Last updated on August 18, 2023
As a long-term female traveler on the road for more than ten years, I have carefully tested and tried countless travel products. My first search was for the perfect travel purse—and after several years on the road, I found one that does the trick for most types of trip. Over the years, my endless search for great travel gear means I also have some ideas on what makes a great gift for women travelers.
Travelers don’t have a lot of extra space, so it’s important they use travel gear that’s multifunctional, durable, and looks great too. There’s an art to travel, and I spent dozens of trips since my first trip abroad back in 2005 testing options in an effort to reach that perfect mix of practical and useful—but still stylish!
Practical Travel Gift Ideas for Women
Although finding a great cross-body travel purse was my first goal, over the years I’ve found a few other things that always make it into my luggage. Some of these I bought myself, others were gifts from family members. If you’re searching for the perfect travel gift for a woman in your life, know that all of these things make my travels more enjoyable, and make me look like a more put-together traveler!
My Favorite Cross-Body Travel Purse
A lot of travelers, like me, carry a purse in everyday life, so it makes sense to carry one while traveling. I’ve tried to carry my things just in a backpack, a fanny pack, or in my pockets, but it’s not for me.
So I searched for the perfect travel purse. I have carried expensive bags, cheap sack-like bags, regular purses, messenger bags—none of these bags ever quite kept pace with my travels. I started my yearlong round the world trip with an AmeriBag ($85)—this bag actually works exceptionally well as a travel bag. It’s easy on your back since it’s ergonomically designed to remove stress for those with back problems. But it’s not very stylish.
My Baggallini Travel bag ($83) is a finalist—it looks good, and has a lot of pockets. It also has a sleeve to attach to a roller bag, which is super useful for getting around airports. It’s a tad less durable than I needed for long-term travel, but it’s the right gift for some women. Consider gifting this purse for those who take shorter vacations (like a European trip) versus long-term backpacking.
I did find the perfect travel bag—the Donner by Overland Equipment—but they discontinued it in 2015. When I needed a replacement travel purse, I renewed the search and settled on Travelon, which channels what I loved about the Donner. The Travelon Anti-Theft Cross-Body Bag ($46) emerged as a clear leader for its combination of size, functionality, and the sheer number of great pockets.
It’s the best crossbody travel purse I’ve yet found on the market. It looks nice enough to carry out to dinner, but it also holds enough for a day of exploring inside of it (phone, map, sunscreen, hat), plus a water bottle spot.
If you’re picking out a gift for a travel lover, this purse will keep pace with her travels. And if your loved one is heading to Europe, it transitions from go-bag for sightseeing to dinner with friends.
What makes this travel gift a winner?
- Sturdy features, the material is strong and the strap is wide and comfortable.
- Great convenience factors; there are a range of pockets in various areas so you can easily store and find things. I like the back zippered pocket to hold my tickets and passport for quick access.
- Good looking and versatile; works in a range of situations from sightseeing to dinner.
- A great size; this purse fits an outing’s worth of stuff in it: water bottle, sunglasses, mirrorless camera, notebook, snack, chap-stick and Kindle.
- Anti-theft features; I usually travel with a carabiner to secure my purse strap, and this one has it built it. So handy! It also has locking zippers and slash-proof fabric. In Europe, the carabiner and anti-theft features are particularly ideal so you can affix the purse to your chair in places like Paris and Rome where petty theft is high.
I always carry a purse on my travels, and if you want to gift something super useful to a traveling woman in your life, this gift hits all of my positives. That said, it’s on the larger end of the bag perspective (I always need mine to fit my camera). So if you want a lower-profile option, the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag has the same anti-theft features but a bit of a lower profile and won’t make you look like a tourist!
Picking one out as a travel gift for the woman in your life: Amazon has a range of gorgeous colors. I prefer the black Travelon so that it matches a lot, but there are some beautiful prints that would make this a more special gift.
A Stylish Pocket Scarf
Wearing a scarf is a great way to dress up an outfit when you’re traveling, and a Hidden Pocket Scarf ($20) is a fun, practical addition to a travel wardrobe. It’s wicked useful and comes in several of colors.
Women can use the pocket to keep passport, credit cards, and spare cash safe while roaming around Europe or squeezing through crowded streets in Asia. It’s useful back home too—it’s a great way to go lightweight for a night out on the town as it takes the place of a small clutch. Now that I have a home base in Barcelona, Spain, I regularly use this during the chillier months in place of a purse.
The best travel wardrobes have items that function in different capacities, and this wins on that front. Give this travel gift to a woman backpacking in Europe, or perhaps one planning a lot of overland travel. She won’t regret tossing one of these into her bag in a neutral color that coordinates with most of her outfits.
Note: I own this black scarf from Clever Travel Companion (a company specializing in pickpocket proof clothing) and it is a winter scarf—it’s larger and thicker. The Pop Fashion scarf is lighter and therefore ideal for multi-season travel. Both companies use great materials that will last—cheaper brands use thin material that shows the bulky contents of your scarf (thus defeating the purpose of hiding things in it!).
A Stylish, Warm, Durable Cardigan
Part of what makes a great gift is giving something that they’ll love using, but might never splurge on for themselves. That’s where this premium cardigan comes into play. Do you need a fancy sweater to make your travels memorable? No. Does a nice cardigan not only keep you warm on the plane but offer both sun protection and warmth? Yes.
Look no further for the perfect cardigan for the traveling woman in your life. Made from Merino wool (a breed of sheep from Spain), the State Fusio Cardigan ($80) is a treasured piece of my travel clothing. It’s a travel must, especially when venturing around Europe. The weather fluctuates a lot in Europe and you are likely facing warm days and cool evenings.
