I have learned a LOT about traveling over the past few years, especially what kinds of travel gifts I actually need and will use.
Since I'm just one woman, I asked a few of my travel-pro peers to chime in with their must-have travel accessories and came up with this master list of travel gift ideas. All of the products below are suggestions made by people who really use them, with over half the items being personally reviewed by myself.
The best part of this round-up is EVERYTHING comes in under $20 USD. Travel can be expensive, but your key travel accessories don't have to be!
Top 40 Travel Gifts For Women Under $20
1. Travel Tote Bag
Literally everything you could want in a bag. It's light enough to cram into over-packed luggage, it's waterproof and holds even more than you'd expect. It's the perfect travel tote because it has so many uses.
You can bring it shopping to cut back on plastic bags, bring it to the beach, out to the camp site, as a carry-on bag for the flight, or as a pool tote. Comes in dozens of colors.
2. Microfibre Makeup Remover Cloths
Make the switch to these super soft reusable makeup remover cloths and you'll never look back. Not only are they way better for the environment, but you can take your makeup off each night without the harsh chemicals. Simply wet the cloth and gently wipe over your face to easily remove all your makeup, even mascara! If you don't have access to a laundry machine you can easily wash in the sink and air dry for next use!
3. Magnetic Pill Case
4. Travel Jewelry Case
This compact jewelry case is small enough to put in your purse, but big enough to hold your most important items. It has holders for rings, a compartment for earrings and hangers to keep necklaces from tangling. Such a better solution than throwing earrings loosely into my wallet!
5. Airplane Footrest
In a perfect world I'd always be cuddled up in first class, stretched out on my lie-flat bed in the sky. But that's not reality! In order to survive those longer economy flights, this in-flight footrest really makes a difference. You simply attach it to the arms of the tray table and voila – you've got yourself a foot or calf hammock. Resting your feet in this will help swelling, stiffness and back pain. You'll feel like you paid for a much better seat than you did!
Note: If you are flying on a low cost airline, there won't be enough room for this hammock to work. If you are flying a full service airline, you should be fine!
Related: Tips on how to survive a long-haul flight
6. Leak-Proof Travel Bottles
Even when I go on a long trip, I NEVER need an entire bottle of gel, leave in conditioner or lotion. I have gotten in the habit of filling up these silicone squeeze bottles with the products I want to bring, instead of stacking my luggage with full-sized products. You can put gels, creams, even liquids in the tubes without worry! Over the last year I haven't had one leak.
7. Hanging Toiletry Bag
Take organization to the next level and put all your bathroom and ‘get ready' products into this hanging toiletry bag. Once you check into your hotel, hang it on the back of the door, or the towel rack, and you'll always have your shower products exactly where you need them. Plus, if any of your bottles leak, the bag is waterproof, saving the rest of luggage from a disaster.
8. Selfie Stick with Light
Sure, selfie sticks might be a little tacky, but when it gives amazing lighting, who cares? This selfie stick has a built in light that will help your selfies look much better, but will also add some light to night shots. In the event that you might need it, it also has a flashing SOS setting that can help you in an unsafe or emergency situation.
9. Wireless Speaker
Because every girl should have her tunes where ever she goes. This uber-tiny wireless speaker is perfect for getting ready in the hotel, bringing to the beach, or playing music with friends. It only weighs 6 ounces but plays decently loud music for around 5 hours on each charge. It uses a USB charge, so no batteries to fiddle with.
10. Luggage Cover
The only thing that sucks more than not being able to identify your luggage at the carousel is finding your suitcase scuffed up beyond repair. Getting a luggage cover will help with both problems! The designs are super bright, so you'll be able to easily pick your case out of the crowd. The fabric will also offer protection to your bag, saving you money on having to replace expensive luggage.
11. Handheld Fan
“Why on EARTH would I need to travel with a portable fan?” ….said every traveler until they were stuck on a tourist bus in the middle of Thailand with no A/C. Since this travel fan is so tiny, it can easily be tucked away in a purse or carry-on bag for those ‘in-case' situations. It can be charged using a computer or power bank, has 2 speeds, and lasts for hours.
12. Eye Mask & Ear Plugs
In order to have a good nights sleep, I essentially have to be in a pitch black, soundless cave. Since that's not a reasonable expectation while traveling, I've had to come up with an alternative way to slumber. I LOVE using a contoured eye mask because it's light on my face and doesn't smush my eyelashes around like other masks.
