that elusive item.

Top Trip Tip: For even easy access to the backpacker’s belongings get a backpack that fully unzips like a suitcase.

The backpack will be perfect to store all the useful gifts for travel that you gave as presents.

10. A Travel Guide

And finally a travel guide of their desired travel destination.  Personally, I love Lonely Planet* as they have sections on the history of the country or region, things to do and see, how to get around, places to stay in varying price ranges and travel tips (the do’s and don’ts) at the back of the guide.  Travel guides also provide a great starting point when researching a trip, plus as an ongoing useful resource whilst on their travels.

Top Trip Tip: To save on weight in their luggage buy an e-book or Kindle version*. 

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  1. Great list Sally! I must admit, I didn’t need a sleeping back for my two months in Asia. I bough one for my hike to Everest Base Camp, but other than this never used it. Packing cubes are great if you are travelling with a suitcase, but when it comes to backpacking, I found they wasted more room than created. Maybe I am just a newbie when it comes to packing cubes or maybe the cheap ones I bought just weren’t good enough. Id love to give them another go though!

    1. Thank for the feedback on the packing cubes for the backpack, Kreete. Packing cubes weren’t around when I backpacked (although I did create a few small size packing cells with small toiletry bags for things like first aid and my handwashing kit.) I thought they would have made life a little easier if you had a top only backpack, but I can see your point about them taking up valuable real estate within your backpack, as they are set to shape and they may not fit the style of backpack. Hmm, more research involved in buying packing cells to match your luggage.

  2. The towels and packing cubes are really a must, not only for backpackers 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Thay’s true Shere, many of these travel accessories are suitable for all sorts of travellers.

  3. This really is a great guide for newbies looking to become nomads! #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  4. Great list. Lots of this items look good to me even though I am not a nomad or backpacker! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Thanks Anisa, I was hoping they would also appeal to a broader travel market. Which is your favourite travel gadget?

  5. Great gift ideas for the approaching holiday season. I may look into some of these for myself. The First Aid kit is something everybody should carry with them on a trip. #TheWeklyPostcard

    1. Yes Anda, sadly all travellers have a moment when they need some basic medical assistance.

  6. Huh…now I know what to tell my friends and family to buy me for Christmas. 😉 Great article, thanks for including all the links.

    1. Happy to help with sorting your Christmas wishlist, Jim.

  7. Wow – you think of everything, Sally. I didn’t have a sleeping bag but I brought a sleep sheet with me to South America – didn’t end up using it at all, though. But I have some friends who are extremely particular about their sheets and would definitely have used it! Also, a word of caution on the microfibre towels – they tend to smell if they don’t get a chance to dry completely. But they are indeed super useful!

    1. Great tip on the towels Michelle. Back in the day when I backpacked I had a chamois towel – even though it was designed to be put away wet it would smell if it didn’t dry out. But both types of towels do dry out quicker than towelling.

  8. You come up with a great list for beginners, we use most of your tips. Thanks for sharing at #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence Tomas. Which is your favourite accessory?

      1. The must-have thing is the sleeping bag from your list, but I think that every traveler should it by himself. Besides that, the most useful is the Microfibre Towel 😉

        1. Totally agree with you Tomas, I don’t know how many people will realise the value of the sleeping bag until they get travelling.

  9. Great post Sally-Ann! I’m going to have to pass this to a few of my friends for Christmas… I see so many things I want that I didn’t know I needed! Haha!

    1. Thanks Francesca. Good luck with getting your new wishlist ideas for Christmas.

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