‘Tis the season for gift giving and gift buying and all things gifting-related. But what should you buy for that picky traveler on your list?
Sorry, let me rephrase that. What should you put on the list of things you want other people to buy YOU to help fuel your raging travel addiction? Let’s just be honest with each other.
Well, have no fear. While there are roughly a zillion Travel Gift Lists out there all repeating the same generic advice – packing cubes! A money belt! Stuff with maps on it! – there’s currently no list of travel gifts that you definitely DO NOT NEED. We decided to fill this glaring absence with the most useless, un-helpful, ridiculously unnecessary list of vaguely travel-related items.
We spent HOURS combing the deepest corners of the web looking for these items (turns out nobody describes their products for sale as “useless” or “unnecessary,” I have no idea why) to bring you the worst of the best of travel-related things that you absolutely don’t need at all but would be thrilled if someone else bought for you.
Sure, you could just dismiss this as a list of funny travel gifts, or travel gag gifts. But honestly? You’re going to low-key want some of these.
And we’re not going to judge you, because we kinda do too.
Enter our judgement free zone to a world of possibilities. A world where you can bring a pillow the size of a child on an airplane to nap in peace. A world where you can set up a seat divider to keep 3 inches of your skin from touching 3 inches of someone else’s skin. A world where you can bring with you not just a travel espresso machine, but a traveling portable juicer, too, and a traveling soda maker on top of that just for good measure. The possibilities are truly endless!
Without further ado, here are the most useless, unnecessary, down-right terrible travel gifts that we totally kinda want (and you probably will too).
Table of Contents
Looking for some legitimately helpful gift guides? We’ve got a few that are way less … cringe inducing.
- 50 Perfect Gifts for Every Type of Travel Lover (or just for yourself)
- 25 Gifts for Hikers Under $25: The Ultimate Budget-Friendly Hiker Gift Guide
The Wonderful World of Travel Pillows
Oh, travel pillows. The travel pillow is the epitome of unnecessary travel stuff that we all totally love. It’s literally a pillow you only wear for a few hours on your flight, and then have to haul around with you for the rest of your vacation just so you can spend a few more hours in slightly less discomfort than usual on your flight back.
Well, it turns out that there are about a zillion travel pillow designs, all progressively more ridiculous than the last. We’re all familiar with the U-Shaped neck pillow, but why go with convention?
Here are the most cutting edge travel pillows you’ve ever not needed.
On the plus side, this makes a fantastic gift for someone you’d like to passive-aggressively tell to shut their gosh darn mouths, such as your obnoxious seat-partner who just wants to pleasantly chat with you for the next 4 hours while you’d rather be anti-social and play Angry Birds or FarmVille or whatever.
The Travelrest Pillow is like a pillow that gives you a hug and lets you fall asleep on its shoulder. It won’t wake you up and make comments like “did you know you drool while you sleep?” or say anything about your snoring (unlike my husband). It will just quietly support you and let you whisper your deepest secrets and fears into its silicon depths, saying nothing but letting you know by its mere presence that it’s here for you.
The Travel Pillow by Little Cloud Nine is like a portal to another dimension. Escape your flight or commute by sticking your face into its protective walls. For maximum anti-social points, use the hand-holes to stick your phone directly under the face-hole, so you can scroll through your Instagram feed in your tiny pillow closet completely in private. It’s practically guaranteed that absolutely no one will even try to engage you in conversation.
The Ostrich Pillow may look like a giant boxing glove, but it offers so much more than the opportunity to throw a cozy, padded punch. Stick this magical helmet of plush over your face and you’ll be instantly transported to a world of cushioned isolation, where you can’t see or hear anything (but you can still breathe just fine).
Your still-visible nose and mouth will serve as a reassurance to passers-by that you are NOT in fact a giant squid taking a nap on the floor, but just an incredibly comfortable human. You can put your hands in the holes that are located sort of near your ears or the top of your head in case you have a mid-nap itch.
My favorite part of this travel pillow is the picture of the guy whose chair fell backwards mid-email and he just decided to like, go with it and take a nap right then and there. We should all be more like that guy.
The SkyRest Travel Pillow is the ultimate travel pillow for people who have absolutely no qualms about taking up as much space as humanly possible. You’ve seen people at the airports with full-sized pillows from their beds, right? Maybe you’ve even been unlikely enough to sit next to one. The SkyRest Pillow puts those space-hogs to absolute shame.