13. Waterproof Phone Pouch
Yes, most new smart phones claim to be water resistant, but do you really want to take that chance? Me neither. When I'm heading out on the boat I'll bring a waterproof pouch to keep my phone in. The touch screen still works while it's inside and I know that if I drop it, I won't be coughing up $1000 for a replacement phone!
14. Travel Journal
Even though we are all so reliant on digital technology these days, there is something to be said about putting pen to paper. Grabbing a travel journal before your trip can be super therapeutic. This one by Lamare has pages for packing lists, trip planning, your travel budget, accommodations, transportation and during your trip diary entries.
15. Foldable Backpack
This ultra-light backpack is perfect to bring on any trip because it folds up into a tiny pouch, plus it only weighs 8 ounces. Even though it's small, it holds 20L worth of stuff, making it a really versatile bag. It comes in just about every color you'd want, and has a nearly 5-star rating.
16. Travel Laundry Bags
From personal experience, the last place I want my dirty laundry is mixed in my luggage with my clean clothes. These mesh laundry bags keep undies, bras, tops and bottoms all separate and easy to find. If you wash in cold or warm water, just keep them in bag and toss in the machine. I keep my clean clothes in my packing cubes, and all my dirty laundry in these mesh bags.
17. Mini Steamer
Most hotels that are 4-star and above will have irons – but your Airbnb, vacation rental or cruise ship might not. If you are a serious fashionista and need to have flawless outfits, consider traveling with a miniature clothing steamer. This little device will take out wrinkles, but also refresh lightly soiled clothes.
18. Makeup Organizer
Instead of having a makeup bag where everything is crammed into one big space, this organized makeup case helps you find everything you need quickly and easily. I love how it has a separate section for brushes! The case itself is big enough to hold the essentials, but not so huge that it takes up too much luggage real estate.
19. Quick Draw Camera Bag
This camera bag is not only super affordable, but it also fits an SLR camera with a lens already attached, making capturing photos in the moment much easier! Within seconds you can unzip and pull out your camera, without having to assemble it. It has a one shoulder strap and a waterproof base that makes it easy to carry around and set down. Once you start using a camera bag like this, you'll never go back!
20. Go Girl Device
For the women out there (like myself!) that are ‘pee in the woods challenged', Go Girl invented a device to help when nature calls. You can use it in nasty bathrooms, when you encounter the foreign squat toilet, or when you're out camping.
21. Silicone Wine Glasses
There are many situations where one just wants a glass of wine, when having an actual ‘glass' just won't fly. These unbreakable silicone wine glasses are perfect for all of those occasions. These can be used on the beach, at a picnic, while boating, camping, and especially in the hot tub or pool! They are super light, easy to clean and great to cram into a beach tote bag.
22. Waterproof ‘Bum Bag'
One of the greatest things the 80's gave us… the fanny pack, or ‘bum bag' as they are called in some countries. These holographic belt bags are festival season ready, but good for any trip where you want to be a little extra. They fit a smart phone, sunglasses, lip gloss, some cards and a bit of cash.
23. Water Sport Shoes
For all the times it's a little sketchy to go barefoot, these water shoes are great for yoga, beach walks and all kinds of water sports. Truth be told, they are not super high quality, but will do the trick for a few trips. The good thing about them is they are really light, easy to pack and come in every color/design imaginable. Rumour has it you might want to go up one size.
24. Mini Hair Dryer
If I have learned one thing in my travels, that is NEVER to rely on the hotel hair dryer. I've found them in all kinds of states, including non-functioning and non-existent. Because of that, I purchased a mini hair dryer that comes with me everywhere. In all fairness, I bought one from Sephora that has been discontinued, but this ConAir one gets 4.5 stars out of 5 and is really affordable. Most important feature in a travel hair dryer? The ability to work with dual voltage, which this one does.
Related: Travel-Sized Makeup Must-Haves
25. Diversion Safe
26. Towel Clips
If you've ever been on a windy beach or cruise ship deck, you'll know that a strong breeze will continuously blow your towel completely off your chair. These smart clips will keep your towel perfectly in place so you can just relax.
27. Toilet Seat Covers and Wipes
The travel gift that needs no introduction – toilet seat covers and wipes. We've all been there. You desperately have to use the loo and the only one within miles looks like your worst nightmare. Having a pack of these in your bag will be a real life-saver.
