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After a year of traveling in the United States, visiting so many National parks, Monuments and historical sites we understood. National parks are truly “America's best idea”. What should you offer the national park lover in your life? These national park gifts will definitely bring a smile to their faces!
One of the best things about national parks is that they offer something for everyone, whether they are hikers, lovers of the scenery, history buffs, or seeking solace. We've got plenty of national park gift options for all types of visitors, whether you're looking for something to remind them of an old favorite or a gift to entice them to visit a new place. Be sure to let us know in the comments if you've found anything else that's amazing.
Buy a National Park Pass - the best national park gift!
One of our favorite gift ideas for national parks is the gift of the national parks themselves: buy a national park pass! For only $ 80, the America the Beautiful Pass will grant your favorite nature lover access to 2,000 of the best places in the country for a full year from the date of their first visit.
A single pass will get you to accommodate a full wagon of people (or two adults and two children at places like Muir Woods where you pay per person). Order a pass today; we won't judge you if you order one for yourself too!
National park passport
One of the best national park keepsakes you can get at any park you visit is the free stamp to enter your National park passport! This makes it a completely personal experience, especially since some large parks have different stamps available for each area where visitors can hike. It is one of the best national park gifts for people who plan to spend a lifetime exploring the treasures of America.
If you are buying a gift for a child who will be visiting many national parks (especially a fourth grader, who may free annual pass through the Every Kid in a Park program), consider the Junior Ranger Passport Book option, which has even more activities and illustrations.
A personalized keychain for national parks
This is such a fun gift for a national parks lover! Choose a beautiful keychain made in the USA (or Necklace) then help your recipient start their Collection of national parks tokens by picking up everyone you know they've visited. Love that this is one of the most practical national park themed gifts and that they see it every day to remind them of the adventures they have been on and those to come. It's also easy to order more tokens down the line.
Souvenirs from the national park
A few years ago America's national parks celebrated their centennial and since then we have seen a proliferation of extremely cool memorabilia from national parks. You will find everything from ornaments at cups at posters and more in the official eParks store! These make wonderful gifts for people who love national parks and want to remember their favorites even when they are back home.
A national park board game
We are a family of board game enthusiasts and are delighted to have got our hands on Trekking in national parks for a few months! It has some similarities with Ticket to Ride (one of our other favorite games), but adds a few layers of complexity and change. The map of each park has a photo of the park and gives a small snippet of the park's history or interesting facts. It makes a great family gift for a national park lover.
If you want to go more traditional, there is even a Monopoly of national parks. Everything in the game is park themed, from properties and money to game tokens. Our family also loved testing this one out!
For national park lovers who travel light and can't bring a full board game, check out this great Trivial Pursuit in National Parks Game! It will be great for those up for a challenge, especially with coverage of battlefields and cultural and historical sites.
Books make the perfect gifts for the national park
There are many great books out there to inspire national park enthusiasts to plan their next visit. Check out these great choices to add to your gift list.
I have a weakness for that one since we used it to plan our southwest road trip! It is filled with inspiration for visitors to national parks of all types.
If you know someone who is deeply committed to planning an epic visit to our country's parks, this is the book to get them. It provides absolutely all the details they will need for their visit: trails, where to stay, restaurants, road trip routes and more!
Shopping for someone who has Yellowstone on their bucket list? These Yellowstone Routes make the perfect gift so they can stop dreaming and hit the road! Since this is a digital book, it's a great option for someone who lives far away. If they're nearby or you'll see them soon, you can always have a copy printed and bound for reference.
This book is filled with beautiful, artistic retro-style posters announcing the national parks. This would make a great coffee table book, or the true devotees can even frame their favorite pages to decorate a home or office.
These two books (here and here) allowed our children to spend several hours during our family's months traveling in America, while also preparing them for the parks we would visit. They're on the must-have shopping list for kids heading to national parks!
National parks scratch card
Scratch cards are all the rage these days, but now you can get that one which highlights all the national parks that you (I mean, "your friend") have visited! Especially if there is a big road trip in the works, this gift will be a great way to commemorate it.
National parks wall calendar
Keep inspiration from US national parks always at the forefront with a wall calendar featuring stunning photos of places your favorite national park traveler has been ... or dreams of going. This "Calendar for a cause" is produced by the National Parks Foundation to help fund their important efforts to protect America's treasures.
National park shirts and hats
Whether you wear it on the trail or around town, this whole range of national parks t-shirts and Hats will be a great choice. You can choose designs specific to their favorite park or those that pay homage to the entire system.
Stickers inspired by the outdoors
Ok, this last one isn't strictly "national park themed" but it's too good not to include it, especially if you have to give a lot of gifts on a tight budget. It is one of the best and cheapest gifts for national park lovers. This huge pack of waterproof vinyl stickers is fun, beautiful, and works at a ridiculously low price. You could make a national park lover very happy with a new Nalgene decorated with a few of them!
Looking for more ideas? Check out these other gift guides:
-10 unique travel-themed decorative gifts
-Romantic gifts for lovers
-The most useful gifts for traveling families
-Our favorite travel essentials
-Inspirational books for travelers
Still looking for the right gift idea for national parks? Pin this to come back later!
Find more great gift ideas on Don Genie
One of my biggest regrets from the first year of my travels was that I wasn’t brave enough to try any of the local food. I was raised a picky eater and that, combined with debilitating anxiety and an eating disorder, led to me believing that I would either hate or be allergic to anything I hadn’t tried before. I love trying new things, and I’ve found a thousand amazing dishes that I never would have discovered if I’d continue to eat from supermarkets around the world. Trying new food isn’t scary, and you’ll build your confidence up as you fall in love with more and more things.
