Confession time: have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? If you’re like me, you’ve put off your holiday shopping for way, wayyyy, too long! For years, I promised myself that I would get my gift buying done before Thanksgiving, knowing that the reward would be a (slightly) less stressful December. Just like so many New Year’s resolutions, that promise went by the wayside a long time ago. I’ve now resigned myself to cranking out the shopping list along with the masses. Thank goodness for Amazon, right? Of course, online shopping only helps if you can come up with a gift idea, and that is usually the toughest part for me.
One of my favorite things to do is to surprise my clients with some travel goodies before they depart for their trip. Of course, it isn’t much of a surprise the second or third time around, so I try to be creative. I keep a running list of fun ideas in my phone, so that whenever I spot something while I’m out and about, I can file it away and reference it when I need it. In the spirit of this giving season, I thought I’d share with you some fun gift ideas for the travelers in your life!
Note: I’m including links to all the websites here to make it easy for you, but I want you to know that I receive absolutely no compensation or commission from these (or any other) retailers. I’m sure my attorney would also like me to mention that I am not responsible for any of the products or services referenced in this article :).
The Gift of Flavor (think inside the box)
You’ve probably seen a kajillion Facebook ads for the subscription food company, Try the World. If you aren’t familiar with them, here’s how it works: Try The World collaborates with chefs to curate interesting food things from different countries. They then package these items into a “snack” box or a bigger “pantry” box. As I mentioned, this is a subscription service, so each month brings a new box—and a new country of flavors—right to your doorstep. They also offer a gifting option where you can give someone a single box, as opposed to a subscription.
I am obsessed with this idea! As a foodie, I think any gift that I can eat is pretty awesome, but I love the concept of having a little taste of another place when you can’t physically visit there. What a fun way to teach kids (and other picky eaters) about the unique foods of other countries as well!
The Gift of Luxe (leather or otherwise)
There is something about a pretty passport wallet that just feels like a luxury item to me…and I love luxury items! Your passport holds the stories of dreams come true, great adventures, amazing meals, inside jokes, and days you’ll never forget. Why not dress it up a bit? If you want a good splurge, Louis Vuitton offers passport wallets in 3 patterns for $320 (along with a variety of other luxury travel accessories). However, if you’re thinking this is more of a stocking stuffer item, check out the super-cute styles at my favorite travel store of all time, Flight 001.
> Check out some of my other favorite Flight 001 goodies along with my ultimate travel must-haves HERE.
The Gift of a Good Time (wine & spirits)
I think I’ve lost count of how many bottles of wine I’ve given away this year, but each one was special and unique, which is why wine is a perfect gift (for people who imbibe, that is). For example, I planned an anniversary trip for some precious clients this summer that featured a stay in a castle near the Dordogne River Valley town of Cahors, France. Remarkably, I was able to get my hands on a bottle of wine that was produced at the exact same Chateau! When I gave them their travel documents, I was sure to include this special bottle of wine so that they could remember their romantic getaway to France on next year’s anniversary. If the local liquor stores don’t carry what you’re looking for, there are some fantastic online wine retailers like wine.com, Winc, and Vivino.
Of course, you are not limited to wine! How about a special bottle of scotch or Irish whiskey? Maybe some margarita glass or a set of Moscow mule copper mugs (which, incidentally, have not a whole lot of anything to do with Moscow…but they sure are cute!).
The Gift of Language (good books!)
Sadly, this is probably the most under-valued idea of the entire list, so I’d like to give it a little extra airtime. In a day of travel guides, travel magazines, and yes, so many travel blogs (present company regretfully included), we’ve forgotten what really great travel writing is. I wish I could travel even more than I already do, but when I can’t, a good book can satisfy (and invigorate) my wanderlust better than anything else.
You’ll find the following travel books on my bookshelf:
One of my all-time favorites is A Year in the World by Frances Mayes (author of Under the Tuscan Sun). Mayes has had some brilliant love affairs in her life—travel to and within Europe being not the least of them. Her humor, elegance, and detail are what great travel writing is all about.
Italy For the Gourmet Traveler by Fred Plotkin has probably done more to inspire my thoughts about travel, foreign foods, and being a good eater than actually visiting other countries! Fred’s manifesto is more than a guide to good pasta; it is a tribute and a textbook to Italian culture. His most valuable lesson—that of being a “pleasure activist”—applies not only to Italy or travel, but to the daily dolce vita that is ours to embrace at home or abroad.
Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart. Like the other writers on this list, Stewart provides an interesting and detailed account of the cultural learning curve of an American living in a foreign country…in this case, Spain.
Anything at all by Peter Mayle. What kind of Francophile would I be if I left Peter Mayle off the list? A Year in Provence is his most famous work, and A Good Year was recently made into a film. French Lessons should be on the required reading list for any foodie headed to France! Bonus points for preparing a Julia Child recipe!
The Gift of Goodness (it’s better to give…)
I’m a big believer in charitable giving. We have way too much stuff in this country, and that’s a great thing! Why? Because it allows us the freedom and the joy to give to those who don’t. But how does that solve the issue of what to get your sister-in-law for Christmas??? Consider shopping for a unique gift at Ten Thousand Villages. This company sources all of its beautiful products from communities throughout the developing world.
That means, when you buy a scarf, clock, serving platter, earrings, rug, or any other item from them, you are providing a stable source of fair income to a person who otherwise may be forced into a sweatshop or a street corner to earn her living. This means that you put food on a table and keep a family together when you purchase any of the tons of awesome products on this site! So, not only does your sis unwrap a present, she unwraps a story. And that’s pretty stinkin’ cool.
I hope you found a few ideas that work for you on this list, but if not, you can always give the gift of travel! That’s what my hubby and I do every year, and we’ve never regretted it. This year, my little girl has a trip to Paris waiting under the Christmas tree, and I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it. I am a much better travel designer than Christmas shopper, so give me a call before that 2017 vacation plan becomes a DIY disaster!
Wishing you a merry Christmas & a joyful holiday season!
Will you help us give the gift of travel in 2017?
Thanks to our amazing clients, we’ve been able to give away $3,000 of free travel to meet the unique needs of others! What does that look like? It looks like missionary relief, families reunited, and military spouses getting a weekend away. Our goal in 2017 is not only to continue giving away free travel, but to fully sponsor a Make-A-Wish kid who “wishes to go.”
By choosing The Jetlag Experience to design a one-of-a-kind European vacation for you, you become a #TravelFree donor.