This Cyber Monday, give the gift of travel

by Irina Vishnevskaya, Tastemaker in Residence

It’s that time of year once again- love it or hate it, your inbox is most definitely overflowing with Cyber Monday deals. So many discounts, sales, and other incentives to get us to buy stuff. More stuff for our already overly stuffed homes, kitchens and closets.

As for me, I’ve been on more an spend-on-experiences-not-stuff kick, a concept which science has proven leads to more happiness. And as far as experiences go, there’s really no better experience to invest in than one of travel- it opens our eyes, feeds our creativity, enriches our identities and creates the kind of memories that actually do last a lifetime.

So why not give the gift of travel, the ultimate experience, for those on your guest list? Though you may not be able to afford giving the gift of an entire plane ticket or hotel stay, you can contribute to part of it, and provide even more motivation for those on your list to get up and go explore our world; they’ll thank you later.

Here are my top pick for travel experience gifts:

1. Airline gift cards
I did a quick search, and it turns out it’s actually pretty difficult to find an airline that doesn’t offer the option of purchasing a gift card- United, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, American all have wonderful programs that are generally really flexible as far as amounts go (usually anything over $25). I can’t think of a better way to stimulate travel than treating someone to all (or a portion) of their airfare- the cost of which tends to be the single most prohibitive factor to travel.

2. Airbnb gift cards
It’s really exciting to me that Airbnb offers the option of gift cards - if you haven’t experienced Airbnb yet, get on it; it’s the best way to be a traveler not a tourist, staying in amazing homes and apartments and leaving those all-too-similar hotels. This is a great gift for those who don’t mind leaving the comfort of sky-rise hotels in Downtown and experiencing their destinations like locals. I often book Airbnb accommodations for my clients and it’s always a smashing success. If you prefer to go more of the traditional hotel route, every hotel chain also offers the option of a gift card.

3. Tour operator gift cards
If your gift-receiver is a fan of group travel (from my experience, it’s a love it or hate it kind of thing) most tour operators provide a gift card option as well, a high-end favorite for travelers seeking luxury is Abercrombie & Kent and a more down-to-earth, budget option is Intrepid Travel; both are great.

4. Experience gift cards
Vayable is a wonderful platform on which you can reach and book unique experiences with local insiders virtually anywhere in the world- think a Barcelona graffiti tour, a flea market experience in London or a cooking class in Israel. And lucky us, they also offer a gift card option in any amount, large or small.

5. Connect to your favorite travel planner
There is an army of people out there who know much of the world like the back of their hands and can help you and yours plan, book and enjoy your travels; so don’t hesitate to reach out to a travel agent, a travel advisor or a custom travel planner like myself at allé, to help get you set up with a wonderful gift that will surely surprise and delight.

Bon voyage to you and yours, and good luck avoiding the mall and your inbox this next month.