The Traveler: It’s not about the gift, it’s about the experience


Christmas doesn’t have to be all about giving material things to your loved ones. Giving the gift of travel to loved ones is a great way to show your love and the promise of great times to come for 2018. Here are some of my gift ideas.

Buy the gift of future fun. Local grocery stores sell a variety of gift cards that will work in surprising your loved ones. Purchasing a gift card allows you to give the gift of future travel without committing to an actual date (as well as giving you some lower gas prices). It does lock you into a company such as Southwest airlines, Carnival Cruise lines or Disney, but by picking a favorite place, you win big in thoughtfulness.

Maybe your loved one already has a trip planned. Think of things that you can do to enhance their travel. Can you pre-purchase an excursion for them? How about adding on a “Taste of Barcelona” excursion at the end of their Mediterranean Cruise? Or a Mozart concert as a treat on their tour of Vienna. Or a special boxed lunch for their train ride to Denali while they are visiting Alaska. No one knows your loved ones better than you so chose something that they will love. I love getting pictures sent to me by grateful clients knowing that I have made their travel a little more personal and memorable.

It doesn’t just have to be about the experience but can be about the ambience. You can order flowers for their room in London as they explore the city. How about sending them a bottle of wine at their favorite restaurant as they return to New York to celebrate their anniversary. Surprise them as they embark on a cruise by decorating their cabin with birthday or wedding decorations. Cruise ships have a long list of things that you can pre-order. I do caution you about setting a budget because it won’t take before it would have been cheaper to just have gone with them.

Experiences of things to come can also be given by purchasing annual memberships. The local favorites are the Columbus Zoo, COSI, Columbus Art Museum and Franklin Park Conservatory. Additional benefits exist for many of these annual cards such as free parking, early registration for summer programs and discounts in the gift shops. I have clients that love Disney and they purchase the annual pass and make several trips to the Magic Kingdom throughout the year. You know your loved one’s passion so find a membership that can encourage their fun. Hershey Park, Henry Ford Museum, Cedar Point and King’s Island all offer memberships. It’s a great gift that lasts long past the holiday season.

Finally, my last suggestion is to buy the gift of consideration. Do your friends and family have a trip planned that will be stressful or very physical? Can you buy a massage for them after a long day of hiking the Grand Canyon? Can you purchase a “day of beauty” before their anniversary night out? Can you have their house cleaned before they return from a long vacation? Can you watch their pet so they can get away? Thoughtfulness is one of the greatest gifts that you can give.

Give the gift of travel this year. To quote Ray Bradbury, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”

By Marci DeWitt

Contributing Columnist

Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at [email protected].

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