The Vagabond Gift Guide for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Baby, it’s cold outside. And even the hardiest outdoorsmen and women are thinking about spending afternoons in front of a roaring fire, for the next few weeks at least. So how about some ideas for Christmas gifts that will be sure to be used as soon as they head back out to the hills?

Lights2Gloves, especially thin but warm ones like these Smartwool Liner Gloves. I’m a big fan of liner gloves worn under ski mitts, so that you can slip off the big bulky mitts to fiddle with your kit, use your camera, fix your hair etc, and still keep your hands protected. The gloves are good on their own for everyday use, and these are compatible with touch screens too. A Merino Wool Buff would be great too.

Headtorch, like this rechargeable one from LED Lenser. The light is super bright and can be either a flood light or a spot light for your night-time activities. It also has a dimmer setting, so you can read or work on close things without dazzling yourself. It charges from a USB as well as the mains, so you can top it up in the office before you head out for the weekend.

Steripen Adventurer. A technical bit of kit for real back-country campers, this purifier kills bugs in water with UV light, so you’re not left with a nasty taste in your mouth. The Adventurer is the lightweight version, perfect for backpackers.

Dry stuff-sacks. I don’t think that you can ever have enough of these, especially in a range of sizes. Packing your kit is much easier, it all stays dry whatever conditions you face, and rather than being colour-coordinated, a variety of different colours helps you find the things you need quickly and easily.

Spork. It’s the love-child of a spoon and a fork. Perfect for eating from your rehydrated food pouches. And this one is made from titanium. Oooooh, fancy.

GoPro. OK, it’s a bit of a splurge present for someone you really like , especially if you opt for the brand spanking new HERO4 Black Edition (If Santa is reading this, I’ve been very good this year). However, the entry level HERO model is available for less than a third of the price, with many of the features of the more expensive models, including the option to shoot slow-motion sequences, although the quality of still images is reflected by the price.

A custom-made map from the Ordnance Survey. You can choose the centre point of the map, the format and scale, and design a personalised cover to make a map for a favourite walk or a memorable adventure.

I hope you got some ideas for the fans of the outdoors in your life. Why not check out my gift ideas for travel-lovers too? If you like my suggestions, please share this list on Facebook or Twitter, perhaps drop a hint for yourself?

Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you follow them through to buy a product I recommend, I receive a small payment (enough for a coffee, not for a yacht) from the company, at no charge to you whatsoever.  It helps keep my blog up and running.


The Vagabond Gift Guide for Travellers

Dark winter evenings have been drawing in, the afternoons getting colder, and mornings feeling crisper. Oh my gosh! There’s only one month left until Christmas. How did that happen? I suppose its time to start thinking about presents, so I’ve compiled a selection of useful, offbeat and inventive ideas for the travel-lovers in your life.Lights 1

The part-time traveller:  Spending the everyday 9-5 working for a living can leave these travellers dreaming of exotic locations, daring adventures, and exciting activities. Feed their wanderlust with the following suggestions.

Subscription to a magazine like Wanderlust, Lonely Planet or National Geographic Traveller. With gorgeous photos and informative articles, they’ll be able to dip in and out of destinations and plan future travels, as well as getting a little escape from reality each month.  A digital subscription lets them take it on the road, and works for long-term travellers too.

Corkboard Map by Luckies of London. A series of pinboards in the shape of the world’s continents, perfect for displaying favourite photographs, postcards and mementos from recent trips.

Luggage tag. A quirky bag tag can make luggage easier to find and travel less stressful, especially important if your time is tight.  I love this Lego Brick Bag Tag, whilst this Vintage Letter Tag is a bit more sophisticated.

The nomad:  Gifts for a long-term traveller must be able to cram into a stuffed suitcase or be completely intangible. Either way, the following gifts are useful enough to earn their place in these travellers’ affections.

An e-Book reader like the Kindle Paperwhite or the Fire HD 7. A library that fits into a handbag, without exceeding any baggage weight allowance. Already have one? An Amazon Gift Card lets them choose new titles, whether it’s the guide book for their next destination, a poolside read or something taxing to tackle on a long journey.

A Universal Travel Adaptor like this one from Flight 001. Most of the rest of the world doesn’t use the standard UK 3-pin plug. Strange. Hopping back and forward between Europe, Asia and the Americas is made simple with one of these devices, and everyone needs to charge gadgets.

A reminder of home. A jar of Marmite, a box of tea bags, biscuits that you just can’t get abroad.

The first-time tripper:  Facing your first trip alone can be a daunting prospect, so gifts that offer a little reassurance and support can go a long way to make an experience unforgettable.

Rosetta Stone language course. Available as a CD-rom, download or online course, for both regular or business use, it comes in 24 languages as diverse as Irish, Hindi and Vietnamese, as well as French, Spanish and English. Learning the local language could inspire your traveller to explore further, take a travel job or even find romance.

