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I love the digital nomad lifestyle. It’s changed my life for the better and it’s changed me for the better, but there’s one thing it’s made harder than ever: Christmas!
We’re already a week in and I still haven’t quite registered that it’s December (DECEMBER!). But the number of ugly sweaters and freshly cut trees on my Instagram feed tells me Christmas is just around the corner. That means we have just over two weeks before it comes knocking on the door. And if you’re buying a gift for a digital nomad, there’s a good chance that’s a little too soon for comfort.
What can I say? We may just be the trickiest people to buy for. I’m sorry…
Buying gifts for digital nomads: What you need to know
If you want to choose a gift a digital nomad will genuinely love, you need to understand how we think. We know, we’re weird. You don’t really get it. But please just stick with me and try for a second.
As digital nomads, we spend most of our thinking about one of three things: freedom to move, business and finding a WiFi connection. Of course, there are plenty of topics that fall under each of these, but you get the idea.
We are we constantly decluttering our tiny mobile ‘home’, looking for ways to grow our businesses and making sure we’re as connected as can be. If you can find a gift that helps with any of these, you’re winning.
About this gift guide
Even though this gift guide was put together with digital nomads in mind, you’ll probably also find some ideas for other people in your life. You’re welcome.
All of the ideas below take up little or zero space, meaning they’re also great gifts for backpackers or anyone heading on a long-term trip. Some of them are gifts that help us streamline our lives or businesses, meaning they’re also great if you’re stuck on what to buy a minimalist. And, given the business theme of some of these, there are also some ideas for gifts for entrepreneurs – travelling or not.
This post is born out of guilt and good intentions. Guilt because with the constant questions from family and friends about what gift would actually be useful. Because they know I have no room in my digital nomad suitcase for anything that isn’t. And good intentions because I want to help alleviate this stressful conundrum for all the other unfortunate people who love a digital nomad enough to buy them a pressie.
So, if you want to buy a minimalist traveller or nomad a gift this season, these all come fully approved by a real life DN. They’re all gifts that would be super useful for me, so there will be no awkward fakes smiles or guilty Christmas later this month. You’ll still have to do a little bit of work because I can’t promise we have the same interests and preferences, but hopefully these will set you on the right path.
Gifts for nomads, travellers and entrepreneurs
When I first came up with the idea for this post, I was aiming for 10 gift ideas. I thought that was going to be even more of a struggle than making annual accounts on time, so I’m delighted to present not 10, but 36, ideas below. I sure hope you find something! And, who knows… maybe we’re not such tricky recipients after all….
Give the gift of knowledge
1 – Online courses: If there’s one thing every entrepreneur – nomadic or otherwise – has in common, it’s that we like to learn. Yep, we’re the weird kids who would skip ahead on the week’s reading assignment, sign up for extra modules and take maths quizzes for FUN.
Even if you think that’s totally weird, rest assured that we’ll always appreciate the gift of education. And since we can’t attend the same classroom every week, why not bring the classroom to us? With websites like Coursera and Udemy offering everything from entrepreneurship degrees to language lessons, there’s something for every digital nomad to learn.
2 – Kindle + books: travel essentials I’ve said it SO many times, but one of my most used is my Kindle. With a super long battery life and space to store a lifetime of books, I never go anywhere without it. My kindle is home to novels for when I need an escape, business books I want to learn from and important documents I want to keep extra secure or have access to at all times. I even use it to store my favourite recipes and fitness routines, so I always have them with me.
If you can afford it, the brand new Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof and has twice as much storage as before. If that’s a little out of budget, the original Kindle e-reader does a perfectly good job without the frills. Click here to get an entire month of Kindle Unlimited for free and get access to hundreds of books instantly.
3 – Audiobooks: As much as I love a good book, I appreciate that not everyone’s into reading. If that’s the case, why not give the gift of audiobooks? An Audible subscription gives access to tons of audiobooks, perfect for planes, trains and escaping from a busy day at the ‘office’. It costs just $14.95/£7.99 per month. Click here to get the first month and two bonus books for free when you buy someone a subscription.
Make our work lives easier
4 – Laptop stand: this Roost laptop standYou’ll want to check they don’t already have one, but many digital nomads swear by .