This enormous inflatable plush cube of personal comfort and assertiveness is designed to take up as much space as is legally allowed on a plane. It sends the message, “f*** the h*** off, I’m napping” to anyone who might dare to approach you. And if you happen to be married to someone who likes to use your seat-back tray table for their stuff, even though you’ve told them a MILLION TIMES to use THEIR OWN TRAY TABLE (I’m actually referring to myself here. I’m a tray table hog. Not even sorry), well, consider THAT problem solved once and for all. Now NOBODY can use your seat back tray table. Not even you!
Don’t Drink & Travel
Traveling and drinking just go hand in hand. Whether you’re chugging coffee to get pumped for a day of exploring, or sipping wine to wind down from a day of exploring, there’s a lot of ~drinking things involved in traveling.
Enter drinking-related travel gifts. There are so many of these that they got their own section. And honestly, it might just be my favorite section, because I totally want every single thing on this list.
Of course, I’m not going to buy them for myself. But if someone buys me a portable travel espresso machine? F*** yeah I’m going to stick it in my suitcase and demand that my husband makes me travel espresso in bed. Are you kidding me?! We’re the kind of a**holes who once brought a french press on a camping trip (it got broken, of course. Along with our car).
So side-eye us all you want, but you know you’d be delighted to unwrap one of these on Christmas morning.
This portable juicer is everything that I never realized I didn’t need. We’re budget travelers and often are forced to suck it up in hostels to save money during our trips. And unlike fancy-schmancy hotels which serve free OJ in the morning, at a hostel you’re lucky if you get a box of milk to go with your off-brand Weetabix.
Enter the portable juicer. Bring one of these handy dandy little tools along and you’ll be drinking FRESH OJ every single morning like the luxury travel blogger that you definitely aren’t.
To make this extra budget friendly, spend a couple of days of your vacation sneaking into hotel room lobbies that have fresh fruit bowls to snag as many free oranges and apples as you can. Frugal life hack 101, y’all.
Not much of a health nut? Don’t see the point of owning a portable travel juicer? Well, you’re in luck. Because you definitely also don’t need this travel soda maker.
Gone are the days of having to interact with a friendly shop-keeper in a language you don’t speak just to fill your fizzy drink cravings. Now you can whip up a Pomegranate Cola or Root Beer (which they don’t even HAVE outside the USA) on the go in this helpful water-bottle shaped water bottle. Think of the possibilities! You can drink soda in a museum, where they only allow water bottles. You can drink soda while walking down the street instead of sitting at a restaurant like a boring regular person. You can drink soda ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. The world is your oyster and you are its fizzy, carbonated master.
If you’re anything like me, you saw that juicer and that soda maker and you were like “well hey, that’s halfway to brunch!” What’s missing from this mix, other than space in your suitcase and practicality? A travel bartending kit, of course!
The Cosmopolitan Travel Cocktail Set will meet your travel drink needs in one classy, velvet-interior travel case. Bring this on the flight as your carry-on and you’ll soon find yourself making best friends with everyone in your row. Just whip out your travel juicer, your travel soda maker, and your travel bartending kit and wait for the party to come to YOU.
More into wine than cocktails? Lucky you! There’s a bag for that. Technically, it’s a Portable Collapsible Wine Bottle. But let’s just be honest: it’s a plastic bag for your wine. It’s like Capri Sun meets wine. Go to the grocery store and pick up a bag of Capri Sun wine for a dinner party and everyone’s like “ugh, bag wine is gross, what’s wrong with you?” But break out this bad boy a few hours into a road trip and everyone will be like “awwww yiss, Robert Mondavi in a bag!” You’ll be a hero.
Just don’t bring this to the airport unless you’re capable of chugging an entire bottle of wine in the security line.
Ps, pro tip: they serve vermouth directly from the barrel in Barcelona, so technically that would make this a zero-waste alternative to a recyclable glass wine bottle. Just sayin’.
Look, just because you’re the proud owner of a wine bag doesn’t mean you have to drink wine out of a bag. What is this, college? No, you’re a grown up adult, and you drink wine out of wine glasses. Ours are from Ikea!
When you travel, you obviously need to bring a wine glass with you to accompany your bag wine. Enter the Goverre, which we assume is the French word for “portable wine glass.” It even comes with a lid, so it kinda looks like you’re sipping coffee, but you’re not: you’re sipping bag wine out of a portable wine glass. On the go! Watch out, world, my wine and I are going PLACES together.
