Gift-giving can be confounding—a challenge far beyond expectation. We want to give gifts that are useful, fun, or enjoyable for the recipient. We don’t always know what they need and we can’t always be certain if they will like something we choose, yet sometimes giving money or an Amazon gift card feels impersonal, drained of creativity. Of course, it’s the thought that counts, but what if you’ve been thinking too far inside the box?
Sometimes, the most valuable, enjoyable, and lasting gift is time. Time spent experiencing people, places, tastes, sounds, adventures, and feelings that open your eyes, broaden your worldview, and live within you forever. In fact, today more people than ever hold experiences to a higher value than material possessions. Giving the gift of travel may be your best bet to truly give a special gift to your loved one. Stories and memories never become obsolete.
As a graduation present, travel can serve as a valuable learning experience. Not only does it invoke a sense of independence as your loved one steps outside their comfort zone and immerses themselves in a foreign culture, overcoming language barriers, and exploring different approaches to daily life unlike their own, travel is also enriching in its elemental push toward self-reliance. This kind of immersion encourages travelers to open their minds and soak in knowledge, history, food, and culture while overcoming any fears or stereotypes as they make new connections. It is learning life skills through firsthand, insider experience.
The broadened worldview and lessons learned through travel will carry them through experiences for the rest of their lives. In fact, many employers look to hire candidates with travel experience or graduates with study-abroad experience because it indicates open-mindedness and adjustability—travel enables you to build relationships while immersed in a new culture. Someone who can build these kinds of relationships has an advantage when working with a wide variety of clients, as well as adjusting to the organizational culture of the hiring company. These qualities are often favored above academic achievements and other extra-curricular activities; especially as international business continues to grow.
For many, the gift of travel can provide spiritual and religious experiences. It is common for youth celebrating their bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah to be gifted a trip, and young Jewish people can also apply for their free Birthright trip to Israel to better understand their heritage. For Christians, Jerusalem is an area of spiritual richness as home to a multitude of holy sites. Relics of Catholic saints around the world, the healing springs of Lourdes in France, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico draw thousands of visitors each year. Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, and its beautiful mosques also draws visitors by the thousands. Jaw-dropping Buddhist temples scattered throughout Southeast Asia provide a valuable spiritual experience that can teach people of any religion beautiful meditation techniques. In South America, a Shaman can guide you through spiritual tours and meditation practices.
All of these experiences, and more, are a way to understand history and enrich spirituality through real-life experiences, whether in the sanctity of nature or in the sacred locations that real events occurred. Throughout a religious pilgrimage or spiritual journey, travelers are able to strengthen their spiritual identity and gain insights that inspire learning and continued growth.
Similarly, it can be a life-changing experience to visit the lands of one’s ancestors. For people interested in genealogy, multi-generational travel, or family history, a priceless gift is one that allows them to visit the “motherland.” Eating traditional food, visiting sites of historical and personal significance, and witnessing the same views that older generations bore witness to can bring people closer to their ancestors. Heritage travel can bring families together and inspire a passion for history, culture, and keeping family tradition alive.
As a wedding, honeymoon, or anniversary gift or a “just because” romantic getaway, travel can bring couples together as they try new, exciting things. Romantic, luxury safaris in Africa offer the best of glamping with lantern-lit picnics and elephants moseying outside the lodge. Pristine white-sand beaches with crystal clear water invite sunshine, warmth, happiness, and intimacy. Adventurers can backpack across Southeast Asia with bicycle tours of lush green rice paddies, kayak tours of beautiful bays, caving in some of the world’s largest caves, or experiencing what has been deemed some of the world’s greatest cuisine as couples grow and learn together.
On the other hand, life does not always present the “ideal” opportunities for travel. Starting a new static job, starting a family, or even adopting pets can make travel seem like an impossibility. Carpe diem! Transitional times of life can be an amazing time to seize the opportunity to travel before settling into a routine that may make it difficult to jet set- especially on a whim! It takes a lot more planning and logistics coordination to travel the more obligations there are to fulfill. As some say there are the “haves” and the “have-dones,” or those who have more things versus those who have more experiences.
The memories and stories that stay with you through the rest of life’s adventures make the gift of travel the most unique and lasting of all. Airlines, hotels, and tour operators such as Yampu make it easy to contribute to someone’s adventurous spirit with gift certificates for people to plan their own trips, or can work with you to customize a tour based on what your loved one loves.
Have you received the gift of travel as a gift or given a trip to someone else? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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