10 Practical Travel Gifts for Students Going Abroad in 2023

· Everything you need to know to find the perfect gift for your study abroad student. ·

Dec, 21, 2021

I’ve studied abroad a total of three times in my life.

After all of that, I’d consider myself quite the connoisseur when it comes to surviving in a foreign country as a student. It’s one of the best adventures a young person will go on in their life and it teaches them so many life skills.

However, it definitely comes with some bumps in the road – from being stranded with a broken debit card 5 miles from your hostel in New Zealand (yup, that happened) to something less scary, but still inconvenient, like not being able to eat your meal because you have no kitchen utensils in your backpack (I can’t count how many times this happened).

It’s the holiday season and although you may or may not have ever traveled abroad, you have a friend, sibling, kid, or grandchild embarking on their own abroad semester in the spring. Naturally, you want to gift them the necessary tools they need to survive! Look no further than this post, as I share the top 10 practical gifts for your traveling study abroad student.

1. Bite Toothpaste Bits – $30

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I feel like somehow I am always flagged at TSA.

Whether it is from me forgetting about that pocketknife I threw in my backpack or the machine flagging the liquids, it seems like there is always *something*. It takes up so much time to have your bag searched and it can be extremely painful when you are running to try to catch your flight. So, I try to do anything possible to eliminate TSA flags.

One of the best ways I have found to avoid this is to travel with Bite Toothpaste Bits. I have accidentally brought my full tube of toothpaste onto my carry on way too many times to count. Sometimes TSA would miss it, but 95% of the time they would flag it and chuck the entire tube.

Not anymore. Now my husband and I only travel with Bite.

I have learned my lesson. Now I only travel with Bite Toothpaste.

It’s toothpaste, except it isn’t a liquid at all. Instead of a paste, it comes in tablet form. You pop it in your mouth, bite on it, and start brushing away as the suds start to form from the brush movement. Not only does it eliminate the flight worry of TSA, but it’s also much more environmentally friendly considering that it comes in recyclable glass containers.

This is an awesome gift, especially for your environmentally conscious travel friends.

2. Bamboo Utensils – $12.99

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I cannot count how many times these saved our stomachs.

Next up on the sustainable travel gift list is a set of bamboo eating utensils. I cannot count how many times these saved our stomachs. When you’re on the road, especially in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, getting something as simple as a fork, spoon, or knife can be very difficult.

Or you could be in an area where the utensils just don’t exist! We ran into this during our study abroad in Shangai, for sure. Even if you are in a country that uses all of the regular western utensils, maybe the little restaurant that you’re at has run out of plastic forks and there is nothing but your fingers to eat your delicious Italian fast-food pasta with.

For the sake of your loved-ones’ stomach, please gift them this set!

3. Metal Straws (with a travel case!) – $12.99

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Once again, you don’t realize how important straws are until you are on one of the best beaches in Mexico with a frozen Margarita in hand and no straw to slurp the divine nectar.

Our bamboo utensil pack and metal straws never get removed from our backpacks except to use them and clean them.

They then get placed right back in their special spot for usage on the next emergency situation where we need them.

4. Cadence Capsules – $75

small magnetic travel liquid capsules

Buy from Cadence

This gift is for your chique, minimalist traveler who doesn’t have time to worry about a dozen travel-sized liquid containers.

There are a few reasons why this gift made the list. Firstly, these containers are air-tight and will not leak due to increased cabin pressure. Secondly, they are magnetic and all conveniently stick together instead of rolling around in your bag. Thirdly, you can fully customize the labels on the capsules for your specific needs.

Cadences are great for travel, but also just for everyday use. I use my cadences every day – even on my non-travel days. I like to always have my moisturizer and sunscreen on my person, so I just grab those two cadence cubes, toss them in my purse, and head out the door.

The same would go for any student studying abroad. They’re also great for weekend trips, as the containers fit just enough shampoo or body wash to keep them fresh and clean during their adventure.

5. International Travel Adapter Set – $10.19

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I think this one is pretty obvious. Unless the traveler is moving to somewhere in the Americas where we all share the same outlets, they will need several outlet adapters for their journey abroad. While Europe all shares their own kind of adapter, some nearby countries – like England, for example – have their own.

I suggest buying them adapters that can be used for multiple countries instead of just their host country. I love these ones from Sima because they are not bulky, but they cover all seven continents.

This sets someone up for a whole lifetime of travels all around the globe!

6. Portable Charger – $49.99

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Anyone living in the 21st century would adore a portable charger as a gift, but a traveler especially. Firstly, outlets are hard to come by when you are on the road. The second thing that you learn from traveling is that even though you may successfully find an outlet, that outlet might not be compatible with your home country’s plug!

Hopefully, your loved one has already been gifted a handy-dandy outlet adapter from you, but in case they forgot to bring it, this portable charger will be their lifesaver.

Plus, the Anker powerbank has been rated one of the top chargers on Amazon.