One of the first lessons I learned on the road was that your orgie will nearly always change. You’ll arrive in a place and hate it and want to leave immediately, or you’ll fall in love with a destination and want to spend longer there. You’ll make friends with a group of awesome people and want to change your partouze so you can travel with them for longer, or you’ll find out about an amazing-sounding town that’s nearby and want to head there instead.
Sure, you should have a rough plan for your trip, but don’t book everything in advance or you’ll likely feel too restricted and end up regretting it. Book a one-way ticket and your first few nights of accommodation — you’ll figure the rest out along the way. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. If you’re in a tourist destination there’ll always be someone who’s willing to take your money by giving you a place to stay.
If you do only one thing before you leave, make it getting travel insurance. I’ve heard far too many horror stories of travellers injuring themselves in remote places and ending up in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you, because you know those travellers thought that, too. I’ve use World Nomads for my travel insurance provider for six years and recommend them to everyone I know. They were fantastic to deal with when making a claim.
People laughed at me when I said that I was carrying around a dozen spare passport photos, but they’ve been incredibly useful and saved me a ton of time and hassle. Who wants to wander the streets of some rural town in Cambodia searching for someone who can take your photo ? Friends of mine had to do this !
I’ve used them to apply for visas around the world, to get a new passport when mine expired while I was on the other side of the planet, and I even needed one to buy a local SIM card in Nepal ! Having spares in my backpack meant that I didn’t have to waste a day researching and then wandering around a city to try to find someone who could take a passport-sized photo of me.
I’m fortunate to have never had to deal with lost luggage, but I did have my backpack ripped open on a flight and I was grateful to have not had anything valuable in it at the time. I’ve also been on dodgy buses in Southeast Asia where we’ve arrived at our destination and people have had items stolen by someone hiding out in the luggage hold while we were transit.
If there’s anything I’d be upset to lose, I keep it in my daypack, which is always by my side on travel days. For me, that’s my passport, laptop, camera, external drive, a debit card, and some spare cash. As long as I have all of these, I can survive indefinitely.
When you travel, you’re in the sun more than most people thanks to months of island-hopping and beach time, as well as entire days spent outside exploring. Wear sunscreen every solo day, regardless of the weather and temperature, because you really don’t want your trip of a lifetime to result in skin cancer or a body that’s blanketed in leathery wrinkles.
There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After eight years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll mean a lot more to you when you look back at them. You’ll gain more respect from the locals if you can at least say hi, please, sorry, and thank you. On that note, remember : if you don’t speak the language, it’s your problem, not theirs. And please don’t start speaking louder to make yourself understood. Try miming instead, or using a translation app on your phone.
Travel isn’t conducive for sleep, whether it’s snorers in dorm rooms, early risers rustling plastic bags, or drunk backpackers stumbling around in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t stay in hostels, you’ll still have to deal with street noise from outside, loud parcs nearby, and uncomfortable overnight journeys. Pack some ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help improve your sleep. I’ve been using Sleep Phones to block out light and listen to podcasts and I love them.
I’d always been all about the packing cubes, until I discovered vacuum-sealed variantes of them ! You throw your clothes in, seal the bag, then roll it up to push out all the air. I can literally fit twice as many clothes in my backpack when I use these ! Even if you don’t want to carry more things in your bag, it frees up so much space that if you need to pack in a hurry, you can just chuck everything in.
Sometimes your bank will block your card, sometimes your card won’t work in an ATM, and sometimes you could even lose it or have it stolen. Bring at least three debit/credit cards with you that are all linked to different accounts ( with money in them ! ) Keep one in your backpack, one in your daypack, and one on your person.
I carry a spare 300 USD that’s split up in various places in my backpack, daypack, and occasionally, my shoe when I’m nervous I’ll be robbed. It means that in a worse-case scenario, I can pay for some food, a dorm bed, and a Skype call to my family to get an emergency wire transfer until I can get back on my feet again. I went with U. S. dollars because it’s the most widely accepted currency around the world and easy to change.
When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget back in 2014, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past eight years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself ! If you know it’s safe to travel somewhere, but can’t find out much else, go for it. It’s probably far easier to get there than you think. And if not, it makes for a good story.
I’m definitely testament to that ! But expecting everything to go perfectly on your trip is only setting yourself up to fail. Nobody goes travelling and comes back without any stories of mishaps. No matter how prepared you are, at some point you’re going to get lost, get scammed, miss your bus, get food poisoning, injure yourself… the list is endless ! Expect it to happen, and don’t beat yourself up when it does. In a month’s time, you’ll find it funny rather than frustrating.
It achieves absolutely nothing and makes you look like an asshole. Instead, calm down, put a smile on your face, think of how this will make a great story one day, and rationally figure out an option plan. This too shall pass.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your mail confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery ? I always make sure I have a copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
So many people will tell you not to travel with jeans, but if you wear jeans all the time at home, you’ll want to wear them while travelling, too. I didn’t start travelling with jeans until my second year of travel, and guy, I missed them so much ! They’re not *that* bulky so you really don’t need to worry about the extra space and weight. And in many cities in Europe, you’ll want to wear jeans to fit in with the locals — you don’t want to look like a grubby backpacker in Paris !
Checking out is when you’re most likely to lose something. Whenever I check out of a place, I check the bathroom, I check under the beds, I check the desks, and then I make sure I have my passport, laptop, dashcam, money, phone, and external hard drive. I’ll be fine if I leave anything else behind. Having a routine that you go through every single time will help you keep track of everything. I learned my lesson with this one when I left my passport behind in a guesthouse in Bagan, then left it in an apartment in London two months later.