27 cosmic Christmas gift ideas for travellers
It’s that time of year again and if you’re not one of those super-organised people who were Christmas-ready by mid-November, there’s still time for some festive gift shopping. These days, many of us are changing our approach to Chrismas presents as it’s potentially a source of stress and a possible fast-track to personal debt.
And I wholeheartedly agree that there’s too much pressure and temptation (and waaay too much waste), but far be it for me to play Scrooge so, as long as we stick to our budgets, limit our pool of recipients and ignore ‘expectations’, there’s no reason to completely miss out on the joy of giving.
So in keeping with all things shimmering and twinkling, I’ve put together a list of gift ideas with a cosmic theme, priced from a barely noticeable £3 to an eye-watering quarter of a million. Whether the traveller in your life is a dedicated geek/space cadet or just loves a bit of sparkle, there are gift options for those always on the go, as well as those either stopping at home for a while or heading out to a seasonal party. Or if you’re the one with the wanderlust, go treat yourself!
Passport holder(£9.98): To send the starry-eyed traveller on their way, this Amanda Lamb star leather passport holder is practical, stylish and fun.
Starry Climb Phone Case (£19.99): I especially love this mobile phone case for android for its mind-bending imagery – it appears that the adventurous climber is scaling the night sky itself. There are, of course, similarly themed choices for iPhones, such as a Moon phases and stars phone case, as well as cases for all your other devices.
Night sky notebook(£12.99): Make lasting memories in this night sky themed notebook. It’s an ideal travel companion for jotting down those observations, be they of ancient monuments, striking cityscapes or the dazzling Milky Way.
Starry Sky Umbrella (£12.69): Tucked into your onboard luggage or tote bag, Camtoa’s telescopic umbrella will not only keep you dry during downpours, but you’ll be seeing stars even with total cloud cover.
Galaxy Duck Tape (£4): A quick-fix solution for all manner of travelling mishaps, from torn backpacks to broken camera tripods, duck tape is a staple for the hardy journey-goer. This galactically themed version will bind things together as strongly as the gravitational field of a black hole. Almost.
Star-shaped nightlight (£12.95): Especially handy for backpackers staying in dorms or if camping at a festival, this cute little nightlight from Not on the High Street emits an unobtrusive glow to help you navigate unfamiliar surroundings.
Starry night silk sleep mask ($98): When the weary but discerning traveller is finally ready to slumber, a luxurious black silk, star-spangled Starry Night Sleep Mask could aid a good night’s sleep by preventing artificial light from creeping in. Indulgent? Absolutely.
Gear and gadgets
For anyone taking in a spot of planetary observation or constellation-spotting from any of the dark sky sites across the world, a few basic items will always come in useful.
Lightweight binoculars (c.£55): A small pair of binoculars goes a long way towards enhancing any outdoors adventure travel, from stargazing to birdwatching. At only 25 ounces in weight the Olympus 8 x 40 DPSI Binoculars give you crisp, clear images, a great field of view and comfortable handling, in a highly transportable little package.
Astrogloves (£24.99): Designed by astronomers for astronomers, their main purpose is to maintain dexterity while keeping the wearer warm. Astrogloves are durable, practical and the thing is…they make perfect sense for non-astronomers too, because any traveller will benefit from their unique design.
Warm and light clothing (range of prices): The right all-weather clothes are as essential for the frequent traveller as they are for the amateur or occasional stargazer. A good brand to consider is Rohan, who offer a wide range of high-tech, quality outdoor clothing. Gift cards start at £1 and for more info check out this list of Rohan favourites from the Travel with Kat travel blog.
Red Light Torch(£13.50): Keep your night vision intact with this Celestron Astro Night Vision Flashlight. It’s the ideal gadget to tuck into your bag if you’re out at night to catch some shooting stars or hunt the northern lights.
Out of this world fashion & accessories
Slogan T-shirt (c.$11): I tried to find something with an alternative to the usual ‘astronomy is looking up’ slogan and came across this unisex I need my space T–shirt. Just perfect for some summer stargazing or to send out a not-so-subtle message if you’re in hermit mode.
Galaxy print scarf (£32): If geek-chic isn’t your thing this galaxy print scarf is a great option for jazzing up a work suit or other plain ensemble, and its multiple colours will work well with most palettes.
