This is time of year many of us are running around (physically or on the internet), trying to find that perfect gift for family, friends and business colleagues. If you are like me, you probably have some people on your list that completely stump you when it comes to finding that perfect gift, for the holidays or, for that matter, any other occasion. I do have people like that on my list, and to be honest, I AM also one of those people!
You see, as I have gotten older, spending time with family and friends has far more meaning than collecting physical things. And spending time together doing things, like travel, are what I truly cherish, and remember. Sure, I like gifts, but do you recall what you received three years ago? I know I'd be hard pressed to tell you. However, I still clearly remember my trip to New Zealand back in 2000 and Portugal in 2007 with my parents and close friends. After all, these memories are their best souvenirs!
Photo courtesy of J. Stephenson
So whether you have that "difficult" person in your life or you are simply looking for some new ideas, check out these great gifts for the travelers in your life (or friends and family that need some inspiration to start) .
PAY THE NEW OR RENEWAL PASSPORT FEE
No passport - no traveling outside of the US. One exception is a cruise that starts and ends in the US, but you won't be able to take any excursions that cross borders. For instance, cruises to Alaska are very popular, and one option is a Seattle roundtip itinerary. A visit to Victoria usually doesn't require a passport, however if you want to take the scenic train in Skagway up into the Yukon you will need a valid passport. So if you have friends or family you'd like to travel with, inspire them to travel or continue to travel, consider paying the fee required to get a new passport or to renew a passport. Sometimes that's the exact push they need.
PAY OR SUBSIDIZE THE TSA PRE CHECK OR GLOBAL ENTRY FEES
TSA pre-check is one of the best things I have done for myself. The ease of getting through security, not having to take off my shoes, unpack the computer and toiletries has saved me so much time and headache - worth every penny spent. And had I thought about it at the time, I would have opted for Global entry, which includes TSA pre-check. After standing in the customs line for over two hours, I now realize the benefits. In fact, a collegue recently came back from an overseas trip. The inbound flight was delayed, cutting connection times really close. She and those who had global entry were the only ones who made their connections since they breezed through customs and the TSA line.
CRUISE OR AIRLINE GIFT CARD (OR GIVE POINTS)
Sometimes the gift of travel is just the incentive someone needs. However, I always caution on purchasing a specific trip unless you know that person will actually be able to use it at a specific time. Not everyone has the same tastes or time, and thus flexibility is the key. Airlines and many cruise lines offer gift cards - perfect to put towards a trip of their choice. Or, if you are a road warrior and have collected more hotel or airline points than you can use, transfer enough points for a ticket or two and pay for the booking fees.
ON LOCATION PHOTOGRAPHY
It all about capturing the memories. But do you sometimes feel like you are always the one taking pictures but you're not in them? Or there are never enough where everyone is in the picture? Professional photographers are available in many cities all around the world to help capture these moments for you. Hire them for a short session or all day, to capture 15, 30 or 100+ digit al photos of your local experiences.
PREPAY TRAVEL CONSULTATION FEES
Sometimes people just don't have the time to put together their own itineraries. Let's face it, putting together an ideal trip takes time. In fact, studies show the average 2 week trip can take 40-80 hours of total research time. Put this task into the hands of a professional travel consultant. This saves time and it certainly reduces stress! Perfect combination.
Although I am a big proponent of using credit cards while traveling (you get the best exchange rates this way), sometimes having cash on hand can be very helpful, especially when one first arrives. You may need a few coins to tip, or you have a short wait and you'd love a cup of coffee but the total is under the minimum credit card amount. A small amount of the currency for the first country on the itinerary becomes a great gift.