I

personally feel that coming up with good gift ideas for world travelers is easy. My family, on the other hand, would probably want to throat punch me for saying that.

They envision gifts as things with weight, mass, preferably square (easier to wrap), that can occupy space beneath a decorated tree. These objects come from Amazon, and on rare occasion, via frantic, last-minute trips to the mall where cortisol flows aplenty.

Sometimes gifts are gadgets marketed less to actual travelers and more to the loved ones of travelers desperate to find a gift for their wayward hippie offspring.

Travelers, on the other hand, are actively trying to avoid societal atrocities such as neckties and appliances that make coffee from plastic cups.

My family sees a civilized sweater, meanwhile, I see a woolly object that somehow involved the deaths of at least two orangutans while being made by Chinese children under duress.

Things with weight and mass take up precious real estate in a rucksack or storage totes — often the only two choices for vagabonding travelers. Us self-proclaimed anti-consumerists would prefer experiences, memories, or seeing the world creep ever so slightly toward becoming a better place.

But good karma and Kiva loan credit are hard to wrap — so here are two affordable, sustainable “good cause” gift ideas for travelers you know. I own and will vouch for both…even though they do have mass.

  • Both gifts for travelers come in the mail.
  • Both gifts provide something to wrap.
  • Both gifts help make the world a better place.
  • Neither gift requires the flogging of orangutans.

That’s a victory for all parties involved.

And I like to think it somehow pisses off a rich CEO.

Help Grandmas (and their Village) in Northeast Thailand

Radical Grandma Thailand logo
The hand-woven scarves made by the Thai grandmothers of the Radical Grandma Collective are no joke. They’re heavy! You can almost feel the gnarled-hand arthritis and hear the gossip being woven into each one as looms clack.

Even if you or your intended recipient aren’t into scarves — I’m not — these make incredible throws, runners, or simply just decoration. I proudly display mine when I have a place to do so.

The cause is legit. I know some of the people who began this initiative. This is money well spent to help a village in Isaan, Thailand, fight the powers that be. This video tells the amazing story of these strong women. Heroes.

Shop for Grandma Scarves

Travel Gift Idea #2

The second gift choice is one that I’ve enjoyed for years now. The annual calendar put out by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison, Wisconsin. It’s been a “thing” since 1988.

Although paper calendars are archaic throwbacks now days, just one notch above crudely scratching a legend into a cave wall, these are beautiful works of art loaded with cultural factoids that will make any world traveler salivate.

And, as expected, the cause is good.

The photos for each featured country are impressive, but my favorite detail is how each day is marked with obscure holidays for cultures and religions from all over the world. Hindus observe 39 religious holidays per year compared to the 12 official ones observed by Christians. Knowing what’s going on in other parts of the world tantalizes any traveler at home planning the next trip.

The money raised from these calendars goes to a host of good causes.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer CalendarThese are my best two “good cause” gift ideas for world travelers. They’re easy on both giver and recipient.

And if you want to send a gift my way, consider using my Amazon affiliate link when making your other holiday purchases. I get a tiny commission — maybe enough to buy my RPCV calendar this year!