Moon phase earrings($45): To make an impact on a night out, these Moon phase earrings are not only beautiful and elegant, but correctly show the main phases of the Moon.
Glow-in-the-dark constellation dress ($39.99): Gimmicky and a bit OTT? Yes, but I love it! And it’ll pack down well. Great for an impromptu party wherever you happen to be, and I see no reason why this Think Geek item can’t be teamed up with leggings, a shrug/bolero or a T-shirt underneath, for a quirky daytime outfit.
NASA-logo sleep/sweatpants (£14.99): On even the most stressful trips there’ll hopefully be some downtime and a comfy pair of NASA sweatpants is great for lounging around in your hotel room (or space capsule, naturally).
Men’s World Map Hoodie (£20.89): One for the chaps here (although it would look super cool on any gender). This Dressily hoodie features a world map emblazoned on a neutral background. What’s the cosmic link, I hear you ask? Well, planet Earth is as much a part of the universe as any star, comet or galaxy, so anything ‘mappy’ fits my definition!
Dark sky stargazing for two (£30): In several locations across the north of England, amateur astronomer Robert Ince takes you on an inspiring journey across the northern hemisphere constellations and the Milky Way. Book this Virgin Experience Day for a friend with stars in their eyes and they could turn it into the perfect short break away.
Calar Alto Observatory visit (from €12): Mainland Spain is home to not just sun, sea and sangria vacations, but to Calar Alto, the largest astronomical observatory on mainland Europe. It’s perched high up in the sunny sierras of Almería province and you can book an exhilarating tour of this real working research observatory with astrotourism experts Azimuth.
Private astrophotography tuition (£35/hour): For the more practically-minded traveller with a DSLR camera, how about booking them some private astrophotography tuition with Jesse Beaman Astrophotography, based in Dumfries & Galloway in Scotland. They’ll learn how to photograph the Moon, star trails, the Milky Way and the northern lights.
Planetarium show (from€8/£7): A planetarium show is a great way to take in some stellar inspiration for those short on time or on a city business trip. Berlin’s Zeiss Groβplanetarium is one of the best science theatres in Europe, for example – or try the UK’s own South Downs Planetarium in Chichester, West Sussex.
A trip to space (from $250,000): If you have a spare quarter of a million (dollars) to lavish on your loved ones, keep an eye out for developments in the world of commercial space travel, one of 2019’s hot trends according to booking.com. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are the big 3 names in this field.
Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space (£3): But don’t worry if your budget is a little more modest – our home-grown spaceman Tim Peake’s book gives a first-hand account of the realities of space travel. One thing’s for sure – it’ll put our earthbound travel woes into perspective!
The cosmically quirky
Storage suitcases (£19.55): Most dedicated travellers spend some time at home so this stylish and starry set of three Nordic star suitcases from Sass & Belle keeps the travel theme going while providing some handy extra storage – perhaps for all those overseas souvenirs?
Freeze dried ice cream (£5): You don’t need to travel into space to eat like an astronaut! Order a batch of this freeze dried Neapolitan Ice Cream for the intrepid traveller in your life for a literal ‘taster’ of life in space.
Night sky playing cards (c.£6): Should boredom ever strike on holiday or a business trip (shocking spoiler: it happens sometimes), a pack of these Jonathan Poppele playing cards, with a constellation design not only keeps you entertained but improves your knowledge of the night sky.
Voyager Recordings (free download): For a seriously outlandish ‘gift’, you can download NASA’s Voyager Recordings – Symphonies of the Planets from Soundcloud – these are recordings of the electromagnetic output of each of the planets and in my opinion, they’re very calming – the perfect white-noise, soothing soundtrack! But you’ll need to have access to the relevant device and if you don’t……my suggestion is to give a card with the link and a lottery ticket for good measure!
There you have them – my stellar gift suggestions, although of course the best gift of all (to our environment) is to only use sustainable wrapping materials – try recycled brown paper from your local post office, for example, and reduce waste wherever possible.
And remember, stars are not just for Christmas! They are always there to inspire us, so whatever you buy (or don’t), do take a moment to go outside, find a beautiful, dark night sky and look up at the real things.
Pin it for later
Disclosure: The items on this list are my own suggestions only, found by simply taking a look around to see what’s ‘out there’. They’re not sponsored in any way and I won’t receive any commission or income from any of the links included.