Christmas is around the corner and it’s time to fill the stockings of the whole family. If you’ve got a traveler in your life, it’s fun and easy to put together a themed stocking. Considering that I advocate for packing light, most of my gear could easily work for travel stocking stuffers, but here are more ideas–most of them inexpensive and practical.

Little Hair Clips – $7

There may be more of these hair clips on the floor of my home than there are Legos, but for a good reason. They do help with hair of almost any length, but they can be great little travel companions. Use them to wrangle cords or to clamp together small items.

Pocket Problem Solvers – $5-8

Everything seems to be coming in pen or stick form these days and it makes sense. Compact and easy to organize, these pens and bars are all super practical and can simply live in your bag. If you’re gifting for a health and safety nerd like me (or a tour guide!) these are the perfect, inexpensive gifts. Look for Cutter insect repellant, Benedryl stick for rashes and bites, the indispensable Tide Pen, and Neutrogena sunblock stick.

Solid Toiletries – $10-20

My readers recommended favorite travel items recently and the solid shampoo bar was a popular one. The only downside with this is that you’ll still need some sort of case to keep it in, but it theoretically should not count in the 3 oz allotment for airplane liquids. There are lots of brands out there, and I recommend one with Tea Tree Oil as it has the extra benefit of being a bug repellant. The highly rated Ethtique Conditioner Wonderbar is a little pricey, but claims to be the equivalent of five BOTTLES of conditioner.

No Jetlag – $10

This product does what it claims, reducing the effects of jet-lag. These little tablets are taken on the plane and somehow help to reset your body clock. I did test them out on a trip to Sicily and I can report that they seem to work, although I may be convincing myself. If nothing else, giving them as a gift can be like a science experiment!

Folding Sunglasses – $10-20

With my travel lifestyle, I am a total waste on expensive sunglasses. I often sit on them, scratch them, or they break in my bag. I picked up a cheap pair of folding aviator sunglasses a couple of years ago and they still seem to be ticking along, and take up virtually no space or weight in my bag. These cheapies can even fit over regular glasses.

Airplane Snacks

Nobody would claim that airplane food is good. A nice way to fill a stocking is with snacks, such as protein bars, trail mix, crackers, and nuts. Trader Joe’s is a great spot to source dried fruits and nuts. Don’t forget the breathmints!

Cellphone Leash – $15-20

Pickpocketing is an evergreen problem in tourism, but the new scourge is cellphone theft. And not just from your bag or pocket, but directly out of your hands while you’re consulting Google Maps or looking to take a great selfie. No joke, this has happened to my clients. For this reason, I cannot recommend more either a wrist strap or a tether for your phone. Whatever you choose, get something tough or it will be useless. Using a tether, maybe you could even catch a thief!

Waterproof Cellphone Pouch – $11

For travels to tropical destinations or for adventure sports, a waterproof phone pouch is indispensable. This is also a good idea for desert or dirty destinations. You can still take decent shots without fear of a water landing, but be sure to pick one that also floats or it’s kind of pointless. (Hint-hint for anyone coming to Thailand or Vietnam with me!)

Cellphone Tripod – $14

Ever wonder how to make YouTube videos? Selfie sticks are so tacky, but a little portable tripod works wonders. This one has bendable legs that can wrap around a chair, lamppost or your travel partner’s arm. It comes with a remote to help capture the perfect Christmas card photo.

Cheap-o Cellphone – $25

If you’ve bought your cellphone through your provider, odds are that it is locked and can’t be used with the SIM chips of other providers. A cheap and basic cellphone makes a great gift for anyone traveling for an extended period of time. Local SIM cards are inexpensive, and this phone can work with two numbers at the same time. I use this exact phone when I’m in Europe and need a local number. The battery lasts for DAYS.

For a personal touch, travel stocking stuffers can also be handmade. Make your own luggage tags, ornaments, bookmarks and more, read the article HERE.

Have I missed anything? Let’s reconvene after Christmas and see what everyone got!

Happy Christmas!

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Sarah Murdoch is a tour guide and guidebook writer for Rick Steves Europe. Her blog, Adventures with Sarah, focuses on packing tips, travel stories and advice for planning the best trip possible.

3 replies on “Travel Stocking Stuffer Ideas”

  1. Thanks, Sarah. I just ordered the cell phone wrist strap for myself. I use my cell phone for photos all the time and I’m always afraid I’ll drop it. This wrist strap has a very clever design that looks much more secure than others I’ve seen. Thanks for the tip!

  2. I have been using a Camamu shampoo bar that I really like. Camamu soaps and shampoo bars are hand made in Portland of natural ingredients and can be ordered online or purchased in some Fred Meyers stores. Based on a comment I read on one of your blog posts I ordered a Matador Soap Bar case. I’ll see how it works on an upcoming trip.

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