We’ve been so focused on travel drinks, we nearly forgot our all-time favorite one: coffee! Thankfully for us and other coffee snobs like us, there are several options for extremely unnecessary travel coffee solutions. Side note: all of them look vaguely inappropriate and shoot hot liquid out of one end, but we’re WAY too classy to make jokes about that.
- The PressoPump Espresso Maker is a handheld tiny espresso machine with one beautifully designed button that makes you think it’s going to be incredibly easy to use. Press the button, and boom: espresso comes pouring out of this beautiful little device like the nectar of the gods. Well, first you have to grind some coffee beans, boil some water, and plug in your tiny espresso machine. But then, BOOM: nectar of the gods!
- The Lichi Double Shot Portable Espresso Machine differs from the other tiny travel espresso maker in that it does not require electricity. That’s right: it’s operated by hand! Just boil some water, pump up and down a bunch of times, and hey presto, travel espresso! There’s even a handy carrying bag. I can’t even hate on this because it’s legitimately the sort of thing we’d totally bring on a camping trip. I’m totally adding this to my Christmas wish list.
- The Handpresso Hybrid Auto Set solves that irritating habit we have of stopping at Starbucks every time we need a pick me up on a long road trip. It’s like Starbucks for your car. Carbucks, for short. Look, they named their company “handpresso,” is Carbucks really that much more of a stretch?! Anyway, Carbucks is a very expensive espresso machine that you’re supposed to operate while driving. It’s wildly unsafe and incredibly expensive and I definitely want one.
- The Handpresso Wild Hybrid Outdoor Set is like the traveling bar set, but for coffee snobs. It’s beautifully packaged to appeal to hipster Millennials like us, while serving the least possible amount of functionality. As a bonus, it even comes with pre-ground coffee in disposable pods, just like the ones that come in a cheap motel room next to the coffee machine, or the free coffee they serve at your office. Yum!
What Not to Wear (While Traveling)
What you wear says a lot about who you are. And when it comes to travel, you’re forced to distill the very essence who you are into 1 little suitcase full of clothes. It’s like, an impossible task. Combine that with the amount of functions required of your clothes when you travel, and you’re faced with a massive logistical problem.
Enter these travel clothes: they make BOLD statements about who you are, AND they serve incredibly functional purposes.
Also, side note: can we all just agree that if fanny packs weren’t hideously ugly, they’d be like, REALLY handy to have when traveling? They’re so convenient. It’s like a purse that you can never leave behind in a restaurant and nobody can ever pickpocket without you noticing. Bring back fanny packs, y’all!
Nothing says “I’m a giant d*****bag, rob me” like visiting another country and wearing an American Flag Fanny Pack. There are a ton of these on Amazon, and they’re all amazingly ridiculous. This one has a drink holder, which would actually be really convenient if you’re always carrying a water bottle around like I am. This one just says “‘Murica” – or if you really want to piss everyone off, just buy this one (don’t buy it. Please don’t buy it).
To maximize your target-ability, arrive in another country wearing your USA fanny pack with a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, socks that go up to your knees (but not like, in a sexy way, like in a dad way) and sandals (yes, with your socks) and then walk into places and get angry at anyone who doesn’t speak to you in English.
Few things combine functionality and hideousness as effectively as the fanny pack, but Barbra’s Women’s Travel Zipper Pocket Girdle Brief Panties come pretty darn close. The ladies at Barbra’s have created something truly one of a kind here: granny panties with a pocket.
Now, as a woman, I’m frustrated daily by the obnoxious lack of pockets on my clothing. I’m also constantly torn between my desire to bend to the patriarchy’s standards of beauty which demand that my tummy be flatter, while also fighting the patriarchy’s assertion that I am nothing more than a sexual object.
These panties operate perfectly in that balance. Their too-small polyester will suck in your gut until it comes out in a roll up by your boobs, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that deep-down, underneath it all, you’re wearing the absolute ugliest panties you could find (and chances are you haven’t trimmed anything down there, either. Eff off, patriarchy).
Plus, you can store like, a whole tube of chapstick in there. #Winning!
When I travel, I like to pack as minimally as possible. But that’s not by choice. No, it’s because the only airlines we can actually afford are budget airlines that charge $20 for every extra ounce of luggage you carry onto their matchstick-and-duct-tape planes.
