What do you buy a traveller who cannot currently travel overseas? In this post, I share a few of the best lockdown gifts for travellers who are missing that sense of adventure.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. All this means is that if you make a purchase through one of the links I have provided, I will earn a small commission as a result but the cost to you will remain exactly the same.
Considering that all of us in the UK have been in living under lockdown restrictions since March, and that, as a result of this, our calendars have been looking a lot emptier than usual, I’m genuinely surprised at how quickly this year has flown by.
It’s a year that, in many ways, we were all hoping to be able to celebrate the end of, come Christmas. However, a recent rise in coronavirus cases has meant that stricter lockdown regulations have once again been enforced across the UK. Consequently, we don’t know yet whether we’ll actually be able to spend time with friends and family over the festive season – especially if they don’t live nearby.
And we also don’t know when we’ll be able to travel again. Even when we were permitted to leave the country for a short period of time over late summer and early autumn, the list of countries we could travel to (read: those NOT on the FCO’s quarantine list) was not only incredibly limited but also in a constant state of flux. Those of us with jobs that do not permit us to work from home full-time simply could not take the risk of having to quarantine upon our return.
In light of this, it’s unlikely that your travel-loving friend or family member has been able to travel abroad this year, or that they’ve even been able to book any trips for 2021.
What do you buy a traveller who cannot travel? Who is struggling to remember the last time they boarded a plane, but who is desperately missing the sense of curiosity and wonder that travel always delivers?
Well, I’m here to help 🙂
Here are a few of my gift ideas for travel lovers stuck in lockdown.
They may not be the most unique gifts for travel lovers, but they will definitely help to put a smile on the face of that special person in your life.
Best lockdown gifts for travellers
1 | A photo book documenting that amazing trip you took together
Because, the next best thing to having an overseas trip to look forward to is fondly reminiscing about the last one. I regularly find myself reading back over past blog posts, and it really helps me to re-live the adventure all over again.
A photo book is one of the best personalised travel gifts you can buy, because it takes a lot of time, thought, effort and creativity to make one. I know this because I recently spent an entire evening producing one for mum about the weekend I spent with her in Durham earlier this year.
I ordered my photo book from Photobox and I’m really pleased with it. You can see the results for yourself in the photos below.
2 | A recipe box to help them re-create all those amazing dishes they enjoyed on their past travels
Food (more specifically, its flavours and aromas) has an amazing way of instantly transporting you to a specific moment in time. Food is such an intrinsic part of travel and is, in many ways, what makes a destination so unique. Wherever I travel to, I absolutely adore sampling the country’s local delicacies, wandering around its markets, and learning how to cook a few of the dishes upon which its culture is built.
Give the travel loving friend or family member in your life the opportunity to keep their travel memories alive by recreating the flavours from the dishes they enjoyed overseas, in their own home.
I’ve had a Simply Cook subscription now for almost two years, and have probably cooked and eaten dishes from almost as many countries as I’ve actually travelled to. My favourites are the following:
- Keralan Prawn Curry (Kerala, India)
- Pad Thai (everywhere in Thailand)
- Spanish Paella (a dish that was originally conceived close to Valencia, Spain)
- Spinach and Paneer Curry | Red Lentil and Squash Curry (India)
- Crispy Chilli Tofu (China)
- Indochinese Hakka Noodles (Indonesia/China)
- Spiced Butternut Squash Risotto (Italy)
If I were to choose a few recipes that I’d love to see added to Simply Cook’s repertoire, they would be Fish Amok (Cambodia), Tea Leaf Salad (Myanmar), and Prawn Saganaki (Greece). I honestly dream about easting those dishes again pretty much every month!
You can order a trial recipe box for just £1 using my referral code, so it would make a fantastic little stocking filler for the traveller in your life. There’s absolutely no obligation to keep the subscription going beyond the first box, but if you would like to spend a bit more, a three-month subscription is £29 or a 6-month subscription is £49.
3 | A day out, a meal, a hotel stay or a weekend away in the UK
Ok, so your travel-loving friend or family member may not be able to board a plane, but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying travel within their home country. The strict lockdown restrictions which are currently in force in the UK (forbidding people to travel outside their hometown unless it’s for work purposes) are not expected to last beyond December. So, come the new year, local travel, at least, should be allowed.
