Travel Gift Ideas for a Graduate

Shannon Whitney

Do you know a senior graduating this year? Is he or she planning to take a gap year or spend the summer backpacking? Instead of gifting a 2015 monogramed teddy bear or a picture frame with an inspirational quote, check out these graduation gift ideas.

Gift Ideas for Graduates

Eurail Global Pass– Give the gift of go if your graduate is heading to Europe. If you’re looking for a smaller increment, check out their gift card options. Airline gift cards are also a nifty gift. Be sure there isn’t an expiration date involved.

Tortuga Backpack– Every traveler needs a quality bag and we have three options to choose from and free shipping in the US. Tie a bow on top and voila!

City Pass– If your grad is traveling to one (or more) of the cities included in a CityPass, it would make an awesome surprise. The pass gives the user admission to a list of local attractions for a reasonable price.

Plug Adapter– These are handy no matter where you are in the world. This one from Ceptics has great reviews and options for destinations all over. Look for something small, versatile and light when picking an adapter.

Solar-Powered Charger– In the vein of handy technology, a solar charger would be perfect for a long day out and about or an extended amount of time on a bus or a train.  There are a range of sizes and options available on Amazon for both solar chargers and portable rechargeable battery packs.

GoPro– Your senior will love this little camera to capture memories and movies. It’s waterproof, perfect for the scuba diver in your life or the person who’s generally rough on electronics.  Honorable mention to the waterproof phone cases too. This one looks flimsy, but it really works!

Passport– Sounds a little strange, but wouldn’t it be sweet if he or she thought about you every time they had to fish it out while going through customs? Fund someone’s first passport by giving them $140 and package it in a cheeky passport holder.

Wool Socks– We’ve been on the wool socks train from the very beginning. How about gifting some Smart Wool socks for long walks? It might seem like a lame gift to open, but they’ll thank you later.

Hammock– The key is to find one that’s lightweight and portable. The Grand Turk Nano 7 comes recommended and weighs a half of a pound. I would love to have one of these for camping, napping in a park or just relaxing on the beach.

Sleeper Scarf– A scarf that hides an inflatable neck pillow.  I have not used one of these myself, but it seems like a handy contraption for a late-night bus ride or an international plane ride. It also doesn’t look as weird as Pajama Jeans, which I’ve also been meaning to try.

Reading Material– While you can’t leave an inscription in the book jacket, you can give a library worth of books. A three month subscription to audio books through Audible is $45. If he or she has a tablet, check out Kindle Unlimited for six months for $59.94. Either would be light options for long trips.

travel listographyIf you’re looking for something more specific, pick a read from Laura’s post on inspiring travel books! I love coming home from a trip and filling in my favorite eats, drinks and sees in Travel Listography. It’s a notebook with prompts that encourage the owner to list trip highlights, like a reverse bucket list.

Mini Nail Polish– They are less than 3.4oz, so you can toss a couple in with your toiletries. It’s not a necessity, but a simple luxury to have when you’re gone for a couple months. Essie sells a set with this summer’s popular colors.

Water Purification System– Adjusting to the water in a far off land, can be tricky and sometimes ugly. Consider a personal water treatment system from SteriPEN or Katadyn. They are portable and both less than 100 bucks.

Fund a Moment– Choose a part of the trip and designate funds especially for that. It could be anything from the first night at the hotel, fancy dinner out or the lift in the Eiffel Tower and a bottle of wine.  Request a photo of the activity in return.

Gift Cards– Rather than my go-to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond, how about a sporting goods store to buy performance gear like REI, NorthFace or DICK’S Sporting Goods. Put your grad up for a night or two with a or Airbnb gift card. Airline gift cards also come in handy.  Better yet, gift some of your loyalty points or miles and fund a student’s ticket! Sometimes they are free to give, so it’s a win-win. You would have Aunt of the Year in the bag.

Ca$h– So practical and light for travel. Can be used for plane tickets or a croissant at lunch. A little money in a Hallmark card could mean an upgrade to first class.

What’s the best travel gift you’ve given or received? Be sure to share in the comments!


If you know a graduating senior getting ready to spread his or her wings on the road we have gift ideas for you. There’s a range of prices and cool tools to celebrate the grad and get him or her ready for the next step. Consider, gift cards, gear, or even funding a passport; or, buy a memory instead of a gift by giving an adventure to your graduate.

Image: Daria Nepriakhina (Stocksnap)