I read an interesting article this morning in The Metro - just your typical browse the paper on the bus into work moment - and came across a nice piece about the meaning and strength given to the humble St Christopher and why, once you've had one, it's hard to travel without them.
I can relate to this - I have two of them at home, and like the article, each was given to me in different times in my life.
The first is a silver medal my Grandad won in 1947 for cycling from Portsmouth to Lands End - it's not a St Christopher but I used to take it on my early travels and liked to imagine these long trips he did by the power of his own (then very young) legs and self determination - it made me feel like my casual strollings through different countries was nothing more than simple and easy tourism by comparison.
The second is a traditional St Christopher given to me by my mum when I embarked on a round the world gap year in 2003. For her it gave her peace of mind that I'd be mindful of it and make sure I kept myself safe. It's true - it did always remind me of my family at home and at a point in my life when I was a lot more self indulgent and engrossed in where I was, it could have been easy to forget to email or call home once a week or so. Time passes quickly when you're trekking the Himalayas or on a marathon series of dodgy bus rides in India, or busy hunting for jobs in Australia.
My first St Christopher was the typical silver plated variety - the symbol of the man carrying the world, and symbols of cars, trains and planes on the back. I did wear it all the time on my trip - so much so the plating wore off and it's now been consigned to the sentimental jewellery box full of broken chains, single stud earrings and battered bracelets. That doesn't mean I'll ever part with it.
Knowing that travel is an important rite of passage for many people in our lucky society, and now having become a mum, I really appreciate the idea of the St Christopher so much more now. (Yet it's thankfully a long time before my toddlers will grow up and start leaving me on a jet plane!) I appreciate that it made my mum feel like I had something looking out for me, even if it was nothing more than a reminder of the person who gave it to me, and that I should take time out to get online and email her to let her know where in the world I was.
But do we still need travel gifts like this now we are all so over-connected, and everyone has a smart phone and an instagram account so that mum can see what you're up to just using the 'follow' button? I think we still do - I think a physical talisman for good luck on your travels is as important as ever. Something tangible to keep after you've returned home to the humdrum normality of work. Something that reminds the traveller than there's still a big world out there, and of the trips and adventures they've had. Something to make sure they see more of the world when they can.
Our Travel Charms aren't always as traditional as the St Christopher necklace, but their originality and fact that they can be engraved with that extra special good luck message makes them equally treasured as a good luck travel talisman. We are currently working on a new St Christopher necklace (Launch date TBC) but in true Scarlett style it will be a contemporary alternative but still have the message at heart. Travel safe. Stay well. And most importantly, come home in one piece.