In the last few years alone, I’ve used the Travelzoo website to book an indoor skydiving experience and two incredible weekends away in both Branscombe, Devon and Fowey, Cornwall (both of which cost me just over £100 for the two of us) – all as gifts for Stu’s birthday . I also treated mum to a lovely 3-course meal at one of our local restaurants, and purchased a couple of significantly reduced entry tickets to a nearby historic attraction.
I highly recommend checking out Travelzoo’s Christmas Gift Guide for some inspiration. Alternatively, I’ve got my eye on this two-night break in the Lake District for just £129 (which includes a full Cumbrian breakfast both mornings, a cream tea and a three-course meal with wine). Or this Brewdog beers and cheese taster session for just £13.50, which is available at 44 different locations throughout the UK. Both prices I’ve quoted are for two people but you can also buy the Brewdog experience for four.
4 | A travel-related novel to get lost in
Books, like food, are a fantastic form of escapism; of transporting yourself to another time and place far from the comfort of your own sofa. As a result of being forced to spend more time at home this year, I’ve got through quite a few books, and have even more on my wish list, still to read.
Although not all of the books I’ve read have been travel-related (I think it’s good to mix things up a bit), I do enjoy finding those that allow me to travel vicariously, and which teach me about a country’s culture, its people and the historical events that have shaped it over time.
I especially love reading books that are set in a country I’ve recently travelled to or am planning to travel to in the near future.
A few I can recommend are as follows:
- Myanmar – The Road to Rangoon
- Thailand – A Million Little Pieces
- Cambodia – Off the Rails in Phnom Penh | First They Killed My Father
- Vietnam – When Heaven and Earth Changed Places | Catfish and Mandala
- China – China Road
- Albania – Chronicle in Stone
- Bolivia – Marching Powder
- India – God of Small Things
5 | Hiking gear and a book about some of the UK’s best walking routes
Because, in my experience, travelling and hiking often go hand-in-hand. Getting off the beaten track is a far more enriching and rewarding way of exploring a destination than relying on cars and public transport alone, which is why many of us decide to factor a hike of some description into our travel itineraries.
And, whilst overseas hikes are largely off the cards right now, the good news is that the UK is home to a seemingly endless list of wonderful walking trails – ranging from a few miles in length (doable in a morning or an afternoon) to well over a hundred. My friend Jayne and I completed a large number of day-long walks in Shropshire this summer, and it’s a fantastic way of getting to know the area in which you live a little better whilst at the same time satisfying your curiosity for exploration and adventure. Later on in the summer, as a result of having to abandon our plans to hike the Camino Primitivo in Spain, we completed the 84-mile-long Hadrian’s Wall Path in northern England.
At a time when I couldn’t travel internationally, and when it was also advisable to avoid more densely populated parts of the UK, the ability to still be able to get out into nature and continue to make new discoveries really helped to lift my spirits and remind me of everything I love about travel.
Keep the traveller in your life occupied and inspired by giving them the tools they need to do the same.
For day hikes, you really need nothing more than some comfortable gear and a well worn in pair of hiking boots or shoes, a water bottle, some high energy snacks or a packed lunch, and a phone with maps.me (works off-line so you don’t need mobile signal) installed on it. For longer hikes, the list is a little longer. Here’s a few of the products I love:
- Rab Downpour Jacket. Considering that this jacket is under £100, it’s done an amazing job of keeping me dry through some pretty appalling weather conditions.
- Osprey Pack. Osprey make comfortable, innovative packs that stand the test of time. I’ve got the female specific Tempest 20 (for shorter hikes) and the Sirrus 36 – which I bought specifically to hike the Hadrian’s Wall Path.
- Balega socks. Honestly, these are a game-changer for long runs and long-distance hikes. The cushioning is amazing and I’ve not had a single blister since wearing them.
- Refillable water bottle. I use mine all the time, even at home. They don’t last forever, so they always make a perfect gift for travel lovers or hiking enthusiasts.
- Electrolyte tablets. These contain a mix of electrolytes, glucose and essential minerals, which help to keep you more hydrated than water alone. They also make water taste better, which in turn helps you to drink more of the stuff.
- Hiking boots or shoes. It does depend upon what sort of terrain you’ll be hiking over as to which is more suitable. I’m a huge fan of Keen or Merrell and my friend Jayne swears by Salomon.
6 | An bag of sustainable, plastic-free, cruelty-free products for their next overnight getaway
Who doesn’t love a package of new and exciting body and skincare products to sample? Okay, so the men reading this may be scratching their heads, but I’m sure the women are nodding in unison.
