Preparing for the worst is a prevalent theme among the festive offerings for travellers. Rob Ryan's book 'Stay Healthy Abroad' (Health Education Authority, pounds 6.95) outlines the animal, vegetable and mineral threats that reside beyond these shores. A similar precautionary note is sounded by the Streetwise map of Orlando (pounds 3.95), which shows areas of the Florida city where mugging is a distinct possibility.

Travellers venturing into still riskier territory may be grateful for a short-wave radio; the SW1E from Sony (around pounds 150) is the same size as a packet of cigarettes and potentially a lot better for you. Should the object of your benevolence be the sort to get stuck up the Orinoco without a paddle, he or she may be grateful for your prescience. Practical help for adventurers is available from Safariquip, which supplies a range of defensive measures from a money belt (pounds 2.99) to a water filter (pounds 54.99).

British Rail no longer issues gift vouchers, presumably because demand was at best limited. But the international coach operator Eurolines (0990 143219) has just introduced gift vouchers in denominations of pounds 10 and pounds 20 - two of the latter would be more than enough for a London-Paris return for a person aged under 26.

Airlines do not sell gift vouchers, but they offer the next best thing: the Miscellaneous Charges Order (MCO), which looks like a ticket and may be used in full or part payment for a journey. It can be made out for as little as pounds 5, though these days so small a sum will buy you only the departure tax on flights within Europe - and Kenneth Clarke may increase that in Tuesday's Budget.

Giving someone an entire holiday as their Christmas present may seem a wonderfully generous idea, but you need to ensure that the recipient has a valid passport - the British Visitor's version expires on New Year's Eve. Long-haul destinations may require jabs, too, which could rather take the edge off the surprise.

If travel has become just too arduous, the latest offering from Rough Guides may oblige. Devoted to those whose idea of surfing is strictly digital, the 'Rough Guide to the Internet' (pounds 5) can take you around the World Wide Web. And for those who feel it is better to travel vicariously than to arrive, a subscription to Wanderlust magazine costs pounds 15.

Safariquip: 01433 62032.

Eurolines: 0990 143219.

MCOs from any IATA airline.

Wanderlust: 01753 620426.

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