Travel Think Tank

Gift Experience!

gift experience to unleash the global citizen in each of us

As everyone is out and about on Black Friday tracking down all those deals, I’m sitting back enjoying a little well deserved me time. After all, I did 16 hours in the kitchen yesterday! So, why am I not out there hoofing it from store to store? I gift experience! My gifts to my family focus on experience! I am a true fan of the gift card, the ticket, and the voucher. You may think that gifting like this is a bit impersonal and doesn’t hold the thrill of a traditionally wrapped box. I beg to differ. I am a fan of promoting the global citizen in all of us by experiencing the world around us. Here are five ways to infuse experience into your gift giving this season.

Add a friend!

If you are gifting a trip to the zoo (A great first start! Zoos are underrated!), add a stuffed zoo buddy with the tickets so there’s a little something to hug in the moment and something to look forward to. Consider other add ins like t-shirts, sunglasses, accessories, or other event specific gear to add in to the gift. It doesn’t have to be big, just a good match to the experience.

Plan ahead!

Gifting an experience like going to a national park or theme park? Add in a camera to save those memories. Cameras come in all shapes and sizes these days and there’s one that’s just perfect for the trip and your price point!

Make it fun!

One way to make a gift fun is to make it an experience in itself. How about a scavenger hunt? Perhaps a gingerbread house building contest? Maybe an ornament hunt is just your style.(Think Easter egg hunt in the winter.) No matter what the experience, have a few reindeer games to make it fun!

Match it up!

Tickets to a concert? Add the CD! Passes to a museum? Add a field guide! No matter the destination, a companion gift is a perfect pairing for your experience. Mouse ears are great if your headed for Disney and a pasta making kit could be just the thing if you are going to Rome. Perhaps this is your first travel experience and your young recipient needs a piece of luggage.

Read all about it!

No matter the experience, no matter the destination, there is a book to support your experience. Fiction and non fiction options are endless! Guide books, stories of destinations, historical accounts, and notable novels all work like a charm. If your interested in something more personal, a journal or a day planner may be just the right fit. Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

No matter the age, no matter the interest, there’s an experience out there that’s just the right match for the loved ones on your list. Happy holidays!

There’s plenty to experience!

There are tons of great last minute ideas for great last minute gifts that focus on experience. Some are big and some are small. Here’s hoping you find all kinds of fun and creative gifts for the ones you love!

  • Escape Rooms
  • Hunting and fishing experiences
  • Concert or live performance tickets
  • Art classes at a museum or local studio
  • Movie tickets
  • Food crawls
  • Zip lining experience
  • Hot air balloons or sky diving
  • Unique restaurant experiences
  • Museum tickets

Looking for more? Check out our eco friendly picks, our subscription box picks, and our 2020 gift guide for plenty of great picks!

Travel Think Tank

These are a few of my favorite things….

It’s Christmas time and the air is filled with the excitement of the season. Lights are strung, trees stand at attention ready for Santa’s big arrival! The kids are a little out of control with the anticipation of all that the next two weeks offer. I love Christmas and my time with my family. It never disappoints. I love to laugh, love, and share with them especially as they grow up and start forging their own way in this world. As with anything moms deal with, I always seem to find myself over analyzing what I could do differently or better than before. I know, I know I shouldn’t but, I do! I’m always looking for ways to be creative with the holidays but my kids have brought up a very good point: “Mom!” they say “we never know what to get you!”

Fair enough!

Kids want to give just as much as they want to receive. I must admit, I am one of those moms who falls in the “put me last” category-as most do, but, the kids have a point. How are they ever supposed to know what to do if we don’t help them along? Maybe the thing I need to do is put their gift giving ahead of their gift getting. And in the end, isn’t that what we are always trying to teach them? So, here’s my idea for the busy, put-myself-last, creative holiday moms out there:

Create a simple list of a few of your favorite things!

Here is mine:

1. Bumble bees

2. Maps

3. Christmas ornaments that come with a story or meaning

4. Travel books

5. Polish pottery

The list is open to any interpretation but at least it gives your young gift givers a place to start! So, post your list, cozy up with you kiddos and have an evening with problematic Maria! She is very clear on her favorite things!

One of my favorite things is my travel tree with ornaments from all my travels.
Family Travel Hub, Travel Think Tank

Patriotism as a Global Citizen. How travelers can honor those we love on Veteran’s Day.

Veterans Day is here. In our family, it is the kickoff to our holiday season. The holiday seems iconically American. However, Veterans Day started off 102 years ago as Armistice Day which marked the end of WWI and as the world started healing from The Great War, each nation involved created there own version of remembering. This makes the concept quite Global rather than quintessentially American and a great way to expand our horizons both patriotically and historically. Our own holiday evolved from commemorating 11-11-18 to honoring all who serve and have served. But make no mistake, there are plenty of countries that honor those who serve in their own way. I am lucky and grateful for the Veterans in my family. My dad, my husband, and a bevy of other relatives all served at one time or another. I even spent some time in uniform myself.

Finding our Ancestors for Veteran’s Day

One way other countries honor the military sacrifice is to remember the fallen. A great example of this is what you can find in France. This summer, I had the honor of meeting two veterans while I visited and the experience was life changing. My mom and I hopped into a sporty euro rental in Belgium and made our way west across the French border to an area out in the middle of nulle part- that’s French for nowhere. We were stopping to visit Private First Class Thomas McGovern. His address is one I can share: plot B, Row 18, Grave 11, Somme American Cemetery, Bony, France.

Somme

Thomas is my great, great uncle and died in the famous Battle of the Somme on September 27th, 1918. Visiting the cemetery is quite amazing. The superintendent escorted us out to the grave, among impeccably manicured grounds and explained to us the play by play of the battle and exactly what fate my uncle met. He produced a small container of sand from Omaha Beach to rub across the marble stone so that Thomas’ name was easily read. There, in the summer sun out in the French countryside, I became the first family member to come and pay my respects to him. I was all at once proud, connected, elated and humbled. It was a once in a lifetime experience!

Muesse-Argon

As our journey continued, I had someone else to check in with. The next day, we drove out to the Meuse-Argon American Cemetery to meet, for the first time as well, John McGovern. He is Thomas’ brother and, by heart breaking coincidence, he also perished on September 27th- just 46 days shy of the armistice. The cemetery that he rests in is shared with 14,000 other brave boys who put on a tin hat and stepped up to fight in an unknown world. Again, the sand, again two flags of pride and solidarity, again emotions that make one grateful and awestruck.

So on this Veterans Day, I say thank you to all of you who have served. I appreciate you all. And I encourage you put on a bright red poppy and

The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy.

The American flag flying over Omaha Beach.

seek out those veterans who may not be as close as most. They may be just the thing for you and yours to learn so much about your own family and how they contributed to the greater good. There are 26 American Cemeteries overseas with over 130,000 brave Americans who are hoping a family member might visit. If you are interested, start your research with the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Poppies represent the spilt blood of the many lives that fought for liberty.