Travel, like many other facets of life, is one of those sought-after, coveted, talked about life experiences. Travel brings opportunities to explore and experience new things, as well as the (unfortunate) collective dread of anyone who’s ever had to hustle to get to the airport on time. Study abroad programs in particular offer the opportunity to live and learn while immersed in a new culture, language, and way of living, and we think they’re great. That said, it can be hard to find affordable gifts for those about to travel, so here’s a collection of gifts for study abroad that will make your travel experience easier and your friends jealous!
Ranging from practical to entertaining, these gifts will provide a variety of options that charm, aid, and brighten the experiences of any studying abroad. And who knows; some of these affordable gifts might just make it onto your personal travel roster!
15 cheap gifts for study abroad
We’ve all been there. Stressful lines, crowded seats, having to pack, unpack and then re-pack your clothes into a suitcase just to get everything to fit; sometimes traveling is just plain stressful.
Here are some affordable gifts for study abroad that will help make travel easier, regardless of where you’re going, or how you’re getting there.
These wonderful little dictionary phrasebooks are slim, lightweight, and fit perfectly inside the carry on or backpack of any traveler going abroad. Packed full of essential phrases and starting words you might need to know while on the go, they’re a nice reference or refresher book if you’re traveling somewhere where English isn’t as readily known.
A Good Alternative: These Dover Language Guides also come in paperback for easy traveling, and offer similar ease of use and application. You can also find the German, French, Italian, and Russian guides online.
How you pack is almost as important as what you pack, and if you’re looking to branch away from bulky roller bags and towards a lightweight, easy-to-store carry-on, this Canway Travel Duffel bag might be for you.
With a HUGE amount (65 liters!) of storage space inside, this ~$25 duffel bag is more than equipped for the heavy lifting you might need on a longer study abroad trip. Although it likely won’t fit underneath your airplane seat, they’re a good size for a carry on, and can be rolled and folded up when not in use.
This leather Bi-fold wallet comes in 14 different colors, with lots of cool patterns and colors. With 8 card slots, and RFID protection built into the wallet layers itself, it’s a good way to get a sleek, efficient wallet that will keep your money safe when you travel. After all, nobody wants to eat into their time abroad worrying about the safety of their belongings.
At less than $20 on Amazon, it’s a quality investment, and a good, practical gift for study abroad—with lots of pockets!
One of the most essential tools in any well-versed travel kit is an international travel adapter. Useful for both the safety (and usability) of your devices overseas, one of these multipurpose cubes will net you ~$20 and come with a built-in surge protector and 12 month limited warranty. Another perk of this design is that it supports use of both the AC and USB ports simultaneously; so you can plug in both your computer and phone for faster charging.
A word of caution: although this does offer a convenient, all-in-one solution to trying to find adapter ports for each county you travel to, what it won’t do is act as a converter for local power coming through the device itself. You’ll want to make sure that any devices you travel with are compatible with local use. Or, to avoid any stress, you can pick up a voltage converter like this Bonazza converter, which will both convert power and provide a way to plug in all of your equipment—handy!
Let’s be real, we’ve all had those moments when we realize that we need to charge our phones, but don’t have a charger on hand. Thankfully Anker has us covered, with these dual-pack portable phone chargers, compatible with iPhones, Google Pixels, and Samsung Galaxy phones.
Whether you’re venturing off the grid or staying in a hostel where outlets are hotly contested territory, portable chargers can be a real lifesaver. Each battery pack carries a charge of 10,000 mAh, which means 2-3 full phone charges, in a nice, small package. This is a particularly cost effective gift, and a smart idea for anyone traveling abroad—or who might just want some extra screen time.
Figuring out how to pack and store all your toiletries can be a pain, especially for the longer stays that study abroad trips can bring. Inevitably, it seems like we pack things up for the flight there, only to end up re-packing everything the moment we arrive – and then doing it all over again for the return trip.
Rather than having to cart around a boring, catch-all bag of disorganized toiletries (spilled shampoo anyone? Ew!), we recommend these super cute hanging travel bags! With zipped pockets and a variety of compartments, these great little bags fold up for storage, and can be hung on the wall or near the shower. Best of all? They’re waterproof, and come in both patterns or solid colors. For around ~$10, they’re easily one of the most affordable toiletry bags we’ve seen—and their utility makes them a perfect addition to our list of gifts for study abroad .
Whether you like to draw, sketch, or just write about your experiences on the go, a good travel journal is the perfect study abroad gift for the more creative traveler!
This leather bound travel journal, sold by leather making company KomalC, is small enough to be stored in a purse or carryon bag, sturdy enough to be used on the go, and handmade for superior quality. It’s pages are unlined, so it’s good for both drawing and writing, and frankly, the leather wrap-around design is nicer than a lot of other options that can be found online.
For ~$16, it’s an affordable and surprisingly high quality option, and we’re a little in love.
