The Best Travel Gifts of 2021


From cashmere eye masks to carry–on hot sauces, our editors have sussed out 31 fabulous Canadian gifts to help you find something for every world traveller you’re shopping for this season.

We get it: Buying gifts for travel lovers is tough after 19 months of limbo. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve kept tabs on the latest innovations in compression socks, the newest packable fitness gear and the coolest ground breaking gadgets from Canadian makers and retailers to help you give the gift of travel to everyone on your list.

November 4, 2021

Gifts for the food–focused traveller

sea salt
Photo: Perfect Day

Sea salt, to go!
This pocket–size tin of small–batch finishing sea salt from Trinity Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, is the perfect stocking stuffer for gourmands on the go. Or opt for a larger jar of the brand’s flavoured salts, available in coffee (try it sprinkled on ice cream), seaweed, juniper–smoked and green–alder varieties.
10 g Sea Salt Tin, Newfoundland Salt Company, $7

travel flatware
Photo: Indigo

Travel flatware set
Throw this stainless–steel utensil kit in your carry–on, your fanny pack or in with your camping gear and you won’t have to pick up plastic cutlery wherever you’re eating around the world. The fork, knife and spoon are tucked inside a handy cotton carry pouch, making this the ideal eco–friendly travel gift.
Oui Stainless–Steel Travel Flatware Set of 3, Indigo, $20

Related: 6 Restaurant Pandemic Pivots We Hope Stick Around Forever

Wabanaki maple syrup
Photo: Wabanaki Maple

Portable maple syrup
Editor Tested “This pack of three barrel–aged maple syrups – in bourbon, whisky and oak flavours – was the star of my recent brunch spread. You can really taste the spirits in the first two (they have a 2% ABV, after all). The bottles are 100–millilitre: a carry–on–friendly size to send home with my out–of–town brunch guests.” – Jen Foden, senior editor
Mini Bundle Set, Wabanaki Maple, $33

chocolate tasting kit
Photo: Thoughtfull

Virtual chocolate tasting
Calling all chocoholics: This 90–minute tasting session from Toronto’s Eating Through TO allows you to explore the city’s top chocolate makers from the comfort of your couch. It takes place with a pro chocolatier via Zoom, but the corresponding tasting kit – including cacao nibs, pure dark chocolate, a flavoured bar and more from notable spots like Soma and Soul – will arrive at your home IRL before the event.
Eating Through TO Virtual Bean to Bar Chocolate Tasting, Thoughtfull, $100

hot sauces
Photo: Spice of Life Gourmet Products

Carry–on hot sauces
These Toronto–made hot sauces come in 50–millilitre bottles, so you can stash one in every pocket, pouch and pack on your next trip. Taste your way through the six–bottle gift set – the Million++ Pepper Sauce, with ghost peppers and Trinidad scorpion peppers, is a real scorcher.
Mini 6–Pack, Spice of Life, $25

bannock mix
Photo: Mr. Bannock

Just–add–water bannock mix
Recreate the bannock from chef Paul Natrall’s North Vancouver food truck with his classic mix. Once you’ve made baked and fried versions of this Indigenous bread (and maybe even wrapped it around taco fillings), follow Natrall on Instagram for more recipe inspiration (bannock doughnuts, anyone?).
Classic Bannock Mix, Mr. Bannock, $13

Gifts for the wellness–minded traveller

Saje Dream Team Aromatherapy kit
Photo: Saje

Aromatherapy kit for a deep sleep
Editor Tested “I recently experienced the deepest sleep I’ve ever had while trying out this kit. Before bed, I used the Sleep Well Roll–On on my wrists, followed by the Sleep Well Body Butter – not only did this combo knock me out, but it kept my hands moisturized well into the next day. Plus, the travel–friendly size means I can rest easy on my next adventure.” – Alexis Ramlall, editorial assistant
The Dream Team Bedtime Routine Kit, Saje, $48