Seeing as though none of us can really plan travel right now, there’s a high probability that your travel loving friend or partner’s next getaway will be a pretty last minute affair – unless of course you’re planning on treating them to gift idea number three on this list 😉
And last minute affairs don’t leave a lot of time for planning and packing. So, if they have a pre-prepared gift bag packed with everything they need for a few days away from home, then that’s one less thing for them to think about. Yes, hotels often supply travel miniatures, but did you know that 200 million of them currently end up in landfill each year? So, for that reason I would not recommend compounding the issue by using them.
I have a bag much like the one I’m suggesting sat ready and waiting in my ‘travel’ box in my wardrobe. I keep it completely separate from the toiletries I use on a day-to-day basis at home, so that I can literally grab ‘n’ go when I need to pack in a hurry.
Here’s what’s in mine:
- Solid shampoo bar and metal tin from Lush. Still my favourite shampoo bars and their tins don’t rust.
- Solid conditioner bar from Inanna’s Daughter. Honestly this is the only conditioner bar I’ve found that doesn’t leave my hair greasy or in a tangled mess; I use it even when I’m not travelling!
- Organic face serum from UpCircle. Made from repurposed coffee grounds. Sounds weird but my skin loves it! Upcircle have a referral programme so if you buy via this link, you’ll get £10 off your order (£15 minimum spend).
- Chocolate charcoal chai soap bar from UpCircle. Another of my faves, which doubles up as a face and body wash. If you purchase this and the face serum by using my referral link above, you’ll get £22 worth of products for just £12.
- Natural soap bags. Use these to store the soap and conditioner bars above. You can also hang these bags up in the shower to help the bars dry quicker after use.
- Bamboo toothbrush and travel case.
- Refillable razor. Unfortunately, this one’s not plastic-free but I know their razors work, the blades are easy to change and the refills easy to get hold of. Seeing as though this will be solely used as a travel razor, just the one extra blade it’s supplied with will last an age.
- Plastic-free, natural deodorant from Pit Putty. I actually got a free sample of this to try about a month ago, and whilst I prefer the roll-on style natural deodorants for every day use, these little tins are great for travel and the lemongrass scent lingered for hours – even after a bout of light exercise.
- Toothpaste tablets. I’ve yet to find a natural, sustainable, plastic-free tube of toothpaste that’s actually travel-sized. So, I’m still (don’t shoot me) using my usual plastic travel-sized tube of Arm and Hammer. However, I really want to give these toothpaste tablets a try and the ones I’ve linked to are available in a trial size (10 tablets), which is really handy for travel.
- A travel bag to store all of the above items in. Unfortunately, if you want to buy the traveller in your life a bag that can also be taken on board the plane (when they are eventually able to fly again), it’s got to be one made of clear plastic. BUT, it will get a lot of use and I’m still using the same one I bought around 10 years ago!
7 | A photography lesson or online course so that they can improve their skills in preparation for their next trip
Because there’s always more to learn in the photography game, even if you consider yourself a bit of an expert in the field.
I cannot imagine travelling anywhere without having a camera strapped to my side, in anticipation of capturing my next shot. However, I still don’t know how to best use all the different settings on my DSLR, and for that reason I would absolutely relish the opportunity to learn from a professional.
My friend’s boyfriend recently bought her a half-day lesson with a local photographer, and I keep dropping hints for Stu to do the same (I’m not holding my breath!). The lesson was part classroom based and part field based, at a few of her favourite locations nearby.
Unfortunately, I cannot personally recommend a photographer who offers lessons, or even a reputable online course. However, if you’re Shropshire-based, then the gentleman with whom Jayne took her lesson is called Philip Dunn. He’s a former Sunday Times photographer, so he knows his stuff! You can book lessons via his website. Alternatively, I’d recommend doing a Google search and checking reviews before purchasing anything.
Of course, photography books are always helpful resources too.
And that’s my list of the best lockdown gifts for travellers exhausted, however if you need some more inspiration regarding gifts for world travellers, you can check out my previous gift guides here:
- 17 Great Gifts for World Travellers
- 2018 Christmas Gift Guide for Travellers
- 10 of the Best Christmas Gifts for Travellers 2017
- 11 Gifts the Traveller in Your Life Would Never Be Without
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