Home / Features / Christmas Gift Guide 2021: 15 travel gadget gift ideas for nomads and explorers

Christmas Gift Guide 2021: 15 travel gadget gift ideas for nomads and explorers

Make this festive season a flyaway success

Travel’s not what it used to be. For one thing, pre-flight checks are a lot more nasally invasive.

Bring some sophistication back to the jet-set with this globetrotting gear. From backpacks to trackers, the nomadic gadgets below offer a one-way ticket to smarter travel – no Air Miles necessary.

It won’t put an end to PCR poking, but pack this nifty kit in your carry-on and you’ll test positive for go-roamer.

JBL Go 3

Not every adventure needs a DJ, but it pays to be ready if there’s a request for MC Globetrotter’s worldwide anthems. Wrapped in waterproof fabric, JBL’s ultra-portable speaker can bring the Bluetooth tunes wherever the party’s starting. An integrated loop is handy for hooking, while subtle rubber feet help it stand small and steady. Sure, it won’t shake the room, but five hours of battery life should be plenty to get the hostel crowd jumping.

Logitech MX Keys Mini

A flyaway writer’s retreat might be just the thing to inspire your next bestseller. Stick Logitech’s compact keyboard in your carry-on for top typing wherever you travel. Slim, light and good for up to five months on a single charge, the Mini features full-sized keys which are sculpted to suit your fingertips, while its solid metal build reduces the rat-a-tat that would otherwise earn the ire of fellow passengers. Backlighting lets you continue crafting your novella even after the cabin lights are dimmed, plus an emoji shortcut means you’ll easily find the right smiley to celebrate when you get published.

Urbanista Los Angeles

Buy the Urbanista Los Angeles here from Urbanista

A good playlist can put a spring in the step of any wayfarer. Trouble is, a life on the road makes regular recharging tricky. Cut free from cords with these solar-powered cans. The cushioned headband is topped by Powerfoyle, which uses all forms of light to fill the ‘phones. Unless you only travel by night, you may never need to charge them. There’s an 80hr backup battery for journeys after dark, while active noise cancelling can instantly mute chirpy backpackers.

Hydroflask Lightweight Trail Series

Buy the Hydroflask Lightweight Trail Series here from Hydroflask

Sipping from spring water is one of the delights of the great outdoors. So is dysentery. Carry Hydroflask’s streamlined cylinder while you hike for hydration that doesn’t upset your stomach. Lightweight at 284g, its stainless steel shell won’t weigh you down while you walk, yet TempShield insulation means your aqua shouldn’t turn tepid. Once you’re back in civilisation, you can skip the plastic bottles by refilling from the nearest fountain.

Native Union Sling Tech Pouch

Buy the Native Union Sling Tech Pouch here from Native Union

From delicious street food to the polished feet of lucky statues, there’s plenty to touch when you travel. Stash your essential kit in this sling pouch to keep your hands free for holding things. Streamlined for unencumbered exploring, a main pocket harbours your smartphone, with an additional compartment for your keys, cards and cash. Its water-repellent shell should keep your stuff safe and dry, while the recycled polyester strap is adjustable – so you can comfortably tote your tech around town.

Tile Slim (2022)

Keys? Wallet? Phone? The pocket pat-down is a dance known to wayfarers the world over. Come up empty and frantic rummaging is sure to ensue. Attach Tile’s updated tracker to your assets to avoid the dreaded routine. Lightweight and shaped like a credit card, it slips neatly into billfolds or luggage tags, then logs their location at regular intervals. Track its position through the smartphone app, before activating its ringer from a distance of 76m. With a three-year battery life, you’ll have a long time to find it. Plus if you stump up for Tile Premium, you’ll get an alert if you leave it behind.

Apple iPad Mini 6

In-flight movies might pass the time, but Apple’s slender slate fills your palm with more interactive entertainment. A portable powerhouse, the iPad Mini 6 ships with an A15 chip for zipping through games, while its 8.3in Liquid Retina display is ideal for devouring downloaded flicks. The tablet also works with Bluetooth keyboards, as well as Apple’s second-gen Pencil – so you can sketch the sky-high scenery outside (or portraits of fellow passengers, if you didn’t get the window seat).

