Looking for the perfect present for the friend who ‘collects memories, not things’? Then don’t miss our selection of travel gift ideas for minimalist travelers for a clutter free Christmas.
Christmas can be a wonderful time at any age, but it is probably never as magical as in the eyes of young children.
The Rabbit and the Bear are now, respectively,
3 and 5 (6 and 8, time has passed!) and their enthusiasm about the imminent Christmas period is contagious: they sing songs, draw Christmas cards and of course they compile their wish list for presents, in the form of a letter to Santa.
Even if not exactly in the same form, I have been busy compiling a wish list myself.
This might come as a surprise to people who know me.
I am a minimalist at heart and very much live by the mantra ‘collect moments, not things’. I am known for having a slight obsession with space and I periodically go around my house getting rid of ‘clutter’.
My definition of clutter being quite broad, most things we own have been labelled as clutter at some stage and yes, this include toys, clothes and the occasional piece of furniture!
I know I am a bit OCD about this but I am not alone: most families I know have a (first world)-problem with clutter, so I figured that if I compiled a list of things that are actually useful, I could make choosing a present for clutter oppressed families a little bit easier.
Useful travel gifts for minimalist travelers
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Gift an experience
If experiences are what your minimalist travel loving friend cherish the most, the best present for them is to indulge them and get them to enjoy one in your name.
A voucher for money is a useful gift yet may come across as slightly impersonal. This can be overcome buying a gift voucher for an experience in a destination they are visiting and that will be made even more special by a treat you offer.
Depending on the type of traveling friend, you can opt for a hotel gift voucher (chains like Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Marriott offer them and cover a huge array of destinations) or travel pass such as Rail Europe Pass.
Kindle and Kindle Fire
I used to be a book snob but it took me a minute with a kindle in my hands to become an e-reader covert. I LOVE my kindle paperwhite, I read everything on it now and when travelling is when it really comes into its own. Before going abroad I load it up with all the books I need and they can come with me everywhere, occupying a tiny tiny space.
The kindle is excellent for my reading habits and also has a good selection of children books, available also on kindle unlimited.
Another great Kindle is Kindle Fire which is a table both adults and kids can use.
When buying a kindle, I love to accompany it with a kindle cover: it doesn’t cost much, it looks lovely and make the kindle look cuter!
Can an object completely revolutionize, for the best, the way you travel? If the object in question are packing cubes, my answer is a definite YES.
I bough a set of packing cubes two years ago and I used them not just on all my travel but also at home. Perfect for the minimalist traveler who wants their gear to be versatile and not wasteful.
At home, use packing cubes to store underwear and small bits that otherwise get messy in drawers and when traveling I use them to streamline and organise our bags.
I use two packing cubes per adult and one per child. My favourites are from Ebags: they come with a small handle and the kids have even used them as small bags to carry their stuff over to the grandparents for sleepovers.
Quick dry, lightweight towels are another amazing minimalist travel accessory. I bought one for my first backpacking trip to central America over 10 years ago and never went without ever since.
This type of towels occupies very little space, it is very light and dries quickly and you can use it as daily towel or even on the beach.
They are an excellent present for backpackers or your minimalist traveler friend who loves to pack light and is also a life saver for families, who go though towels at unbelievable speed!
Go pro camera
Small is always a good word when buying for a minimalist and the small but versatile go pro fit just the bill for the space conscious traveler.
The smaller Gopro of the family is tiny but packs a punch in terms of functionality: with it you can take wide angle photos and videos, all in about 2.2 x 1.1 x 1.6 inches! It is one of our favourite action cameras for kids.
Travels are better with a soundtrack and a small and cute Bluetooth speaker is a great way to listen to music on the go. I love the look and size of the Mizen audio speaker which have a wonderful vintage look.
Spotify gift certificate
What can be more minimalist friendly than gifting music? The Spotify gift cards are perfect for all ages and are a great complement to the portable speaker above: gift them together and make your own music kit for travel lovers.
Carry-On Travel backpacks
This is my favourite travel piece of all: a backpack that opens as a suitcase (so you don’t have to root everything out every time you need something) and that travel as carry on.
We have two of them and they are the best purchase we ever made: my favourite is the Osprey Travel Backpack which I find comfortable and stylish.
The Osprey packs come in several colours and sizes: depending on the type of travellers you are buying for, you may want to choose a smaller or bigger one – you can also look at my guide to the best luggage for families here to see other luggage options.
No matter how tech-oriented your friends are, if they love to travel they are likely to love paper travel books! These are some series I use often.
If you can’t help your friends getting rid of their clutter, you can still help them tame it!
When travelling, I find travel wallet really useful as they save me from obsessively checking that I have every piece I need.
Useful at home as well as travelling, I feel tiles are exceptionally useful when you are travelling and changing accommodation often and the risk of leaving something behind is high!
Travel size bottles and pouches
A small gift but really cute and useful: small bottles and bags! They are the perfect stocking filler and they are super handy especially if travelling with kids when cleaning products come handy even on the plane!
Best Travel Gifts for minimalist families with kids
Trunki: The Original Ride-On Suitcase
You may have seen this around airports: Trunki rolling suitcase is one of the most popular kids’ suitcases no the market and with good reason.
As well as being super cute, this is kids’ rolling luggage with a difference: instead of just pulling it around, the kids can ride on it, meaning daddy’s shoulder can occasionally have a bit of a rest.
While its plastic case may seem the opposite of a space saving, no-clutter object trunki is great for minimalist families as it doubles up as a good toy storage box.
You can read my full review here to check why I love it so much and if it may suit your friends.
Kikki Deuter Backpack
My kids are in love with the Kikki backpack and have used them almost every day since the day we bought them: during the year, they are excellent school bags (they are suitable for pre-schoolers and young kids) and we have used them as backpacks for hikes and holidays too.
The are very cute and very comfortable and they have a super handy chest strap that allows them so sit properly on the kids’ backs without falling off. You can read my full review here
A Nat Geo Kids subscription (paper or digital)
A great educational and fun present for kids s a subscription to the excellent National Geographic kids magazines. They are a great way to foster kids curiosity about the world and they are a great way to get them excited about family travels.
Kids’ Travel Journal
Another fun way to keep memories is a travel journal: if you are crafty, you can make one yourself or you can buy one built with children in mind.
Amazon has a large selection of journals, from the simplest to the most elaborate with stickers and pockets for memorabilia. I love them as a minimalist because they occupy little space while traveling and keep the kids busy for hours on end, every day
Kids cameras come in all shape and sizes and they are not built in such a way that they can get decent quality photos and resist the somehow rough handling from little hands. They are a great present for traveling kids as they occupy little space, teach a skill and can be used over and over again to capture moments at home too.
Kids headphones are a very handy travel accessory and one that we also often use at home. I have a full article on why we love them and some of the best on the market are for sale on Amazon.
Kids don’t have to love the outdoors to enjoy binoculars: my two have a cheap pair of kids binoculars each and use if for everything, including staring into each other’e eyes thought the lenses and marvel at how near they look! This is an inexpensive options kids may really enjoy.
But the best Christmas present idea for families who hate clutter is this: money (to charity)!
If you are buying for someone who really cherishes moments over anything else, why not give to a charity in their name?
Many families who love to travel have encountered, on the way, charities or causes that stole their hearts: so what could be more special to them than to feel that you listen to their travel stories and decided to help? That would make for a wonderful, clutter free and truly meaningful Christmas present!
This post was originally published in 2015 and has now been fully updated (end of 2018)