Check out my favorite and best books to read.

Do you have a book lover who loves to travel on your Christmas holiday gift list? Or a Secret Santa for a traveler who loves to read? Or a wanderlust who wishes they were traveling? That’s me – all three! Here are a few of my favorite Christmas, holiday and birthday gift ideas that travelers, day hikers and readers will love (even when they’re not traveling, hiking or reading).

My favorite things: Gift ideas for travelers, day hikers and readers

Here’s a travel gift guide and book gift guide for people like me who love to read, hike and travel (even if it’s only a staycation at the moment) – and for everyone on your Christmas list or holiday and birthday list.

Travel gift guide and book gift guide originally published Dec. 12, 2019; Updated Nov. 18, 2021.

This post contains recommended links to products and services. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. While you will not accrue any additional costs to support my blog, I may receive compensation if you purchase these products and services. All images are taken by kmf and available for digital download.

Give the gift of trees

Tall pine trees looking up

Trees are so good for the soul! Hiking among them this year has helped me maintain my sanity. It’s proven that a walk through the woods can improve your mood and decrease symptoms associated with anxiety, fatigue and stress. I’ve been so grateful to all the people and organizations – especially this year – who ensure our forests and state and national parks and lands are protected and preserved.

And I love that American Forests offers a way to give a gift of trees to yourself or to others or simply to the world for all to enjoy. For every dollar you donate, American Forests will plant a tree in an ecosystem that is currently threatened. In addition to a personalized certificate, the gift recipient receives a one-year subscription to the award-winning magazine, American Forests – an organization that’s been around since 1875. I am not an affiliate of American Forests – just a fan of the tree.

Give to Those in Need! Shop $1 Care Package Supplies at Dollar Tree!

Give the gift of socks

My grandmother gave us socks every year for Christmas (among other things). So when she passed, I continued the tradition with my family and friends. I especially love the novelty socks as you can give a gift that doesn’t cost very much, yet is very personalized and memorable – especially when you match them up with their unique personalities.

Here are some great examples of matching socks with their rightful owners as inexpensive Christmas gift ideas or affordable stocking stuffers this year.

Christmas gift ideas: fun socks for the wanderlust and traveler

These socks are super fun and they come in a variety of options with all the travel bucket-list cities and places like Venice, Rome, Paris, New York, Seattle, Grand Canyon and more.

Christmas gift ideas: novelty socks for the hiker

How cute are those moose socks? And these socks below were made especially for me so won’t be surprised to find them under the tree as a Christmas gift or stocking stuffer this year! They need to add another sentence: If you can read this, you are way too close!

Christmas gift ideas: novelty socks for the bookworm

Also consider purchasing more than one pair and donate to those who need socks this year. I’m not a direct marketing affiliate with Bombas, but I am a big fan. They make high-quality socks, but their true mission is to help those in need. Socks are the number one item needed at homeless shelters. Bombas has donated more than 43 million items to the homeless (and counting…a real-time ticker is on their website). For each item purchased, one is donated.

kindleunlimited – perfect gift for the reader on your list

kindleunlimited ad unlimited reading on Amazon
Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

One of the best Christmas, Valentine’s Day or birthday gifts for someone who loves to read is a subscription for kindleunlimited. You don’t need a kindle device to enjoy kindleunlimited. The kindle app allows you to download to any device.

And there’s a no-risk free 30-day trial with kindleunlimited. Here are other details about why a kindleunlimited makes a great gift for book lovers.

  • Unlimited reading
  • Unlimited listening
  • Any device.
  • Books (over 1 million titles)
  • Audiobooks (thousands)
  • Magazines (current month)

Great gift for the book lover on your list: kindle fire tablet

These kindle fire tablets are perfect gifts for work or play.

Kids who love to read will love this gift: kindle kids edition

Give the gift of life-long love of reading with the all new kindle kids edition – includes access to thousands of books.

Give the gift of audible to the too-busy-to-read bookworms on your Christmas list

I’ve been a slow adopter of podcasts and audible books – but many of my friends are fanatics! So I may even give myself this gift of audible.

Your book-lover gift recipient will enjoy:

  • An unmatched selection of audiobooks performed by world-class talent.
  • 3 titles for each month of their gift membership: 1 audiobook + 2 Audible Originals.
  • 30% off any additional audiobooks.
  • Anywhere, anytime listening with the free Audible app.
  • Free and easy audiobook exchanges.
  • An Audible book library they’ll own forever.

