November 29, 2023


Qualified food specialists

Travel Gifts for Women: 37 Gifts Our Favorite Female Travelers Want for the Holidays

13 min read
Travel Gifts for Women: 37 Gifts Our Favorite Female Travelers Want for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us—and whether that means you’re traveling to see loved ones or hunkering down for a staycation at home, you’re likely feeling the need to secure a few really great gifts for the discerning women travelers in your life. It’s an art, after all: You want to give your loved ones something meaningful that they don’t already have but that you know they’ll love. 

So, as we do every year here at Women Who Travel, we asked some of our favorite female travelers to share their best holiday gift ideas—what they’re giving, and what they hope to get. 

Whether you’re shopping for a friend who plans their trips around buzzy restaurants, or a mother whose home is as beautifully decorated as your favorite hotel, we’ve got a gift idea for you. Travel planner Katalina Mayorga of El Camino Travel and foodie Jing Gao of Fly by Jing have you covered on handmade stone servers and unique porcelain plates. Designers Mara Hoffman and Molly Berry have tips on chic accessories worth a spot in every carry-on. And our own contributors, like astrologer Kirah Tabourn and cookbook author Rebekah Peppler, share the items they’ve loved using on trips throughout the past year. These travel gifts for women come from all over the world—and there’s a mix of ideas fit for adventure travelers, the wellness-obsessed, and design vultures alike, with prices starting under $20. 

Read on for the 37 travel gifts for women to scoop up this holiday season.

Additional reporting by Paris Wilson.

Gifts for travelers who plan their trips around food

Diaspora Co.’s Full Flavor Makeover

You probably need no introduction to Diaspora Co. and the incredible work of founder Sana Javeri Kadri. The queer, WOC-owned and -led business is building a radically new and truly equitable spice trade, and the kind of leadership and land stewardship that will build climate resilience and more delicious food systems. Its Full Flavor Makeover is a collection of the best of the best, most well-loved spices—in my humble opinion, the perfect way to refresh your kitchen for the new year. —Jing Gao, founder & CEO of Fly by Jing

Omsom IYKYK salt shaker set

Whenever I’m craving the life-changing larb I ate in Bangkok 10 years ago or aching for a return trip to the Philippines, I head to Omsom’s website. The brand, owned by two sisters, sells spice mixes and sauces that make it easy to whip up delicious Southeast Asian dishes at home. Its new salt-pepper-and-MSG shaker set is a lovely new staple on my table and so many friends compliment it— I know I’ll be giving a few as gifts this year. —Megan Spurrell, senior editor

Toiro Kitchen’s classic-style Donabe

Donabe is Japanese traditional earthen cookware, and I own multiple donabe from Toiro in Los Angeles. My donabe has a semi-permanent spot on my stovetop. You can use them for all sorts of stuff, including stews and steaming fish or just making rice, but I love to use this specifically for making mapo tofu, which just tastes so much better in a Toiro donabe. They are handcrafted by local artisans in Iga, Japan, and each one feels so special. —J.G.

Dinosaur Designs Resin stone server

Australian artist Louise Olsen and her husband Stephen Ormandy originally founded their now-iconic brand, Dinosaur Designs, while they were art students. Now, their handmade, tactile resin designs can be recognized throughout Australia and beyond. Through the use of eclectic chunky shapes combined with intense radiant colors, they exude energy and vibrance. Katalina Mayorga, founder of El Camino Travel and The Casa Violeta

Toiro double-lid Donabe rice cooker

There are physical vacations and then there are mental vacations. For me, a marathon of Ghibli movies have gotten me through a lot of tough times. I’m partial to Princes Mononke and My Neighbor Totoro, but honestly, most will transport you to another, more whimsical world. After a recent marathon, I started watching fan edits of Ghibli food online to calm myself and immediately bought this donabe after to make rice and stews. It’s a beautiful piece to keep on a stovetop and it’s an incredible vessel not only for its ability to retain heat but because it looks gorgeous from stovetop to tabletop. Mi-Anne Chan, senior director of creative development at Teen Vogue, them., and LOVE 

Wing on Wo & Co.’s Tang Lady plates

Inspired by women of the Tang Dynasty, these ceramic pieces are created by a young Jingdezhen ceramicist who remains anonymous! I mean, come on, so cool. Wing on Won & Co. is the oldest, continuously operating store in Manhattan’s Chinatown, now primarily offering porcelain and ceramic pieces through the lens of culture and tradition. I adore everything they make and offer. —J.G.

