How to gift travel — the gift that goes anywhere

Check out these tips on how to properly gift travel this season so your loved ones are impressed, excited, and on the go.

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To surprise a loved one with a fully planned trip may seem like the finest gift on earth, but trust that there are many levels to this. In fact, there are often hidden reasons why a person has not embarked on that voyage they’ve wanted to take oh so badly. This should not discourage you from gifting travel; however, we simply suggest that you use your wits about it.

Gift travel
Travel is full of wonders — not everyone has wanderlust, but many people cherish the experience that travel brings. (Photo: AdobeStock)

The gift of travel is, in itself, a gift that keeps on giving—and going (anywhere). Though not everyone has wanderlust, many people cherish the experience when done in taste. Adventure seekers love foreign activities that run up their adrenaline. The epicurean friend loves to visit the boutique restaurants they’ve read about in magazines and actually taste the dishes pinned on their Pinterest boards. Travel is full of wonders, but it’ll be a rude awakening if your recipient does not appreciate your gift — imagine all that time, money, planning, and care, gone to waste!

To avoid disaster, consider our simple tips on how to gift travel — you may just win the award for best gifter this year!

Do: use gift cards, e-certificates, vouchers, and travel banks

You want the beneficiary of your travel gift to be enticed by the thought of travel, and not feel like they must commit to a planned trip they are not that into. That’s why one of the best ways to endow travel is via gift cards, e-certificates, vouchers, and travel banks. Airlines allow you to reserve money toward someone’s travel that will not expire for one to two years. This frees the giftee to choose the time that’s best for them within a year. You can also gift hotel vouchers and Airbnb gift cards so your recipient can ball out on the type of room or home they choose. Overall, Visa gift cards for travel and leisure are always a top choice, so there are no worries about spending money. 

Don’t: plan a full trip for someone else

Autonomy is a big deal. It doesn’t matter if excursions are paid for and reservations are set, the purpose of the experience is to enjoy, and a strict schedule can get in the way of that sometimes. Release control of a packed itinerary. Instead, have a list of suggestions but go with the flow. 

Don’t: use their points

Although you may have access to someone’s points, using their points toward a gifted trip is intrusive and could even be deemed disrespectful. After all, you never know what someone has planned for themself. Also, most of the time, when you use someone’s points toward a trip, they receive emails and alerts about the transaction and plan. This defeats one purpose of a gift, which is to surprise the lucky recipient.

Do: purchase an annual pass

Whether it is to a museum, zoo, national park, or amusement park, an annual pass is a terrific incentive to get your person to travel. For instance, theme park lovers cherish passes to their favorite attractions and often find it a waste if they don’t go several times a year. Therefore, if you want to get your loved one out of the house and having fun, get them an annual pass to a place of their liking.

Don’t: use frequent flyer numbers

Like points, if you use frequent flyer numbers to book travel, account holders will most likely get notifications about the upcoming trip—a sure spoiler for a surprise. This includes using your own frequent flyer number for a trip you book for someone else; should they need to make changes to the itinerary, all responsibility will be left to you since your account is listed. To avoid the bother, steer clear and use the guest portal. 

Do: surprise them with a creative package

The gift of travel is all about experience, so take the extra effort and make the gift exchange an experience. Think of fun things like a puzzle, or use clues on a map to help the person figure out where they are going. This will only heighten their excitement and get them in the mood. It will also be a fun memory.

Don’t: be strict on specific dates

Do not impose your schedule on the recipient of a travel gift. Remember this is a gift for them—and, unfortunately, the timetable may not involve you. To be stern on specific dates is a sure way to foster resentment. Be gracious and allow flexibility to be your best friend. 

Do: plan a grand finale

The truth is that people need rest on vacation, and with a potentially jam-packed schedule, it is wise to plan something big or extravagant toward the end of the trip. That way, you are sure the person is rested and ready for some special travel memorabilia. For example, hiring a photographer is a great extra touch.

Noel Cymone Walker

Noel Cymone Walker is an NYC-based writer specializing in beauty, fashion, music, travel, and cultural anthropology. She has written and produced visuals for several notable publications such as The Recording Academy/The Grammys, The Fader, Billboard, OkayPlayer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Allure, Essence, Ebony, and more.

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