Someone who loves romance novels would love the audible romance free trial as a gift

Speaking of audible, if you have any romance fans on your Christmas, anniversary or birthday list, check out this free trial of audible romance. Unlimited listening for an entire month – now that’s a great gift for the romance bookworm.

Gift cards – support your travel blogger and book blogger

I don’t know who started the silly narrative that gift cards are impersonal. I know I would love a Visa gift card to help pay for gas on my state park challenge over another boxed set of lotion to support my book and travel budget. Unless, of course, it’s moisturizing glitter body gel from Sunshine & Glitter (see special section later in this post).

Did you know that you can purchase many different travel gift cards on Amazon? Here are a few that would make perfect travel gifts or book gifts. While we’re not able to travel as freely at the moment, gift cards could support some businesses especially small local businesses and restaurants. Recommend checking potential expiration dates for any travel-related gift cards. And maybe wait on many of these until 2021.

Book of the Month (BOTM) subscription – perfect Christmas gift idea

I love my Book of the Month (BOTM) subscription – and any booklover would love this gift of books (a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year). Your reader will be introduced to new selections every month from the comfort of their own home. And if they don’t like the selections, they’re free to skip a month (or two).

Book of the Month also offers gift plans where your gift receiver can choose from five books a month. Here’s my Book of the Month referral code (where I’ll earn a free book at no extra cost to you).

Christmas gift guide idea for bookworms who travel: Travel booklight

I always keep a booklight packed in my bag as well as one on my bedside table at home. Perfect gift for booklovers and/or travelers – especially for white elephant gifts or stocking stuffers.

Reading pillow makes a practical gift for reading in bed

I’m adding this 10-1 flip pillow – perfect for reading or lounging – to my own Christmas list. I’m always struggling to get my pillows in the correct position to read comfortably. Perfect Christmas gift for you (or me!).

Packable travel or hiking hats make the perfect gifts

Woman wearing a navy hat standing in front of an evergreen tree
Hats make great Christmas gifts like this fisherman’s cap from the fall collection at Tenth Street Hats.

This navy blue fisherman’s cap is my new favorite hat for fall or winter – whether I’m day hiking or on the go. Gifted to me from Tenth Street Hats (in exchange for an honest review), I highly recommend the Santorini Greek fisherman’s cap. It’s made with a wool blend featuring a satin lining – and it’s packable – perfect for traveling or tossing into your backpack on your day hike.

Woman wearing a baseball hat that reads Bad Hair Day standing on a bluff overlooking Mississippi River

My go-to hiking hat for the warmer months in spring and summer is this distressed Bad Day Hair baseball cap – available on Amazon in a variety of colors (I have an olive green one – pictured – and a black one). Note that I’m an Amazon affiliate and if you click on the link and purchase this product (or any Amazon links in this post) you are supporting my blog (thank you!) and I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

More Christmas holiday gift ideas for day hikers

Backpack, lunch bag, mosquito repellent wipes and water bottle sitting in grass
Yes, I would love to find some DEET-free mosquito wipes in my stocking or wrapped up under the Christmas tree. I may receive a referral bonus if you click on the link and purchase, but I only recommend products I would use or try myself (I gifted an entire case to myself).

For some great Christmas gift ideas, please check out my post: What to pack for a day hike. All the items listed would make great gifts for the hiker on your list.

Add packable travel shoes and travel boots to your Christmas list

Black boots on a red plaid blanket

Shoes and boots – the carry-on’s greatest nemesis! They take up so much space and they’re heavy.

Well, no more!

Beyond excited to have discovered and partnered with Arcopedico – the perfect travel shoes and most comfortable travel boots for women.

While I received a complimentary pair of the L19 travel boots to review, my opinions are my own. And I only recommend products and services I would use or try myself.

I was a perfect size 8 (U.S.) for many years, so I could confidently order online (or through a catalog) or shop for shoes right off the shelf without even trying them on knowing they would always fit. Well, that changed when I had a baby (nearly 23 years ago). My shoe size changed to somewhere between 8.5 and 9. What a pain shoe shopping became as they were almost always too big or too small. To be honest, I was skeptical the Arcopedico L19 boots would fit. 1. My weird shoe size. 2. You order by European size.

Not to worry. Arcopedico makes it easy to learn how to order European shoe sizes. They include an online shoe size converter with each product on their website. So I ordered the Arcopedico L19 boot in European size 41 (which is equivalent to a size 9 in the U.S.). And they fit perfectly – true to (my) size!