Gifts to wear on their 2023 trip

Sabah leopard baba mules

I own (and love) a few pairs of the classic closed-heel, loafer-like Sabahs, but my favorites are these leopard print baba mules. I’ve found that having some sort of slip-on shoe is essential for my happiness when I travel, and these are easy to pack, chill enough for the pool deck, special enough for dinner, and they magically go with everything. I once ran into a woman wearing the same ones at a remote lodge in Namibia, which felt like its own sort of endorsement. —Maggie Shipstead, novelist and contributor 

Outdoor Afro x REI Co-op leggings

 I’ve never met a softer pair of leggings. Although they are designed for the outdoorsy person, they are also perfect for travel days and flights. With the deep side pockets, I’m able to store my phone, ID for easy access while going through TSA Pre-Check, and chapstick— and I don’t have to worry about fumbling through my backpack when I’m trying to get through the airport. The drawstring waist also helps them stay in place all day. —DeAnna Taylor, contributor

Alder Apparel Go Far Fleece 2.0

There is a lot to love about Alder Apparel: The sizing is super inclusive, the designs are durable and chic, and the founders frequently ask customers for their input on future pieces. This particular fleece is a perfect balance between actual jacket and throw-on sweater. My favorite part? So many pockets. It’s perfect for the hiker in your life. Erika Owen, contributor 

Pamela Love Kyleigh Moon Phase necklace

The Kyleigh Moon Phase necklace made by Pamela Love is a true favorite. Handcrafted by artisan jewelers in Afghanistan, this statement necklace is made from white quartz and matte gold plate finish brass inlaid, showcasing the phases of the moon. My daughter’s middle name is Moon, so I have a special connection to wearing this piece. Most of all, I have so much respect for how this piece is connected to Roots of Peace, an organization transforming minefields into orchards and vineyards, supporting local farmers in Afghanistan to reach fair and equitable pay for their goods sold. —Molly Berry, founder of Luna Zorro 

Amanu Studio The Kibero sandal

I got my first pair of sandals from Amanu Studio on the recommendation of a friend (coucou, Melanie Masarin). I nearly wore them out over the summer while shooting my next book in the south of France and am already plotting my next pair. You can design your own or pick from pre-designed styles.  —Rebekah Peppler, contributor and author of À Table

Fouta Harissa

A Fouta is so versatile—it can be used as a towel, sarong, or shawl. The perfect travel companion for any location. —Mara Hoffman, founder of Mara Hoffman  

Fjallraven Keb pants

The ultimate adventure pants. I just retired a pair after seven years of hard living, including two trips to Antarctica, six to the Arctic, and about 300 miles of backcountry trekking—they were here for a good time and a long time. They’re rugged; they look cool; they have excellent pockets. It’s even kind of fun to re-wax the waxed cotton panels. Maggie Shipstead

Ninfa handmade jewelry

I try to pack light, but I always make space for a few fun pieces of jewelry that can zhuzh up my travel basics. I love Ninfa Handmade’s earrings and necklaces—a pair of its tiny hoops with glass hearts or tangerines make even a tee shirt and jeans feel playful. Earrings and charms start around $40 to 50, perfect for gifting, and your travel-loving friends will appreciate that the woman-owned brand was founded in Argentina and is now based in Portugal. —Megan Spurrell, senior editor 