Wacaco Picopresso

Buy the Wacaco Picopresso here from Wacaco

Coffee can’t cure jet lag, but it can give you the energy to remember which country you’ve woken up in. Skip the hotel’s instant sachets and treat your bewildered brain to a better boost. Engineered to produce café-quality brews on the move, Wacaco’s Picopreso delivers pro Joe wherever you go. Simply add hot water to the chamber, pump the hand-powered piston and wait for aromatic rocket fuel to drip through the portafilter. A funnel and tiny tamper help when filling the basket with ground-up good stuff – and unlike a travelling barista, the compact cylinder doesn’t demand it’s own room in exchange for creamy double shots.

HTC Vive Flow

Buy the HTC Vive Flow here from Vive

Getaways are all about escaping everyday life. Sadly, there’s no escaping the effect that switching time zones has on your body clock. Soothe yourself through the clock confusion with HTC’s go-anywhere VR goggles. Lightweight at 189g, the folding specs feature dual hinges to comfortably fit your face, plus an active cooling system for immersion that doesn’t bake your brow. Connect to your smartphone to launch serene experiences through the partner app, with built-in speakers delivering spatial audio to complement the mindful meditations. Sure, you might get a few funny looks if you don them in the departure lounge, but you’ll be too cool to care.

Bellroy Lite Duffel

Buy the Bellroy Lite Duffel here from Bellroy

Spontaneous short breaks are some of the best. The problem with packing up your troubles in your old kit bag? A weighty weekender will quickly curtail your enthusiasm for an escape. Don’t lug extra luggage: Bellroy’s featherweight duffle harbours your haul while going easy on the grams. An ultra-wide opening makes packing a cinch, with several pockets to sort your particulars. There’s also a detachable strap for shoulder slinging, while the duffel’s ripstop shell is made from recycled plastic bottles – so you can tread lightly on the world as well.

Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K

Glue a battery pack to the back of your blower and you’ll always have backup juice. You’ll also have a very messy mobile. For neater adhesion, whack this magnetic number on the rear of your iPhone 12 or 13. Compatible with MagSafe, it’ll stick in place ready to deliver up to 17 hours of fallback power. It works through most cases and there’s a 10W USB-C output for attaching the 5000mAh cell to other accessories.

WD Elements SE SSD

Delayed baggage might mean a short-term pant shortage, but lost files will cause problems for a lot longer. Metal discs don’t travel too well, so stick your stuff on a solid state drive for safer storage while you jet-set. Western Digital’s range of portable plug-and-play companions make spin-free vaults more affordable. Capacities range from 480GB to a generous 2TB – perfect for media moguls on tour.

Pocketalk Plus

A little bit of lingo goes a long way. Can’t tell the two types of avocat apart? You could try the trademark loud-and-slow technique. Or for cross-cultural communication that won’t create an international incident, stick this linguistic bibelot in your bumbag. With 82 languages on-board and eight days of standby battery life, the tiny interpreter deploys noise-cancelling mics to decipher different dialects. Select two tongues using the touchscreen and it’ll translate up to 30 seconds of speech at a time. It can also convert text courtesy of an in-built camera, so you won’t make the faux pas of looking for fruit in a lawyer’s office.

Vodafone Curve

Mini breaks are great with mates. The tricky part is finding them again if you split up in the city. Attach Vodafone’s handy tracking puck to your pal and you’ll know exactly where they are, thanks to integrated GPS. Sub up for a Smart SIM subscription (£3 per month) and it’ll deliver real-time location data via cellular. There’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on-board as well, which you can use to sound a built-in beeper once you’re within 15 metres of your buddy. Configure virtual zones to receive alerts when they leave a certain area, or receive instant updates when they hold the button for three seconds. The cell inside is good for up to seven days. If they’re still AWOL after that, they’re on their own.

Netgear Nighthawk M5 Mobile

Hotel Wi-Fi is usually fine for social scrolling. Not so much for virtual face time with faraway friends and family. Prefer a picture less pixellated? Stick a nano SIM in Netgear’s next-gen mobile router for faster Wi-Fi wherever you’re staying. 5G delivers buffer-free speeds of up to 4Gbps, while Wi-Fi 6 means the Nighthawk can share its brisk broadband with up to 32 devices. And with a battery that’s good for 13 hours, you’ll burn through your roaming data long before the tank runs dry.