Well, that’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday done and dusted for another year. Did you purchase anything or avoid it like the plague? I bought two gifts, showing a level of restraint that’s very unlike me. But I’m excited that today marks the beginning of Advent…
I find it’s around this time that I start reflecting on the weeks and months ahead, rather than just the months and weeks gone. For one thing, I realised that at the end of December I will be writing my 50th blog post. That’s not bad going, considering 25 of them will have been written this year alone. I hope you’ve enjoyed the stories, wanderings and wonderings.
And if you read last week’s post in particular, you’ll have discovered that I’m a big fan of Stanfords, the map and travel book shop that’s been in and around London’s Covent Garden since 1853. They recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to save themselves from closure.
They’re welcoming donations until 23rd December, but I thought I would do my bit to help them in other ways too. This week I’ve curated a Christmassy gift guide for travel lovers – and I’ve also launched a competition for a chance to win a stocking load of great travel prizes!
Festivities this year are going to be very different for a lot of us, even with the Christmas
baubles bubbles we’re allowed to form from 23-27th December in the UK. We’re not going to be able to see all of our friends and family as normal, whether drunkenly in fairy light-laden bars or round a dinner table, board game or TV.
So I hope you’ll forgive the departure from my normal style of travel post. Whether you celebrate Christmas or just can’t wait to get travelling again in 2021, scroll on for a travel trove of top gift ideas, from stocking fillers and family fun to brilliant books and luxury presents.
And if you’d like to get straight to the business of entering to win some super Stanfords travel gifts (funded by me), head over to my Instagram page @kateonhertravels.
Red globe bauble / Perfect for any discerning, wordly tree. £7.99
World luggage tag / Show your luggage you mean business when you are next allowed out of the country. £8.99
A handy tie on bag light / For those moments when you can’t for the life of you find anything in your damn bag. £3.99
Around the world cloth travel bags set / Keep an eye on the world and your stuff tidy all in one go. £18.99
Mount Everest A5 notebook / 192 pages in which to start planning your next trip. Based on the National Geographic Society’s map of Everest. £9.99
World map book bag / I consider myself enough of an expert in these matters to declare that this bag passes the tote test. A simple but delightful design printed on durable, 10oz cotton. Comes in teal, black or red. £12
Magnificent Maps Puzzle Books / Featuring maps from the British Library’s collections. Scrutinise each map and answer a series of puzzling questions. £14.99
Mountains and rivers mug / Boff up on the world’s tallest mountains and longest rivers over a Darjeeling. £12.99
Globe in a box / Beats a jack. Based on a 1745 French globe design by Vaugondy (the globe-makers to King Louis XV) with as much detail as a bigger globe. £14.99
Around The World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh / This is the follow up to her 2016 book Around India in 80 Trains in which she visited 80 Indian cities by train over 4 months – the whole trip costing only £1,500! This time, the entire train adventure involved plotted a route covering 45,000 miles, twice the circumference of the Earth. I highly recommend listening to a fantastic interview with Monisha on new travel podcast The First Mile. £9.99
Step by Step by Simon Reeve / An honest, engrossing book from one of the most charismatic presenters on the BBC. Simon Reeve recounts the depression and misguidedness he felt as a teenager and the luck and hard graft that led him to the successful career he has today. It’s been out for a little while now, but it remains a very charismatic read. Well-worth your time. £9.99
A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough / Whether you’ve seen the accompanying Netflix film yet or not, this book is a must-read. David Attenborough draws on key moments from a life charting the natural world, pulling from his own experiences and from scientific data a vision for the future and the survival of our planet. £20
Red Sands by Caroline Eden / An exploration of Central Asia, with food as the starting point. Featuring human stories, forgotten histories and tales of adventure. And recipes! I’m very excited to read this and hope to find it under the tree (hint hint). £26
Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux / This is one of the travel books I’ll be starting over Christmas, It’s been on my list for some time! Paul Theroux charts an ambitious adventure by train, boat and cattle truck from Egypt to South Africa, along the way he revisits old friends and recounts memories from his time as a teacher in Malawi 40 years before. £10.99
The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts / This is the other travel book I’ll be starting at Christmas. At a Royal Geographical Society event Sophy Roberts confessed that she would have loved to have been a full-on war reporter, and she often reports from remote parts of the world. In this award-winning book she uses musical culture as a way to tell the story of Siberia and the Russian Far East. £18.99
When the Last Lion Roars by Sara Evans / A truly fascinating book considering the terrible plight of Africa’s lions. Sara Evans first saw wild lions in the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West South Africa, an experience that led her on a path to investigating the historic rise and fall of the king of the beasts. £16.99
Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy / In 1940s Ireland as a child, Dervla Murphy dreamed of taking her bicycle around the world. 21 years later she did just that, cycling from Ireland to India in 1963. A startlingly bold adventure, even by today’s standards. £12.99
Encounters by Levison Wood / Explorer, presenter and photographer Levison Wood left the army a decade ago with no formal training as a writer or a photographer, but with the ambition to publish three books in five years and win awards for his photography. This is book number eight, featuring 15 years of photography from across his expeditions. £30 (signed copies while stocks last).
The world’s most remarkable diaries / Bringing together more than 80 historical and literary diaries, artists’ sketchbooks, explorers’ journals, and scientists’ notebooks. A fascinating collection, whether you keep your own diary religiously, or have never kept one. £20
Navigator’s Terrestial Globe / An exact replica of the 16th Century Mercator globe, a projection made in 1569 by Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Marcator that became the standard for navigation. £160
Eastern and Western Hemispheres map / A beautiful reproduction of an 1877 map from the Edward Stanford Cartographic Collection Archive.
Looks neat too. £49.99-£69.99
Route map of the Earth luxury tote bag / Features Stanfords’ beautiful route map of the world, printed in full onto premium weight cotton before the bag is sewn. £45
Your very own air balloon / I love the design and attention to detail of this 13cm-tall air balloon. It’s the desk buddy you didn’t know you needed. £17.99
Create your own giant map of the world / have a lot of fun creating a big wall map of the world, with activities along the way. £10.99
Doodle World map tablecloth / probably the only time it’s acceptable to draw on a dining table cloth. £22.99
Mapominoes: Europe / the Mapominoes series is a firm favourite in our house. As the name suggests, it’s a bit like dominoes except you’ve got to match up countries. Top tip: play on the biggest table you have, or on the floor! £12.99
Great British Map of Wonders / A ginormous map filled with 1,000 of the funnest things to do across Great Britain. Features games, a colouring map on the back and space to make notes. £14.99
Haiku art and poetry wall calendar / Each month displays an elegant seasonal woodcut painting and an accompanying 17 syllable haiku presented in Japanese calligraphy with English translation. £10.99
2021 British Library antique maps wall calendar / Features a dozen gorgeous antique world map and country map reproductions – all from the British Library’s cartographic collection. £10.99
Ski The World wall calendar / Because, let’s face it, this might be the closest we get to the slopes this winter season. 12 boldly-coloured vintage ski posters, best viewed through ski goggles. £10.99
Moleskine 2021 daily pocket diary / I love using Moleskine notebooks and diaries, for noting appointments and writing my own diary each day. Yes, most of 2020 has been spent on the sofa, but perhaps it’s time to make bold plans! £17.99
Vintage Maps 2021 Weekly Planner / Printed on Italian paper and featuring a weeks-at-a-glance layout. Includes transport maps for London, Paris, New York and sections for addresses and notes. £10.99