holiday gifts

20 Best Travel Gift Ideas, According to Flight Attendants

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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When I was little, my parents would always give my sister and me what I considered the best travel gifts: toys (remember Pixel Chix and Polly Pocket? Exactly — the best). As I’ve gotten older, though, I appreciate more age-appropriate and practical travel gifts, like new suitcases, hearty hand cream, and bluetooth eye masks. (Yes, that’s a thing. Keep reading.)

If you’re a frequent flyer (or know somebody who never shuts up about their mileage points) who has begun their search for the best holiday gifts, we spoke with flight attendants to put together the 20 best travel accessories that will make traveling (and gifting) easier.

Ahead of peak holiday-shopping season (a.k.a. the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday), consider giving travel gifts that your friend or family member who’s all about mileage points will love — and put to good use. We spoke to experts like flight attendants and travel executives for the best travel gifts to check out this season.

For an On-the-Go Blowout

When it comes to a hair tool worth bringing along on any trip, the Revlon one-step (which you might have seen on TikTok) is the perfect option to deliver blowouts in an airport bathroom. With three heat settings and a cool option, NYC-based flight attendant Kat Iwinski says it’s good for any hair type, anywhere in the world.

For the Light Sleeper

While Iwinski wears this eye mask in the crew rest bunks, it can be used nearly anywhere. The mask has built-in headphones that can pair with any phone or tablet and offers a ten-hour play time. And it’s cooling and breathable.

For the Person Who’s Always on Their Devices

Instead of searching the whole terminal for a free power outlet, carry this power bank that features 2 USB and 2 USB-C charging ports that can provide multiple full charges for a phone and a whole charge for a laptop. Impressive! Johnson also highly approves of this item. “Its slim design allows for easy storage in a tote or handbag and 4-in-1 charging means all of your devices can get ‘juiced up’ simultaneously,” says Johnson, who loves this product.

For the Special Occasion

“I swear by this lipstick,” says Iwinski. “I’ve started masking on planes and in crowded terminals again, but even when I’m wearing a mask this doesn’t budge.”

The Perfect Carry-on

Lighter is always better for packing. Having your garments, toiletries, and electronics in one place makes a weekend jaunt or short business trip that much easier,” says Jonathan Johnson, the current director of in-flight experience at Aero and, previously, a flight attendant for 11 years. Johnson’s favorite weekender bag? The large Everywhere Bag from Away. “With an interior organization system and water bottle pocket, you’ll be prepared for every part of your journey,” he says.

For Puffy Eyes

Whether you’re ready for a multistep skin-care routine on a plane or just want a little pick-me-up, these eye masks from Loops make a great travel companion. The five-pack tackles under-eye puffiness and imparts brightness, and since you only need to keep them on for ten minutes, they are the easiest way to add a little pampering on the go. Plus, they’re one of Camila Mendes’s favorite products to take with her while traveling.

To Keep Everything In One Place


Instead of keeping cards on the outside of your phone (which can lead to some mishap), consider this sleek leather case that allows you to discreetly store three cards and cash. Perfect for those of us who always have our phone in hand.

To Keep You From Losing Your Passport

“Depending on what type of traveler you are, you may find yourself in frenzied panic looking for that passport you strategically placed in the pocket of your briefcase purse or tote. It seems like no matter how many times we check to make sure they’re there, passports, credit cards and driver’s licenses grow legs just before we need them,” says Johnson. “The Normest AirTag Travel wallet not only wraps all of your most important travel documents and bank cards in premium leather, but it protects them with RFID blocking and a nifty storage area to nest an Apple AirTag. The location of your documents are now just a click away on your iOS device.”

For the Person Who Would Rather Read

Nothing says “well-seasoned traveler” like a Kindle. When you’re constantly living out of a carry-on, this Paperwhite Kindle is the best companion. Iwinski loves how easy it is to carry. Plus, with only 8 GB, you can store thousands of titles and don’t have to worry about recharging for weeks.

To Save Your Dry Cuticles

Cuticle care may be the last thing you want to think about when you’re traveling, but you’ll want to use this cuticle serum pen from Olive and June every five seconds. Plus it doubles as a great stocking stuffer!

For the Softest Hands

“I make my own amenity kit, like the kind we pass out in first class, and I use this hand cream every time I travel,” Iwinski shares. It’s rich and moisturizing without ever being greasy, and it smells like honey.

To Keep Your Skin Moisturized

If your skin has been personally victimized by the air conditioning in a flight, Johnson recommends this moisturizer from Dr. Barbara Sturm. “All sizes are TSA compliant so this face cream is a must for carry-on.”

For the New Mom

For a new mom who’s on the go (literally), this breastmilk chiller storage is the way to continue breastfeeding while traveling. Iwinski recently weaned her 18-month-old but said this was her favorite travel accessory while pumping. “I bought two, and they kept my milk ice-cold for about 36 hours without having to lug a separate cooler around the globe,” she says. Plus she still uses it as (and we quote) a “kick-ass water bottle.”

If You Like to Travel in Style

Some travel plans require stepping off the plane and heading right to an event or nice dinner. In that case, make sure to take a cute bag like this one as your personal item.

For the Movie Buff

From $35

Barnabas Carrega, founder and CEO of the GR8 Experience, is a master of curating luxe and seamless travel experiences. When it comes to technology, a Bluetooth transmitter is essential. “As more people travel with Bluetooth headphones, we tend to forget that most airplane entertainment systems still require plug-in headphones,” says Carrega. Airfly is the solution to this. It is a portable adapter that plugs into headphone jacks and connects to your wireless headphones. Now you can use your personal earbuds without relying on low-quality airline headphones.

Because Comfort Is Key

For the luxury traveler in your life, look no further than this cashmere set that elevates any airplane experience. “Instead of using the uncomfortable blankets and pillows that airlines give out, I recommend investing in a high-quality cashmere travel set. Ralph Lauren makes a fantastic gift set that includes a 100 percent cashmere pillow, blanket, and eye mask,” says Carrega.

For Your Work-From-Anywhere Friend

From $50

Everyone has that friend who’s taken full advantage of the remote-work lifestyle (hi, it’s me!). The only downfall? Guaranteeing that you have solid Wi-Fi anywhere in the world. Gifting a membership to Outsite ensures they’ll actually make that Zoom meeting.

For the Weekend Traveler

Sometimes a smartly designed backpack does the trick for short-term travel. Leave the carry-on at home and gift this option instead for that person in your life who likes to travel lightly.

If You’d Rather Not Use Hotel Hair Products

I’ve recently started bringing my own hair-care set instead of hoping that hotels will have quality products, and I can confirm that it’s been a game changer for my beauty routine.

If Planes Make Your Ears Hurt

Loop Quiet Ear Plugs

These earplugs are reusable and sleek, and they come in different sizes for optimal fit. They’re a must-have travel companion if you’re a light sleeper or sensitive to noise.

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20 Best Travel Gift Ideas, According to Flight Attendants