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This Christmas one of the things I had dropped hints for was this scratch map, having seen it somewhere and thought it was a SERIOUSLY COOL idea. Happily enough Santa brought it for me and I had a lot of fun scratching off countries, before sticking it to my bathroom door where I can ponder my future travels whilst sitting for a while!
There are two versions of this map, a smaller one which can actually be taken travelling and this which is a poster presented in a smart tube and more aimed at travellers who want to have some kind of visual representation in their home of their gallivanting.
When unrolled it is pretty standard poster size, and is of a laminated plasticy-feeling paper so it wonít tear. It lies fairly flat whilst you are scratching off countries and although it was rolled and is thicker than standard poster weight will stick fairly easily with just Blu-Tack.
The basic idea is that when you have visited a country you scratch it off the map, scratchcard style, which then colours in the map rather than all the countries being the gold foil. From what Iíve scratched off so far, it seems to be coloured according to continent with Europe green, North America blue and so on. You also reveal some major cities and things such as mountain ranges are also represented.
Because of the slightly shiny surface of the poster, it is easy to scratch off countries cleanly, so it looks really smart once youíve revealed a little portion of the world. I did notice, though, that a couple of little scratches have come off unintentionally, so I would advise covering the rest of the map with the tissue that it comes rolled up in whilst doing the actual scratching, and either framing it or sticking it somewhere that you arenít likely to bump into/touch a lot.
Some countries are also a little hard to see so you have to be careful when scratching that you are doing the right country, especially in Europe where there are a lot in a small space, and the printing on the foil is a bit smudged in places on mine. I would like to think, though, that if you have actually been to a country you should be able to locate it on a labelled map without too many problems anyway!
Whilst scratching off my travels I did get a bit confused around Canada because in some areas where there are a lot of islands, the sea is also covered in foil. I scratched this off too around countries Iíve actually been to because it makes the map look much nicer, however I didnít want to accidentally scratch off major islands that Iíd not been to so I had to kind of scratch off the mainland and leave the sea half done which wasnít as satisfying as countries with a more definite border! On the plus side big countries such as Canada and America arenít divided by state on the foil itself, so you can scratch off a huge part in one swipe!
Despite these little technical difficulties (and I find using a retractable ballpoint pen works well for smaller countries), this is such a cool idea and a wonderful gift for the seasoned traveller. I imagine it will make quite a good talking point to visitors of my home who need the loo! One small word of warning though - it will make you want to go to completely random countries based on their size - never has Russia seemed so appealing to me! It is also making my upcoming visit to Costa Rica seem a bit of a let-down, itís really tiny!!
These maps are REALLY easy to find online, on Amazon, I Want One of Those, Play.com to name but a few, and they cost around the £15 map. A really fun, unique gift for the traveller that has everything!