It’s no secret that younger and hipper travelers prefer experiences to things. It’s why buzzwords like “experiential travel,” “minimalist travel” and “transformative travel” are popping up more and more frequently in leading publications (Forbes included.) And with concerns about single-use materials, ocean waste, and resource consumption on the rise, it’s no wonder that non-tangible gifts are the current trend du jour.
If you’re shopping this Valentine’s Day for someone who loves travel, or who perhaps likes to travel carry-on only, consider opting for one of these experience-based gifts. From international cooking classes to airplane lounge memberships, here’s a list of some of the best experiences you can give the ones you love. Since many of these gifts are delivered electronically, they also make great last-minute options when two-day shopping still isn’t quick enough.
A Language Class:
Know someone heading abroad soon who doesn’t speak the language? Consider giving the gift of language lessons. While half a year may not be enough time to become fluent, it’s plenty of time to learn basic conversational and travel terms for ordering in restaurants or reading public transportation signs. Users who like to learn at their leisure may appreciate a Rosetta Stone subscription, which is used by travelers as well as governments and corporations to help their employees learn language skills in a hurry. But travelers who prefer a personal touch may appreciate a gift membership to TakeLessons, which offers online language classes, among other offerings. Give a gift membership, and your loved one can learn a language from anywhere in the world in real-time. Video language lessons allow the classes to be tailored to the student’s needs, strengths and weaknesses, so it’s an excellent choice for someone learning their first language who may need extra attention and support.
A Travel-inspired Online Cooking Class: $299
If your loved one appreciates both travel and cooking, consider a private cooking class inspired by their recent travels from The Chef and the Dish. Whether your giftee tasted beignets in France, dumplings in Japan, or bolinho de bacalhau in Brazil, they can learn to cook the foods they loved with private video lessons from acclaimed and professional chefs from around the world. It’s ideal for couples as cooking together can be a great way to revisit a destination from a honeymoon or anniversary trip. All classes include a pre-cooking chat to perfect the shopping list and ensure the kitchen is properly prepared, a three-hour lesson in which users cook at least three dishes, and a recipe booklet upon completion. An “Around the World” pass is available for $1,399, which includes five three-hour classes.
Gift certificates are available at $50 and above and vouchers for a two-person class are $299. Buy here.
A Home-Exchange Membership: $75+
Home exchanges were made famous in the movie “The Holiday,” in which an L.A. film editor temporarily swaps homes with a British writer. And though the movie is nearly 15 years old, home exchanges are still going strong. If you know someone who prefers getting to know destinations like a local, give a membership to HomeExchange. With a membership, a user can swap homes as many times as he or she would like. The website’s system allows for direct home swaps or one-way swaps, so users can stay at home even if that homeowner doesn’t want to stay in theirs. HomeExchange has more than 400,000 homes in 187 countries.
Vouchers are available for six ($75) or 12-month memberships ($150.) Buy here.
A Choose-Your-Own Adventure Box: $89+
For picky travelers, consider a box from U.K.-based Tinggly, so named for the tingle of excitement your recipient will feel upon opening the box. Each box contains a pamphlet containing information about hundreds of activities the user can choose from within a particular theme. For example, buying the “Best Balloon Rides” box allows the recipient to select one activity for two people from a collection of the world’s best hot air balloon adventures. If you’re buying for a spouse, consider the “Happily Ever After” box, offering romantic two-person activities like gelato making in Italy or an evening concert at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. The voucher never expires, the boxes are made from recycled materials, and with every purchase, they donate enough money to ClimateCare.org to offset the impact of the carbon emission caused by the chosen activity.
Boxes start at $89. Buy here.
A Private Outdoor Adventure Guide: Any amount
If you’re buying for an adventure traveler (especially one who loves extreme sports,) check out the gift cards from 57Hours. The company serves as a database for guides for adventure sports and outdoor activities, from distance hikes to multi-pitch rock climbing classes – think of it as an AirBnB for finding an adventure guide. They require all guides to have extensive safety and knowledge certifications, and all a user has to do is fill out a few questions on the 57Hours app. They’ll then get matched with the perfect local guide for the activity, skill level and location. The company is named for the time between 3 p.m. Friday and midnight on Sunday, so the services are intended for 9-to-5ers who work hard during the week and want to play hard on the weekends. Gift cards are sent electronically, ideal for last-minute buyers.
Gift certificates available in any denomination. Buy here.
A Coffee of the World Club: $30+
For travelers who wouldn’t dream of an early morning flight without first getting a cup of coffee, a subscription to the Atlas Coffee Club’s coffees of the world membership makes a great gift. The recipient can taste global flavors every month, even if they can’t get a day away from work. A subscription entitles the member to a new coffee every month, along with a postcard from the country of origin, tasting notes and brewing tips. Members can choose between whole beans or ground, as well as roast preference: light, dark, or a mix. Three, six, and one-year subscriptions are available.
Starting at $30. Buy here.
The Gift of Glamping: Any Amount
If you’re buying for a person who loves to spend time outdoors, let them pick out lodging ranging from teepees to treehouses to yurts with a gift voucher from GlampingHub.com. The site is similar to other vacation-rental sites, but with glamping-specific options rather than homes. GlampingHub lists 31,000 different rentals spread out across 115 countries and divided into 27 different types of varied accommodations, like igloos, cabooses, and bubbles. Gift vouchers can be given in any amount and you can choose to send a physical gift card or go with an electronic option for immediate delivery.
Vouchers are available in any amount. Buy here.
An airport lounge membership:
Unless your recipient has a high-value credit card or enough frequent flyer miles to warrant a high status, he or she probably can’t set foot in an airline lounge. If you know someone who travels a lot and often has long layovers (a.k.a. budget travelers) consider treating him or her to an annual membership to an airline club. Clubs provide free snacks and drinks, more relaxing surroundings, fewer crowds, and places to sit and work or relax during long layovers. Consider gifting a membership to the Alaska Airlines lounges, which includes 95 lounges and partner lounges across the country. Entry comes with wines and beers sourced from the west coast, plus access for guests and family.
Passes are $450 per year. Buy here.