It’s tough to be a travel blogger right now, lemme tell ya! After two years of chaos and disruption, now we’re approaching the wackiest holiday season ever. It’s the time when many gift guides will be published, all competing for a few coveted spots on Google to earn a few coveted dollars from the Amazon affiliate program. (Don’t worry if that doesn’t make any sense – it just means we’re all struggling to make content and money right now.)
While you’ll see lots of the same gift guides popping up across travel blogs this time of year, I always try and be a little creative. Two years ago, I shared a list of the best Alaska gifts; last year I shared travel-inspired gifts for non-travelers (right now) and my favorite national park gifts.
This year, I’m doing something a little different (again). To help you come up with interesting gifts for the people you love – who probably love traveling, like you – I’ve put together a list of travel gifts created by travel experts. These are people like me (and including me) who have worked hard to come up with creative products to sell on their own websites, about the destinations they love.
I am so proud to share the products created by fellow travel experts on this list. As you’ll see, we travel blogger types have gotten pretty darn creative – and many of us have had to work extra hard to keep our businesses afloat the last two years. Purchasing these gifts directly supports the travel expert creators themselves. (Including me, which, of course, thank you!) Read on to get inspired to visit these destinations – and tick a few gifts off your need-to-buy list this year.
(Pro-tip: buy now for the 2021 holiday season! These shops are all small like mine, and shipping isn’t going to be Amazon Prime fast. For at least my own items on this list, I can’t guarantee delivery before Christmas if you purchase after December 5, 2021.)
1. The Alaska Box
- Featured destination? Alaska
- What is it? A subscription box full of goods from Alaska
- Created by? Me (Valerie & Valise)
- Cost? $60 for one box, $200 for a one-year/four-box subscription
While I said that coming up with travel product ideas is really hard, I’ve had the idea for The Alaska Box since 2015. Two Thousand Fifteen, people. I came up with this idea over six years ago. Why did I never create it, you ask? I didn’t have space in my living situation to store the items I needed to make this product.
But with our move from California to Cleveland this year, and buying our first home, I now have plenty of space to store an inventory of the items I hand-pick to put in each Alaska Box.
The first Alaska Box will ship on November 30, 2021, and with goodies I’ve discovered and love from my many trips to Alaska. This makes the perfect gift for someone who loves Alaska, has visited Alaska, or wants to visit Alaska. (Or all three!)
2. The Great Alaskan Coffee Club
- Featured destination? Alaska
- What is it? A 12-month coffee subscription (beginning January 2022)
- Created by? Me! (Valerie & Valise)
- Cost? $200 for one year
While brainstorming products for The Alaska Box, I was researching coffee roasteries to include small bags of delicious Alaskan-roasted coffee. I discovered there are actually dozens of really good roasteries in Alaska, and when I told Mr. V about it, the Great Alaskan Coffee Club was born! (He came up with the name!)
If you subscribe, you’ll receive one full-size (12-16oz) bag of coffee each month, all roasted in Alaska. I’ve already picked the 12 coffees for 2022 and promise they’re going to knock your socks off. (Or whoever you gift them to!)
From Raven’s Brew to Tundra Mud to Adventure Fuel, the Great Alaskan Coffee Club is a perfect gift for the coffee-lover in your life.
3. Cleveland Cityscape Mug
- Featured destination? Cleveland, OH
- What is it? A coffee mug with beautiful art on it
- Created by? Amanda from Cleveland Traveler
- Cost? $20
Hey look, it’s our new home city of Cleveland! My blogger friend Amanda, who also runs another site, started her Cleveland site a few years ago to share about living here.
Since then, she’s built out a huge wealth of resources that I use regularly when planning things to do around Cleveland; she also offers a number of Cleveland products including these mugs that were designed by a fellow travel blogger, Candace. It shows the Cleveland skyline, and the image was originally hand-drawn and water-colored – it’s a real work of art for a coffee mug!
We have two of these mugs at home, and they work great for holding Alaskan coffee (hint, hint!)
4. Cute London Coasters
- Featured destination? London, England
- What is it? A set of four whimsically designed coasters
- Created by? Julie from A Lady in London
- Cost? £15
I’ve been following Julie for years (almost since before I had my blog!) since she’s living my dream as an expat (now legal citizen) in London. She’s built up a wealth of knowledge about London, England, the U.K., and even Europe on her blog, and also offers several London products she designed in collaboration with a creative studio in London.
