As a local Vancouverite and experienced traveler, I welcome tourists to British Columbia and Canada! But not every traveler arrives in BC prepared for the rainy season, mountain hikes, or coastal activities. What do you need to take when you travel to Vancouver? If you’re looking for travel gifts, what do you give someone going to BC or Canada? These practical ideas and tips will help both solo and group tourists enjoy the beautiful province of British Columbia and the city of Vancouver.
I gathered a variety of gifts and tips to cover all seasons (rainy winters and hot summers), most types of travelers (fashionistas, foodies, adventurers), and travel goals (experiencing natural beauty or enjoying the urban scene). Whether this your traveler’s first or fiftieth trip to Vancouver, these gifts will make the trip memorable and comfortable. If your traveler wants to explore beyond the city of Vancouver, send her this blog post: What Is the Best Thing to Do in Deep Cove? Ask a Local. The village of Deep Cove in North Vancouver is well worth the journey across the Lion’s Gate or Second Narrows Bridge (but leave your car at the hotel! A vehicle is not something you need to bring with you to Vancouver).
Here’s a tip for chocolate-loving tourists, from a French chef and restauranteur: “I never go to Vancouver without stopping by Thomas Haas Chocolate shop for the best chocolate in North America. A former chef patissier (pastry chef) at Daniel, he returned to his hometown and created a top quality brand by sticking to his passion.” – Daniel Boulud.
A list of or links to famous specialty shops such as Thomas Haas Chocolate or unique experiences such as The Dark Table Restaurant in Vancouver is a great gift for travelers. When I was planning my trip to Nashville a few years ago, my husband sent me links to sights I never would’ve found on my own. A different perspective on Vancouver may be exactly what your traveler needs. Plus, if she visits your destination or does the activity you choose, she can give you a full report during the visit or when she gets home.
Travel Gifts, Ideas and Tips for a Vacation in Vancouver
My favorite gift idea is a journal or travel notebook. If your traveler likes writing or drawing, give her a journal for random thoughts and sketches. I received a travel diary as a gift before I moved to Vancouver; not only did I write in it every day, I thought warmly of Shelly (my friend, the gift giver) every time I saw it.
A travel journal is thoughtful and practical, even for tourists who record their adventures in blogs or social media. Some mementos can’t be stored in a iPhone or iPad. I’ve tucked hotel pamphlets, museum stubs, concert tickets, restaurant tabs, and fellow travelers’ calling cards and random messages in my travel journal. The beauty of this gift is that it’s both practical and creative. People who travel a lot often keep some sort of record of their journeys and adventures. If your traveler is a writer, artist or content creator, read 10 Best Travel Journals for Solo or Group Treks.
1. Binoculars for whale watching tours on the coast of BC
A pair of Folding High Powered Compact Binoculars increases the enjoyment of spotting orca whales breach and leap in the coastal waters of British Columbia. A trip to Vancouver isn’t complete without a whale watching tour. And a whale expedition or adventure isn’t complete without the ability to see those magnificent beasts. You need to take binoculars to Vancouver because they’re also handy for bird watching and other hard-to-see creature features.
If your traveler enjoys boating and watercraft, give a gift certificate to a British Columbia-based whale watching company. Whale Watching Adventures and BC Whale Tours are popular companies that take tourists on sightseeing boats in Vancouver, Victoria and along the Sunshine Coast.
Travel binoculars aren’t just for whale watching; they allow visitors to get close-up views from the deck of BC Ferries or while kayaking around smaller islands, such Bowen or Mayne. Binoculars aren’t just handy for water tours and adventures. They’re also great for wildlife viewing on road trips in British Columbia and smaller local hikes such as the top Quarry Rock in Deep Cove on the North Shore.
2. Experiences unique to Vancouver and BC (“experiential” gifts)
If your traveler is a foodie – or even a food or travel blogger – look up experiences such as a Dirty Apron Cooking Class or a Craft Brewery Tour. A four-hour hands-on class from a gourmet chef is fun and interesting for tourists who love to cook! A tour of one of Vancouver’s dozens of craft breweries is a thrilling way to experience local brewing at its best. Consider getting a gift certificate that allows your traveler to drop in for a tour or take a class when it’s convenient for her.
The best thing about experiential gifts like cooking classes and craft brewery tours is that they’re interactive. Your traveler will meet local Vancouverites who enjoy the same activities, and get a peek into the real Vancouver (as opposed to the typical tourist activities and sights). Experiential travel gifts are a great way for solo travelers to meet people with similar interests.