Sustainable shampoo and conditioner bars
Photo: Brian Ricks Photography

Sustainable shampoo and conditioner bars
East Coast Glow takes the term “natural ingredients” to another level: The brand incorporates water from Newfoundland’s prehistoric icebergs in its products. The Solid Shampoo and Conditioner + Travel Tins are a zero–waste alternative to conventional hair care, formulated for all hair types with additional ingredients like moringa oil, calendula and wild fireweed.
Solid Shampoo and Conditioner + Travel Tins, East Coast Glow, $57

workout bands
Photo: B Yoga

Workout bands for the road
This set of three resistance loop bands will help you level up every workout move, from bicep curls and push–ups to squats and lateral walks. With light, medium and heavy options, the trio suits all skill levels, and they’re so compact that you can tuck them in your bag when you’re on the move.
Body Bands, B Yoga, $50

Related: Fitness Gear to Help You Stay Healthy While Travelling

face mask
Photo: Carey Shaw

All–in–one face mask
Clear skies – and skin – ahead: This exfoliating mask is handmade in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, from natural ingredients like avocado oil, lavender and camomile. It hydrates, exfoliates and clarifies all in one go, helping you streamline your travel skincare routine.
Clear Skies Exfoliating Mask, Bath Poetry, $42

Related: Maintain Your Cleansing Ritual on the Road with Hand‑cut, Made‑in‑Canada Soaps

Photo: Vitruvi

Portable (and cordless!) diffuser
Vitruvi’s cordless diffuser is designed to go where you go: Weighing just over half a kilogram, the compact unit runs for four to eight hours on one charge, making it easy to bring your favourite scents with you to set the mood anywhere, any time.
Move Cordless Diffuser, Vitruvi, $179

muscle salve
Photo: Iulia Agnew

Muscle salve for your aches and pains
Editor Tested “Years of playing sports combined with long plane rides and poor WFH posture have left me with more neck and back pain than I’d like. The best part of this organic muscle salve – made with oils of nettle and arnica that’s harvested in Squamish, B.C. – is that it doesn’t have an overpowering smell like most drugstore brands I’ve tried before, yet it still provides much–needed relief.” – Jen Foden, senior editor
Pá7pawtn Nettle and Arnica Sore Muscle Salve, Sḵwálwen Botanicals, $18

Gifts for the adventure traveller

body wash
Photo: Everist

Waterless body wash
Travelling light doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice that fresh–from–the–shower feeling. Unlike other body washes, which contain 70–percent water and petrochemicals, this concentrated plant–based paste is activated when showering and comes in a travel–friendly 100–millilitre tube that lasts up to two months.
Waterless Body Wash Concentrate, Everist, $28

camp supplies
Photo: VSSL

Compact survival kit
Editor Tested “There are two types of adventurers: the hyper–organized kind, and the impulsive type who puts planning second to departing. This flashlight–size tube packed with 25 essential camp tools is perfect for both. The contents range from an LED light, a magnetic compass and marine–grade rope to fishing tackle, waterproof matches and a small first–aid kit, each organized in its own canister – basically anything that you might think to pack (or maybe forget to pack) for a deep–woods camping trip or an afternoon snowshoe across the tundra of a nearby park. The whole package weighs in at 500 grams – proof that a pound of preparedness is worth two in the bush.” – Andrew Elkin, managing editor
Camp Supplies, VSSL, $175

hiking boots
Photo: Native Shoes

Cutting–edge hiking boots
Be it muddy hiking trails or slushy sidewalks, these stylish waterproof boots are up for anything while also lightening your environmental footprint: They’re made from cutting–edge eco–friendly materials, including a sustainable algae–infused upper and recyclable thermoplastic rubber outsoles.
Fitzsimmons Citylite Bloom Hiking Boot, Native Shoes, $135

Anorak Jacket
Photo: Ecologyst

Weather–resistant jacket
This gender–neutral quarter–zip pullover jacket is a chic and versatile choice for unpredictable weather. It’s produced in Victoria, B.C., using Ventile, a scientifically engineered water–repellent organic cotton fabric that’s both durable and breathable, so it can withstand brief downpours or blustery winds.
Anorak Jacket, Ecologyst, $325

