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A Holiday Gift Guide for Female Travellers

What exactly do you buy for a female traveller, especially one travelling full-time? It’s a tough decision because it seems like every choice is either something that will either weigh her down or will cost way more than your budget (in my case, that’s nearly anything to do with photography).

Having spent half of this year as a long-term traveller, I had a lot of experience with gear that did (and didn’t) work. These are some of the things that made my life much more comfortable along the way, so I think the female traveller in your life will thank you if she finds any of them in her stocking on Christmas morning.

Jump to the individual products: Aroamas · Packing Cubes · Anker Astro3E battery pack · GorillaPod · Travelon bags · Bamboo Body clothing · Tieks · Samsung Galaxy Note 8 · Osprey Packs

First, the Cheap(er) Gear

Aroamas (AU$8 each): Not that I wore much perfume of home, but the idea of taking perfume travelling never appealed to me. Sure, travel brings a lot of situations where perfume would be handy (hiking for 4 days in the NZ backcountry, for instance) but the thought of having a fragile glass container in my bag was not pleasant.


Aroamas: solid perfume sticks.

Enter Aroamas, the solid perfume for travellers. These handmade perfume sticks are perfect for travel since they’re not breakable and live in a little tube in your purse. They’re great for freshening up on a night out or for generally just feeling a bit more girly. I can’t tell you how great it was to have one in the boat in Croatia that didn’t have showers either!

There are plenty of different scents to choose from too. Want to feel a bit beachy? Go with Bondi Beach. Love chocolate? Go with Aztec (one I’m looking forward to trying!). My personal favourite: Parisian.

Packing cubes (~US$20 for 3): these little Cubes of fabric may not be a lifesaver, but they will certainly save a heap of frustration. I don’t Know why I didn’t start using them sooner because they make it so much easier to find things in an otherwise cluttered bag. No more hunting for that elusive pair of clean underwear (or that European plug adapter) you know is in the bottom of the pack. Even better: get different colours so you can immediately tell what’s in each cube. There are plenty of packing cube options available on Amazon.

Anker Astro3E

A size comparison of the Anker Astro3E and the iPhone 5.

Anker Astro3E Battery Pack (US$40): One of the most annoying things about the iPhone is the fact that you can’t replace the battery. Battery dies as you’re navigating to your hostel? Hope you brought a paper map. Battery decides that 50% is as low as it can go because it’s -30ºC outside? No more Instagram photos for you. Spend $40 on an Anker® Astro3E and that will never be a problem again. One charge on this device, which is about the size of an iPhone, gives you 4-5 full charges on your iPhone (or 2-3 charges on a tablet). I bought it after being frustrated with how much my phone died in Lapland and it’s been a lifesaver ever since.

GorillaPod (US$18-75): Not all camera gear has to be expensive (or heavy). The GorillaPod is a perfect example of this. It adds almost no weight to your pack but gives you the option of using a tripod when otherwise you’d be stuck searching for a flat surface to balance your camera on. Plus, its bendy legs mean you can attach it to tree branches, balcony rails, and nearly any other surface you can find. There were plenty of possible long exposure shots that I missed before I carried one of these (like a perfect nighttime starscape over Milford Sound) that I know I won’t miss now.


GorillaPod: Tripod for people on the go (and with no weight to spare).

Have an SLR? No worries. The normal GorillaPod will be way too small for it, but Joby makes a GorillaPod SLR Focus that holds SLRs and zoom lenses up to 5kg, with an optional ballhead attachment to top it off.

Travelon bags (~US$40 and up): I’ve previously written about Travelon bags on both this site and Her Packing List. I’m a huge advocate of carrying them on your travels because they are specifically designed to keep your belongings safe. From the lobster claw system that keeps all of your pockets locked to the slash-proof sides and straps, Travelon made it much more difficult for pickpockets on the street to get your stuff — something I found out firsthand when two men tried to open my messenger bag unsuccessfully in Porto.

Travelon Signature Bags

The Travelon Signature Cross-Body Bag: for extra security.

Along with their anti-theft gear, their website offers plenty of other goodies for the traveller. I am now the happy owner of an underseat rolling bag, which at 18 inches is the perfect size for a weekend trip while not raising any eyebrows from even very picky Australian airlines. It was great for packing all of my camera gear in on the way back to Australia — unbeknownst to the airline, who thought I had a basic carryon bag, I had more than 40lbs worth of gear rolling behind me. It would have been a lot more obvious if I’d been trying to carry that on my back!

Their bags aren’t just for women either — after I brought home the underseat rolling bag, James bought one as well!

Bamboo Body clothing (AU$40 and up): For years I’ve had the same travelling clothes: my favourite jeans and a Queensland Reds rugby jersey. That changed this year when I realised how much more comfortable I could be. On the recommendation of Brooke from Brooke vs. the World, I bought myself a bamboo tank top and bamboo pants, paired them with a cotton button-up top and my Teva Tirras, and got on the plane to England.