A fun (non-leather) alternative—these awesome travel journals sold by Compoco, that feature an embossed design and light, pastel colors. Variations can be found here and here.
It seems just about every travel list wouldn’t be complete without a variation of the money belt. Simultaneously popping up on almost every essential travel list, but never really getting that combination of practical and fashionable down, love em or hate em, they’re here to stay. For your safety-focused travelers, (or anyone who enjoys feeling like a fashionable spy) these colorful scarves are the perfect variation, with a hidden pocket that easily fits a phone, passport, and some money. At just ~$12 online, the reviews highlight soft fabric, a surprisingly large pocket, and cute designs.
If you’re not feeling like draping yourself in bright, frilly patterns, these travel scarves have you covered. With a small range of colors, they offer neutrals in gray, black, and white, as well as some less vibrant patterns (to cover all the fashion bases).
Aside from the basics that make traveling easier, here are some more affordable gifts for study abroad designed to liven up an outfit, brighten your day, or just make traveling more fun! After all, half the point in going on any trip across the world is to experience new things, and to enjoy the fact that you’re alive and kicking.
How cute is this travel watch? Featuring plenty of wanderlust-inspiring images from around the globe, it’s modern, stylish, and versatile, and the watch band itself can be customized with a variety of colors.
At ~$50, this is a good statement piece, and a more upscale (but still affordable!) gift if you’re looking to splurge and purchase something nice.
One of the best gifts for study abroad are those that help you remember and enjoy your experiences. The Fujifilm Instax Mini offers a lightweight, portable polaroid camera, to help capture those moments you don’t want to forget. With a range of colors, these nostalgic cameras are sold by a variety of suppliers, and range between ~$45 and $55, on average. Good as a fun investment to your photography array, this is a gift that will continue to have use even after your study abroad experience! You can purchase the camera pre-paired with Polaroid film here.
For the aspiring photography savant, why not add a little flair to your equipment with a custom camera strap? This bright, patterned strap comes in a variety of colors, and is compatible with DSLR, polaroid, and point-and-shoot cameras. We recommend this both for the trendy, jet setting traveler looking to customize their gear, and for anyone who feels like adding a more personal touch to their equipment.
For a classic travel gift that transcends language barriers, a deck of cool cards is a versatile and affordable option. These continent decks each feature custom designs, and include a range of countries and capitals found on each continent.
An added cool factor? The cards all have fun facts about the countries they feature, so you can use them to play a game, and simultaneously learn more about where you are studying abroad.
While the full set (with all 7 continents, including Antarctica) will put you back ~$75, each individual continent deck can be bought for ~$11-$18 online. We love the geometric design, interesting facts, and the fact that each deck focuses on a different continent around the world. This is definitely a modern uptake on a classic item, and perfect inclusion on our list of gifts for study abroad!
Most study abroad students and travelers we know enjoy a way to keep track of where they’ve been, and this scratch-off world map is a creative way to do so! Perfect in a dorm room, office, or just on the wall in a traveler’s apartment, this ~$25 poster adds an air of sophistication to any living space, and would look right at home surrounded by postcards and travel mementos.
A nice alternative: This version includes the maps of countries around the world in a fun border at the bottom of the design. It’s a little brighter, a little more colorful, and nice if you’re looking for an INTENSE rainbow as opposed to the more classic, vintage/faded look from the map above. As a set, it also comes with a smaller map, some cute memory stickers, and some tools to help make the scratch-off part that much easier.
Adult coloring books—it seems like lately they’re all the rage, popping up on college campuses, in bookstores, and on blogs. Whether you subscribe to the idea that meticulously coloring in each section can be a kind of meditation in itself, or are just looking for a way to get your mind off of airplane turbulence, this cheeky swear coloring book is a fun gift for anyone studying abroad.
These travel-themed socks are silly and fun, and feature a variety of cities around the world. They range in design from skylines, specific travel attractions, and abstract travel-themed patterns (if you’ve ever wanted socks with a geometric print of travel visa stamps, this one’s for you). These are a fun and colorful nod to the spirit of adventure, and available for both men and women.
Perfect as cheap—but still functional—gifts for study abroad, they’re a great addition for anyone who wants to wear their heart on their sleeve (and their destination on their feet).
Make sure your gifts for study abroad are affordable!
Whether you’re looking for something practical, something silly, or something a little bit in-between, these gifts for study abroad all have one thing in common, and that’s people about to embark on potentially life-changing travel experiences.
From functional pieces of clothing, to cool travel journals, we hope our list of 15 affordable gifts for study abroad helps to inspire and entertain — or at least cover the bases if you’re scrambling for gift ideas.
Authored by Nicole Kornblith
Nicole Kornblith is a freelance filmmaker and writer, with a passion for travel (and all the shenanigans therein) and design. She occasionally posts about cool places she’s been to on her instagram, and can otherwise be found working in the Production film world.