Instead of buying more ‘stuff’ this year, how about giving someone a travel gift experience they won’t forget instead?
Whether you’re sick of buying friends and family presents which they might not even want or are considering making more eco-friendly purchase decisions, I can assure you that ditching physical presents in favour of experiences is the way to go! They need not cost a bomb either.
I’m a big advocate of minimalism, buying less and instead consuming more experiences. And there’s nothing more rewarding than giving someone memories that may last a lifetime, or even better, sharing those memories with the people you care about the most.
To give you some inspiration about some travel-related experiences you could give someone this year, here are 10 gift ideas for anyone who loves travel or simply doing something fun!
Suitable for him, her, couples, kids and the whole family – I hope you find some suitable alternative experience gift ideas within this list.
This post may contain affiliate links meaning should you purchase a product via this link, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my privacy and disclosure policy for more.
A Tinggly experience box
For those with an adventurous spirit, no gift is better than a memorable day activity experienced from anywhere in the world.
Whether it’s a VIP helicopter experience over glaciers in New Zealand, a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley, swimming with sharks in the Maldives or a gourmet food tour around Florence, Tinggly offers some of the world’s most exciting experiences from over 100 countries.
All you need to do is buy the box online and it will be posted or emailed in the form of vouchers to the receiver. They then have a generous two years to pick the activity they would like from a vast array of experiences, for the value you selected.
What I love about this company the most is that with every eco-friendly box you purchase, they invest some of the profit into sustainable charity projects. For buying just one gift experience, Tinggly removed 5kg of plastic and offsets 200% of CO2 emissions produced during the chosen experience. A company with a conscience!
Even if international travel isn’t on the cards any time soon, there are loads of cool local experiences you can do too.
There’s even a free travel box packed with inspiration, or adventures start from $20.
An Airbnb getaway
An ideal travel gift experience for couples, friends, families or a solo adventurer is an Airbnb getaway.
Listing some of the world’s most unusual and best private properties, an Airbnb stay is a fun way to have a night away without going to your boring bog-standard hotel.
Whether it is close to home or a little further away, booking AirBnB accommodation can make a special occasion all the more memorable.
An Airbnb Experience
The virtual experiences are especially ideal if you want to gift someone living in another country and also do it with them!
There are so many cool online experiences. I love the sound of Indigenous cooking classes, an intro to meditating with a Buddhist Monk and the funny ‘true or false’ history game which would be great for a group.
For in-person experiences I’d choose glamping under the Northern Lights, a safari with a Maasai guide or horse riding with a local cowboy in the Andes!
Airbnb have made it even easier to send someone their experiences by introducing gift cards (currently only available in the US).
For travel lovers, what better gift is there than simply the gift of travel?
OK, so you can’t exactly buy all your friends and family a flight or a holiday. But if you want to treat your loved one to something extra special, how about booking them flights or giving them some airline vouchers? It’s an especially memorable gift for a ‘big birthday’ celebration such as a 50th or 21st.
FlightGift are a super cool company who offer one gift card redeemable against flights from hundreds of different airlines. It’s the perfect gift for someone always on the go!
You don’t have to buy the full value of a flight, even a $20 or $50 gift card would make a very nice discount on any future flight.
That being said, you can often find flights within Europe for under $50 (like my £30/€32 return flight to Bucharest for the weekend). So it may well cover the cost of a whole journey!
To get an estimate of how much flights to various destinations cost, have a search on SkyScanner by selecting flights to ‘everywhere’ and a month (or even the ‘cheapest month’ option).
A membership pass
The best gift I have ever received in my life was a lifetime membership for the National Trust from my grandma. I’ve had years of pure joy from exploring historic houses and areas of outstanding beauty all around the UK for free. And there are many more years of this to come!
Although the National Trust Lifetime memberships are expensive (they have gone up since I got given mine), yearly passes are available.
If you are in the US, annual National Parks passes are a brilliant gift idea. At only $80, you are not only able to access some of the most stunning parks all over the country for free, you are contributing towards the preservation of these beauty spots.
For those people who are more city slickers, how about buying them a membership pass to a local gallery, gym, fitness class, theme park, museum or theatre? A membership is one of the best travel gift experiences out there!
Local tour or attraction tickets
Whether it’s a walking, brewery, distillery, history or a gourmet food tour, it’s super easy to be a tourist in your own city and view it from a new perspective!
There are loads of cool day trip tours available on Klook and often discounted from the RRP if you went direct to the tour company.
If you’re in the US, check out CityPASS for huge discounts on big attractions all across the country.
It’s a great excuse for the receiver to do the ‘must do’ things near them that they haven’t got around to yet!
A hobby course
Whatever hobby the person has who you’re buying for, I can almost guarantee there will be a course for it.
For outdoor enthusiasts, an education or skills-based course may well be the ideal gift. There are many outward bound companies all across the world who can offer a range of fun but educational day classes.
For creative arts such as painting, photography, videography, Photoshop or writing, check out the vast catalogue of online courses run by CreativeLive.
Don’t forget there is always Rosetta Stone for that person who has always dreamed of learning another language!
Ideal for some cute new photos for the ‘Gram, to send loved ones or just to make some fun memories – a photoshoot with a professional photographer makes a fantastic gift.
Flytographer pairs you with local photographers for vacation shoots all over the world in places such as London, Paris and New York. Sessions can be 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Gift cards with no expiry date are available. You can get $50 off by clicking here.
A mystery flight
For some, this may be the idea of hell, but for serendipity-seeking adventure junkies, a mystery flight is quite possibly THE best adrenaline-inducing gift you can give!
The idea behind a mystery flight is quite simple. You choose the budget, fill out a quick survey, pay and then your destination is a surprise until you get to the airport!
10. A charitable donation
If you’re really stuck about what to get someone, you can’t go wrong with a charitable donation on their behalf. It’s especially an ideal travel gift experience for the person who has it all, or does not want for anything.
One of my favourite things to do is purchase trees to be planted somewhere in the world for someone.
I’ve previously bought my mum 5 trees to be replanted in Brazil after deforestation devastation from One Tree Planted. It’s kind of a cool to think that even though she’ll never go there, she’s made a positive environmental impact somewhere else in the world.
I hope these travel gift experiences have given you some inspiration about what you can give to your loved one, be it for a birthday, Christmas or any other special occasion.
If you have bought any of these experiences before or have any more ideas you’d add to this list, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!
Going travelling Soon? Don’t forget these essentials!
To cover yourself for any unplanned situations, I use and would recommend World Nomads travel insurance.
To search and compare the best group tours and activities worldwide (with up to 50% off), use TourRadar.
For some travel inspiration for your next trip, how about Lonely Planet’s top 500 places to see… ranked?
Don’t forget to check the government visa entry requirements for the passport you are travelling with.
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*This post may contain affiliate links meaning should you purchase a product via this link, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These are still products I use or believe in regardless. See my privacy and disclosure policy for more.*