Looking for unique, practical and fun gift ideas for students studying abroad? Here is a carefully curated gift guide with 15 fun study abroad gifts, from low cost travel gifts to truly epic. The variety of gift ideas are perfect for bundling into a care package for a college student.
The main tip to remember for study abroad gifts is to think SMALL. Physically small, that is, because luggage space is always limited. Wait until they’re back before buying large, bulky or breakable keepsakes. The best gift ideas for students studying abroad are useful travel-inspired things that can be tucked in with clothes.
Ready for some travel gift inspiration? Let’s have some fun!
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1. Favorite Local Gift Ideas for Students Studying Abroad
What does the student in your life LOVE? Maybe certain snack foods? Many snack foods from the United States and Canada aren’t available in Europe, and vice versa. Another awesome locally-made gift idea for students studying abroad is knitted socks, mitts or hat from Grandma!
Load up the care package for a college student with their favorite snack foods and gifts from Grandma. Not only will it help your college student adjust, it’ll keep them fed and comfy!
2. Travel Destination Guidebook as Study Abroad Gifts
Travel destination guidebooks are a fantastic gift idea for students traveling overseas. Even if your student is all about the latest gadgets, physical guidebooks are great travel companions while waiting in airports and on long overseas flights. Also, I find they’re super convenient for trip planning. Consider getting a pocket guidebook so it’s smaller and lighter for their daypack.
My favorite travel destination guidebooks are from Lonely Planet ($10+). Lonely Planet guidebooks are written by local experts with insider tips and tricks, including money-saving tips that’ll help students studying abroad.
3. Gift a Language Phrasebook and Dictionary to Help Student Studying Abroad
If a student is traveling overseas where they’ll be interacting in a foreign language, a language phrasebook and dictionary will come in very handy. Again, my favorite option here is Lonely Planet ($5+).
Lonely Planet phrasebooks are written for someone traveling overseas. They focus on common phrases a traveler is most likely to need, plus essential tips on culture, manners, safety and food. Also, Lonely Planet phrasebooks are cheap and compact, making them an excellent filler in your care package for a college student studying abroad!
4. Universal Travel Power Adaptor Plug Gift for Students Traveling Abroad
Although it isn’t a super exciting travel abroad gift idea, a universal travel adapter power plug might just become your college student’s best friend! Students traveling from the USA or Canada to Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia or Asia will get a ton of use from their universal travel adapter. They’ve become super convenient, with built-in USB charging ports, too.
Here are highly-rated universal travel adapter power plugs to check out on Amazon. This compact universal travel power adapter from Saunorch ($20) has very strong reviews and comes in a fun blue or green.
But if your student studying abroad will use things like a hairdryer or kettle, consider getting them a voltage converter. Here’s a highly-rated portable converter ($30). It’s a bit more complicated, so make sure they read how to use it!
5. Travel-Themed Cell Phone Charger as a Study Abroad Gift
A fun AND practical gift idea for students studying abroad is this travel-themed portable cell phone charger ($30) on Etsy. The cords are inside the power bank, so a student traveling overseas won’t have to worry about finding their cord while traveling around. AND it’s compatible with both iPhones and Androids. Awesome!!
6. Quality Pens and Highlighter Gift for Students Studying Abroad
I know, I know. Pens aren’t exciting. BUT, every budding genius needs quality tools, and FriXion pens and highlighters are AWESOME! FriXion quality is excellent with whichever option you go with, but I’m a huge fan of their erasable pens and highlighters. They’re a colorful AND practical gift idea for students studying abroad, and round out a care package for a college student very nicely.
Check out Amazon’s large selection of FriXion products. I don’t think you can go wrong with whatever selection is in your price range, but my favorites are this set of 10 erasable clicker pens ($20) and this set of 6 erasable highlighters ($10).
7. Travel Journal Gift Ideas for Students Studying Abroad
The best travel abroad gift I ever got was a travel journal from my mom. She gave it to me on my first-ever trip overseas and asked me to write in it regularly so she could follow along and experience it, too, when I got back. I’ve kept a travel journal ever since and LOVE going back to re-experience my “wow” moments.
Even if your college student likes techy gadgets more than hand-writing, there’s nothing like keeping a hand-written travel journal. Inspire them with a beautiful, hand-made travel journal from Etsy, like this refillable leather notebook ($17) or this set of pretty floral notebooks ($13).
8. A Cool AND Super-Durable Cork Passport Holder as a Study Abroad Gift
A student traveling abroad will find a passport holder convenient for keeping travel documents safe. My favorite one out there is this cork passport holder ($23) on Etsy, that can also be used as a cool credit card holder. It’s eco-friendly, PeTA approved, fully recyclable, and perfect for your sustainable traveler.
Also important: the cork material is super lightweight, water-repellent, stain-resistant, fire-resistant, scratch-resistant, hypoallergenic, easy to clean. See?? Useful AND cool! Students studying abroad will love this.
Check out more cork travel gifts in Unique Daypacks for Women!