What else do I love about these perfect travel ankle boots? They’re lightweight (less than a pound), soooooo comfortable (feel like slippers) with an arch support (great for walking – and I do a lot of history walking tours during my travels), soft and – most importantly – they’re crushable and packable and return to their original shape. And they’re vegan.

Not a boot person? They offer many different styles and colors – including sneakers, sandals and more – all packable travel shoes.

You can order Arcopedico’s lightweight travel shoes and comfortable travel boots on their website (they include photos as well as short video clips to see the shoes and boots in action). You can also find them on Amazon, Zappos, as well as brick and mortar stores.

Unique and cool gift idea for travelers: glitter body gel and sunscreen – and it’s ecofriendly!

sunscreen in a gold Christmas ornament bottle

How cute is this moisturizing glitter body gel from Sunshine & Glitter? The ecofriendly glitter body gel comes in a cute Christmas ornament-shaped pump bottle with a warm sugar cookie scent. Something unique and fun to share with your traveler friend. They also offer other non-holiday options for the rest of the year.

And sunscreen can also be fun – loving the Beach Gypsy SPF 30+ Gold Glitter Sunscreen samples I recently received from Sunshine & Glitter to try in exchange for an honest review. The company was founded to create products with nourishing ingredients that are ecofriendly and reef safe. It’s a perfect gift for beach lovers.

Beach-in-a-box gift idea for the beach lover

Any beach lovers on your Christmas gift list? A friend of mine gave me a beach, book, beer in a box kit for my birthday once. It was so perfect especially if they can’t make it to the beach this year. You can create your own – just add beer or their favorite beachy beverage.

How to make a beach, book, beverage in a box gift for birthdays or Christmas

Here’s a list of ideas to include in your DIY beach, book, beverage in a box gift for a special birthday or Christmas present.

Gift guide idea: travel sound machine

I’m a light sleeper so always travel with a sound machine. I especially love the HoMedics Sound Spa / white noise sound machine because it’s lightweight and doesn’t take up much space (I can carry it in my purse). Also love that it offers six relaxing and soothing nature sounds (although I typically keep it on white noise). Comes with a power cord and a battery option. Added plus is it includes an auto-off timer (in case you only need it to help you fall asleep).

Travel gift guide: portable mirror

Now that I’ve finally embraced wearing readers, I’ve also come to depend on my magnifying mirror. I have two of these Floxite LED lighted travel mirrors – one that I pack with me wherever I go and one I keep at my desk. This portable mirror is a perfect gift for travelers.

Travel gift idea: portable travel steamer

Anyone else hate ironing? I love my at-home steamer, and would love to have a travel-sized portable steamer so adding this to my best Christmas gift ideas for travelers and wanderlusts.

A backpack that folds up into your pocket – for the hiker on your holiday gift list


I absolutely love my Arkadia backpack. It’s durable enough to carry on as a carryon on your next flight or carry books or even groceries. It’s also lightweight and folds up neatly and actually can fit into your pocket.

Staycation gift idea: picnic backpack

My son and his girlfriend love to go on picnics so I purchased this perfect staycation gift for them: a picnic backpack for 2. This special backpack features a cooler compartment, a detachable bottle/wine holder, fleece blanket, plates and cutlery. This perfect backpack gift is also available to serve four people.

Travel gift idea: reusable beach bag / book bag

You can never have enough beach bags or book bags – and they’re great for taking them shopping also. Especially love this beachy candy-striped bag by Kate Spade – and it’s affordable!

Travel inspiration gifts: push pin travel maps

Push Pin Travel Maps

I love, love, love maps. And would love one of these push pin world travel maps for Christmas, my birthday or just-because. They even have a special U.S. National Park bucket list map that’s pretty cool.

Beach vacation gift guide: fun and stylish reading sunglasses Logo

My favorite place to select fun and stylish reading sunglasses is I own several of their glasses – keeping them in my beach bag, purse, vehicle, etc. They’re currently offering 25% off. And they typically offer 15% off and free shipping for orders over $30.

See my related post on why it’s important to protect your eyes from UV rays.

For the shutterbug on your Christmas list: mobile phone / iPhone camera accessories

You can find my full blog post about my top 10 iPhone camera accessories (which are also compatible with all mobile phones) to help you take Instragram-worthy photos without any training. Here’s the list.

Gift an eco-friendly beach towel

Purple eco friendly beach towel at Lake Marion

Give a sustainable gift this year, like this microfiber towel (super absorbent and super cute) – Akumal 2.0 beach towel from Wildhorn Outfitters. I was gifted this ecofriendly towel and love it especially since it dries so quickly! And this eco-friendly beach towel is made of 75% recycled bottles! It also comes with a convenient drawstring bag that does double duty as a beach bag.