5 – External hard drive: If your digital nomad friend or family member takes photos, creates videos or is into any kind of design, you can’t go wrong with this one. We can never have enough storage and this SanDisk SSD is a super hard-wearing portable drive that takes up next to no space. It’ll be life-changing for them.
6 – An SD card: Another essential part of my blogging gear that I never have enough of, an SD card is always a welcome gift. It may not look like much if you’re not into photography, but these tiny little cards are where we capture our biggest memories. I ALWAYS use SanDisk cards like this one because I know I can trust them.
7 – Noise cancelling headphones: Noise cancelling headphones are the kind of thing you didn’t know you needed until you have them. Now, I couldn’t possibly travel – or live – without them. Unfortunately, a good pair of headphones doesn’t come cheap, but that’s exactly why they make a great gift for digital nomads.
I currently have two pairs: the Sony WH1000XM2 headphones for work, planes and everyday life, and the Audio-Technica waterproof headphones for working out. I wrote more about why I use these over here, if you’re curious.
Keep us connected while travelling
8 – Portable WiFi: We’re kind of obsessed with WiFi, because it’s the thing that lets us live this way. Therefore one of the best gifts you could possibly give a digital nomad is a WiFi hotspot or a top-up for the one they already own. My favourite so far is TEP Wireless because you only need one device for multiple countries and continents.
9 – Portable charger: A few weeks ago, I thought I’d lost my portable charge. It’s only worth about £20, but I was heartbroken because it’s WAY more valuable to me. Being able to charge your phone, Kindle and everything else you need to stay productive is priceless, so a quality portable charger like my Anker one will always make a welcome gift.
10 – A universal adapter: Adapters are a bit like socks in that they always seem to go missing. There’s a good chance we lost an adapter recently, so a good quality one will be very much appreciated this Christmas.
11 – Skype credit: Skype is still the go-to video calling software used by pretty much everyone I know. You can top-up as little £10, making it the perfect gift for nomads you actually want to stay in touch with.
12 – App vouchers: We carry most of our life in a suitcase, and the rest of it in our pocket. I’ve used more apps than ever before since becoming a digital nomad, and they all add up over time. Give a digital nomad the gift of a Google Play Store gift card (if they’re an Android user) or an Apple App Store gift card (if they’re an iPhone user) and it will go to good use.
Save us some money on subscriptions
13 – Netflix: I don’t think this one doesn’t really needs an explanation! But just in case it does, it’s a TV subscription you can take anywhere (and download for the plane!).
14 – Trusted Housesitters: If you know a digital nomad who loves pets – and would love to save on accommodation costs! – why not sign them up for Trusted Housesitters? This service lists a range of pet- and house-sits around the world, where travellers can stay for free.
15 – Priority Pass: When you travel all the time, some things are worth investing in. Priority Pass, which gives the holder access to loads of airport lounges around the world, is one of them. If they haven’t already signed up, I can promise they will LOVE this gift!
16 – YouTube Red: If you know a digital nomad who loves watching YouTube, YouTube Red will give them the ability to download videos, stream YouTube music, access YouTube Originals and watch regular videos ad-free.
17 – Yoga & Fitness: Staying fit while travelling has been my biggest challenge to date. One of the methods I use to stay on track of my fitness goals in by using apps. There are plenty of free ones but when you’re travelling long-term, the paid programmes like SWEAT and Yogaia are WAY more effective. They’re hard to justify paying for when you don’t strictly need them, so they make ideal gifts for digital nomads.
18 – Google Chromecast: If we already have the subscription – or you don’t want to risk it! – give us the gift of enjoying it MORE. Google Chromecast is a tiny device that plugs in to any TV, so we’re not stuck watching our favourite shows on the same laptop we work on all day.
19 – Amazon Prime: One of the most subscriptions I’ve ever had, you don’t need to live in one place to benefit from it. I use Amazon Prime to store my photos (it’s unlimited!), watch TV and movies, and listen to music on the go. It’s an all-in-one service that costs just $39 for 3 months or $119 for a full year (USA only).