The benefits of the bamboo pants were immediately obvious when I went through security and didn’t have to stuff around with removing a belt. Plus, they are not anywhere near as restrictive as jeans, which really helps when my sore knee swells in flight. It’s hard to beat the feeling of being enveloped in softness that bamboo cotton gives too.

There were two downsides to the pants: (1) they didn’t have pockets, so I had to stash my phone in my bag, and (2) the elastic in the waistband seemed to loosen after a few months, leaving me hoicking up my pants more than I would have liked.

Bamboo Body clothing can be bought in Australia from Ciao Bella Travel.

And The Not So Cheap (But So Worth It)

Tieks (US$175 and up): Her feet will seriously thank you for it. These leather fold-up ballet flats are some of the comfiest shoes I can remember owning. That’s a pretty big call for me, since I have never owned a pair of ballet flats that I’ve found remotely comfortable (since they always seem to rub giant blisters on the back of my smaller foot). My Tieks, which have pretty much lived on my feet for the last two months, have never once rubbed blisters, not even when they were “breaking in.” Plus, the metallic pewter colour I chose goes with nearly everything.


Tieks: seriously comfortable (and foldable) ballet flats.

For those worried about the support in a shoe like this, there isn’t a lot — but at the same time I’ve found them more supportive than some tennis shoes on my sore knee. It’s possible to slip orthotics into them as well.

Plus, the experience of buying a pair of Tieks is second to none. They are only available online, but they make it as easy as possible to figure out what size fits best. If the size you originally ordered doesn’t work, they’ll send you another pair and you can compare before you send one pair back. How awesome is that? Plus, they’ve thought of everything, as you’ll find out during the unboxing process. The bag that folds up and fits in your purse for when you need to take your heels off later is genius.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (US$329): After buying the original iPad and realising that the only thing I ever used it for was to play Angry Birds, I’ve not really been in the market for a tablet. I just couldn’t figure out where it fit and where it would do something my MacBook Air and iPhone couldn’t do already.

I’ve finally found that niche for a tablet and the Galaxy Note 8 fits it perfectly. To explain: I used to carry a small notebook with me on blog trips and other events where I needed to jot down some quick notes. It disappeared at some point during my stay in Nijmegen, Holland, never to be seen again. So long to all of my notes, which had no backup and were still needed for future blog posts.

Now, I carry a Note 8, which is light enough to easily hold in one hand while scribbling on it with the other. It’s got built in support for a stylus, so it’s got great handwriting recognition and apps with features designed around the stylus. I love that I’m able to sit at the train station and scribble out half a blog post — in fact, most of this post was written in the waiting room of a hospital. Then, once I get home, I can load up Google Drive, where it has automatically backed up my writing, and I can finish up there.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

An original draft of this post as written on the Galaxy Note 8 and translated from handwriting into text. It sometimes has trouble between capital letters and lower case (as well as between punctuation marks) but overall it does very well.

It’s great for all of the other standard tablet activities too — games, surfing the web, etc — but the support for creating content instead of just consuming it is what makes this the tablet for me. I don’t know if I could ever use a 10 inch tablet again either after realising just how much more portable this one is.

The one downside here is the battery life: if you’re using it extensively, don’t expect to get more than a day’s charge. However, if you already bought an Anker battery pack, that shouldn’t be a problem, even if you are on the go!

Osprey Packs (US$70 and up): I first became an advocate for Osprey packs last year when I broke my leg and needed a pack that I could carry around with me while I was on crutches for 9 weeks. My previous pack, while very roomy, left me very off-balance because it stuck out so far behind me. I invested in an Osprey Talon 22, which was much more compact but still had plenty of room.

Osprey Farpoint 55

Osprey Farpoint 55: a backpack designed for people that actually want to access the gear in their bag.

This year, I was looking for a bag to take with me to Lapland. I knew I wanted a backpack so I could avoid the previous year’s pain of dragging a wheely bag through deep snow, and when I came across the Osprey Farpoint 55, I knew it was just what I needed. It separates out into two different packs, so I could use the daypack to carry extra winter woolies during the day while still leaving my main bag packed up at home. Plus, it fully unzips, so you’re not just stuffing things in the top of the pack. Plus, the straps completely zip away to keep the straps safe during air and bus travel (which often stops you from having to check it as “special baggage”).

To be honest, I’m still not certain that I shouldn’t have gone with Osprey’s backpacks that convert into rolling bags, since there were more than a few times where I got grumpy with how much weight I had to carry (but that’s a problem that comes with all backpacks). Fortunately, I found that their bags were balanced very well, so it never aggravated my whiplash injury as other packs have done.

So, which of these will you be buying for the woman traveller in your life? No matter which of these items she gets, I know she’ll be happy and ready to tackle a new year of travel!

I have previously received complementary products from Travelon but this has in no way affected my opinions in the piece. I bought all other items myself. Some links on this page are affiliate links which will give me a small cut if products are sold through them.

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