These four coasters are my favorite from her product catalog, as they feature four beautiful buildings from different West London neighborhoods: Notting Hill, Kensington, Chelsea, and Knightsbridge. While I’m really more of an East London gal, I can’t deny these buildings are quintessentially London and a perfect set for your home.
Keep in mind these are sent from London, so international shipping will cause even greater delays this holiday season!
5. Food Maps
- Featured destination? Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Thailand, Vietnam
- What is it? Stylized text artwork about food in different countries
- Created by? Jodi from Legal Nomads
- Cost? $18-$30 depending on product
Jodi is another one of the original travel bloggers, though her life has been in a very different chapter these past few years following major health issues. Initially, she made a name for herself as one of the best food-travel bloggers, and her shop is filled with products inspired by the food she loves in her favorite destinations around the globe.
Specifically, she worked with a designer to come up with “food maps” of different countries, like Mexico (pictured), Italy, and Vietnam. The art is available as a poster or screen-printed on a tee or tote bag. These make a perfect gift for someone who loves traveling for food – the biggest Anthony Bourdain fan in your life.
6. Scottish Scented Candles
- Featured destination? Scotland
- What is it? Set of four candles
- Created by? Kay from The Chaotic Scot
- Cost? £48
I’ll be honest: I was not aware of Kay or her blog before I started researching this gift guide, but I’m SO glad I found her and can’t wait to order this set of candles she sells through her shop, Dreaming of Scotland.
In addition to many other Scotland-inspired products, I love a good destination-scented candle (i.e. NOT Homesick Candles) and have even created a few of my own. With this set, Kay partnered with a candlemaker to design four different scents to represent the four seasons in four different parts of Scotland: Springtime in Edinburgh, Summer in the Outer Hebrides, Autumn in Perthshire, and Winter in the Highlands. (There’s also a special “Coorie In” candle this year that I’m dying to get!)
Having been to Edinburgh and the Highlands myself, I can’t wait to have a happy nose full of Scottish scents.
7. The Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico
- Featured destination? Puerto Rico
- What is it? A photographic guidebook
- Created by? Jessica from The Dining Traveler
- Cost? $39.95
Like Jodi, Jessica is a well-known and respected member of the food+travel writing community, and she shares stories from around the world on her blog, The Dining Traveler. However, she was raised in Puerto Rico and visits regularly – making her the perfect person to write a book about the island.
In her book, you’ll discover gorgeous photos and tons of information about Puerto Rico, divided up geographically. From popular spots that you may have heard of to lesser-known areas that will inspire a future trip, this book is a great gift for someone who loves America and should explore more of it.
8. Spirit Posters
- Featured destination? Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Norway
- What is it? Posters designed to highlight spirits from each country
- Created by? Skylar at The Daily Grog
- Cost? $18
Give a shout-out to the only dude on my list! I don’t know why there aren’t more men in travel blogging – or creating cool products – but I’m excited to support Skylar’s work and especially by sharing these gorgeous posters.
On his blog, Skylar shares information about different destinations and (alcoholic) drinks you can find there. Inspired by his posts about Poitín (Ireland), Brennivín (Iceland), Aquavit (Norway), and Raicilla (Mexico), he designed posters that feature those destinations with a bottle of the spirit amidst the iconic landscapes.
I loved these so much when Skylar told me about them that – spoilers! – I got one for Mr. V this year (Are you reading this? Can you guess which one???)
9. Dark Skies
- Featured destination? The WHOLE UNIVERSE
- What is it? A book
- Created by? Me! (Space Tourism Guide)
- Cost? $19.95-$24.95
Last but certainly not least, I wanted to highlight one more product of mien: Dark Skies. You might recall when I announced this book in 2019, the same year it was released. I still sell copies of this book through this site and my space and astrotourism site, Space Tourism Guide.
As it was published by Lonely Planet, you can feel confident in the quality of this book: I wrote the words, they paid the photographers and did all the lovely formatting. The book covers the entire world by design, but all with a focus on my favorite destination: space.
You can buy signed copies, made out for your gift recipient – just be sure to give me that information when you place your order!
Know of any other great gifts like these, made by travel experts like these? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them! (Or let me know any questions you have about these products too!)