VA - Williamsburg - Grand Illumination

The Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, is the centerpiece of the Grand Illumination event.

Every year, it’s the same old question: What to give the person who has everything? 

The last thing any of us needs is more stuff. But we still want to “wow” our loved ones with meaningful gifts. 

That’s why giving the gift of travel has become an increasingly popular solution.

Recent surveys show that the majority of people—especially Millennials—say they would prefer to receive “experiences” over physical gifts. That’s thanks largely to the pandemic, which drove home the importance of spending quality time with the people we love (as well as giving many of us the travel itch!).

After all, it’s only the rare physical gift that becomes a cherished possession. Most of the stuff we receive ends up collecting dust until we put it in the donation pile or sell it at a yard sale.

On the other hand, travel experiences create memories that last a lifetime. And believe it or not, there’s a gift of travel to fit just about any budget!

However, there are dos and don’ts when it comes to giving the gift of travel. Here are some helpful ideas to make sure your “getaway gift” is a big hit.

How to Give the Gift of Travel

Before making a purchase, be sure that the travel gift you intend to give will be appreciated. Think about what your loved one would cherish—not necessarily what you would enjoy. Also, don’t give a travel gift that will add extra hassle to its recipient’s life.

For example, don’t give a cruise trip to someone with severe seasickness! And don’t book an international trip for someone who doesn’t have a passport!

In fact, it’s best not to make travel plans for your loved one without their knowledge. 

One of the best ways to give the gift of travel is through giving a gift card or certificate. There are so many excellent travel destinations that offer them. For example, you could give your cruise-loving loved one a gift card for Celebrity Cruises. (Celebrity also lets you order “Bon Voyage” presents for your loved ones to receive onboard.)

But you’re not limited to sending your loved ones out to sea! There are many destinations here in the Mid-Atlantic that offer gift cards or certificates, from ski resorts such as Wintergreen and Wisp to history-buff heaven Colonial Williamsburg to cabin lodging options like Country Road Cabins in West Virginia to the Southern hospitality of the Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia.

You can also give your loved one an experience to enjoy while on vacation—or to plan a day trip around. If they love adventuring outdoors, a gift certificate to Shenandoah River Outfitters or River Expeditions could be hugely appreciated. And no kid on Earth wouldn’t love passes to an amusement park such as Kings Dominion or Six Flags America.

Create a “Gift” Itinerary

You may also want to consider creating your own “gift” itineraries. For railfans, consider buying gift certificates to attractions in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, including the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the Choo Choo Barn, and Strasburg Rail Road. Or explore the local accommodations, restaurants, and activities in places such as Pennsylvania’s Great Outdoors or Poconos regions and Maryland’s Allegany County for outdoor lovers; or Martinsburg, West Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, for folks who enjoy history.

Or send your loved ones on a shopping spree in Ellicott City, Maryland; or on a wine, beer, and spirit-tasting trip through Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

You can also use VacationWiser’s “Travel Now, Pay Later” program to purchase a gift certificate for a dream vacation. Your purchase will be interest-free if you pay the full amount within 12 months—much better than using your credit card!

With some thought and creativity, your gift of travel will be one your loved ones talk about for years to come.

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