A practical, healthy travel gift is a Yoga and Massage Package. When I was in Pokhara, Nepal I got a massage at a Seeing Eyes Clinic. Blind massage practitioners give travel-weary tourists soothing massages and wellness information. I don’t know if Vancouver has a blind massage therapy clinic, but we definitely have luxury spa and wellness packages. This is an especially good gift for travelers who want to overcome jet lag after a long overseas or international journey. If your traveler is staying at a hotel that offers spa and wellness services, give the gift of a prepaid massage, manicure or pedicure.
3. Solar charger for hiking in the North Shore mountains
The Portable Solar Charger and Power Bank isn’t just a great gift for travelers who love hiking and going on adventure tours. It’s what everyone needs in daily life – not just when you’re packing for a trip to Vancouver.
You’ve been caught with a dead phone battery, right? It sucks, doesn’t it? It’s especially aggravating on vacation. The city of Vancouver has many spots for charging and WiFi, but the more remote areas such as Stawamus Chief or even the Grouse Grind can be problematic or even disastrous for travelers who don’t have portable backup.
The last thing you want is for your traveler to get lost in BC wilderness. There are bears, cougars and wolves in them thar hills. One of the best travel gifts is a solar charger and extra batteries for long hikes. A solar charger can come in handy even on short hikes and walks around the seawall in Stanley Park. This isn’t just a gift that encourages safety, it’s also for convenient and stress free traveling.
4. Air miles, float planes and helicopter tours in British Columbia
Can you share air miles with your traveling friends and family members? Find out what your plan allows. You might even consider gifting a prepaid travel credit card so your traveler can take a side trip or two in BC. This is especially exciting for tourists who want to take a float plane from Vancouver to Victoria or somewhere else in British Columbia. Helicopter tours of the BC Rockies offer spectacular views – but they are pricey. Help your traveler explore the less-traveled parts of this supernatural Canadian province by gifting your air miles or a credit card.
A Lonely Planet Vancouver & Victoria (City Guide) – Kindle or print – will help your traveler discover the most beautiful destinations British Columbia. He can shop for vintage shoes in quirky Gassy Jack’s Gastown, ski the snowy slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb, and sail ocean waves of Kits or Jericho Beach. What about travelers who want to sample homegrown Indian Pale Ale in a hidden microbrewery? A travel guidebook is a necessity, even for group and adventure tours.
Even though they’re heavier and bulkier than digital, I take my guidebooks in print. I have so many apps, maps, podcasts, and photos on my phone when I travel. The last thing I want to do when I plan my next stop on a trip is stare at my iPhone or iPad. I don’t know if you need to take a guidebook when you go to Vancouver, but a print book of city and country guidebooks is easier to read and bookmark than a iPhone.
5. Travel first aid kit for adventure tourism – and even short hikes
An All-Purpose First Aid Kit is a necessity for travelers who plan on skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, kayaking or even SUPing (stand up paddling). I live on the North Shore, across the Lion’s Gate or Second Narrows Bridge from Vancouver. Hikers – both locals and tourists, extreme and easy – get lost all the time in our mountains. Summer, winter, fall and spring! A traveler’s first aid kit is almost as important as a solar charger, whether you’re a casual hiker, extreme mountain biker or a skilled snow boarder.
If you’re wondering what to buy someone going to Vancouver, think of his activities and interests. If your traveler is a fashion-savvy shopper, he’ll need different types of health-related travel gifts than a sporty hiker or an adventure tourist. An adventure traveler who hikes, climbs, sails, and SUPs will find a traveler’s first aid kit extremely handy. Hopefully she won’t need it – but if she does, she’ll be so grateful it’s there! So will her fellow adventure travelers who are fearlessly climbing mountains and swimming in the Pacific Ocean through currents I can barely watch from afar.
Here’s a health-related travel gift for all types of tourists: learn how to overcome jet lag quickly and easily! Read Tired of Insomnia? 10 Natural Ways to Overcome Jet Lag for gift ideas to help your traveler sleep well and stay healthy.
6. Road trip gifts for driving from Vancouver to Jasper, Alberta
The drive through the Rockies – from Vancouver to Jasper – is one of the most beautiful road trips in British Columbia. My husband and I drive it twice a year, at Christmas and in the summertime. Usually it takes us about 13 hours in the winter, and perhaps 11 in the summer. It depends on traffic and road conditions, as well as how often we stop to walk the dogs and stretch our legs. My favorite way to drive from Vancouver to Edmonton is to stop in Clearwater, BC; it’s about halfway between the two cities and allows us to take our time and enjoy the road trip. Edmonton in Alberta, about four hours northeast from Jasper. Not a big tourist destination – but Jasper is.
