What’s the best gift for travellers? A voucher to a tourist shop would be the most practical present as the recipients would know best what they need for their travels. Yet instead of looking forward, you may look backwards and help them remember the places they have already visited, with a scratch map, a traveller’s atlas or heart-shaped city maps!
Scratch map is an increasingly popular gift and an absolute must-have for travellers. We have received such a scratch map a while ago, yet its lustrous golden paint matches our walls so perfectly that we resent scraping off further parts. We would probably be more motivated if the paint covered not the well-known contours, but our photos from these sites. You can do it on your own! All you need to do it to prepare a collage poster with a map and photos, and cover selected areas with a mixture of acrylic paint and washing-up liquid.
I have never done a scratch map myself, but quite recently I created a whole atlas for a gift. The present was intended for my Husband - a finalist of geography contests and the main planner of our self-organized trips.
Instead of giving him a full set of maps from all over the world with a set scale, I selected maps with the most important spots.
I began with Poland because that’s where we both live. The following maps showed cities in close-ups that enabled the location of specific places: homes of his relatives and friends. I also included maps of some districts that evoked memories.
The second part included all countries that we travelled to together or that he has visited on his own, with close-ups of cities where we spent several days sightseeing.
The last map presented a country that none of us has visited yet, but my Husband keeps dreaming of.
How to prepare a traveller’s atlas?
There are at least two options.
(a) If you have a colour printer, you may print it yourself. I didn’t do it because I worried that my printer’s quality and binding sheets with a stapler would ruin the effect.
(b) That is why I decided to make the traveller’s atlas as a photo book. I have already prepared several of them (e.g. presenting our wedding and the first year of our child’s life), and I really enjoy designing books in CEWE. Although the gift turned out to be much more expensive than a home-made one would be, I’m sure that it looks much more professional.
How to design a traveller’s atlas?
The easiest way is to use Google Maps. If you only want to mark one place on the map, the graphic is ready once you enter the address. Google Maps is also very helpful when it comes to marking travel routes. It does have its limits though.
First of all, it is impossible to download good-quality maps. The only option I found was downloading for print, yet the downloaded selection differs from what you zoom into on your screen. Moreover, it saves as a pdf file and covers only half a page, so it is practically useless. I, at least, was not satisfied with a traveller’s atlas composed of such selections.
That is why I decided to work with print screens. The quality of the resulting graphics was not much better, but at least I knew what I was downloading; the shape of the maps served my purposes better, and the graphic file could be further edited.
The thing is, I wasn’t satisfied with the standard Google Maps markers either. Instead of them, I created my own legend in Canva:
These were the markers I placed on my graphics.
I dealt with the unwanted elements on print-screens (dialogue boxes and Google Maps icons) by covering them with photos from the presented places. I used such photos also to fill in empty spaces between country/city names and maps. I was positive that the traveller’s atlas had to be A4 and vertical while the screen-shots were taken from a horizontal screen. Yet to tell you the truth, I believe that these “masking items” made my traveller’s atlas ever more pretty. See for yourself:
Heart-shaped city maps
Motivated by the coming Valentine’s Day, I also considered making a map composed of two city maps combined in a heart shape. I have seen such a framed art piece on the Internet, where it could be personalized and ordered, but I thought I could do something like that myself. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that we spent childhood in the same city as my Husband and now also live together, so combining two maps would make little sense in our case. Nevertheless, I thought heart-shaped city maps may be an inspiration for you for the coming Valentine’s Day. If you’re interested, you may find more examples here.
I wonder which of these ideas you liked most. Please, let me know if you use any of them!
– I’m sure better quality maps than those downloaded from Google Maps can be found on the Internet. Navigating them will probably be more difficult, and zooming into a tiny village might be impossible, but if you need country maps, it might be worth spending more time searching.
– If you opt for screen shots, like I did, make sure the main part of your map is on the right side of the screen. Owing to that you will have no regrets cutting off the left side with the dialogue box.