Holiday Shopping List for Expat Travelers


Presents! photo cred quimby on flickr 

If you haven’t yet thought of a present for your favorite traveler I’ve made a list of 20 things that I love or want to own myself! For most of the year I am an expat living away from family and friends, and if you add it all up, I probably travel for about two months of the year. Here is my list of things that make my life more comfortable and things that I think every traveler could use.

Travel Essentials

Osprey Backpack

Every budget traveler needs a backpack. I have an Osprey backpack that I’ve had for the past few years and it works great for weekend trips to the beach as well as a four-week backpacking trip around Europe.

$126 on Amazon

Packing Cubes

Something I always use whenever I go on a trip longer than one or two nights are packing cubes. It makes it so much easier to organize and find things in your backpack/suitcase when you have one cube for shirts, another for pants, and maybe a third for undergarments (I usually just use two in my backpack).

$24 on Amazon

Icebreaker Clothing

Even if you are not traveling, you can wear clothing made by Icebreaker because it is that cute and versatile. I only have one 3/4th sleeve shirt made by Icebreaker, but after getting that first one (I found it on ThredUp at a fraction of the cost of a new one) I can’t wait to get more! Icebreaker has superfine merino wool which will keep you cool or warm depending on the weight of the wool. It wicks sweat away and it the merino wool has antimicrobial properties so you can wear it multiple times without it stinking. I personally want some of their t-shirts, leggings, and tank tops to take with me to Bahrain to help combat the Middle Eastern heat.

Between $50-150 on Amazon

Infinity Scarf w/Hidden Pocket

When you are a solo female traveler it can be very handy to have a hidden pocket. This one scarf has a hidden pocket built in so you can hide extra cash, credit card, or even your passport. I want one of these!

$11 on Amazon

Chaco Sandals

After 10 years of very frequent use, my Chaco sandals finally cracked last Christmas and I left them in Ecuador.   This brand was originally recommended to me when I joined Peace Corps and I’ve loved them ever since. They are perfect for hiking, wading through tide pools, walking over cobblestone streets, and they don’t look conspicuous when worn day-to-day either. I really want a new pair!

$104 on Amazon

Tech Gear

External Hard Drive

I have had two laptops die on me since I’ve started traveling overseas and the worst part about it was losing all of my favorite travel photos. Now I use Crashplan to automatically back up my data AND an external hard drive. I really like the specs on this Seagate Seven 500GB because it is so slim and lightweight so you can always bring it with you.

$72 on Amazon

Kindle Paperwhite

In my day to day life I cannot fall asleep without reading a couple of pages and the Kindle Paperwhite makes it even easier with its backlit version so I can read in the dark and not have to worry about turning off a light (great for hostel dorm rooms!) When I travel I have plenty of time to read while on various planes, trains, buses, and while waiting for all of these things so I get plenty of use out of my Kindle.

$100 on Amazon

Travel Surge Protector

I have had my Belkin Mini Travel Surge Protector for about four years now and it goes on almost every trip with me. Not only will this give you 3 additional outlets, but also 2 USB charging ports, and since it’s the smallest, most portable power strip out there, it makes the perfect travel gift.

$18 on Amazon

Apple Macbook Air

I don’t generally travel on short trips with a laptop, but I’ve done it before, and each time I do I am so thankful that I have my Macbook Air because it is so light and yet still powerful. The battery life is also quite good too.

$1089 on Amazon

Bose Noise Cancelling Earphones

I fly a lot. Generally, I’ve kept to the Western hemisphere, but now that I’m moving to the Eastern hemisphere and I foresee many long-haul cross-Atlantic flights. I want these Bose noise canceling earphones to block out airplane noises so I can fly in peace.

$249 on Amazon

GoPro Hero

I haven’t really explored the world of video production much, but when I was in the Galapagos last Christmas I was really jealous of my tour guide who was swimming underwater with his GoPro. I’ve seen some really awesome travel videos made with this, and I might need to get one for myself very soon!

$326 on Amazon

Presents for an Expat

Peanut Butter

One container of peanut butter is almost $20USD in Venezuela- if you can find it. I also had trouble finding it in Mexico and China when I worked there. I love the extra crunchy kind, but any kind is good.

$5 on Amazon

Good coffee

I start every morning with a 34oz French Press full of delicious coffee. I’ve developed a method where I mix some of my coffee from home with the local stuff, which is lower-grade. Even cheap flavored coffee is a fun change since there is no flavored creamer, nor fancy coffee shops here.

$19 on Amazon

Instant Pot

This is definitely not travel-friendly, but if you are an expat like me, you are looking for one gadget that can do everything. This is it. I just bought one of these when it was a lightning deal during the Black Friday sales on Amazon. It is a rice cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, and a slow cooker all rolled into one machine. I’m not sure how I am going to bring it with me to Bahrain, but it is going to happen. I also want this $10 cookbook to go with it!

$120 on Amazon

Portion Control Containers

I cook nearly all of my food myself, eat healthy, and go to the gym three or four times a week, yet I’m not seeing barely any advances in my weight loss goals. My mom has been raving about the 21 Day Fix diet and said that I need to pay attention to my portions. I want these color-coded portion control containers to get started! I might also need the physical version of the plan and Amazon has this much more affordable option too.

$20 on Amazon

World Scratch Off Map

I absolutely love this scratch off map, which has helped inspire my wanderlust. After you visit a place you scratch off that part of the map to reveal a colored country beneath. Once I hung this on my wall, my apartment immediately felt like it belonged to me.

$30 on Amazon

Miscellaneous Stocking Stuffers

Ultimate Travel Coloring Book

Everyone talks about adult coloring books as a great way to de-stress. As an adult with a serious case of Wanderlust, I think I need this coloring book!

Geography Coloring Book

Also, because I’m a teacher traveler, I love this geography coloring book. It is a great way to learn about different countries, their flags, and important physical features.

Travel Guides

I try really hard to only buy e-books most of the time, but when it comes to travel guides, I prefer a paperback version. I love to read the guide, cut out pertinent bits, and then paste the cut-out portions into my homemade travel journals. If you know where your loved one is going next, get them a travel guide. I want the Oman, UAE, and Arabian Peninsula and also the Dubai & Abu Dhabi travel guides.

RFID Travel Wallet

This wallet isn’t marketed specifically for travel, but many reviewers write that the wallet will fit a passport and an iPhone6 into the wallet as well as 19 credit cards.  With a wallet like this, your important data will not be scanned and stolen from your cards.

Note: Read my travel safety post and please don’t ever travel with all of your credit cards in one wallet if you would even consider putting 19 cards in one place.

$32 on Amazon

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but I might receive a few pennies. Your support is greatly appreciated!


2 responses to “Holiday Shopping List for Expat Travelers

  1. This is super helpful for ideas to give my family members who have been asking what I want, and some great things I can give others! Especially the infinity scarf idea


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