Related: 6 Adventure Escapes in Some of Earth’s Most Remote Places

 Instant coffee
Photo: Dispatch

Instant coffee for coffee lovers
Editor Tested “One of the great dangers many travellers face is to enter a coffee desert: a long flight leg or multi–day backcountry trip where a good cup of coffee is just a mirage. Now, Montreal roaster Dispatch has made this a thing of the past with its miraculous pocket–size packets of single–origin, fair–trade instant coffee. Add 235 to 295 millilitres of hot water to the contents of a sachet and you’re on your way to flavour central. The freeze–dried grounds from Kossa Geshe, an estate in western Ethiopia, make for a nicely roasted cup with accents of fresh berries and tropical flowers.” – Andrew Elkin, managing editor
Kossa Geshe Instant Coffee (6 x 5 g sachets), Dispatch, $20

Guess Where Trips card
Photo: Guess Where Trips

A surprise road trip
Gift an actual trip: Guess Where Trips, curators of great Canadian road–trip itineraries, make it easy to give one. Once your giftee receives the gift card (available via mail or email), they simply pick one of the multiple routes departing from eight Canadian cities. Then, they’ll be off discovering hidden gems on trips like the Lakeside Route from Winnipeg or Hops, Hikes & History, departing from London, Ontario.
Surprise Road Trip, Guess Where Trips, $72

Gifts for the travelling family

sanitizer sprays
Photo: Dom

Refreshing sanitizing sprays
Editor Tested “I first came across an ad for this Toronto hand–sanitizer company on Instagram, and the brand name naturally piqued my interest. When I discovered the carry–on–friendly 60–millilitre sizes, I knew I had to give these organic spritzes a go. Luckily, I didn’t have to decide between the two scents – lavender and rosemary – because they’re available as a set. The sleek bottles emit a fine mist along with an intense burst of essential–oil fragrance, but the aromas quickly calm and become a subtle essence on your dry, clean hands – great for the whole family. And, while this is only applicable to me and the other Doms out there, the personalized bottles are a nice touch.” – Dominique Lamberton, senior editor
On the Go Bundle, Dom, $27

child's hooded bathrobe
Photo: Tofino Towel Co.

Mini–robe for your mini–me
Your little ones shouldn’t miss out on the joys of lounging in a plush hotel robe. This hooded style is cozy thanks to being double–layered, but because it’s made from lightweight Turkish cotton muslin, it won’t overtake your suitcase.
The Piper Kids Bathrobe, Tofino Towel Co., $80

Trouvailles subscription box
Photo: Trouvailles

A subscription box that helps you travel the world
Get your family excited about your next trip with a subscription box that arrives every two months and is filled with snacks and gifts from different countries. Each one includes six to eight food and lifestyle products from the featured destination – such as onsen bath salts from Japan and ube wafer cookies from Indonesia – along with information about each product and the country, all curated by the Montreal–based company’s travel–enthusiast founder Tina Sequeira. Next stop: Russia.
Trouvailles Subscription, Trouvailles, from $46

Related: Take Your Kids on a Virtual Field Trip

kids yellow rain hat
Photo: Fairechild

Waterproof rain hat for kids
A rainy travel forecast is no match for this topper from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia–based children’s outerwear label Fairechild. A nod to traditional fishers’ hats, it’s fashioned out of the brand’s 100–percent waterproof fabric (made from recycled plastic bottles), has a brim and large neck flap for ample protection and is fitted with an elastic to ensure it stays put.
Sou’wester, Fairechild, $53

black-and-white backpack
Photo: DIOSA Designs

5–in–1 backpack
Editor Tested “I was on the hunt for a bag that has the flexibility to adapt to my day to day as a busy photo editor and mom of two in style – and the vegan leather Maya Backpack checks all the right boxes. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of bags: It has two main compartments loaded with pockets, a padded laptop sleeve and water bottle holder, plus it comes with a cosmetics kit, coin purse and a drawstring bag that’s perfect for a pair of shoes or workout clothes. The topper for me is that DIOSA Designs is based in my hometown of St. John’s, run by a dynamic mother and daughter duo who are on a mission to empower women and give back to the community, one bag at a time.” – Lori Morgan, photo editor
The Maya Backpack, DIOSA Designs, $315

Related: A Ramen‑fuelled Family Adventure in Tokyo

Colouring book showcasing Indigenous art
Photo: Colouring It Forward

Colouring book showcasing Indigenous art
With the creative colouring books from Calgary social enterprise Colouring It Forward, kids (and adults!) will learn about Indigenous art and storytelling while also keeping busy on a long flight. The Discover Northern Dene Nation Art & Wisdom edition features ancestral knowledge shared by late elder George Blondin and illustrations by Chipewyan Dene artist Michael Fatt and Gwich’in Dene artist Christiana Latham.
Discover Northern Dene Nation Art & Wisdom, Colouring It Forward, $25