Gifts to make them feel pampered 

Juara coconut Illipe hand and nail balm

A gentle re-entry is crucial to maintaining my sanity whenever I return from my expeditions. Juara’s Coconut Illipe Hand and Nail Balm is the perfect pampering for your hard-working hands and nails. Juara, an Indonesian word meaning “champion,” is a women-owned company that blends traditional botanical remedies with Western, 100 percent plant-based science. This award-winning hand balm strengthens and conditions nails and cuticles and instantly replenishes dry skin to improve signs of aging. The paradisaical scent will help you stay grounded and relaxed. —Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, mountaineer and author of In The Shadow of The Mountain

Hybernate Summer Lounge PJ set

I am a huge fan of lounge sets and I pack at least one for every trip I take. I run hot, so I lean toward short sets—this one is silky smooth and comes in great color options. It’s perfect for vacation nights spent curled on a couch reading or reflecting on the day’s adventures. —E.O. 

YSL mini Black Opium and Libre perfume set

I never leave home without at least one of these scents in my cosmetic bag. A quick dab here and there gives me an added boost of confidence before heading to dinner or even as I explore through the day. They are easy to pack and travel well, even in a carry-on. I honestly wish there were more options in this size. —D.T.

Kate McLeod grounding stone

This is definitely a splurge, but it’s a nice little nod to luxury both at home and while traveling. Tack on the beautiful bamboo canister, for an elevated, TSA-friendly bath time caboodle. I like to save this one when traveling to cooler climates to avoid the stone from melting. Shanika Hillocks, contributor

Vintner’s Daughter Active botanical serum

Vintners Daughter Active Botanical Serum is my absolute go-to favorite for keeping my skin hydrated, radiant, and healthy when crossing time zones and changing climates. I never travel without it! I especially love that they give back a portion of proceeds to foundations like Every Mother Counts and other charitable organizations that impact women and the environment. —M.B. 

The Five Minute Journal

The escapism of mountain expeditions has given me space for self-reflection and a strong inspiration for journaling. I discovered The Five Minute Journal in 2017 and quickly became a loyal follower. This journal has worked miracles, and I know it will also work its magic on you. —S.V. 

In Fiore Fleur Vibrante Serum Cerate

 I keep a tight edit on skincare in my carry-on but I make sure to take this serum everywhere. It’s soothing, nourishing, sinks in quickly, and gives my skin an extra boost when it’s jet lagged, sleep-deprived, or just every day stressed. I also always have a lip balm by Kosas floating around. —R.P. 

Gifts that will make their home feel like a hotel

Joya Studio A24 “Auditor of the Month” trophy candle

The multiverse from the film Everything Everywhere All At Once is the only multiverse that matters (just kidding, I’m still a Marvel fan). This candle smells amazing and is a direct call back to a certain “trophy” in the film that I won’t say more on because I don’t want to spoil anything. That movie is a trip, in every sense of the word, so having something in my home to remind me of that mental and emotional journey is a welcome addition. I’ve already bought one for my sister as a gift. —M.C. 

Oeste candle

Oeste offers its candles in travel tins—for someone who loves curating an aromatic experience, traveling with a loved scent is often essential. —M.H. 

Kassatex Luxury Encasing mattress pad

I recently stayed at the 1Hotel in Los Angeles for work and when I tell you I walked in and said, “Oh no, this might be too fancy,” I’m not kidding. I slept so well there that I texted the receptionist after check out specifically to ask where they get their mattress pads. Turns out, they’re by the New York brand, Kassatex! —M.C. 

Tekla Percale bedding

This duvet and pillow set is the smoothest, silkiest, most dreamy encasement for your bed. There is something so crispy and organized about the vertical thick lines. This duvet cover is the bedding equivalent of walking into a freshly cleaned Airbnb in the Cotswolds and taking in a deep breath knowing there are no dishes to clean, no pillows to fluff, just time to relax and be a bum. —M.C. 