Beach traveler gift guide: cute beach towel clips make the best stocking stuffers

To help keep your towel securely fastened to your beach chair (and prevent it from interfering with your reading), I recommend fun and affordable beach towel clips – which also serve a dual function as chip clips. This travel gift idea makes perfect stocking stuffers. I also use them on my day hikes. Here are a few that I’ve given as beach travel gifts.

Download your favorite kmfiswriting images from my Etsy shop – and make great gifts

Fall foliage at St. Croix State Park Hibbing Minnesota
All kmfiswriting images you’ve seen on my blog or social platforms are available to purchase and download on my Etsy shop.

Shameless plug! I’ve been neglectful in marketing my photos – available to download and purchase from my Etsy shop. All images are only $2 and perfect to create your own framed prints, wallpaper/screensaver, ornaments, puzzles, etc. I’ll soon have 2021 calendars available featuring my favorite images from the past year. Will keep you posted!

I currently only have a few images featured on my Etsy shop so if you’re interested in any of my images, simply contact me directly and I’ll make arrangements to send to you as soon as possible.

kmfiswriting images also available on Shutterstock

Trees reflecting in a lake at sunset

I just started uploading images on Shutterstock this week – it’s where you can purchase and download images with or without a membership.

Check out my portfolio on Shutterstock! I’m submitting photos regularly so check back often! If you don’t see an image you need, contact me directly.

If you’re a photographer (amateur or professional) or a blogger with thousands of images on your camera, computer or phone, sign up to become a contributor with Shutterstock using my link! Two of my images were downloaded and purchased within hours of posting. It does not pay great to start (the more you sell, the higher your commission percentage). But it is a way to earn passive income – and your photos are not earning any money sitting on your computer, phone or camera.

Thank you and greatly appreciate your support!

Beach - Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii - Driftwood and Rainbow

National and State Park Passes make perfect holiday gifts for the entire family – all year long

Park bench overlooking fall colors and foliage from a bluff

My favorite kind of gift is all about the experience – like a membership to a museum or your state parks or national parks. Check your state parks and national parks on how you can purchase gift cards for those on your Christmas list.

The American the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass gives you access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States. Two of the best U.S. national parks are Death Valley National Park in California (one of our best day trips from Las Vegas) and the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis.

Death Valley Best National Parks
Death Valley National Park in California is one of the best national parks in America and one of the best day trips from Las Vegas.

Museum and theater memberships make great Christmas gifts that support your community and the arts

Christmas decorated banister
The historical Glensheen Mansion typically gives Christmas tours during this time. Consider gifting a membership to someone or to yourself in support of them.

Consider purchasing a membership or check out their online gift store – all would make meaningful gifts to those travelers or book lovers on your Christmas list.

I’m based in the Twin Cities and here is a list of some of my favorite places that could use support during this time – and would make lovely Christmas holiday gifts for that someone special on your list (maybe even gift it to yourself).

Dakota County Historical Society shopping and membership

Glensheen Mansion membership

Guthrie Theater Dickens’ Holiday Classic (tickets for virtual performance) and online store

Minnesota Historical Society membership

Minnesota Zoo: memberships, gift cards, Nature Illuminated drive-thru holiday event

Olmsted County History Center (Mayowood Mansion)

Ramsey County Historical Society

Note: While I have partnered with the zoo and most of the historical societies listed in this particular section, I am not a marketing affiliate and do not receive compensation for mentioning them in this post or from any purchases you may make. These mentions are based solely on my opinion of who I would genuinely recommend to my own family and friends as great gifts and feel could use support during this time.

Unique and fun Christmas and special occasion LovePop cards

LovePop is my favorite card for any occasion…you can even get a monthly subscription. Here are just a few of their Valentine’s Day and Christmas-specific cards. Click on the links below for a 3-D animation of the cards. They also offer cool cards for birthdays and other holidays and to use with all gifts.

Airplane lovepop for the frequent flyer

Paris lovepop for the romantic

Book gift ideas and recommendations

book reviews

And, of course, books! Check out a few of my favorite book recommendations.

Here are a few that are on my to-be-read (#tbr) stack (my want-to-read shelf currently has 331 titles so that would be an entire blog post series).

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell

With a 4.26 rating on Goodreads in one of my favorite genres, definitely want to give A Woman of No Importance a read.

Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O’Brien

A story that needed to be told about some amazing women – Fly Girls is a New York Times Bestseller. My son gave this to me last year for Christmas .

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs

A memoir on the life of Harriet Ann Jacobs and the horrors she suffered and survived as a slave: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The House of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

We toured Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace and The House of The Seven Gables in which this novel is based on when we visited Salem, Mass. earlier this year; so of course, I need to read this classic.

The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

Description begins: “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet meets The Nightingale…” I didn’t need to read any further as these are two of my top books ever. In fact, The Nightingale is my favorite historical fiction book. So I’m really hoping Santa brings me The Lost Vintage.

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I learned on my top walking tours in the Twin Cities last year (as a guest of the Minnesota Historical Society), that The Great Gatsby did not fare well when it was first published. In fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald died thinking it was a failure. I love The Great Gatsby; however, it’s his first novel that brought him critical acclaim, This Side of Paradise. So am looking to read it soon.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I’ve seen The Silent Patient on every bookstore “must-read” shelves for awhile now so am intrigued (even though it’s a subject matter I normally wouldn’t pick up).

1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz

I’ve read sections, but haven’t completed 1,000 Places to See Before You Die yet. So many places to explore in the world – a great travel book if you’re looking for some inspiration.

Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Yet another historical fiction book that was on my Christmas wish list for book lovers – Wunderland (which I did receive). Will read and review soon.

See my one-word book reviews and Related Posts section below for some of my top book recommendations that would make good book gifts or book club selections. Also, please follow me – @kmfiswriting – over on Instagram – just started a new profile that will focus only on the best books to read. Please note that the link to Instagram is not broken (even though it says it is)…I think Elf on the Shelf has something to do with it because I keep fixing the link and it keeps reverting back to look like a broken link.

stack of books sitting on the arm of an Adirondack chair with green trees in background
Best books about inspirational women

Pin it for later: The best Christmas and holiday gift guide for travelers, day hikers and bookworms

If you love these Christmas and holiday gift ideas, please share.

Red birdhouse with snow on roof

White Christmas tree with presents

Valentine's Day gift guide


Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller


  1. What a great list! I totally agree with you about the gift card! I’d rather get a gift card, especially a Southwest Airline one, rather than slippers! 😉

  2. Love my audible! My kindle screen doesn’t reflect any glare so it’s perfect for beach reading! Great gift ideas, it’s literally around the corner

    1. The iPhone accessories were such a great investment. They are perfect especially when I take my historic home tours – you’re able to capture the entire room and other tight spaces. And the telephoto is also great for some close-up shots.

    1. A real book will also hold a special place in my heart (and my hands); but sometimes it’s nice to read on a mobile device – and doesn’t take up as much space in your luggage or carry-on.

  3. What a fun list of gifts. We love audible. My kids have the exact book light you have listed – its great. And I agree with the Starbucks gift cards for those early mornings at the airports.

  4. Great gift ideas!! I love all of this. Kindle and audible are my favs, for sure!
    I’ll have to check out the iPhone accessories as well!

    1. Thank you! I love the Arkadia backpack…it’s not bulky and easily packable when not in use. And love that it’s waterproof and has two deep pockets on the side – great for water bottles and also where I store my portable charger and camera lenses for easy access.

    1. I just gifted Kindle Unlimited to myself. Even though I prefer a book in my hands, sometimes it’s more convenient to read online especially in bed or while traveling (my bags are heavy enough!).

  5. These are such great gift ideas! I know I LOVE my Audible membership and Kindle Unlimited so much! Keeps my room less cluttered. LOL And, packable shoes??? That’s genius!

  6. These are some great suggestions! Like you, I’m a bookworm and travel enthusiast! I think I’ll just forward your post onto my other half because I want everything! Thanks for creating such a comprehensive gift guide!

    1. That’s so awesome! My pleasure. I only share what I love and what I use or would add to my own Christmas and holiday shopping list.

    1. So good to hear you found some great gift ideas in my gift guides. If all I received were books at Christmas, I’d be totally fine with that!

  7. So many great suggestions here and I have to say I looooove audible. It has been so nice to not have to carry actual books around the word with me haha – as much as I do love a good, classic book in hand.

  8. These are some really great gift suggestions! I’m actually tempted to buy a reading pillow for myself now haha 😀

    1. Awesome…so glad to hear! Gift cards are great as you can still make them personal. I’m always appreciative of gift cards at Christmas and birthdays.