That’s where this genius vest made of pockets comes in! The Bagket is a vest with 22 pockets, designed to hold everything you didn’t have room for in your suitcase. Just throw everything you can into these Marry Poppins-esque pockets: your laptop, your shoes, your bag of wine, your Handpresso, everything. Nobody will be the wiser, and you definitely won’t get charged for the extra 50lbs of stuff you’re bringing along because you’ll be lugging it all on your back and then sitting on it for the duration of your flight. Plus, the vest transforms into an ugly bag, too! Genius.
Sexist Travel Gifts
You probably thought I just mis-spelled “sexiest,” didn’t you? No such luck. What we’ve got in this section are just some top of the line, grade-A gender stereotyped travel products. You didn’t think this sh*t ended with Lady Bic Pens for Women, did you? Of course not.
Side note: can someone come out with a photoshopped magazine ranking the Sexist Man Alive and mail a copy to our President to see if we can trick him into posting it proudly on Twitter? … For science.
This Man On the Go Convenience Kit is everything you need to fuel your masculinity for a long, hard day of manly exploring. Forgot your manhood at home? Man on the Go has you covered. Neglected to protect your fragile masculinity before you packed it up and tucked it into your suitcase? Man on the Go to the rescue.
Keep Man on the Go in your bag (which is definitely NOT a purse, or even vaguely purse-esque) for those moments when you’re feeling a little bit lady-like (or feeling anything at all, ugh, gross) so you can whip out your manly man-comb and your manly man-deoderant and MAN UP.
The only thing missing from this kit? Dude Wipes. You know…. they’re wipes. But for dudes.
Oh, thank goodness, there’s a Woman on the Go Convenience Travel Kit. All is right and equal in the world. This little kit is so much more than just a collection of free samples of lady-scented Unilever products. There’s also a mirror, so you can examine yourself critically from all angles and make sure you’re both staying in your place and not rustling any feathers, and also meeting every expectation that’s ever been placed on you. Oh, and a pink razor. No tampons or pads, though, because that would be legitimately useful.
Sure, there’s a pink razor in the Woman on the Go kit, but THIS pink razor is even better. Why? Because it’s travel-sized, meaning half of the handle has been cut off. Also, it comes in a cute little pink compact case that kinda looks like makeup, so that anyone who happens to catch sight of your hygiene bag doesn’t have to think about the fact that your body naturally grows hair on it. That tiny razor case might just save your reputation as a delicate lady-flower. Gosh, can you imagine if a man saw your razor?! Why, the thought just makes me quake in my girdle.
… I Couldn’t Come Up With a Clever Name for This Section
Look, not everything I found during my hours of intensive Amazon detective work fit neatly into a cleverly named section. Blogging is like, hard work, ok?
Here are the best un-categorizable random travel related things that you definitely do not need. At all. But probably kinda want.
These Banana Bunkers are the perfect solution for when you need to transport a banana. Or a whole bunch of bananas, but like, individually packaged. Bananas, as we all know, are incredibly fragile and can’t just be thrown into a purse to snack on later. They don’t have any kind of protective skin to keep them fresh. Call it an evolutionary oversight. Thankfully, we’ve one-upped evolution with plastic yet again.
The Banana Bunkers are particularly good for thick, meaty bananas. They’re extendable, in case your banana is magnum sized, and flexible enough so you can really work it your banana into the shaft of the case. If you’re having difficulty getting your banana into the Banana Bunker, you might need a little bit of lubrication. But don’t force it: you don’t want to break the skin. Of your banana. If you really can’t get it in, try slicing your banana with the world-famous Banana Slicer. Psst: If you think my innuendo is good, you’re going to love the comments on Amazon.
You know what I hate about flying? Other people. They’re always there, sitting next to you, breathing your air and blocking your path to the aisle and existing. Ugh! People are the worst. Thankfully, there’s the CREATE-A-SPACE Portable Airplane Seat Divider, which exists to – and I’m going to quote the actual description from Amazon here – “Reduce flying stress by eliminating hip and elbow contact with the person seated next to you” by creating “your very own space in the sky while keeping others out.”
I mean, sold. I hate people and I don’t want them touching me. I especially don’t want them to have to come in contact with my soft, pillowy fat and accidentally think “damn, she’s soft AF” instead of “ew, fat people are gross” which might send them into a mental tailspin of confronting their assumptions about who I am as a person due to my weight. (Psst: for more of my feelings about traveling while fat, click here.)