Bodha smokeless incense

I’ve taken to traveling with the incense I use at home—it offers a sense of grounding wherever I am. —R.P. 

66° North x Fischersund Útilykt Spray

I can say with 100 percent confidence that this is my favorite scent in the whole world. Fischersund is a wonderfully moody family-run shop in Reykjavík and all of the scents are inspired by Icelandic elements—and made with local ingredients. This shop is worth a trip to see in person; a quick smell brings back so many memories of beautiful moments spent in the mountains. —E.O. 

Gifts that will make packing easier

Peak Design packing cubes

I traveled Europe for two months using Peak Design products and I’ll probably never use any others. The design details can’t be beat and the functionality is impressive. All of these products are great for trips of any size. I highly recommend them and feel they’d be amazing gifts. —Kirah Tabourn, astrologer and author of the Women Who Travel Horoscope column

Junes The Bottle Pocket Everyday Tote

As I desperately try to reduce my footprint, I’m a firm believer that we should all be traveling with reusable bags. They’re perfect for taking to that farmer’s market in Paris or for picking up Modelos on the way to the beach in Oaxaca (and souvenir shopping in all its forms). Junes Everyday totes are super packable, and made by female weavers in Juarez, Mexico, in a flurry of vibrant colors. Gift your friends one they can use again and again—and treat them to the style with bottle pockets inside. —Megan Spurrell

Ries Essential travel bottles

I’d be remiss not to mention the Ries travel bottles. They’re Black-woman-owned, sustainable, and come in these opaque colorways with blank or labeled options to keep all your toiletries organized. —S.H. 

Cuyana Medium Recycled travel bag

I am eyeing this travel bag—everything Cuyana makes is so stylish but also functional. For those who are hardy travelers (i.e., a dainty leather bag just won’t do), this will fit the bill perfectly. It just feels incredibly versatile and durable; whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a once-in-a-while trip taker, it’s the kind of bag you want to be carrying. I imagine that carrying this through LaGuardia Airport would make me look incredibly put together even if I am hightailing it to my gate catch a flight. —Priya Krishna, food writer and author of Indian-Ish 

Gifts to pack in their carry-on

The Uninhabitable Earth—Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

As an avid reader, it’s difficult to choose just one book from my long list of current and favorite reads. The Uninhabitable Earth—Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells is a terrifying, meticulously documented, white-knuckled narrative of the avalanche of disasters humanity is facing and will continue to face as the climate crises engulfs the planet. It scares me, but also motivates me to act with urgency. —Cristina Mittermeier, conservation photographer and co-founder of SeaLegacy

Manta sleep mask

I started sleeping with a sleep mask 10 years ago, but it took me a while to find this, my sleep mask soulmate. It blocks out all the light, but doesn’t smush your eyelids or catch on your eyelashes or squeeze your head. I use it every night at home but also on planes and even while camping—basically always. —Maggie Shipstead

Uusi Tarot deck

 A tarot deck is always great to have on hand while traveling. You can pull a card anywhere, and the tarot can be a great anchor whilst in the untethered world of travel. Simply asking your deck, “how can I best care for myself today” or “what can I focus on today” can add a deeper level of meaning to your day-to-day travels. My favorite deck is the Pagan Underworlds Tarot by Uusi. —K.T.

Sports and travel Freshette

When I first started climbing mountains, my biggest fear was how to adjust my personal needs for those untimely nature calls. I remember ogling an equipment list and saw an “optional” suggestion for Freshette, a female portable plastic urinary device. This “optional” device has become “a must” and possibly the most empowering tool in any of my expeditions to have freedom in the outdoors—a female-owned company at the forefront of Leave No Trace and other environmental projects. —S.V. 

Good Juju notebook

Hand-written notes on quality stationery are something I treasure and my good friends Good Juju Ink are leaders in their field. I’m partial, of course, to their Oceanica Collection with 10 percent of sales benefitting my non-profit organization, SeaLegacy. —C.M. 

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