A Superlite Yoga Travel Mat is a good travel gift even if your traveler isn’t a yogi. Yoga is a great way to stretch after a long drive or flight. Plus, everyone does yoga in Vancouver! If you’re going to one of the most yoga-friendly cities in the world, you must pack your own mat. Bringing your own mat is much more comfortable and hygienic than using the hotel or yoga studio’s mat. It’s also super handy for lounging in a park, by the beach or next to a swimming pool.
What do you need to take when you go on a road trip? Those might be good travel gift ideas. I always take hand sanitizer, travel mugs, and audiobooks on my road trips.
7. A bon voyage gift from your home and heart
A “bon voyage” gift from home is a heartwarming, comforting way to be with your traveler in spirit and heart. Give a pendant, bracelet or even a thin ring as a token of your love and thoughts. Your bon voyage gift doesn’t have to be expensive or ornate (in fact, this gift should not be expensive or ornate!). For example, I bought a Tree of Life pendant for $2.50 in Venice Beach, California several years ago. I wear that Tree of Life every time I travel – whether I’m flying internationally to Hong Kong or driving across the Rockies from Vancouver to Edmonton.
A bon voyage gift will remind your traveler that she is in your heart, and you’re in hers. It’s a sentimental travel gift that isn’t too mushy or sad, and will express how much you love and miss your traveler when she’s off exploring the world. It’s not a necessity or must have when you travel to Vancouver, but it is a sweet gift.
15 Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Missionaries Traveling Overseas has more travel gift ideas for Christians traveling to British Columbia. Vancouver is a “new age” type city with comparatively lower church attendance unless you go to Abbotsford or the Chilliwack area. The Valley is more religious than the typical “spiritual but not religious” mindset of urbanites Vancouverites.
8. A leak proof rain poncho or jacket – light and easily packed
The Rite in the Rain Top-Spiral Notebook and Weatherproof Pen will ensure your traveler has the proper pen, paper and tools for making notes no matter what the weather is like. This is an especially excellent gift for people who travel and work outdoors, but is handy for writers like me. My husband gave me a weatherproof and waterproof travel notebook and pen before I went somewhere in rainy season. I can’t remember where, the notebook came in handy!
Even if it’s rainy, Vancouver herself is a gift. “Vancouver is one of my favorite places on earth. It’s gray and rainy there a lot of the time, but for some reason, even though it’s gray and rainy, I feel like it’s a sunny day.” – Billy Campbell.
9. The gift of local Vancouver food
Vancouver has a huge variety of different types of cuisines: sushi, food trucks, pizza, seafood, bannock and salmon – a great combination of culture. Gift cards or certificates are fantastic gifts for travelers because you as the giver can “be there” for the meal! For example, my husband loves eating at Ruth’s Chris Steak House and The Keg. A thoughtful, practical travel gift is a to “take him out to dinner” at one of those high end restaurants. This allows him to indulge in a delicious meal without affecting his travel budget, and keeps us close in heart and spirit.
Consider giving your traveler a gift card to a popular Vancouver restaurant. I’m not listing them here because there are so many local eateries and brewpubs that serve delicious food. Try searching for “unique dining experiences in Vancouver” and see what you find! When you give the travel gift card, include a map with a big X to mark the restaurant’s location.
Tim Horton’s is a world-famous Canadian coffee chain, named after a hockey player. Tim’s didn’t originally start in Vancouver or British Columbia, but it is Canadian. A Tim’s Gift Card would be appreciated at the Vancouver airport (YVR), during the day wandering around the city of Vancouver or Victoria or even the more rural areas, and again at the airport before the flight home. If your traveler is going to other parts of Canada, she’ll enjoy the ease of having a prepaid Tim Horton’s Gift Card.
10. A waterproof iphone case for water activities and rainy Vancouver days
A Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch is an essential travel item to pack when you go to Vancouver – and not just for kayakers, snorkelers, scuba divers, swimmers or other tourists doing water sports. When my friend went for a rainy walk on the North Shore (across the Georgia Strait from the City of Vancouver), she didn’t realize that her jacket pocket leaked. Her iPhone got soaked with rain water and needed to be replaced.
A waterproof case is a good idea for so many activities and destinations in Vancouver, whether or not it’s rainy season. Even if your traveler isn’t planning on walking or hiking in the rain, she will be more relaxed knowing that her iPhone is protected.
Here’s the absolute best thing to take with you when you go to Vancouver (or anywhere): your healthiest, best self. Read 10 Foods to Boost Your Immune System Before You Travel.
What do you need to take with you when you travel? Your thoughts, big and little, are welcome below.
You’ll never get lost if you travel in faith. :-)