The great thing about Merino wool is that it stays cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather. Having a good sweater is important so that you can keep yourself warm on chilly planes, buses, and trains. And even more, this sweater looks so good that I always get compliments on it when I’m on the road. It works just as well on a plane as it does in a bar for happy hour. I own this sweater in grey and blue, and one of them is always in my travel bag.
If you love the idea of gifting a premium sweater but want a bit lighter of a price tag, the Goodthreads Hooded Cardigan ($46) is also terrific—it has a hood! Enough said.
Cute, Comfortable Sandals
Traveling usually means long days on your feet where you’re covering miles and miles of terrain—often cobblestones if you’re in Europe. The sad truth is, sports sandals like Chacos are usually the most useful and comfortable travel sandal—I own these Chacos ($70) and have gotten more than 15 years of use out of them. But sometimes, you just need something that’s as cute as it is functional—and that’s certainly not Chacos.
Since trusty Chacos and Birkenstocks aren’t going to cut in on a European trip—or any trip where the woman in your life wants a versatile shoe they can wear sightseeing and then to dinner—I offer up instead the NAOT Sabrina sandal ($106).
I know, it’s pretty perfect, right? It’s so comfortable, and surprisingly stylish, too. Like my cardigan, people have stopped me on the street to ask about my sandals.
These feature a thermoplastic rubber sole and cork footbed, so you can expect the shoe to contour to your foot and become even more comfortable over time. And the style is downright trendy. I have worn these through a dozen countries now and they’ve never given me a blister. I am on my third pair, each lasts me about a year of near constant use. This is the perfect sandal for hot summer days spent wandering through historic European cities or rural villages in Africa or Asia.
Given that the price point is over $100, it’s likely a splurge for the woman traveler in your life, but one she will love. And while I think the brown and black color combination is the most versatile, each one is gorgeous.
Safety Travel Gift Ideas for Women
Your smartphone is likely one of the most expensive items in your day bag—the traveler in your life (or you!) should keep it safe. The best cases on the market are both the Otterboxes and the Lifeproof cases.
While Otterboxes are good for daily use, the Lifeproof FRE case wins out for travelers. There is a reason why Lifeproof cases are so popular among travelers: They are almost indestructible. Lifeproof cases protect your phone from falls, sand, snow, and water. Anything you dream up for your trip—your phone case can handle it. There are several colors and styles available, and they also have a floating case if you’re planning a beach holiday.
If your the traveling woman in your life already has a great phone case, gift her a smartphone tether ($10). Smartphone snatching and pickpocketing is a real worry, and a phone tether is cheap and super useful for travelers.
A Stylish Camera Scarf
Finding a comfortable camera strap is challenging. If the traveler in your life travels with a DSLR, then you might want to upgrade her camera strap. Enter the LIFEMATE Scarf Camera Strap ($20).
I love the idea of a camera strap made from a scarf. Made from soft fabric, this scarf camera strap is comfortable, functional, and stylish. It will look great as she snaps photos of anything from the Taj Majal to the Eiffel Tower.
Pretty Travel Gift Ideas for Women
Travel Themed Jewelry
Adorable Silver Travel Bracelets: I love a good bangle wrist, and if you add some classy ones in sterling silver or stainless steel, your loved one can easily wear this jewelry on the road without worrying about it getting damp. These are my favorite jewelry pieces that would make memorable gifts for any woman who loves to travel the world.
- Stainless Steel Adjustable Wire Travel Bangle ($13)
- Stainless Cuff Bracelet with Travel Saying ($12)
- Compass Pendant Stirling Silver Necklace ($38)
- Pewter World Travel Pendant Necklace on Sterling Silver Chain ($21)
Unique Travel Gift Ideas for Women
In addition to these travel items, I always pack a few extra things that make my travels easier.
If you’ll be using your smartphone then don’t forget a backup battery. I carry the budget and compact Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger ($20), or consider the Huge Capacity External Battery Pack Dual Output Port ($35), which is a touch more expensive, slim, and it will carry enough charges for multiple devices.
I always bring a Kindle as I like have a single-purpose device and no distractions. You’r loved one can download a few books related to the country she’s visiting to learn about the history, culture, and people. Or it would be fun to peruse my list of great travel books and add a few to her Kindle to inspire her next trip.
Tunes for the Road
Spotify won’t work overseas, so consider upgrading to Spotify Premium for your trip. With premium, I download all of my music so I have offline tunes for the train rides and days out wandering new cities.
Handy Travel Journal
There are no better notebooks than a Moleskin and this travel themed one is super cute. You could also buy her a premium subscription to the online travel journaling app of her choice so she can easily share her adventures with you and others.
That wraps up the handful of my very favorite travel items that make it into my backpack on each trip, despite the extra weight. And there are other things I love (my backpack, my hiking boots, etc), but each one of these items have made my travels better in some identifiable way. As a traveler, every single thing I add to my backpack adds to the weight I carry on my back.
And as a woman running a business from all over the word, I need to look nice when I’m on the road. For this reason I am ruthless and meticulous about what I allow into my bag. And while many of these items cost more than other brands, these are the ones that tend to combine quality, style, and function. If it’s only going to break or look misshapen a few weeks into my trip, then it’s not a good purchase.
My full travel packing list is here, and I keep my Amazon Shop updated with my favorite gear if you need other gift inspiration.
And if you’re interested in generally the best gifts for world travelers, I put together a gift guide for those who love to travel—both practical and inspirational gifts!