Our annual list of 10 Christmas gifts for travellers, be they bookworms, shutterbugs, adrenaline junkies or culture vultures
I welcomed 2020 with friends in Milan. It was going to be a big year for me and, in some ways, it was. Take It Back came out in paperback in March and its follow-up, Truth Be Told, was out in September. I launched Asian Booklist, a non-profit organisation that helps readers discover new books by British-Asian authors and I finished the first draft of my next novel – all while running Atlas & Boots.
Meanwhile, Peter climbed one of the seven summits in January. He managed to fit in treks in Germany and Croatia, and completed the ‘microchallenge’ of climbing all 41 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
On the flip side, we had trips to Gambia, Senegal and Antarctica cancelled, as well as my December trip to New York for the US release of Take It Back. Not to forget the small fact that we’ve barely seen friends and family.
It seems selfish to complain about our individual circumstances given the tragedy and heartache that 2020 has wrought, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the million small disappointments that we have all endured collectively. It’s okay to crave some normality and dwell on trivial woes.
With this in mind, we’re continuing our annual tradition of sharing our favourite Christmas gifts for travellers. We hope that, before long, we’ll all be allowed back on the road.
1. Vintage globe
The globe works 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.
2. Engraved pen & journal
I tend to add my notes and reminders directly into my phone, but Peter prefers a physical journal. He travels with a beautiful Amalfi Medium Refillable Leather Journal personalised with his initials and a Waterman Hemisphere Fountain Pen.
These classic gifts are perfect for the traveller who dreams of distant lands, long overland journeys and the romance of a time long past. (Let’s face it: we all know one of those.)
3. 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.
Atlas & Boots
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.
4. Quality hiking boots
Every outdoorsy traveller needs a pair of quality hiking boots. As our name might suggest, we at Atlas & Boots take this very seriously. Our personal collection ranges from lightweight approach shoes to multi-layered mountaineering boots.
The Innate LTD is a great pair of all-round hiking boots. Created by Keen in partnership with Sherpa, the boots are lightweight, breathable and comfortable, particularly in hot climates. What’s more, Keen donates €15 from every sale to support child literacy in Nepal, making the Innate one of our favourite Christmas gifts for travellers.
5. Hybrid dome tent
We used a tunnel tent for years, but recently upgraded to a Jack Wolfskin Exolight II, a hybrid dome tent which is excellent for multi-day trekking and backpacking.
The tent has two pole-crossing points, but the points are interconnected making them stronger. The inner tent and flysheet are connected like a tunnel tent and simply attach to the pole system making it lightning-fast and easy to pitch, even in bad weather.
6. 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. For his Aconcagua climb in January, he packed a Powergorilla charger and a Falcon 21 foldable solar charger from PowerTraveller.
Atlas & Boots
Peter used PowerTraveller kit on Aconcagua earlier this year
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.
7. Packing cubes
I started using packing cubes on my horse riding trip to Montenegro and it was a revelation. It changed the way I pack 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 Specter Tech Starter Set in S/M/M 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.
8. 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.
9. Aria snorkel mask
An Aria Full Face Mask by Ocean Reef is the perfect Christmas gift for adventurous travellers.
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 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 corrective lens, sport camera mount, selfie stick and Snorkie Talkie, an innovation that allows you to communicate while snorkelling!
10. Portable Wifi Hub
As travel writers, having wifi at our fingertips makes life so much easier given the number of hours we’ve wasted watching progress bars advance at an excruciating pace over slow connections.
KeepGo offer a number of different data options for their portable wifi hotspots and world SIM cards. We use the Keepgo International WiFi Hotspot to help us get online while travelling. The device generates a secure wifi connection using local 4G mobile networks in over 120 countries.
You can get 10% off any Keepgo product using this referral link.
Additionally, there’s a whole range of stocking fillers useful for active travellers.
- Don’t Offer Papaya: a guide to your first time around the world
- Foldable toothbrush
- Passport holder
- Head torch
Customise your gift
Customise any of the above Christmas gifts for travellers with die-cut stickers from StickerYou. The easy-to-use editor makes it possible to create custom-made stickers to suit any traveller. Upload your own artwork or choose from their art library to create sticky graphics. There are also options to create travel-themed stickers for luggage, fridge magnets or turn your travel photos into stickers.