9. A Cool Customized Luggage Tag Gift Idea for Students Traveling Abroad
This custom luggage tag ($15) on Etsy is another pretty cool AND practical gift idea for students traveling abroad. No matter how rough your student is (and the airlines), this “toughtag” will hold up. Your information is permanently and deeply embossed on a stainless steel tag, and attaches to luggage with a stainless steel cable that has a screw closure.
Instead of customizing the luggage tag with their new address (which might change anyway), just put their email and cell number. It also fits very nicely in a care package for a college student.
10. Travel-Inspired Accessories as a Sentimental Study Abroad Gift
I came across some beautiful, travel-inspired accessories on Etsy that I had to include here. Even though I’m quite a minimalist with trinkets and jewelry, wouldn’t these go so nicely in a care package to a college student overseas??
Take a look at these care package gift ideas for students studying abroad. I LOVE this hand-painted globe locket that you can customize with your own photos ($46). A more masculine option is the classy compass locket keychain, also customizable with your own photos ($37). Or, how about this super-pretty, super-simple compass necklace ($23)?
11. Clothing with Hidden Pockets as Gift Ideas for Students Traveling Abroad
For anyone traveling overseas, and for club-hopping college students, hidden pockets are super handy for hiding things like passports and larger currencies. While body wallets (that you wear under clothes) are one option, they don’t do well under fitted clothes. And they’re not that cool in a care package for a college student!
Etsy has some pretty great clothes and clothing accessories with hidden pockets. Check out the huge selection of infinity scarves with hidden pockets, including this simple black unisex scarf ($53) and this one that doubles as a coverup sarong ($41). Or for guys who don’t wear scarves, better options might be briefs ($15) or a tank top ($40). Some of these tank tops have SIX hidden pockets!
12. Noise Cancelling Headphones Gift for Students Studying Abroad
No matter where your student is studying, they’re going to LOVE having a good set of noise cancelling headphones. Even studying in a library is tough without good headphones because of the zillion distractions.
Amazon has a good selection of noise cancelling headphones perfect as a gift idea for students studying abroad. I love our wireless Bose set with Bluetooth but they’re a bit pricey ($350). Other highly-rated options include Amazon’s best-seller, COWIN E7 ($60), or these TOZO NC9 wireless earbuds ($60). All are pretty compact and would be the highlight of a care package for a college student.
13. Travel Bag Daypack as a Study Abroad Gift Idea
Generally, I wouldn’t recommend luggage as a travel gift, because luggage is very much a personal style/preference/need thing. That said, a travel bag daypack might actually be the perfect gift idea for a student studying abroad. Chances are, they really could use a new daypack. And chances are even higher that they can’t afford a good one.
Here are highly-rated casual daypacks on Amazon. The safer bets for travel bags are more neutral styles and fabrics, unless you really know the student traveling abroad. My favorite is this unisex sling bag ($25) for its surprising amount of space and versatility. But if you want a good anti-theft travel bag daypack, take a look at Pacsafe’s 15-Litre Metrosafe daypack ($75) or 45-Litre Venturesafe Eclipse ($150), which also makes a great carry-on bag.
14. Small Group Tour as the ULTIMATE Gift Idea for Students Studying Abroad
Now, if you’re looking for the ULTIMATE in fun gift ideas for students studying abroad, go shopping on Intrepid Travel’s website!
Intrepid Travel offers more than 1000 small group tours across all continents, including tours specifically for youth aged 18 to 29 years old. Perfect for college students traveling abroad!
I’ve been on Intrepid Travel’s small group tours through SE Asia and LOVED it. Along with seeing top travel destinations, travelers experience the local culture and charities doing incredible on-the-ground work. Intrepid Travel was established by and for conscientious travelers who want to give back to the communities they visit.
If you’re looking for a fantastic, SAFE way to treat your student studying abroad to an incredible travel adventure, definitely check out Intrepid Travel small group tours for 18-29 year olds. The most obvious benefit to small group tours is having someone coordinate logistics (like rebooking our train when it was washed out by floods in Vietnam). But possibly the biggest benefit is the friends you make, while sharing “wow” moment after “wow” moment.
Even better? Book a small group tour over the holidays and join your student studying abroad! Talk about the EPIC study abroad gift! It’s the perfect surprise in a care package for a college student.
15. Pre-Dated Personal Notes as a Study Abroad Gift
As wonderful as all of these gift ideas for students studying abroad are, the absolute BEST study abroad gift is personal notes from YOU! On my first solo trip overseas, my sister had my close friends and family members write short notes to me. Some were inspiring. Others were jokes or funny memories. She put dates on them so I had one to open every day. Isn’t that an AWESOME gift idea for students studying abroad?!
You could tailor this gift idea to whatever suits your personalities. Write notes, print photos, or wrap up small gifts, all labelled with a date and even a fun rule for opening it. Bundle them in a care package for your college student to open every week for their semester abroad. Just keep the packages compact and light for traveling.
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Featured photo credit: College students by Helena Lopes from Unsplash.