I love shopping for birthday gifts for my friends and family, especially for those who love to travel. When I’m travelling, I love browsing little shops and finding unique gifts for people that they normally can’t find at home.
I’m not a big fan of souvenir shops since I find gifts there pretty uninteresting (although I did go a bit crazy for those Eiffel Tower keychains the first time I was in Paris!), but I do love buying gifts for others that inspire them to travel, such as Italian handmade soaps from Cinque Terre that smell like the ocean, or leather goods from Morocco made in one of their tanneries.
Luckily, we don’t have to travel far to find interesting gifts, thanks to online shopping!
UncommonGoods is one company I love because of their unique selection of cool gifts made from around the world, and their dedication to eco-friendly and sustainable business practices. They work with artisans and small manufacturers to make sure all the products on their site are produced in an environmentally responsible manner, so you can feel good about the products you buy. At the same time, all their products are also very affordable!
1. Scratch Map
I got one of these maps one year for Christmas, and loved it so much that I’ve gifted these to a bunch of my friends as well. The gold foil looks great on the wall, and every country is a different colour underneath when you scratch it off. It’s a fun way of keeping track (or showing off!) where you’ve been.
It comes in a poster tube so you can bring it with you wherever you go! I’ved lugged mine from Germany, to the Netherlands, to Canada and now to New York!
Made in England.
2. Wine Soaps
These handmade vegan soaps are so pretty and perfect for soaking into after a long day of sightseeing. They come in scents like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which will no doubt transport you to the vineyards in Italy.
Handmade in Monroe, Georgia.
3. Flavor Fusion Water Bottle
I always make sure I bring a water bottle with me when I’m travelling to keep hydrated throughout my day. This water bottle is a great way of doing just that! I love the option to store fruits or herbs at the bottom to infuse your water. I became addicted to mint water when I was in the Netherlands so this bottle is perfect for me to make my own!
Made in Mason, Michigan.
4. Spark Plug Pane Paperweight
This is the perfect gift for someone who loves flying! Made from recycled spark plus, butter knives, nuts and bolts, it’s really cool how how the artist, Brian Mock, can turn these recycled bits into a whimsical paperweight. It’s a great little work of art to have on your desk to remind you of all the places you’ve been (and will go!).
Handmade in Beaverton, Oregon.
5. Latitude Longitude Pendant
I love looking at maps and coordinates so much that I even have a Latitude Longitude tattoo of one of my favourite places in the world. If you’re looking for something less permanent, this customizable keepsake necklace made of recycled sterling silver is the perfect little gift. It’s great for keeping a reminder of your special place in the world close to you!
Handmade in Seattle, Washington.
6. New York Times Custom Birthday Book
Beautifully bound, this customized book contains a collection of the New York Times front pages for every year of your birthday. It makes for a fascinating read to see what world events have happened every year on your special day!
Made in the US.
7. Smartphone Instant Photo Lab
$24 (color film pack) + 169 (photo lab)
If you’re looking to splurge on a gift, this photo lab is it! This instant photo printer lets you print Polaroid-style prints directly from your phone or tablet with an app. Like most travellers, I take way too many pictures, but never print out as many pictures as I’d like since it’s so time-consuming. This photo lab is pretty life changing!
Made in the Netherlands.
If you love these, check out Uncommon Goods for tons of other fun and unique gifts!