28. Bamboo Straws
There are many places around the world that still use plastic straws, but you can always decline if you have one of these re-usable bamboo straws on hand. They are super durable, easy to clean, free of all plastic, and 100% organic. It's the small steps we take that make a big difference in the end.
29. Door Stop Alarms
This door stop and alarm duo is one of the best travel safety devices out there, especially for female solo travelers. I think we've all imagined a bad guy picking the lock and sneaking into our hotel room as we sleep. When this is wedged under the door from the inside of the room, it stops the door from opening from the outside. You can also set the alarm to sound if the door has been breached, which sends out a deafening blast. I am a little bit of a scaredy-cat when I sleep in strange places alone, and this helps me feel more secure for sure.
Related: Top 45 Travel Safety Tips
30. Universal Travel Adaptor
The last thing you want after a long travel day is to find you can't plug your phone in at the hotel. I always travel with a universal adaptor so I don't even need to think about what type of plugs and sockets my new destination has. This one works in over 150 countries and has some USB ports which are really handy for quick charging.
31. Luggage Scale
Raise your hand if you've ever shown up to the airport with overweight luggage! The problem with finding out last minute that your bag is over the limit are the extortionate prices that come with it! Overweight baggage fees are usually 2x's to 3x's what you would pay to check an extra bag! But by then it's too late.
If you are a chronic over-packer, get a digital luggage scale. It will tell you the exact weight of your bag up to 110 lbs/ 50 kg.
32. First Aid Kit
You never need a first aid kit until you do. Getting into the habit of traveling with a small first aid kit is a great idea, especially if you are camping or hiking. Sometimes all you need is just a few of the emergency essentials.
33. Phone Stand
I know this small plastic stand looks unimpressive, but I promise you it's a travel must-have! I first fell in love with this stand as a way to watch in-flight movies on my phone, but quickly learned it's good for so much more! It works as a bedside stand for your phone, to watch makeup tutorials as you get ready in the bathroom, a stand to record videos & stories, etc. This is one of my ride or die travel accessories!
34. Packing Cubes
If you haven't started using packing cubes, what are you waiting for? Now that I've used them for the past 3 years, there is no way I can go back. It keeps all of my clothes super organized and compact, and helps me customize what outfits I'll need for my trip. I like to use one for gym or workout clothes, one for super casual clothes, and one for dressier clothes – that way I always have my outfits picked out and ready to go.
35. Collapsible Water Bottle
Single-use plastics are becoming a real environmental issue. I know first hand that when I'm traveling, THAT is when I consume the most plastic bottles and packaging. One big step I've made this year is bringing around a collapsible water bottle in my purse or carry-on. Most airports have safe drinking fountains and re-fill stations, eliminating the need for buying over-priced and wasteful plastic bottles.
36. Rain Poncho
When I spent 2 years traveling through South East Asia, I realized just how crucial a good rain poncho can be. Torrential downpours literally come out of nowhere and can completely soak you in seconds! This lightweight and waterproof poncho is a great one because it's wide enough to cover your body, plus your backpack.
37. iPhone Tripod
If you are a vlogger or you like to capture moments for the ‘gram, getting a smartphone tripod is a great investment! This one let's you take photos with a remote, so you can set it up and take photos even if you are solo travelling. The legs curl and coil around things like trees, fences, posts are bars, so you can use anything around you to help get the perfect shot.
It's really small and lightweight, so I just keep it in my carry-on bag.
38. Travel Electronic Case
This sturdy electronics case is for all the little things you take with you that will get broken or lost otherwise. Things like batteries, memory cards, small digital cameras, ear buds, etc. I have used the same one for almost 4 years now and it's still in perfect condition. Great way to keep small electronics organized and safe.
39. Microfiber Travel Towel
I like to travel with items that have multiple uses. This travel towel is definitely one of them! It can be used as a beach towel, for hot yoga or the gym, as an in-flight blanket, for camping, the list goes on and on. A set of 2 only weighs 6 ounces, so they are perfect for bringing along on any trip. They are also great to keep in the car!
40. Jogger Pants
Travel can be one of the most uncomfortable times in life. Delayed flights, long bus rides, extended lay-overs, etc. If there is one thing I value during those hectic days, it's being as comfortable as possible. I never wear jeans on a plane, but instead a pair of stretchy leggings or soft joggers. They are still cute but feel comfy and cozy for the long day ahead.
What did you think of my top travel gifts for women round-up? Do you have any key travel accessories or gear you swear by? (Bonus points if it's under $20!) Let me know in the comments below ↓