Buying Gifts? Give Trips, Not Things, to Bring Lasting Cheer

By Samantha Scott
December 13, 2016

Most people have enjoyed Dr. Seuss's “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” either in book, TV special, or movie form for many years. Most nod their head along with the commentary on the way consumerism has taken over the true meaning of the holidays.

And then we all feverishly buy things for people without much meaning behind them and ignore the moral of the story.

But what is the modern moral? Don't buy gifts? Perhaps not that draconian. Perhaps it's getting behind the true spirit of gift giving and finding ways to bring meaningful joy to loved ones and strangers alike.

Perhaps, it's not, 'don't buy anything' but instead, 'don't buy just any thing.'

When you give the gift of an experience, versus a material good, the excitment you have as the giftor increases (scientifically!) and the person who receives the gift gets more  pleasure out of using it.

We’ve said it before: the gift of travel is truly a way to buy happiness.

This holiday season, your hard-earned money can go farther than ever before! Here are 15 incredible travel experiences you can give for the same price as some common gift items (flights not included.)

For $100 You Can...

Purchase an Electronic Return Putting Mat from Sharper Image - the place that makes things you don’t need. Or you could...


1. Spend 2 days exploring beautiful Lake Titicaca in Peru. Meet people who are part of an ancient culture and spend time out on the water with Intrepid Travel - From $65/person

2. Get to know local kids and families when you teach arts and crafts in Costa Rica with Give a Day Global - From $100/person

3. Go hiking on the largest volcano in Central America. Your office can be adorned with photos from this achievement...instead of your putting green scores - From $92/person 

For $500 You Can...

Purchase an Oculus virtual reality headset. Let the irony sink in. Instead of seeing far off places through a tiny window on your head...which just looks silly, let's be honest, you could...


1. Go to South America and actually feel the spray from Iguassu Falls. Also you'll be in two countries in two days. This Iguassu Falls tour with G Adventures is the perfect gift - From $399/person

2. Instead of the virtual experience, get up close and personal with the pyramids in Egypt on a tour in Cairo with Look at Egypt Tours - From $305/per person

3. YOLO. Do you want to gaze through a VR headset at the sunset over the Mediterranean from a sailboat that you’re not really on? Or see it for real on a cruise in Greece with Sail in Greece Adventures - From $397/person

For $1,000 You Can...

Pick up a “Picasso Olive Leaf Ring” from Tiffany and Co. It’s purple. And gold. And no matter how hard you try, it’s not going to go with anything other than that one outfit that you’ll only wear to your cousin’s wedding. And maybe a fancy tea party. But really, who goes to tea dressed up anymore? Instead...


1. For under $1,000 you could be camping out on the African savannah, where the only purple and gold will be in the stunning dusk colors after sunset. And a photo is forever - you'll have priceless memories to share for years to come. Consider the South Africa Discoverer tour with G Adventures - From $999/person

2. Instead of a $1000 piece of jewelry, you and a friend could visit Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand for 9 days. Angkor Trails with Intrepid - From $690/person 

3. Or spend 10 days surrounded by ancient Mayan history, and relaxing on the beach after a long day of archaeological discoveries in Cancun with Tucan Travel - From $1,149/person

For $5,000 You Can...

Get the big money item: that Ultra HD TV, where the image is so sharp it jumps off the screen. Yes you could buy one for $5,000, but you could also...


1. Take a luxury cycling tour through Burgundy with Butterfield & Robinson, tasting wine and eating delicious food along the way - From $4,995/person

2. Go hiking in Chile on a tour with Exodus, where you will cross off such bucket list items as Torres del Paine, Patagonia, and the Atacama Desert - From $4,145/person

3. Eat your way around Japan with Intrepid. Turn off the Food Network and enjoy delicious ramen, sushi, and learn to make your own soba - From $4,595/person

For $10,000 You Can...

Purchase a full size Yurt for your backyard (which let’s face it, you’ll just end up using to keep your lawn mower out of the rain. And then, you’ll have to move it in order to use the lawnmower…and that’s just impractical. Almost as impractical as having a Yurt in the first place.) But if you really are considering such a purchase, mull over these trips that you could get instead...


1. Maybe that office putting green would come in handy after all on a private Ireland Golfing Tour with Butterfield & Robinson  - From $9,295/person 

2. Look out the window to see expansive ice and snow, covered with wild penguins; instead of your St. Bernard marking his territory on your brand new Yurt. Incredible Antarctica is a place not many people get to see, but you will on a 13 day cruise with Hurtigruten - From $7,985/person 

3. Stay in a Yurt. No really, on a tour through Mongolia with Cheeseman’s Ecology Safarisyou’ll have the opportunity to stay in this traditional home and appreciate the nuances of everyday life in Mongolia - From $7,900/person

Convinced that experiences are better than things this holiday season? Starting searching now to find your perfect trip:

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4161 Views    1 Comments
By Pat Fenner
December 20, 2016 at 5:46 AM
What a great post! My son-in-laws often "gifts" dinner or an activity together for a similar reason: he values relationship over stuff ;-)
Thanks for much for putting this together and sharing it at Coffee and Conversation last week - we'll be featuring it at tomorrow's party!

Merry Christmas to you - wherever you'll be spending it!!

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