Skype credit. Nervous travellers will appreciate the opportunity to keep in touch with loved ones back home, with calls to landlines and mobiles, and the ability to send text messages worldwide.

Moleskine Journal. Keep track of your important information and make notes of memorable events on your trip. Other journals are available, but Moleskine are the classic travellers brand, available in a range of sizes, with either lined, plain or squared paper, for writers, sketchers or doodlers.

The bargain backpacker:  These travellers have to carry everything they need in their backpacks; through the streets, on and off public transport, up and down flights of stairs in hostels and bunkhouses. Multi-purpose goods and lightweight travel items are the real winners here.

Travel towel. The most important item a traveller can have, according to Douglas Adams. But, as a rule, travel towels are rubbish. Slightly less absorbent than aluminium foil. However, a colourful cotton sarong or kikoy does the job, dries far faster than a real towel, and doubles as a beach cover-up, or emergency clothing on wash day. Try Kisiki or The Pink Gecko for a selection.

USB Multi Charger. Just checked into the hostel, and need to charge all your gadgets urgently? Only power socket in the room being guarded jealously by another backpacker? This device is the answer to your prayers. Offer spare ports to others, and you’ll make new friends too.

Vapur Anti-Bottle. A folding re-usable water bottle. Saves space in your bags, saves money from buying bottled water, and saves plastic waste. These can be frozen to make an ice pack, or to melt slowly and give you chilled water all day. It can even take hot liquids, although it isn’t insulated and these will cool quickly.


I hope this gives you some good ideas for family members and friends with the travel bug, or even for yourself. Or you can check out my gift ideas for outdoor enthusiasts. Why not share this list on Facebook or Twitter and drop a hint?

Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you follow them through to buy a product I recommend, I receive a small payment (enough for a coffee, not for a yacht) from the company, at no charge to you whatsoever.  It helps keep my blog up and running.


The Kit List: Essentials for a Month at Sea

IMG_2846It’s really easy to get carried away with packing, so that before long the only thing missing from your toiletry bag is the bathroom sink. Not so much of a problem if you’re only wheeling a set of matching luggage from the taxi rank to the airport check-in desk, but a different story if you’ve got to pack light.

For most destinations, it’s not a problem to pick up things locally either, letting you cut down to just a few essentials in your backpack. However, I’m going on a voyage on a reconstructed Viking ship from Norway to the UK. Conditions will be very basic on board, and I might have little chance to pick up the things I forget on the way, so I’m giving my choice of products some careful consideration. This is my packing list for health and beauty essentials (and it works for other trips in remote areas too):

Continue reading

2014 Travel Resolution #4: Travel More

Wanderlust, by adventurediva on Flickr.

Happy February! How did last month manage to pass so quickly? I have no idea. So slightly later than I intended, especially as it’s no longer January, here is my final suggestion for a resolution to make 2014 a brilliant year for travel.

#4. Travel More.

Ha, that sounds terribly simple advice, but please don’t think this last resolution is a cop-out and I couldn’t be bothered any more. A lot of us are tied down to a number of commitments, family, work, pets or property, that means the lifestyle of a full-time traveller is one we can only follow vicariously through reading blogs and browsing pintrest. But travel is all about your mindset, and I want to show you it’s possible to have amazing travel experiences with limited time. Here are my top 5 tips: Continue reading

2014 Travel Resolution #3: Become a Better Photographer

Camera. Image by Alba Bautista on Flickr

How are those New Year’s resolutions going? We’re three-and-a-half weeks into January now, often just when our good intentions start to dry up, and resolutions fall by the wayside. Other things might start to fill your time making it harder to keep up learning a language, and the grizzly weather can make it harder to muster up the motivation to train for an active challenge. So my third travel resolution suggestion is something that combines learning and practice, and can fit into any free moments in your day.

 #3. Become a better travel photographer.

Travel and photography go hand-in-hand for many, myself included. We take pictures to capture memories, and to share our experiences with others. But images often don’t quite turn out as we’d hope for. So how can we make our photography better this year? Here are 5 things worth working on. Continue reading

2014 Travel Resolutions #1: Learn the Lingo

Happy New Year to you all! I hope you all have a healthy and happy year filled with fun and adventures.

Resolutions. Image by Lori Ann on Flickr

So here we are in January. A month of possibility and new beginnings. The time to make resolutions that will make 2014 into the best possible year; to take the best of intentions and turn them into achievable goals. So while the desire to make the most of your opportunities is still strong in your mind, here’s the first in a short series of suggestions for resolutions that will improve your travel experiences no end.

 #1. Learn a language.

Make your travel experiences more intriguing with the ability to communicate with people in their native tongue. Not being able to ask important questions can be frustrating, and as a solo traveller, not speaking the lingo can make for a lonely time. Imagine talking to the passenger next to you on a long bus ride, discovering cultural, political and social differences, and similarities.  Becoming fluent in a language takes a great deal of time and effort, but it doesn’t have to be traumatic or take years.

Here are my 5 tips for success. Continue reading