Holiday Gift Giving List for Travel and Geography Nerds

On the Road

Rickshaw Backpacks

I have no idea if these are the best backpacks out there but I love my Rickshaw backpack. It’s a pretty simple backpack. It has a fifteen-inch laptop sleeve, side zipper, outside pocket, and a sizeable closing flap that does a good job of protecting your valuables. The version I have is not waterproof, but they do have fabric choices that are. This backpack has served me with week long trips to both Iceland and Sweden. When I’m hanging out around town, the size is perfect to carry around. Rickshaw bags are customizable and come in a number of different color combinations.

Price: $149-179

Cocoon Travel Sheets

I purchased my Cocoon travel sheets for our trip to Vietnam last April. After staying in a hotel that had blood on the walls and the mosquito nets, I was really glad I had these. The material could definitely be softer and it’s easy to get twisted in the sack. They’re relatively inexpensive and keep me pretty cool when I sleep. They’re great for when you’re in a place with dubious hygiene standards.

Price: $21.95-39.95

Cocoon Air-Core Hyperlite Backpacking Pillow

This is not the best travel pillow ever, but it packs down incredibly small, which makes it perfect for backpacking or saving space in your bag. I used it in the aforementioned bloody hotel room instead of the pillows provided. I slide around a little on it and the nylon material socks in the oils from your hair and face which discolors the pillow. I’m thinking of making a pillowcase for mine. You can’t beat the space-saving and weight.

Price: $30.95

Muji Neck Pillow

A friend of mine who travels often between the United States and Asia recommended this neck pillow. She says this can also be used as a regular pillow in a pinch. It also has a washable cover.

Price: $25.32

Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag

I purchased this dry bag primarily for backpacking and kayaking trips, but it’s a regular on overseas trips. It’s perfect for containing all my toiletries including my pesky shampoo bottle which I tossed this last trip after one too many explosions. It was perfect for my hostel shower. It can also be used for personal items like your wallet, keys, and cell phone dry and contained on kayaking, rafting, and other water activities.I’ve used it on kayaking trips to hold my DSLR, and it kept everything perfectly dry. It can clip onto your backpack, but I keep mine inside.

Price: $36.95

Eagle Creek Original Packing Cube Set

I have two of the large size of these and they are awesome for space saving and organizations. One of them full of clothes fits easily in my backpack along with all my other belongings. The mesh on the side is odor resistance and these are washable.

Price: $27.95

Travel Smart All-In-One Travel Adapter

This basic travel adapter runs less than fifteen dollars, and it can work with a number of different plugs.

Price: $11.99

Petzl Tikka Headlamp

This is the new version of the headlamp I own. Petzl is the name in headlamps and I’ve been more than satisfied with mine over the last six years. There’s nothing like dropping your flashlight next to that outdoor latrine. Also great for packing your bags in a hostel and you don’t want to turn on the lights.

Price: $29.95

Toiletries and Clothing

Lush Shampoo Bars, Dry Shampoo, and Deodorant

Don’t feel like having shampoo explode all over your hands at the airport security line? Then, a shampoo bar or dry shampoo might be the way to go. I would ditch the canister these come in because the bar tends to get stuck in the canister. I packed mine in a plastic bag. This in conjunction with dry shampoo helps keep my hair from getting that I’m traveling and haven’t bathed for a couple days look.

I’m not the biggest deodorant wearer; I admit it. Most of the time I go without it, but when I was traveling in Sweden, sweating a lot from heavy winter clothing, and not shaving my armpits for a month or so, I was getting a little stinky and self-conscious. I would have loved to have one of the deodorant bars from Lush.

Price: $6.95-14.95

Patagonia Active Mesh Boy Shorts

These are my favorite pair of underwear. I purchased them several years ago before a rafting trip when I realized I had forgotten to pack underwear. They are incredibly comfortable, are washable in a sink, and dry quickly. They come in a range of cuts, but I prefer the boy shorts for comfort when traveling. These come in my backpack every trip.

Price: $29.95

SmartWool Hiking Socks

I love my SmartWool Hiking socks. They’re great for hiking in. They stay warm and dry quickly. They also provide cushioning for long days on concrete when wandering around a new city. They’re expensive for socks but it’s definitely worth it to invest in a couple of pairs.

Price: $18.95

Travel and Geography Themed Decor


You can get a moose made out of New York City. I enjoy the melding of two of design aesthetics: woodland creatures and maps. It would look lovely next to my Deliverance poster.

Price: $40

Below the Boat

These bathymetric maps are stunning. A few of my favorites: Chesapeake Bay, Lake Winnipesauke, and Mount Desert Island.

Price: $138-$358

Books and Bags

The Scratch Map Deluxe

When I first saw this, I thought it was an enormous scratch and sniff and got really excited. I thought it would be like that scratch and sniff map of Hampton Court I got (it had a chamber pot to scratch and sniff). But these are also a fun thing for people who like a visual representation of all the places they’ve gone.

Price: $30

Atlas Obscura

Want to challenge yourself or learn about less known destinations? Check out the Atlas Obscura for suggestions and information on some off the beaten track destinations.

Price: $17.50

Tactile Craftworks

Finely crafted geography themed leather goods, mugs, and flasks. The Atlas Series features a number of different city maps. I seriously want to buy every single clutch on this website.

Price: $35-145