The Worst Gifts for People who Love to Travel

It is December, Christmas is near and now is the time that all of the travel blogs are filling up with their gift guides for travelers.  “Top Ten Best Christmas Gifts for those who like to Travel”, “Gift Ideas for Travel Addicts”, “Favorite Travel themed Gifts”, etc., etc. I myself have even made one of these lists previously however I am constantly surprised at some of these lists and how horrible / unusable (in my opinion) some gifts actually are.

To make your gift buying for the travel lover in your life a bit easier this holiday season I have made a quick list of what I think are some of the WORST gifts for people who love to travel. So whatever you do avoid buying them these things.

 packing cubes eagle creek - The Worst Gifts for People who Love to Travel


Packing Cubes

I HATE PACKING CUBES. Some (most) people love them. If you are thinking about buying them for someone, find out if they already have them or try working them into a conversation to learn their thoughts on them first. When I got my first set of packing cubes, I was so excited. I knew people who had them and LOVED them. I couldn’t wait to use them. They were easy to pack, and seemed to hold quite a bit. However unless you filled one up to the max, it seemed kind of useless. Also while filling up the third one while packing for a trip it ripped! Boo.
I was impressed with the light weight material and it initially seemed like a great idea. Then I went on my trip. I was traveling with carry-on luggage like I always do and experience that with these I might as well of been traveling with a backpack. Everytime I wanted something out of the packing cube I had to almost unpack the whole thing to find what I wanted. This was annoying. When I just normally pack my suitcase I can move one or two things and find what I want and the majority of my suitcase stays conveniently packed.

The packing cubes also caused me to not be to fit my tripod in my carryon because of their shape AND I think I also packed way more than I needed for my trip because I was just focusing on filling it up rather than what I actually needed. Packing cubes = FAIL.

Travel Guide Books - flickr image credit Let Ideas Compete - The Worst Gifts for People who Love to Travel

Travel Guide Books – flickr image credit Let Ideas Compete


Guide Books

It’s 2015, lets save some trees. They are also a bad idea for a traveler because they take up extra space. Yes it is nice to have something physical in your hand and to be able to highlight things and write on them, but printed guide books just aren’t that useful anymore. Especially with wifi being available on almost every corner where anything you want to know is just a google search away and more up to date then a printed book. A better idea is to give someone an iTunes gift card so that they can download electronic guides directly to their devices. Guide books can still be a good idea, but gift them electronically instead.

Cailin Hartmann Luggage 2


If you are buying for a seasoned traveler, unless they have specifically told you about a piece of luggage that they want, please do not buy them luggage. Travelers often treat their luggage like its their first born and can be very particular about what they are looking for when buying a new carry-on, roller bag or backpack. From the right weight, fit, pockets, accessories, features and so on it is best to leave luggage purchase up to the person who is traveling. Otherwise your present could end up living in the back of someones closet.

Luggage can also be very expensive! Perhaps instead you can get your friend a gift card instead to the luggage shop. You can’t go wrong with a gift card.

Guy wearing Scottevest - image by flicker user Whatleydude - The Worst Gifts for People who Love to Travel.jpg

image by flicker user Whatleydude

Even this guy doesn’t know why the heck he is wearing this vest

Clothing with a million pockets

In the past couple of years this type of clothing has become popular and touted as “must haves” for every traveler. However honestly unless you are on a crazy challenge who is ever actually going to utilize all of those pockets at once? Who goes around with all of that shit in their pockets? This also can’t be that comfortable to wear when full and if you aren’t using it to full capacity then what is the point? Lastly a lot of them are vests. Who wears vests? Unless you are fly fishing or maybe a photographer, vests just aren’t necessarily the best travel friendly item.

Passport cover & image by the Earhart on Etsy - The Worst Gifts for People who Love to Travel

Passport cover & image by the Earhart on Etsy


Passport Covers

When traveling, customs officers and airport gate agents always want to see your full passport and 9 times out of 10 if not all the time will ask you to remove your passport from the cover if you have it in one. Having a passport cover can then in return become extremely frustrating as you constantly have to take your passport in and out of it. Instead I opt for a brightly coloured passport case or pencil case that I can put my passport, tickets, nexus card and more in so everything is always kept in the same spot. A cover is like a book cover. A case is like a small bag/case. Go for the case if you must.

The above products can all be useful and of course are popular for a reason. You might be thinking to yourself that so and so would love one of the above mentioned items. I bet they probably would. But if you really want your Christmas present to win with the traveler in your life this year it might be best just to opt for something else.


Scarves, gift cards, power adapters, gift cards, memory cards, portable phone chargers and batteries, gift cards. To see more of my recommendations for “The Best Gifts for People who Love to Travel” check out this list and happy shopping!

Have you ever received an awkward or bad travel related present for Christmas? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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  • Reply
    December 21, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Love this post! Although I do love packing cubes (I fill mine up to the max) I never got the vest thing and definitely have never used a passport cover. Fun post Cailin,.

  • Reply
    Kay Dougherty
    December 16, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    But I love packing cubes and somehow lost all of mine! But I agree that most of these things are either silly or hard to buy for someone else. I quit buying and receiving Christmas presents other than with my sister about 8 years ago and doing that was the best gift of all!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2015 at 11:48 am

    We are both from families that don’t really travel so to avoid the “very nice but not useful at all” travel gifts we set up an amazon wish list. It obviously did mean that we unwrapped a headtorch and travel clothes line on Xmas

    This is my first trip with packing cubes. We have actually found them quite useful. It means that we can pack things up quite quickly and find stuff easily. They also squish some of the bulkier stuff we had like our thermals.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    I absolutely loved this post! I’ve seen so many gift guides but never a guide of the worst gifts, and it is really refreshing to see the negatives. Like you mentioned with the packing cubes, I have always heard so much hype about them, but they just don’t work for me and I think of them as just useless.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I like my guidebooks but I’m old-fashioned. But I don’t always bring them on my trips anymore. I like my real books to flip through until I know what I want to look up on the Internet. Is that weird?

    I’m with you on the passport covers though. Someone gave me a really cute one once and I have yet to find a substitute use for it. My passport doesn’t even fit properly in it! Plus I’m so used to where I keep my passport that the one time I did try traveling with the cover it was so bulky I had to put it in a different spot and kept thinking I’d lost it. Not fun.

  • Reply
    Cest La Vibe
    December 3, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Luggage is definitely the worst and the passport cover is probably the least worse!

    • Reply
      December 3, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      I can agree with that! haha

  • Reply
    December 3, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    You should have given me your packing cubes!!! Since I lost all my underwear that time :(

    • Reply
      December 3, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      You losing your underwear because you lost the packing cube that it was all packed into is a prime example as to why packing cubes suck! lol Since it was altogether you lost it all!

      • Reply
        December 3, 2015 at 7:46 pm

        Remember my mess of a backpack in Munich?! Without packing cubes IT’D BE WORSE

        • Reply
          December 3, 2015 at 8:08 pm

          You just need a maid to travel with you everywhere lol

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