How to Gift Travel

Giving the gift of travel can be tricky, and there is contrary advice across thousands upon thousands of travel blogs about how to do it successfully. But we don’t think that means you shouldn’t give the gift of experiences and memories through travel! Below are some guidelines and tips to help you navigate the purchasing, planning, and gifting of travel to someone you love.

“No surprise” method

This is the only way to ensure the recipient gets exactly what they want out of your gift—and we don’t think it’s a method completely devoid of fun for you, the gift-giver. While you may not get a big moment of surprise, you will certainly have lots of moments to see your loved one’s face when they see the ways you are helping their travel dreams come true.

Collaborate with the gift recipient to learn where they want to go, when, for how long, and to do what. From there, you can look for perfect vacation packages (especially on a budget) at wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club. Or, you can find an appropriate travel agent—many travel professionals specialize in certain types of travel, i.e. family travel, food-centered travel, location-specific trips, etc.

A travel advisor can craft the trip of a lifetime, with industry insights and ways to stay on-budget. Discuss budget with the agent before presenting their services as part of the gift—you want to be certain your available budget is in the right range. Using an agent also saves you time and the stress of trying to research and arrange all aspects of the trip.

Travel gift cards (a little bit of surprise)

If you already know what your friend or family member wants for their trip, you have the opportunity of surprising them with an appropriate gift card to help pay for a portion of their travel expenses. Of course, if you don’t know the details, you’ll need to ask, or be happy to gift a generic gift card from a company like Visa or American Express (or give cash in a travel-themed card).

There are many travel-oriented gift card options out there to choose from. Airlines, AirBnB, car rental companies, and hotels offer gift cards—during promotions you can often earn additional gift cards with this purchase (ex: to Hotels.com, Best Buy, Amazon, etc.)—so keep an eye on your email for targeted promotions, especially around holidays.

However, airline vouchers can be restrictive and hotel certificates can come with blackout dates, so be sure to do your research to ensure the recipient can use this gift card for their trip.

Help them get to lux level travel (surprise and awe)

Perhaps part of the trip has already been booked, or you know the traveler is having to make itinerary decisions based on a strict budget or lack of special gear (think winter sports, hiking, camping, etc.). This is a perfect opportunity to upgrade their experience. You could gift them higher-end luggage, special clothing or gear, travel tech, or tickets to an event.

Or what about paying for private car services, first- or business-class tickets, or nicer hotel rooms?

Another often-overlooked idea is to plan something luxurious for the end of their trip. The “peak-end effect” means that people are most likely to remember an entire experience through the lens of how it ended and how they felt then—which is usually tired and running out of spending money! A spa experience, a meal at an award-winning restaurant, or other plush service at the end of their travel experience can help bookend the entire trip.