Our tried-and-tested list of Christmas gifts for travellers be they hikers, shutterbugs, adrenaline junkies or culture vultures
This year has been a life-changing one for us. Three-and-a-half years after we moved to the country, we took the decision to move back to London. We missed our friends and family too much and, after two years under the pandemic, knew it was important to be close to them. And, so, in February, we sold our house and moved 240 miles across the country.
We are now settled in our new home in East London and happier than we’ve ever been, despite the change in our finances (hi, London prices). Things feel settled, but, of course, being inveterate travellers, we are never settled for long.
This year, we went to Antarctica, Argentina, the Maldives, seven countries in Europe as well as Svalbard while Peter also managed to fit in Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Armenia and Switzerland. We’re heading to Ras Al-Khaimah next week followed by a month in Central America to close out the year.
We hope that, like us, you find some reasons to be cheerful this Christmas. To help you celebrate the end of this year, as always, here’s our tried-and-tested list of the best Christmas gifts for travellers.
Christmas gifts for travellers
1. Aspinal of London passport cover
An elegant friend once told me that you can get away with buying cheap clothes if you team them with quality accessories: shoes, bag, belt, wallet. With that in mind, this Aspinal of London passport cover is a worthy investment.
Hand-crafted from full-grain leather and lined in contrasting suede, it’s durable enough to accompany travellers on years of adventures. A slip pocket stores boarding passes and other paraphernalia while the personalisation service adds a thoughtful touch. There is a range of colours and materials, but you can’t go wrong with this classic red and blue.
2. Vintage globe
Peter bought a Franklin Globe for his father a few years ago and we bought one for ourselves as soon as we moved into our new home.
The globe serves as a decorative accessory and as a reference point, but it’s also a great conversation starter. Guests will often comment on a surprising realisation, whether it’s the fact that the Pacific takes up nearly half the globe, or that there’s only one country between Finland and North Korea. Clearly, if you’re not travelling, the next best thing is dreaming about it.
3. Packing cubes
I started using packing cubes on my horse riding trip to Montenegro and it was a revelation. It changed the way I packed and made life on the road so much easier. I no longer find myself pulling out a pair of black leggings when I’m really after my black cardigan, or rooting around for a fresh pair of underwear.
I use Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Essentials Set to organise tops, bottoms and smalls. Take my word for it: add these to your Christmas shopping list and you’ll change someone’s life.
4. Aria snorkel mask
I enjoy snorkelling but have to constantly fiddle with a foggy mask. When swimming with whale sharks in Djibouti, I had to keep surfacing to clear water from my mask which meant I missed precious moments with these majestic creatures. The Aria Full Face Mask by Ocean Reef is a game-changer.
With patented air circulation technology, it guarantees no fogging. It has a 180° panoramic view, allows users to breathe through their nose and prevents water from getting in. Accessories include a corrective lens, sports camera mount, selfie stick and Snorkie Talkie, an innovation that allows you to communicate while snorkelling!
5. Osprey Luggage
When it comes to luggage, Peter has it all: day packs, backpacks, camera bags, duffel bags, carry-on, wheeled luggage and even a range of hybrids. After years of testing various kit bags, he now swears by Osprey.
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His go-to backpack is an Osprey Exos 38 backpack which weighs in at just a touch over one kilogram. It’s super light, spacious and durable, and suits most camping and trekking trips including shorter wild camping and winter mountaineering trips. Another great option is the Levity 45 which is just 800g even though it holds more.
For longer expeditions, he uses an 85-litre expedition backpack and when it comes to suitcases he has a Farpoint Wheels 36 for carry-on and a Rolling Transporter Wheeled Duffel 60 for checked luggage.
6. F-stop Mountain Series camera backpack
Peter adores the compartmentalised F-stop backpacks as they are spacious, durable, safe and secure, while the entire system is geared towards the adventure photographer.
Their latest backpacks feature a comfortable aluminium frame, full-length side zipper pockets, a modular interchangeable system and a waterproof cover. There is also lots of convenient storage such as mesh side pockets, top lid and back panel.
7. Lightweight packable jacket
Thanks to our trip to Antarctica, I’m all set for winter hiking. Summer hiking, however, is a different beast, especially in the UK where rain showers are never far. With this in mind, I decided to add a lightweight jacket to my outdoor wardrobe.
I opted for Haglöfs’ L.I.M GTX Jacket Women in Maui Blue. It’s super lightweight and packable, meaning that I don’t have to head out hiking without a backup jacket.
The shell is made from GORE-TEX Paclite® plus 2.5 layer fabric for durable weather protection and breathability. The jacket has zippered hand pockets, a snug fitting hood to keep off summer rain and reflective details for safety. Peter packs an equivalent jacket: the L.I.M GTX Jacket Men in Habanero.
As a light packer, I often forgo binoculars, but there have been so many occasions on which I’ve desperately wished for a pair: spotting leopards in Sri Lanka, lions in South Africa and, most recently, polar bears in Svalbard.
Peter usually uses his SLR camera to magnify elusive wildlife while I am left squinting into the distance. This year, I decided to get a pair of Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42mm Roof Binoculars, a versatile, all-around option that offers a close-up view of the action without sacrificing brightness or detail.
It’s especially good for safari as the Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass delivers visibly sharper images, especially apparent in low light conditions, such as at dawn or dusk.
9. Smartwool comfies
Warm clothing is essential to us. From base layers to down jackets, it’s worth investing in the right gear for the right environment. Merino wool offers superb breathability and moisture-wicking, which means it’s ideal for base layers.
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Merino wool is ideal for base layers
Smartwool is one of Peter’s favourite brands. He uses a variety of their products from base layers and t-shirts to underwear and, of course, socks! From the slopes of Aconcagua to the trails of the Yorkshire Dales, they have never failed to keep him warm.
10. Power bank & solar charger
Peter carries a fair amount of electronics on his various treks and climbs including two cameras and a smartphone. All of these need juice, so a reliable power bank and solar charger make life a lot easier.
Atlas & Boots
Peter used PowerTraveller kit on Aconcagua
Both pieces of kit are designed to withstand the stresses of outdoor use and function even in extremely cold temperatures. The Powergorilla can charge devices up to 88W/24V(such as a laptop) while the solar charger can charge 5V and 20V devices such as laptops and netbooks under 40W, tablets, smartphones, GoPros and GPS devices.
11. World travel adaptor kit
Smartphones, cameras, Kindles, laptops, electric razors, epilators and myriad other gadgets all require charging on the road, be it via mains or USB.
The Ceptics World Travel Adapter Kit is the perfect solution for those who seem to pack boundless numbers of cables and adaptors when heading out on the road.
The adapter kit works in over 200 countries and territories and can charge up to five devices using only one outlet. It is surge-protected and features two US plugs, two USB ports, a fixed USB cable and six country-specific connectors.
Use Ceptics’ international adapter finder to find the adapter that would suit you best.
12. Sustainable washbag and toiletries
The reise 2.0 washbag is the perfect Christmas gift for the eco-conscious traveller. Made from 100% recycled material including reclaimed ocean plastic, it is available in four colours: striking Lime and Hot Pink and more neutral Grey and Blue.
The bag is extra durable and designed to stand the test of time. It’s water resistant and has a hanging hook which – we’ve learnt from experience – is absolutely essential. Try taking a shower in a makeshift shack in the darkest outback with a bag that doesn’t have a hook!
Pre-fill the bag with sustainable toiletries to complete the gift. The set comes with grüum’s award-winning shampoo bar and best-selling body bar, perfect for the road.