No, no. It’s much easier to just avoid eye contact while setting up this very clear “don’t f***king talk to me” sign. Combine this with any of the above travel pillows to ensure that whoever you’re sitting next to absolutely hates you.
I only have one word to say about this Foldable Scooter Luggage: WHEE!!!!
Your travel prayers have been answered. This Portable Sauna solves all of your problems, if your problems involve not being sweaty enough when you’re on vacation. Never spend another day on the road without a good schvitz again! I usually have to bring several blankets and a snuggie in my suitcase to achieve this level of schvitz. Now, all I need to bring with me is this massive sauna. Oh, and a chair. Problems solved!
Have you ever been stuck in a hotel or hostel somewhere thinking, “Ugh! If only I had a tiny, miniature slow cooker so I could spend the next 2 hours heating up a spoonful of leftover soup!” I know I have. Enter the Ninja Mini Warmer. First of all, this is hands down the freaking cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s like if you bought a slow cooker for a dollhouse. Second of all, look at that adorable tiny half-sized travel mitt! It’s so teeny! I rest my case: you need this. Just don’t try to like, actually cook anything in it.
Do you ever wish you could bring your tunes with you when you travel? Yeah, sure, you can put them in your phone and hook that up to a tiny keychain travel speaker or headphones or whatever. But what about listening to music the way it was MEANT to be listened to, on VINTAGE RECORDS?! What about doing THAT on vacation???
Well, THANK GOODNESS, someone invented a portable turntable! The Rock ‘N’ Rolla Portable Briefcase Vinyl Record Player Turntable lets you bring your hipster party anywhere in the world. Impromptu dance party? Done! Awkward group listening of some 1-hit wonder album from the 80’s? On it! Just stick this and like, 10 of your favorite Vinyls into your bag for rad tunes and MAD RESPECT whenever you want them.
There’s a Good Chance These Might Actually Get You Arrested
Travel and trouble go hand in hand for rebels without a cause, or extremely disaster-prone people (*ahem* like us). Well, maybe trouble is your middle name. Maybe you eat trouble for breakfast, along with your sliced banana and bag wine. If you’re a trouble-inviting kinda traveler, these are the useless travel items for you!
You know when you’re on a road trip and you’ve got a steamy cup of espresso from your portable Carbucks machine and you’re like, “where should I put this tiny travel cup? My portable espresso machine is taking up all of my cupholder space, gosh darn it!”
Enter the E-Bro Black Portable Car Steering Wheel Tray Now you can turn that irritating gap between your stomach and your steering wheel into useful storage space! It’s not just hot coffee that can be kept on your steering wheel, either. Think of the possibilities! You can write postcards while sitting in traffic. You can play solitaire on long, boring stretches of highway. You can watch Netflix on your laptop instead of paying attention to the road. It’s like the comfort of an economy class airplane seat in the convenience of your own car. Finally.
By the way, if you have questions like “how many people have died as a result of using this product?” or “are there microwaves that have car charger adapters, or will I need to buy one for my portable slow cooker?” You’ll find all of those answers and more in the comments section on Amazon.
Have you ever been smoking a bowl of some perfectly legal thing and then had to go run and do something travel-related all of a sudden? That happens to us, like, a lot. We’ll be smoking some organic tobacco or heirloom quinoa or whatever and then, boom, we have to be on a plane somewhere. So irritating!
Well, fret no more! With the Travel Silicone Hookah Accessory (With Lid), you can seal up your pipe like it’s a tupperware and just take it with you on your journey. Your dried spinach flakes – which are entirely legal here in California, where we live, by the way – can just come with you in your bag. Just make sure to let the authorities know that you’re smoking Himalayan sea salt flakes, not “Mary Jane.” I’m sure they’ll understand.
Believe it or not, there are actually more items that didn’t even make the list! Click the big blue button to check out our complete list of terrible Travel Gag Gifts.
So, now that your eyes have been opened to the world of Useless Travel Stuff that you really don’t need, can we just low-key gush about some of this stuff? Leave us a comment below about what you kinda-sorta want from this list (no judgement, promise)!
And make sure to share the post on social media and tag your favorite gift-giver, wink-wink, hint-hint.
Looking for some legitimately helpful gift guides? We’ve got a few that are way less … cringe inducing.
- 50 Perfect Gifts for Every Type of Travel Lover (or just for yourself)
- 25 Gifts for Hikers Under $25: The Ultimate Budget-Friendly Hiker Gift Guide
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