EASY DIY Travel gift box

Do you love a traveler? Do you want to make their lives easier? Of course you do! That’s why I’ve made this DIY travel gift box guide, so you can put together a thoughtful care package so they have everything they need as they start traveling again.

I create travel vlogs, I watch a ton of travel vlogs, and for years I was away from home for 100+ days. I’m also a sucker for a good packing video. For this travel kit, I’ve picked out the items I was always glad to have, what I wish I had, plus some that other travelers swear by.

This gift of must-have travel items is inspired by the laundry basket full of dorm needs I received when I went to college and the baby baskets that I’ve since contributed to. Your gift is for you to put together in whatever way is appropriate for you and your favorite travel lover, it will be so appreciated. I promise you that! I would have loved this when I started out.

If you’re looking to give someone luggage, a backpack, or day bag, I’d encourage you to get a gift-card for that. Backpacks are best if someone finds their own due to their preferences and body type. For luggage, they may want 4 wheels over 2, or one that has a built-in charger.

There are different types of travelers, so take what works for yours and leave the rest.

Jessica in front of Amsterdam Central Station with ebags Monument 26" spinner

Best gifts for a travel gift box

Tide Pen

We’re all bound to drip or drop something on ourselves, so the Tide pen is a necessity. You can get the tiny to-go version or the regular size. It’s still not much bigger than a pen, so the regular size is the best bet.

TSA-friendly clear toiletry bag

I’ve had mine for ages and it is from Kiehl’s…which I can’t find anymore. But there are few that look promising on Amazon with great reviews. While they aren’t the prettiest thing in the world, they get through security like a breeze, make for easy clean up if anything spills, and keeps you from bringing too much in the bag.

Water bottle

Depending on where the person is traveling, they may want a simple stainless steel water bottle (this is my go-to, always), or they may need a filtering water bottle. My way of thinking is if I’m in the USA/Canada or most of Europe, I don’t worry about a filter. But anywhere else, I’ll be checking if the water is safe and wishing I had a water bottle that filtered the bad stuff for me. This saves so much money and, most importantly, plastic waste.

Cutlery to go

We love being prepared with some cutlery in our bags. We have the bamboo kind, but if I did it over again, I’d buy the stainless steel kind just because they feel cleaner. I’d also suggest a metal straw and possible chopsticks in the kit.

Shoe bag

While anyone can use a plastic bag to store their shoes, it’s nice to have a shoe bag to keep in your bag at all times. My feet are tiny so I can fit 2-3 pairs of shoes in a shoe bag like this. It’s ridiculous that I love it, but when you travel so much, it’s the little things that make life easier and more organized.

Reusable shopping bag

This is a must for anyone, anywhere. Many countries have banned plastic bags anyway, so it’s great to have a reusable bag that fits in your pocket and is ready to go (and that you can wash). Some use one of the many branded tote bags they’ve probably received over the years which is totally fine. But if you’re looking for a gift, check out this kind of bag that fits anywhere.

Waterproof phone holder

For anyone going near water or up to tall heights, this is hugely helpful. You can still use your phone through the plastic but it keeps it safe from water and falls since you carry it around your neck.

Mini first-aid kit

Even the simplest will do in a pinch. The idea is to have what you need so you can go to the pharmacy and get more, or get help. We’re mainly concerned about things that need immediate attention like cuts, so they don’t get infected. Also, keep any medications you take each day, or may need to take (allergy meds) plus painkillers. This first aid kit is one I really like because of the variety of tools.

Jessica with first aid travel kit


You can go for a reusable (and more durable one) like this, a thinner one that has limited uses, or a lightweight, packable raincoat. Either way, it’s a must-have item in many parts of the world known for quick, fierce, and out-of-nowhere rainstorms. You could also gift a travel umbrella. They may want to take an umbrella, but as an Amsterdammer, I know that winds are too much for umbrellas most of the time for me, so wearable rain gear is best.

TSA-approved Swiss Army “knife” or real one

Because you never know what kind of needs a person will have, a do-it-all contraption like a Swiss Army Knife is a great addition to anyone’s pack. Just make sure you know if they intend to only carry on their luggage or they prefer to check it with the airline. That will determine what kind you are able to give. The Jetsetter version is more appropriate for carry-on bags. Sadly, Sean accidentally left his in his backpack once, so it got confiscated at security. It was a sad day, but understandable.

Quick-drying microfiber towel

We bought ours before we moved to Amsterdam and it goes with us to most places. These towels are a multi-tasker for sure. You can use them as a towel for the shower or beach, picnic blanket, gym towel, small blanket and even a pillow in a pinch. It’s really small and perfect for a day bag. Here’s a great one made in Tennessee!

Stay healthy pack

Depending on where they are traveling and for how long these items may also be helpful. Because I like to be prepared, I keep some items that might be overkill, but I’ll leave it up to you 😉
•Gin-gins or other pill or ginger chew to help with motion sickness
•Pepto-Bismol chewable tabs
•Itch stick and bug spray
•Sunscreen and after-sun gel
•Packets of Theraflu drink powder
•Throat lozenges

Packing cubes

I love the ones that have two sides (one for dirty stuff) and can be cinched down with a zipper and are super lightweight. Not everything needs to be packed in cubes, so I’d suggest a couple small or medium ones.

Travel guides

I’m a big fan of Marco Polo and Rick Steves travel guides. Actual books may not be appropriate, but just in case, I wanted to suggest my favorites!

Power adapter and/or adapter

There is a difference between an adapter (which just switches the plug to the right one) and a converter (converts the voltage so you don’t blow up your device or a fuse). We currently use this older adapter. If the person is techy or photographer, you may want to get a combo multi-plug converter to plug more than one thing in an outlet.

Tech organization

If they have a lot of electronics, they’ll have a lot of cables, so cable ties will make their life so much better. A new favorite addition to my travel bag is the Peak Design tech pouch. I bought it to see if it was worth all the fuss and I can confirm it’s pretty awesome for the bits, bobs and cables. I wouldn’t dream of traveling without it again!

Don’t forget to put your own twist to the gift. Maybe something cute or funny that’s an inside joke. I’m all about practical, but personal is so important to give the warm fuzzies 😉

If you found this helpful or are planning to give travel gifts, connect with us on Instagram because we love to know when we were able to help!

Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.

Travel with us - Tuscany October 2022