Think Useful. Lightweight. Small. Meaningful.
Travelers and backpackers care about and need completely different things than people with long-term homes. With experience as a backpacker, traveling light is key. You never want to be carrying unnecessary kg’s/lb’s with you, so I’ve listed the top ten things a backpacker might like in a Christmas or care package throughout their travels. 🙂
Every new place you go and hostel you stay at, the items within your backpack will change, (especially when switching up countries and climates.) So spending money on mailing them expensive earrings, a comfy new sweater or even badass new hiking boots can wait. Most importantly, DO NOT send them their favorite teddy bear to make them “feel more comfortable abroad.” It can be heartbreaking getting something amazing that you love that you just simply don’t have a reason or enough room to carry. It sounds lovely in theory, yet it can honestly just make you feel wasteful either spending money to send it back home or simply having to through it in the trash.
I just know that every time someone asks me what I want for Christmas, my mind goes straight to money for a plane ticket.
So here’s a list of the top ten things a backpacker would appreciate receiving, put together by yours truly, a real life backpacker. (PS. to make last minute shopping easier, all pictures and links will take you straight to each item.)
10. Cards, Love Notes, Photos
Everyone loves reading a handwritten note by a familiar friend or loved one will always put a smile on a travelers face. Just remember, sometimes receiving the mail can get complicated depending on customs in each country or how fast your backpacker is changing location, so make it worth it! Also, don’t spend too much money printing out photos or on fancy cards. Things like this can be easily ruined if bad weather reaches the backpack (possibly in the undercarriage of a leaky bus.) Pro tip: Keep the cards handwritten, but the photos online. 🙂
9. Favorite Condiments from Home
I WOULD’VE KILLED FOR SOME RANCH DRESSING. Enough said.
8. Hygiene Products
Products like deodorants, body sprays and perfumes. For example, when I was living in Korea, deodorants were more for whitening rather than helping BO and in Vietnam, almost all deodorants were either spray-on or roll-on, which as an American, was a strange adjustment. Also, a big part of traveling is just accepting the fact that you might not always smell as fresh as you’d like. Budget traveling doesn’t always guarantee a nice shower. So having a bottle (preferably travel size of course) of their favorite perfume is an incredibly refreshing feeling. I must admit, after 16 months of travel, when I saw Victoria’s Secret at an airport, I felt like I HAD to splurge on my signature scent . Even though that bottle of perfume was equivalent to three nights stay in Vietnam, I regret nothing.
Other good ideas are travel packages of Tide laundry detergent. Laundry was one of my most annoying and overpriced expenses while traveling, so when I got my hands on some I loved washing my own clothes in a sink or bath tub and splurging on some extra beers for the night.
One more idea focusing mainly on the girly girls are bronzers and eyebrow pencils. In Asia, bronzers are near impossible to find because their definition of beauty is the opposite in a lot of places. And for light haired girls or red heads, eyebrow pencils in colors other than dark brown and black are incredibly difficult to find. I begged my friends to send me these when you’re feeling fancy and wanna glam up for a wild night out. 🙂
7. Keychains/Small Memorabilia of Home
While backpacking, you’re making new friends from all over the world constantly and sometimes it’s nice to have a little token to remember them by. For example, when I was visiting the Philippines I created a really close relationship with the family whom owned the Inn that I was staying at. On the day that I was leaving for the airport, they made sure to stop me before I departed to give me a keychain of the Filipino flag which he personally wrote their family name on. This was the SWEETEST gesture and is something I cherish closely that I can easily carry with me on my backpack everywhere I go. The next time I depart, I’m definitely going to be carrying some North Carolina keychains as parting gifts for those who have made an impact on me. Think of something small your backpacker could give to others to remember them. Postcards, stickers, bracelets, etc. Example Home Keychain Search
6. Portable Bluetooth Speaker
I’ve experienced countless times, when a long and tiring transfer on a bus or boat can turn into a party with one of these small speakers. Go for ones that are wireless, small, loud and waterproof. The one I believe to be the most popular are the JBL Flipsor Charge Speakers. Click the following link to shop around and choose the one you like! 🙂 Portable Bluetooth Speakers
You never know when you’ll need extra battery power. These are a no-brainer for travelers and it’s better to have one really powerful one than to have a bunch of small charge ones. Look for one that is light weight, has a high mAh number and if you want to get really fancy go for one with two USB ports. I personally use one that has 8400mAh and it can recharge my iPhone about 3 times over. At the moment, the #1 rated external battery is the Anker Astro E3 which is more powerful than the one I use and is less expensive then what I paid, so get on that deal quick!
4. Hotel Reservations
You might think being a “solo backpacker” is a lonely experience but it is completely the opposite. Traveling on a budget means hostels, hostels, and more hostels. It is almost always the cheapest way to go! This means you never get a moment to yourself! I’ve slept in rooms ranging from 2 to 24 beds. A night to yourself is always a treat which is why a reservation in a clean hotel can be an unbelievable gift. Bookings.com has always been a favorite of mine.
I traveled around with an iPad Mini and it could not have been more perfect. I mainly used it to read books from the Kindle app. I have this personal problem where I’m never reading less then three books at a time so I love that it’s lighter than carrying around my bookshelf. Buying Kindle books are also much cheaper than buying the hard copies. I also have all of my music playlists on it as well as movies and TV shows for long bus or plane rides. If the backpacker you love doesn’t already have one with them, I guarantee they would love one.
I was also just gifted the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4-Inch Tablet (16 GB, Dazzling White) which is super beautiful and sleek. Can’t wait to bring this one on my next adventure.
It’s tiny. It’s waterproof. It’s adventureproof. It takes pictures and videos AND it has timelapse. I’m obsessed with this setting because you can just put the camera down and it captures every 2, 3, 5 or 10 seconds of whatever is in front of it. Letting you live in front of the camera instead of behind it. And even though no one wants to admit it, selfie sticks are awesome. The GoPro selfie stick also doubles as a tripod which is great for saving space in their backpack and makes pictures more badass overall. It’s a big thing these days for backpackers to make a collaborative video of their trip and GoPro makes that easy. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
$5 bucks can buy a night in Vietnam. The more money, the more adventure. This one needs no explanation. Western Union has always worked like a charm for me. Download the Western Union app to find the closest location to your backpacker.
Hope this helps all the parents and best friends out there missing their favorite explorer! 🙂
HAPPY HOLIDAYS 🙂