2020 has not been a great year for travel. But while I’ve desperately missed the thrill of visiting new places and experiencing cultures different to my own, I’ve also felt a huge gratitude for what I do have: fab friends and family, a lovely home, and – perhaps most significantly – my health. I’ve also developed a greater appreciation for everything that’s on my doorstep, having, like lots of people, spent most of the year within the same five-mile radius.
With independent businesses suffering due to the pandemic, shopping local (while thinking global) has never been more important. So with Christmas around the corner, here’s a list of gift ideas for travel lovers, with a focus on sustainability and community. All of these lovely gifts are made or sold by independent Welsh businesses – with most items available for nationwide delivery.
Welsh travel experiences
Here I am trying to look relaxed on a paddleboard in North Wales. Credit: Sian Sykes
Buying for an adrenaline junkie? How about someone who needs some ‘me time’? From action-packed itineraries to wellness-focused long weekends, Adventure Tours UK offer epic experiences across North Wales. I travelled with them in 2019 and had a fantastic time! If someone you know is hoping to see more of the UK in 2021, why not inspire them with a gift voucher?
SUP (stand up paddleboarding) needn’t be reserved for holidays in Hawaii – you can don your wetsuit and hit the water in the UK too! And where better to learn than a lake overlooked by the mountains of Snowdonia? Psyched Paddleboarding was founded by Sian Sykes, the first person to SUP circumnavigate Wales (solo and unsupported), all while raising awareness of plastic pollution along the way.
Enjoying the view from my very own Fforest dome. I didn’t want to leave! © Emma Sparks
Outdoorsy travel is set to thrive in 2021 – so why not treat someone special to a wild Welsh getaway? Fforest Farm in Pembrokeshire helps guests reconnect with nature, while providing them with gorgeous, comfortable digs in the form of geodesic domes (some with al fresco onsen tubs!), beautiful cabins and bell tents. Vouchers are also valid for their coastal location and online gift shop.
Reopening in March 2021, Adventure Parc Snowdonia is home to Surf Snowdonia, the world’s first inland surfing lagoon. I had a lesson booked for Easter 2020, but it got cancelled due to, well, 2020. So I’m looking forward to hitting the waves next year!
This gift may not be Wales-specific, but could certainly give a lucky recipient the opportunity to discover plenty of Wales’ historic buildings and beauty spots. My faves include Rhossili and South Gower Coast, Brecon Beacons and Dyffryn Gardens.
Travel toiletries and accessories made in Wales
The Good Wash Company is a social enterprise based in Barry. They create lovely soaps, shampoos, lotions and more using natural ingredients and eco-friendly/recyclable packaging. Their profits help fund local projects that improve the lives of animals and people. So you can do good, feel good and smell good all at once! I like their travel-sized shampoo bars and sisal pouch.
Someone I know is going to be the lucky recipient of this turtle bag… Credit: Eliza Eliza
7. Eliza Eliza
Need a fabulous bag in which to store some goodies? Check out Eliza Eliza’s turtle collection clutch bag – not only is it blimmin’ gorgeous, but it’s also handmade using sustainable materials, with 10% from each sale going to WWF. I already have one wrapped and ready to deliver to someone lucky this Christmas – although I’m tempted to keep it for myself! Their other cute and quirky designs are worth a browse too.
8. Cole & Co
Founded on Anglesey, Cole & Co recently opened a shop in Cardiff, and deliver nationwide. They make gorgeous soaps, shampoos, candles and diffusers. For globetrotters, you can’t go wrong with a versatile travel balm.
Hand sanitiser has always been a staple for health-conscious travellers. These days, it is 100% essential. So why not forgo the likes of Carex and Cuticura in favour of an alcohol gel made lovingly by a small Welsh business? Farmers’ hand sanitiser is made using lavender essential oil distilled on their farm in Builth Wells, and comes in recyclable aluminium or amber glass bottles.
My weekly Ripple trip just got a whole lot more tempting… © Emma Sparks
10. Ripple Living
*Cardiff/South Wales only*
Cardiffians, I cannot stress it enough: get yourself to Ripple on Albany Road! Their incredible zero-waste offering has not only transformed my food purchasing habits (bye bye plastic-wrapped pasta and overpriced spices), but made gift buying an absolute doddle – and totally guilt free! They stock plenty of travel-friendly toiletries and accessories, from travel shampoos and skincare to keep-cups and hiking socks. Social distancing rules mean there’s often a queue to get in, but I promise you, it’s worth the wait. Ask anyone who knows me – I am obsessed.
Food and drink that transports you elsewhere
11. Ultra Comida
Transport your favourite foodie to Spain with a hamper of goodies from Ultra Comida, the independent importers of artisanal Spanish food and drink who run a handful of delis and restaurants in Wales, as well as Cardiff’s Curado Bar and its little sister, Vermut. Big up the booze with the Vermouth Hamper or stock up someone’s cupboards with the Larder Hamper or Aperitivo Box.
12. Barti rum
Know someone who’s dreaming of being castaway on a Caribbean beach? (Don’t we all?) You may not be able to buy them a ticket to Barbados, but you could at least give them a flavour of island life, with a bottle of Barti spiced rum and a travel-friendly tin cup.
Welsh cheese is the bomb. Who knew? Credit: The Welsh Cheese Company
Those who’ve travelled throughout Europe are likely to have tasted many a fine cheese in France, Italy or the Netherlands – but did you know that Wales is having a cheese revival? The Welsh Cheese Company curates mouthwatering cheeses from artisan producers all over Wales – from lip-smacking cheddars to blues and French-style bries. Check out their gift boxes and hampers. Still can’t decide? Choose a cheesy gift voucher instead.
14. Halen Môn
Wales’ most famous sea salt, which has graced the palates of the Royal Family, Barack Obama and countless celebs, is handmade using brine from Anglesey. It’s Britain’s first salt to gain Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Commission and the first PDO in Wales. Salt-mad travellers might like the mini ‘Pinch Me’ tin for self-catered getaways or general seasoning emergencies. Alternatively, a bottle of smoky barbecue ketchup and a jar of campfire sea salted caramel could inspire or evoke memories of a US road trip (the latter is great for upgraded s’mores).
Make your own outrageously tasty pizza, minimal effort required thanks to Dusty’s. Credit: Dusty’s
*Cardiff/South Wales only*
When you can’t go to Italy, bring Italy to you, in the form of – you guessed it – pizza! Dusty’s gift cards can be used in their restaurants or online – so you can treat someone to a meal out, or let them opt for an at-home pizza-making kit. Bonus: their gift cards never expire!
*Cardiff/South Wales only*
Treat someone to some French delights with an online gift card from Cocorico Patisserie! Run by Thibault and Laurian, the winners of Bake Off: The Professionals (2020), Cocorico sells divine pastries, savoury tarts and quiches, and delicious sourdough. Gift cards are redeemable on online click and collect items (48 hours’ notice required) – their shop is on Whitchurch Road in Cardiff.
*Cardiff/South Wales only*
With flavours like Lemon and Mint, Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Orange (Vegan), Daisy & Belle’s homemade ice cream will satisfy any sweet-toothed traveller, bringing with it a whiff of summer holiday joy. Usually found at Riverside Market, you can order online too, with online deliveries available for local customers. Contact them directly to order a gift certificate (£13) which gets the lucky recipient two tubs of their choice plus free delivery (check your address is within their delivery limits first!).
For more food gift ideas made in Wales, visit discoverdelicious.wales. Also I have to give a shout out to Cardiff Indie Collective, who have given me lots of inspiration for my Christmas shopping this year!