Gifts for the frequent flyer

Portable clothes steamer
Photo: Dupray

Portable clothes steamer
Editor Tested “It’s a perennial travel conundrum: You carefully iron and fold your cotton shirts and business attire, only for them to emerge from your suitcase with fresh wrinkles. When I tried out this travel–friendly clothes steamer (it measures 25 centimetres high and weighs just under a kilogram), I was surprised that it smoothed stubborn creases in just 30 seconds and removed odours, making it perfect for freshening up my attire after a long–haul flight.” – Ari Magnusson, associate editor
Voilà Clothes Steamer, Dupray, $75

compostable phone case in orange backpack
Photo: Pela Case

Compostable phone case
Whether they’re responding to work emails or snapping an Instagram pic, the frequent flyer in your life needs a durable phone case. We love the fun, colourful options from this Kelowna, B.C.–based company, and that every product is 100–percent compostable thanks to flax straw and plant–based biopolymer materials.
iPhone 13 Pro Max Case, Pela Case, $50

grey cozy cashmere travel set
Photo: Lemonwood

Cozy cashmere travel set
Editor Tested “I’ve finally found the secret to feeling like I’m flying first class even when I’m actually tucked in closer to the tail: cashmere. This four–piece set comes in three colours (mottled beige, mottled grey and charcoal) and includes the softest socks, eye mask and travel wrap you’ll ever envelop yourself in when the cabin lights dim, all courtesy of women–owned–and–operated Lemonwood, based in Oakville, Ontario. Best of all, the company is committed to sustainability (all dyes are certified non–harmful and non–toxic, and the cashmere is made from recycled and re–spun materials). And, because the folks at Lemonwood have thought of everything, the whole luxuriously soft ensemble packs neatly into a cashmere pouch that doubles as a pillow – sweet dreams are most definitely made of these.” – Sydney Loney, content director
4–piece Cashmere Travel Set, Lemonwood, $395

travel case with spot for passport, phone and other accessories
Photo: Monte & Coe

The ultimate passport holder
No more rummaging through your pockets and bags for your phone, documents and other essentials throughout your travel journey: With its large interior pockets, credit–card slots, cord loops for chargers and earbuds, a pen compartment and more, this complete leather organizer will help you keep it together from point A to B.
Leather Passport Holder in Cognac & Grey, Monte & Coe, $245

Related: The Only Passport Holders We Want to Be Seen with at the Airport

black briefcase
Photo: White Rhino Bags + Claire Carreras

Vegan leather briefcase
Wrap up this stylish gender–neutral, vegan–leather briefcase for the business traveller on your list who also cares about saving the planet: The bag is made from recycled plastic bottles, and – like everything sold by this Victoria, B.C., company – is cruelty–free.
The Boss Unisex Briefcase, White Rhino Bags, $108

black notebook
Photo: Partaje

Luxury notebook
A travel journal fit for the frequent flyer, the iconic Smythson pocket notebook features a lambskin leather cover with the words “Travels and Experiences” across it and 128 pages of gilt–edged lined paper. A collaboration with Montreal–based Partaje, this one also has the luxury cashmere and home–accessories brand’s signature “P” logo embossed on the front.
Smythson x Partaje Panama Notebook, Partaje, $95

grey compression socks
Photo: Volprivé

Comfy compression socks
Editor Tested “There are some (guilty!) who will endure tired, achy legs rather than don tight, scratchy compression stockings. I’ve been handed many an unfilled script for medical–grade socks over the years, even though I know they reduce swelling and prevent varicose veins, especially on long flights. Then, I slipped my feet into Volprivé’s stylish Quebec–made compression socks – and I put my feet up. The luxury travel accessories company has created an ideal fit with a combination of 85–percent nylon and 15–percent Lycra that offers the perfect amount of pressure to comfortably improve circulation. Plus, the socks come in a 1.5–litre dry bag that will come in handy no matter where your socked feet may take you.” – Sydney Loney, content director
Medical Grade Compression Socks, Volprivé, $69