7. External Hard Drive – $70 – $160

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What’s an external hard drive? Pretty much this is a tool that you can store a whopping 5TB of travel memory on. Instead of dumping all of your GoPro, camera, and iPhone footage onto a laptop or onto the cloud, you’re able to store all of your material on a physical drive. You can also keep all of your footage on the cloud or your laptop and use this LaCie Hard Drive as a backup.

Personally, I think everyone should have a LaCie hard drive, even if they aren’t a traveler. It is such an effective and practical way to store photos and videos.

iPhones get dropped in puddles and lakes all the time. iCloud gets hacked all the time. Laptops freeze and break all the time. So if one of these devices is the only place where you are storing your data, you are putting all of your life memories on high risk of being lost forever.  

Having a backup hard drive is what saves you at the end of the day. Not only is it incredibly easy to travel with, but you can also plug it into any laptop to retrieve the photos and videos. It’s also fantastic because photos and videos take a massive amount of storage on your laptop and phone while also slowing down the devices. A Hard Drive allows you to keep all of this space free and your laptop running at top speed.

Concerning the price and storage, you could get a mini Drive that stores 1TB or you could spring for the 5TB. I think having more space is always better than less so I own a 5TB. However, I’m also very dedicated to storing my travel memories and have a lot more video content than most people.

While we are on the topic, I’m going to put a little caveat here – while I do believe everyone should prioritize a hard drive in their lives, it’s not worth the cost if you aren’t going to use it.

This is only a useful gift for a traveler that is hardcore set on documenting their travels.

Many people are fine with just using their iPhone and trusting iCloud. I would advise assessing the person you are gifting this item to before making the investment. Maybe they are interested, but don’t have a passion for travel documentation yet. In this case, a 1TB would do them well.

Perhaps they are all in and know that they will need tons of storage space. In this case, go for the 5TB to give them all the storage that they need for their storytelling.

8. A Heavy Duty Water Bottle

black Mizu stainless steel tumbler

Water is essential. It is estimated that on a 10-hour flight, your body can lose up to 2 liters of water. Hop on one flight from the United States to Dubai without drinking any water and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Traveling is extremely dehydrating and it’s essential to always have water available.

Furthermore, water is not easy or free to come by in most countries outside of the United States. Being from the United States, we are completely spoiled by the public water fountains around every other block. On top that, it’s wonderful that the majority of restaurants offer free, non-bottled water.

Anywhere in Europe, Latin America, Asia, or Africa is a completely different story, though. Water fountains are a luxury and free tap water is practically non-existent. The moral of the story is that the traveler to whom you are gifting this water bottle will be using it on a daily basis! 

It should also be noted that when I say heavy duty, I mean heavy duty. I’m not talking about a pretty little glass water bottle or a thin plastic one. I’m talking about a water bottle that Zeus himself cannot destroy. The reason I say this is that a traveler will drop their water bottle approximately 5,000 times during their lifetime! Really, it needs to be indestructible.

This article has a great list of top heavy duty water bottles for purchase.

Another good feature to look for us a lid that stays attached to the cannister. I’ve had to learn this the hard way plenty of times. Let’s just say that when the lids are not attached to the water bottle, I have either completely lost them or I have had to do some pretty sketchy bathroom sanitizing of the lids after dropping them on dirty streets and roads all over the world.

9. A Great Pair of Sneakers

unpaired gray Nike running shoe

No matter the destination, I can guarantee that your traveler will be doing the most walking that they have ever done in their entire lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s Sao Paulo with its fantastic public transportation system or Sydney, Australia which boasts the fast and easy Opal Bus routes. There will be plenty of walking done in between using public transportation, Ubers, and bikes.

College students typically are not overflowing with money to spend, especially college students with added study abroad expenses. They will be using any means possible to save money, and the best way to do that is walk, walk, walk around their new country!

My suggestion would be to ask them what shoe they want. Maybe their plan is to explore mostly cities, so a shoe with good cushioning and less traction is ideal. Or perhaps they are looking for more of an outdoors experience and will be hiking, needing higher traction. Ask them exactly what they need, then deliver it. Once again, this is an item that will be used daily.

10.     A SIM-card or International Cell Phone Plan

sim card and iphone on table

This is a gift that I bet you won’t see on other articles.

And that’s not because it’s not a useful or practical gift. It is because it is such a practical gift that 99% of people wouldn’t even think of it. However, having lived/studied in 3 countries, I know how essential it is to have an international cell phone plan, or at least a new SIM card. Figuring out a new phone plan is one of the most stressful things that you must do when you enter a country, and it can be rather expensive, too.

Having this load removed is such a relief for the new, anxious student embarking on their abroad trip. So, give them a break, do some research, and get this one taken care of for them. You might just become their new favorite person.

Thanks for reading my post on the 10 Practical Travel Gifts for Students Going Abroad in 2023! I hope that this post helped you to narrow down the best gifts for your traveling friend or family member. I can guarantee that everything on this gift list will be used by the person at least several times if not daily. Isn’t that the truest sign of a great gift?

Would you add anything to this list?

Comment your favorite travel products below!


Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.

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Meet The Author - Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.