While the holiday season is a fun time to spend time with friends or family, gift-giving can often be a challenge. It may be hard to choose which sweater to buy your best friend, but you do know they’ve always dreamed of a beach retreat. With interest shifting to spending money on experiences rather than material gifts, a planned trip may be the perfect solution.
Before you plan a unique experience gift for a loved one, make sure that their schedule for the intended time is cleared, that they have the required essentials for the journey (passport, bathing suit, etc.), and be sure either one of you can take on any travel expenses. Once those bases are covered, have fun planning the reveal in a gift box or a game of guessing the destination.
Gifting a surprise trip is a timeless, thoughtful option that brings new memories and stories along with it. Is there a bucket list destination a family member has always wanted to see? Are you and your friends in need of a thrilling adventure? If you’re planning a personalized travel experience for someone or hope to tag along, we’re happy to lend some inspiration. For adventure seekers, spa enthusiasts, and everyone in between, here are our travel gift recommendations for the special people in your life.
Whether navigating a tropical jungle or a thick mountain forest, give your favorite thrill-seeker a new horizon to explore. There’s an adventure waiting in these outdoor playground destinations so your loved one can zipline through the trees, sightsee natural wonders, or hike to their heart’s content. If you need a vacation home with fun built-in, try a riverfront home, lake house, or cabin with mountain views. Trek out to a nearby national park or plan an international odyssey. There’s no better gift than a breath of fresh air and an exciting day ahead.
Recommended Home: Lost Pools Bungalows
If the world is your loved one’s stage, here are several destinations that make the perfect backdrop. Find a picturesque poolside, refreshing hot tub, or beachfront bungalow ideal for lounging, and their dream escape is set. While there’s nothing wrong with having expensive tastes, you don’t need to spend lots of money to indulge in some extravagance. Pro tip: booking a trip during a shoulder season is an easy way to keep vacations budget-friendly.
Recommended Home: Modern Malibu Beauty
There’s a paradise for every palate—give your favorite chef or food connoisseur a taste of something new. Grab a bowl of gumbo in New Orleans, order a lobster roll by the shore in Cape Cod, or see firsthand what makes California, Oregon, and Texas wine country unique. Pair this delicious food tour with a cooking class for a trip they can savor with every tastebud.
Recommended Home: Tuscany in Sonoma
Give the gift of standing on top of the world, staring out at fresh powder on mountain peaks. For those that love winter sports and the fun of fresh snow, the U.S. is chock-full of incredible ski resorts from coast to coast (not to mention all the options in Canada, too). Search ski-in/ski-out stays with fireplaces or hot tubs for a cozy après-ski.
Recommended Home: Ski Lift Trail
For some, happiness starts at the ocean. Does your loved one prefer the rugged and rainy Pacific Northwest, balmy warm-weather tropics, or the affluent and old-fashioned Northeast? There’s a corner of the coast for every ocean lover, with a beach access home base to match. Ride the surf, dig into fresh seafood, catch up on a beach read, or bask in some well-deserved lounging.
Recommended Home: Beach House
Treat your significant other or favorite couple to a weekend-long date night. Whether newlyweds or approaching a golden anniversary, they’ll love a chance to get away and savor some time together. From there, they can enjoy a lighthouse tour in postcard-ready New England or an evening of wine tasting in the rolling vineyards of Napa.
Recommended Home: Portside
For a great gift for a family, or your own family members, plan a getaway they can appreciate together. Bring family game night to entertainment hot spots like California, Florida, and the “water park capital of the world,” Wisconsin Dells. With plenty of fun activities to choose from, it’ll be easy to find something both parents and kids will love. After enjoying thrilling rides, escape rooms, waterslides, zoos, and amusement parks, a trip together might be a new favorite memory they’ll reminisce about all year. (As a bonus, make sure Fido’s not left behind with a pet-friendly stay.)
Recommended Home: Pixie Dust Hideaway
For friends and family members that love to delve into the rich history, art, and culture of the world, there are historic U.S. cities with treasures to uncover. Pique their curiosity with the perfect gift of sightseeing by carriage ride, exploring ancient ruins, or checking off another museum tour from their list. Fuel their inspiration with a one-of-a-kind educational expedition.
Recommended Home: The "Novel Retreat"
Everyone deserves a blissful break to relax, refresh, and recharge. With a massage, stunning views, and a chance to unplug, they’ll come back renewed. Find the perfect hideaway that fits their preferences, whether by the beach or secluded in the trees. Give the holiday gift of relaxation with a spa retreat or tranquil hiatus from it all. (Cucumber slices over the eyes, optional.)
Recommended Home: Casa Cielo
Time to unplug and unwind with the friends that make every trip better. Need to get away with just the girls? Is there a birthday or bachelorette weekend on the horizon? Karaoke the night away, celebrate with a dinner of fine dining, or catch up together on an outdoor deck. These cities hold no shortage of activities, nightlife, or easy ways to enjoy downtime.
Recommended Home: Music City Muze
Whether embarking on an active adventure or planning to lounge around the city, these spots are best explored with friends. Find the perfect home base for your bachelor getaway or relaxing hangout in homes with boat docks, stays by the golf course, or lake houses with plenty of room.
Recommended Home: Waterdog I