20 – Language learning: A few words go a long way when you arrive in a new country. I’ve been using WordDive to learn Spanish for my trip to South America next year, and it’s fantastic for the price. If you know where your nomadic loved one is heading next, why not give them a gift that will help them settle in?
If you reeeally love us…
21 – A new camera: This isn’t a gift you’re going to want to surprise someone with UNLESS you already know they want it, but we can burn through cameras pretty quickly. If you know someone who’s travelling to somewhere like the Philippines, where a waterproof camera comes in super handy, a GoPro will let them capture all of their island-hopping memories.
For someone who wants an all-in-one camera that’s great for both video and photography, I still recommend the Canon M50. It’s a great beginner camera that’s loved by more experienced users too. Read my full review of it here.
22 – A drone: Yup, this one’s a biggie. But if it’s a special occasion or you’re just feeling super generous, drones are pretty much made for travel. I carry the DJI Mavic Air and it takes up very little space in my backpack.
23 – Eye mask: An eye mask is one of those things that comes in useful all the time: on planes, noisy Airbnb’s or when you just need a daytime nap to get through jet-lag. Choose a silk one for a little extra luxury.
24 – An OTT bath bomb: I may be biased here, but the things I miss most are the little home luxuries I can no longer have. That includes candles, bath bombs and other fun, nice-smelling things that people with a house can enjoy. If you want to give us a treat, buy us an indulgent bath bomb. Since it’s single use, we can enjoy it instantly without having to find suitcase space.
25 – Amazon vouchers: For many people, vouchers are the gift you give when you’re totally out of ideas. For digital nomads, however, Amazon vouchers are one of the best gifts you could get us. Trust me, they’ll come in handy.
26 – Charity donations: The more I travel, the less I need – but the more I notice how in need others are. Giving to charity feels like a bit of a cliché, but I would be very grateful that you’re spending your money on something worthwhile, rather than wasting it on me! Since I have so few possessions, I usually have everything I need. This way, everybody is a winner.
27 – A massage: I go for massages as often as I can, but you can never have too many! If you don’t want to book a massage for them, websites like Treatwell sell gift cards that they can redeem themselves.
28 – Time together: Sorry if this one sounds a little cheesy! But there’s nothing a full-time traveller loves more than spending time with loved ones. We feel horribly guilty for being away so much and homesickness is very real, so nothing is more valuable than getting to spend time with the people we care about most. Give me a slot in your diary on Christmas day and I’ll be a happy lady.
29 – Fold up water bottle: Another simple but fantastic item I’ve purchased this year is a fold-up water bottle. It cuts down on plastic, is great for airports and also doesn’t take up space when it’s empty.
30 – Passport cover: When you use your passport as often as we do, you need to look after it. A fun passport cover keeps my passport safe and provides storage for my used tickets, so I’ll always be able to claim air miles!
31 – Packing cubes: Everybody told me these would be a game-changer, but I didn’t really believe them until I tried. Packing cubes are something every traveller should own.
32 – A cable tidy: Organisation is KEY when you travel full-time. A cable tidy is small but super useful.
33 – Travel-friendly toiletries: Yep, even digital nomad need the essentials. We’re so used to not splurging too much on our travel beauty essentials because we often leave them behind. So why not treat us to a nice travel-sized set of products that we’ll use to the last drop? Gatineau have some beautiful kits that were specifically made for travel.
34 – Silk pillowcase: a silk pillowcaseAn unlikely travel essential now I now carry everywhere, makes every new bed feel like home. Best of all, it takes up approximately 0.0000001% of my luggage allowance.
When all else fails… give the gift of travel
35 – Airbnb gift cards: In all the places I live as a digital nomad, it’s nearly always in an Airbnb. The same is true for nearly every digital nomad I’ve met, so an Airbnb gift card will be useful no matter where in the world they are.
36 – Travel experiences: GetYourGuide is the go-to activity booking platform for travel experiences. I use it all the time to find fun things to do in my current location. In Cape Town, for examples, I’ve used it to book a sunset champagne cruise and to head out on a whale-watching tour. There’s loads to choose from, so why not treat them in their next destination?
I hope this post has given you some ideas for what to buy the digital nomad in your life. Perhaps we’re not so hard to buy for, after all!