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Travel is an under-rated gift, in my opinion. Giving my kids and husband the gift of travel is the main reason I keep up with this miles and points hobby! But travel makes a great gift for extended family and friends, too.
Benefits of Travel Gifts
- Uniqueness. Most people don’t think of gifting travel, so chances are your gift will be one-of-a-kind and won’t be returned or exchanged.
- Less clutter. A travel gift doesn’t create clutter in homes. Fewer plastic toys and plastic pieces to mess up the house, yay!
- For the person who has everything. We all know people like this. They buy themselves everything, so there is nothing left to give them as a gift!
- Time and memories. Giving travel means spending time with loved ones and family. It also creates memories that last a lifetime. Kids are not likely to remember every single tangible gift each year, but they are more likely to remember a special trip.
- Flexibility. When you give the gift of travel, the gift can be enjoyed at any time of the year. It doesn’t have to be consumed immediately upon opening or forgotten a few days/weeks later. You can gift an overnight stay at a hotel and arrange the stay for two to three months later. The anticipation is part of the gift!
Ideas for Travel Gifts
There are endless ideas for travel gifts. If the gift is for your own immediate family, you will have an easier time booking something concrete with a date that you know your family can make. If you are getting a travel gift for someone outside of your immediate family, flexibility is key. Don’t book anything that cannot be changed or refunded.
Travel gifts can be big ticket vacations or day trips. Travel gifts do not have to be long or extravagant to be appreciated. Consider these ideas:
- Family Cruise. I love cruising! There is something for every age group on board.
- Airline ticket for family member to visit you. If you have a relative who can’t afford to fly to be with other family members, offer to buy that person a ticket to visit you. Often, that is cheaper than flying your whole family to them.
- Add-ons to an existing trip. If your recipients already have a trip planned, give them something they can do on their trip. For example, my husband and I went to France for our honeymoon. My brother and sister-in-law gave us a Seine River boat tour and private city tour as a wedding present. It was wonderful!
- Airline and hotel gift cards. Be sure to check out Doctor of Credit for discounts on travel gift cards, like this recent deal on Southwest gift cards!
- Overnight staycation at a nearby hotel. A night at Great Wolf Lodge or another hotel with a fabulous outdoor water park is always a treat. Or, consider a night at a traditional hotel that is located near an area of interest for a short trip.
How to Wrap it Up
You can still wrap up a travel gift:
- Buy a small gift that is symbolic of the trip. Or, wow them with a large gift, like these life-size Mickey and Minnie balloons we bought when we surprised our kids with a Disney Cruise.
- Print off an announcement or certificate, and wrap it in a box. That’s what we did one year when my parents gifted my kids a day at SeaWorld San Antonio. I got the photo collage for free from Walgreens.com with a coupon code and store pick-up.
- Create a puzzle out of a photo symbolizing the trip, and the recipients can assemble the puzzle.
Best Ways to Gift Travel with Miles & Points
It’s almost always more cost effective to book a hotel or airline ticket with your own points for someone else rather than buy points or transfer points as a gift. Most airlines allow you to use your points to book tickets for other people. I have personally done this with Southwest and American Airlines. (Korean Air does not allow this except for immediate family members.)
Hyatt allows you to book a room with your points for someone else. For some hotel brands, you have to book the room under your name and list your gift recipients as guests. See this post from Points With a Crew for how to book a room for other people using your own points.
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card that gives a $300 per calendar year travel credit, you can use the credit to buy gift cards directly from hotels and airlines. Similarly, if you have travel rewards cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or the Capital One Venture, you can use your points for any travel-related expenses.
You can also book tours and experiences through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Under “Explore and book travel”, click on “Activities”. You might be surprised at the choices available using your points.
If you have spare miles and points that you have no plans to use, consider turning them into a gift for someone. You may not miss the miles in your account, and the trip might mean the world to your recipient!
Gifting Points to Charity
Another great way to give generously is to share your miles and points with people in need through various charities. The Points Guy has a great resource of ways to donate your miles and points.
I have only donated to the Fisher House Foundation, and it was super easy. Most donations don’t have high point minimums, so this is a great way to be generous with your points.
Are you planning to give the gift of travel to your family or friends? Have you ever been the recipient of a travel gift? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.