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2015 Traveling Teen Gift Guide

By November 12, 2015December 1st, 20227 Comments

Two Teens n front of Christmas tree by Jason Meredith via Flickr


When I was a teenager, my parents stuck my brother and I in a cornfield for an hour after my dad had enough of us arguing in the back of the RV. True story. Maybe if I had a smartphone, music player, camera or even a good book I wouldn’t have been at my sibling’s throat during our annual family adventure. Oops.

The good thing is, these memories of teen boredom and a little bit of resentment are something I still recall, so when I have kids someday I can easily avoid these situations. I hope to inspire my teens to have a healthy case of wanderlust while on the road, not just in retrospect as a sheepish adult like myself! Luckily, there are a wealth of incredible gifts you can get for a teen that can quell monotony of a long flight, support creativity and encourage them to see more of the world on their own someday.


The Lost Girls Book

This was one of the first travel books I ever read. It’s an account of three girlfriends who are disenchanted with their new corporate jobs out of college and decide to have an EPIC adventure together across the world. It’s the real deal without sugarcoating anything. They talk about relationships, financial woes, being scared and their bond. It can be a wonderful way for an older teen looking at the future on the horizon to see that the traditional path isn’t always the perfect one. They traverse from India to Australia and everywhere in between, picking up life lessons along the way.

Benefit’s Do the Bright Thing Kit

Is your teen going to be cooped up with you in a tiny plane for a big adventure? Have them feeling fresh with some fancy, PSA-friendly makeup kits. Teens often swear by a certain gloss or perfume by whichever pop star or Kardashian sister is biggest at the moment, so why not get them some smaller version of their favorites to take with them traveling? If they don’t have just one they love, look for the sample sizes that offer a few different choices, then they can show off their personal style in different ways on different days while leaving their giant makeup tote at home.

Letters from Rita Custom Print

Teens are crazy about Instagram and other photo sharing apps. What if they could take their favorite travel quotes and make them into custom artwork? Letters from Rita is a talented artist who does wonderful calligraphy and personalized art for any travel lover. Choose what you want to have made and voilà, it’s on your teen’s wall in days. It’s not a print either, but a real ink drawn masterpiece your teen can cherish for years to come.

IOU Madras Project Scarf & Clothes

Is your teen all about sustainability? Are they nagging you to recycle, give back to the planet and support local business? This scarf might be perfect for your eco-conscious kid. Each item has a tag that tells the wearer exactly where the scarf was made and by whom. The textile maker also gets paid a fair wage for their skills, especially those making the actual fabric in India. Not to mention, the colors and styles are beautiful for both guys and gals.

Path Of Life Bracelet

Where I’m from in New England, these bangles are all the rage. Everyone from preteens to soccer moms have one or fifty of these dangling from their wrists. The simple design goes with almost any outfit and is easy to pack away for a little dazzle to your traveling wardrobe. The “Path of Life” charm is special, as it can represent growth and wisdom when your teen takes to the road. They have oodles of others as well, including letters for names, favorite destinations, quotes, and rhinestones.

Pink selfie stick (ugh)

Now don’t you roll your eyes. I bet your own parents thought you were nuts to want a pet rock, or a Tamagotchi, depending on which generation you’re from. So let’s not judge these poor kids with their silly sticks and sharing obsession. Instead, embrace the weird and get one of these sticks so your teen can document all the wild travels you enjoy. Better yet, get the whole family selfie sticks and just embarrass the hell out of your teen—totally worth the investment.



Dive In Deck - Dance

Dive In Deck

Car rides can be long. Same goes for plane, train and bus rides. No matter which mode of transportation you choose, your creative teen is going to need something to do, and let’s be honest, the technology can fry your brain after a bit. The Dive in Deck is stacked with lots of questions to—gasp!—help get a conversation started among family members. If the silence is actually something you crave, the Dive in Deck is ideal for creative teens looking for a good writing prompt to help them on their way to that best-selling novel.

Effie’s Paper

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved a stylish piece of paper. I’m a note-taker at heart, and to this day, you’ll find me with a notebook handy to write down blog post ideas or a do to list—iPhone be damned. This obsessing started in my teen years, because as fun as technology is, what would a teen do if she didn’t have a piece of paper to play M.A.S.H. on? Effie’s Paper has some really great prints on notebooks and even stationary so your teen can write letters home to all their friends while they travel too.

Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Instagram @Pure_Wander.

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