The Best Travel-Friendly Stocking Stuffers Under $25
A collection of trinkets and novelty goods that double as handy travel accessories.
Stuffing a stocking is not so different from packing a carry-on: You’ve got stipulations to consider. There are liquid limits and weight constraints, and strategic placement is key. Which is to say, in many ways, a stocking is an ideal vessel for a travel-centric gift. Before it even makes its way to its recipient, it’s already been vetted for packable convenience.
Of course, a so-called “stocking stuffer” is hardly intended as the shiniest item in your holiday haul. Rather, the beloved stocking is often home to small trinkets, odds and ends, and novelty goods. The trick of the trade is to locate appropriately handy products that are relatively low in cost—without succumbing to the allure of easy Duane Reade check-out line baubles (chapstick, pencil erasers, individually wrapped chocolates shaped like Santa, etc.).
The good news is, for the digital nomad or the jetsetter in your life, we’ve got plenty of ultra affordable, travel-tailored items on deck. Ahead, find our top stocking selects for your travel-obsessed companion, all under the price of $25—and all objectively more fun than a tube of chapstick.
Whether or not your giftee is in possession of a proper fancy SLR camera, a disposable camera provides a pleasure all its own. For one, it’s literally disposable—so you can toss the thing in a bag for chaotic nights out or adventurous days without feeling particularly precious about it. Then, you’ll have the kitschy pleasure of awaiting developed photos days or weeks down the line. And this particular model from classic film purveyor Ilford shoots in back and white, so your images will come complete with that old-world brooding quality unique to analog photography.
Adjusting to new beds and oscillating between time zones will inevitably take a toll on your beauty rest. So gift your nomadic pal an eye mask that’ll be just as handy on long plane trips as in hostel bunk beds or on overnight trains. This silk number is soft and comforting to the touch, light enough to toss with ease into any carry-on, and designed to block out unwanted light and bat away inflammation (so long, under-eye bags).
In an interview, Harold Pinter once claimed that these are the only pens he writes with. Whether or not that’s true—or whether or not you care what pens Harold Pinter writes with—know that these are perfect pens. They’re black, felt-tipped, long-lasting, and just inky enough to lend some drama to your writing without smudging or bleeding. Just what your on-the-go pal needs for journaling, making to-do lists, or coyly passing a phone number along to a stranger on a train à la Before Sunrise.
Of course, alongside a good pen, any seasoned traveler will need a good notebook. And it’s hard to go as classic and beloved as your traditional Moleskine. It’s chic, sophisticated, and small enough to tote around on the go—plus, once properly utilized, it’ll make for a rather poetic travelogue.
It’s essentially criminal to travel without a good book. In addition to long stretches of time presumably spent in transit—trains, planes, buses—books are the perfect accompaniment for solo dinners out or long stretches spent by beaches or lakes. And this particular Rebecca Solnit collection, comprised of moving essays about the process of wandering and getting lost, is uniquely well-suited to folks who are doing just that.
Be it for fashion or utility, a Carhartt knit beanie is one of those gifts you can’t go wrong with. It’s unisex, basic enough to appeal to plenty of style sensibilities, and most importantly, designed to keep your giftee warm on all manners of adventure.
It’s no secret that air travel can wreak havoc on your skin—but so can showering with a new water supply, or making use of complementary travel-sized products. So without bogging down your travel-centric pal’s luggage, give them the gift of spa-quality face masks, formulated to help keep skin hydrated, protected, and glowing.
For those moments abroad when your giftee is in need of an immediate blood sugar boost, what could be better than a bite of a Tony’s Chocoloney bar? The beloved sustainable and ethical chocolate purveyors have a (well-deserved) cult following—and while their more traditional options are hulking brick-sized bars, the pieces in this assorted tasting set have been shrunk down to a far more reasonable, convenient size.
Packing is a unique science. Finding failsafe ways to ensure one has packed enough to meet all their needs, but not so much that they’re carting around unnecessary weight is already difficult—before you consider how, exactly, to make everything fit as efficiently as possible. That said, additional sturdy zipper bags like this one from Topo Designs are always a godsend. Whether used as a toiletry kit, a place to keep pens and documents, a make-up bag, or merely a place to keep random odds and ends collected, it’ll certainly be an asset to the whole packing conundrum.
Even for the electric toothbrush devotees among us, it typically makes sense to forego the hefty hardware and opt for something simple and replaceable while traveling. Colgate’s latest innovation is a small, lightweight toothbrush that’s specially designed for dental divas on the go. And best of all, it comes with its own travel case.
This ultra durable ceramic mug makes for a perfect on-the-go vessel, whether your traveler plans to sip coffee, water, or wine. It’s easier to wash—and simpler to sip from—than your standard reusable water bottle, and it’ll keep hot beverages toasty for hours at a time.
While something like a leather-bound passport case may feel distinctly vintage, this isn’t your grandfather’s passport holder. It’s bright, tough to lose, and perfectly equipped with slots designed to hold credit cards, IDs, cash, and vaccination cards. Essentially a lifeline for scattered or disorganized travelers.
While on the move, not every meal can be a glamorous sit-down affair. So for the days when street food and park picnics take precedence, equip your travel fan with their very own set of eco-friendly, sanitary plasticware. Complete with a spoon, a fork, a set of chopsticks, and its very own carrying case, it’s the grown-up lunchbox accoutrement every nomad needs.