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As if 2020 hasn’t been frustrating enough, it feels like the holidays have been cancelled. My family has already decided not to see each other for Christmas and most of the festivals and events I look forward to won’t be happening. Maybe that’s why I’m clinging onto what’s left of the holidays: decorations, carols, cookies, and yes — gifts.
This year, my gift ideas are inspired by travel rather than being things you can use during travel. They (hopefully!) will invoke a small spirit of adventure even if someone’s stuck at home. After all, we all need a little something to take our minds off reality…even if our current definition of travel is heading from the living room to the kitchen.
So, without further ado: this year’s non-traditional travel gift guide.
Holiday Gifts for Travelers Who Can't Travel
2020 calls for a different type of gift, but that doesn't mean you can't find the perfect option.
With travel, you never know what's coming next but you take it in stride (and the unexpected often turns into the best memories). The Adventure Box recreates this feeling, without having to leave your home. Scratch off a box -- like a lottery ticket -- and find out what your adventure of the day is. Instead of asking what you should do next, see where life takes you. There are editions for Solo, Family, Friends, and Couples.
If you can't make it to the winery, have the winery come to you! Vinebox sends wine flights right to your front door. Wine is sent in sealed, individual pours so you can sample a few different "bottles" in the perfect portion size. Sets of 9 or 12 wines are available and all versions come with a credit toward buying a full bottle. Great for date night or Zoom sessions with family you can't celebrate with in person.
I can't be the only one who jots down wishlists while I dream about travel. This notebook has tons of list prompts for proper wanderlusting and is a great way for anyone to keep track of ideas and inspiration until they can book their next plane ticket. There are also prompts for places you've *already* visited -- reminiscing is more fun than you might imagine.
With more than 2,000 federal recreation sites nationwide, there's a really good chance that anyone can find a national park, national monument, or historic site within day tripping distance. The America the Beautiful pass gets you free admission to all of these sites for an entire year. Many sites are still open and relatively low-risk to visitors and hopefully others will become safely accessible during the rest of the year-long validity. If there was ever a year to invest in one of these park passes, it's right now.
Airbnb's Online Experiences are better than you'd expect. There are literally thousands of online workshops you can take, from Moroccan cooking classes to a guided street art "walk" through Athens to meditating "at" a Japanese shrine. Not only can you gift a fun experience, but it's an awesome chance for (online) cultural exchange. You're also supporting individuals who may have previously worked as in-person guides and are currently out of work until travel resumes. Win-win.
The best way to re-create the hotel experience at home is to upgrade the bedding, something that (if you're like me), you're long overdue for. Westin sells it's heavenly bedding online and no, it's not overrated. I use a twin-size lightweight down blanket as a throw because it's cozy and washes amazingly well, as you might expect from a hotel that's constantly doing laundry.
Travelers are more likely to carve out time for exploring their home city before heading farther afield. Let's Roam creates scavenger hunts through cities all over the USA with 400 locations and growing. You can buy access to a single location or get an annual pass so that you can roam everywhere you go. Bonus: the city hunts are 100% outdoors (unless you voluntarily go in) so you can social distance as you go.
There's no excuse not to learn the local language before your next trip when you have plenty of time to prepare. Of all the apps I've tried, Mondly is the most practical for travelers because you can skip straight to lessons like "Preparing for a Trip", "Vacation Activities", and "Public Transportation" with a paid subscription. No more getting burnt out on a thousand repetitions of irrelevant vocabulary (unless, of course, you want to do ALL the lessons).
I've learned more about my family history in the past few months than I have in the rest of my lifetime. Ancestry.com has access to tons of records to help you fill in your family tree and can lead you down a never-ending path of reading newspaper articles and other records. My personal favorite family story? A family member who ended up marrying the driver who hit her in a pedestrian-car accident. That doesn't happen every day.
Puzzles are all the rage this year and Snapfish makes it easy to custom order one of your favorite travel photo. Choose from 250 or 500 pieces and enjoy putting it together while telling stories from the trip. Bonus: this time of year, there are always coupons for photo gifts (usually prominently displayed right on the website).
Need more ideas?
Last year’s travel gift guide has everything from packing essentials to home decor to clothing and gear.