Skip the Long Lines: How to Gift Travel Experiences    

gift travel exp

Written by Rebecca Treon on

Rebecca Treon is a Denver-based freelance food and travel writer. She has two children who are learning to be intrepid travelers like their mom. When she’s not busy adventuring with her family, Rebecca can be found experimenting in the kitchen or attempting to have a green thumb.

gift travel exp


Tired of all the stuff? Today’s savvy gifters are using gift registries to give vacations instead of things. Find out the best registries, destinations, experiences, and the key gear travelers will use for years to come.


The typical household today is overflowing with stuff. Couples tying the knot have already furnished their own dwelling spaces and really don’t need another blender. Holidays and birthdays come and go with seemingly thoughtful gifts up winding up unused, languishing in the back of a closet. People park outside because their garages are filled with plastic bins of items they haven’t used in months, even years. Packing and moving is a nightmare because of the sheer volume of stuff.

Today’s generation, especially millennials, value experiences over things (just look at their Instagram adventures). Travel itself is becoming a coveted gift, and while you may not remember getting a gift card for the holidays, you’ll remember experiencing the Louvre. These days, it’s possible to gift flights, hotels, cruises, and experiences around the globe.

Here are some of the best ways to gift travel experiences this holiday season.



United Airlines lets members tie frequent flier accounts to a registry, and travelers can specify their destination; gifts can be made up to $10,000. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others use a digital or physical gift card.



Most travel gift websites allow people to register for activities and experiences, like cooking classes, wine tastings, zip-lining adventures, and surfing lessons (or really, any experience imaginable). The registry creator lists activities or gear they need for their trip, and gift givers use a credit card to make a purchase in the amount they want, applying it toward one of the items on the registry. The site typically charges a small fee, and the sum is transferred to the recipient as a check or bank transfer. Families and friends then feel like they’re helping their loved one realize their travel dreams, and recipients can share photos of their experiences, making everyone feel part of the trip.

The site travelers should choose depends on needed functionality, and the fees charged. Most of the sites feature destination guides, travel stories, sample registries, and of course actual registries. The sky’s the limit for the recipient to dream up anything they’d like, from guide books to a meal at a certain restaurant, even the fees connected to getting a visa to enter a country. The most popular sites are Traveler’s Joy, Wanderable, Honeymoon Wishes, and Honeyfund.


Cruises and Railways

Cruise companies like Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises each offer gift cards, some of which are also available through Honeymoon Wishes—even if your loved one is headed out on solo adventures, these websites are specially designed to facilitate the gifting of travel experiences.

American rail line Amtrak also offers gift cards, and the Global Pass offered by Eurail services 31 countries for a traveler dreaming of a backpacking trip across Europe.



Many hotel chains and resorts have outsourced their registry services to Honeymoon Wishes, giving guests two options to receive hotel and resort stays: via cash or via resort credit, which can be used for anything that can be charged to a room during the stay. Brands that have partnered with Honeymoon Wishes include Disney Parks and Resorts, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Hilton, Starwood Hotels, and Atlantis. Hotels like the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott offer gift cards for hotel stays. Online booking services like also sell gift cards, which can be redeemed at more than 150,000 of their hotel partners worldwide with no fees or expiration dates. Viator, which offers experiences and excursions around the world, also offers gift cards.


Travel Gear

Every traveler will need certain items that make travel run more smoothly.The best gifts for travelers make packing more efficient and transport more comfortable. The Global Companion 65L ($229) is a great pack to stash everything needed for a day or a long weekend, and is designed for comfortable wear. Consider gifting the travel pack with a few other travel essentials. Eagle Creek’s Packing Cubes ($28) are versatile for short or long trips and keep things organized. And the Easy Blink Eyeshade ($11) and the Memory Foam Neck Pillow ($30) make sleeping on the go more comfortable. Globetrotters will also want the Silk Undercover Neck Wallet ($28) to keep cash and passports secure while they wear it, while a Universal Travel Adapter ($60) is a must to so their phone is always charged and ready to take photos of their amazing travel experiences.

No matter how you decide to gift experiences this holiday season, the adventure of travel is sure to be the gift that keeps on giving. Use our Ultimate Travel Gift Guide to find meaningful gifts for everyone on your list.


Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

25 Best Gift Ideas for Travelers

How to Have a Transformational Travel Experience

Why a Life of Travel is Worth the Price