It's hard to believe it's already December. Halloween and Thanksgiving stealthily slipped by and now Christmas is just a few short weeks away. Between the family gatherings and holiday parties, it can be a major stress trying to figure out what your loved ones want most for this holiday season. However, it's no secret that more and more people today are coming to value experiences over more “stuff”. So rather than resorting to lackluster options or risking a tragic re-gifting incident, we suggest a simple but elegant solution — giving the gift of travel. Before you click 'book' on the next website vacation ad, though, there are a few dos (and don'ts) you need to consider.
Do Look for Hints
If your best friend has been dying to go somewhere, there's a good chance they've mentioned it before. That Eiffel Tower postcard on your sister's fridge... Dad taking up learning Italian... dead giveaways. Still not 100% sure where someone's dream vacay is? Why not ask them? Close friends and family are bound to have at least a vague idea. The last thing you want to do is give someone a trip to the Amazon only to find out they have a massive fear of bugs.
Do Include Flexibility
Whether it's your own trip or a gift for someone else, flexibility is key. Anything with nonrefundable rates or set departures runs a much higher risk of going unused, turning a thoughtful gift into a waste of money. Plus no one likes being told when and where they're going without at least some say-so.
If you're set on a package, look for those with a variety of date options and minimal changes penalties, in case your recipient has a scheduling conflict. Many hotels also offer lenient cancel policies should you need to change dates, destinations, or even cancel outright. Better still are travel credits or vouchers. $500 credit with a travel agency and the number to call to start planning or 50,000 frequent flyer miles make for a great kick-start to an unforgettable trip. Too impersonal for you? Some companies offer discounted vouchers for hotels and resorts that are valid for a set period of time. For example, Grandma and Grandpa might actually make it to New York now that you got them that four-night certificate at the St Regis that's good anytime April through September.
Do Add to Current Plans
Just because your bestie has already made plans for all her vacation days next year doesn't mean you can still contribute. Maybe buy that flight upgrade you know she's too frugal to splurge on. Or set up a cooking class during her free day in Tuscany. They'll appreciate the thought and you won’t have to worry about whether or not they'll be able to take the trip.
Don't Invite Yourself
Yes, we all hope that the person to whom we're gifting a dream escape to wants us as their partner in crime. The reality is though that that may not be the case. Whether they prefer to fly solo or would rather be accompanied by a significant other, the gift should be theirs to do with what they want. You wouldn’t gift a pair of shoes with the stipulation that they be lent to you (though sharing is caring ladies).
Don't Set Dates Without Asking
If you must book specific dates never do so without at least making sure the giftee is available. Yes we know it takes away from some of the surprise but you don't have to give up all of the details. They don't even necessarily need to know why you are asking. But without checking there's at least a 50/50 chance they won't be able to travel.
Don't Forget the Details
When giving gifts we tend to get a little too excited and optimistic. Tis the holiday season. That being said it's important to keep in mind any details that might limit or affect your future traveler. Aunt Barbara may have always wanted to climb Kilimanjaro but at 85 that maybe not be a realistic journey for her. You bestie would love a weeklong trip to Cabo in October but as a teacher, she can't take off during midterms. We tend to want to give something grandiose but often times the weekend getaways and nearby trips are some of the most appreciated as well as most likely to get used.
At the end of the day, though, travel, wherever it might be is an incredible gift to share with someone. But like any gift, the key is matching the right person with the right option. Hopefully, our tips will help you do just that, and if you're lucky, someone else reading this has you in mind!