Gift of Travel

Wondering what to do on the thirteenth day of Christmas when you still have nothing wrapped under the tree for that special person? This year do something special and unique and consider the gift of travel for your loved ones.

May I suggest treating your family to an unforgettable holiday over the Christmas period? Escape the stress of last-minute desperation shopping in over-crowded shopping malls and relax with a Pina Colada on a sun-drenched beach or hit the slopes for a magical “white Christmas.”

The good news in this otherwise dreary economy is that airlines have cut their rates for holiday travel. Additionally, many hotels and resorts are offering fantastic deals at this time. Hawaii, for instance, is offering great packages, which may include an extra night free or complimentary breakfast or resort credits.

Would you not be the coolest parents to give your teenage son or daughter surfing lessons in Hawaii for their Christmas present?

Or instead of a traditional turkey dinner, participate in a Luau with live hula dancing and a sumptuous Hawaiian feast.

If the hustle and bustle of an exciting city appeals to you during the holiday season, nothing can beat a trip to New York City at this time. Usually, the city is covered with a blanket of snow to set the mood, and an abundance of holiday activities is available for you to choose. You wouldn’t want to miss the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the world famous Radio City Rockettes, or you can watch the ice skaters at Rockefeller Plaza (which incidentally always has the most beautifully decorated Christmas tree). Or perhaps take your loved one on a romantic carriage ride through Central Park, or just take a stroll down Fifth Avenue enjoying the decorated windows, which are absolute works of art. And if you are feeling particularly generous, pop into Tiffany’s to purchase that special present. If you have a moment, don’t forget to step into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, enjoy the magical surroundings and remember what Christmas is really about.

You may want to consider a quick getaway to New Orleans to enjoy some fabulous food in some amazing properties while shopping for that last minute gift. Travel agencies are often happy to offer incredible rates in New Orleans from mid-November until the end of the year. You also can obtain special amenities, which include breakfast and possible upgrades at three of the best hotels in town, including Windsor Court, The Ritz Carlton and The W French Quarter.

You can still give the perfect gift of travel to your family and friends if you would rather celebrate Christmas at home. Here are some of my suggestions for globetrotter gifts.

Parents’ Gift

Your parents are in dire need of a vacation, and you and your siblings can send them on a trip of their lifetime. Perhaps a European barge cruise or a trip to Ireland to retrace their roots. The possibilities are endless.

Spouse Gift

How about rewarding your wife for slaving over that Christmas dinner with a trip to a fabulous spa where she will be pampered from head to toe?

Or surprise her (or him) with a biking tour through Napa Valley.

And instead of yet another sweater that gathers dust, how excited would your significant other be if you wrapped up a couple of golf balls with a card that said, “Please use these with love on your golf trip to Scotland (or TheMasters, Pinehurst, Kiawah Island…).”

Child’s Gift

My favorite: If you book a Walt Disney World Vacation package by Dec. 23, Mickey Mouse will call your family on Christmas morning to deliver the big news. Just imagine the excitement of everyone’s faces when they hear they’re going to the Walt Disney World Resort — directly from Mickey himself!

Or how about wrapping up some scarves and mittens for under the tree, with a note saying, “Wear these with love on your “Spring Break Ski Trip.” Maybe tie a big red bow around a bikini or some water goggles and let them know you have planned a trip to an all-inclusive beach resort in the Riviera Maya or Cabo San Lucas.

Grandparents’ Gift

Grandparents are sometimes perplexed as to what would be the perfect gift for their children and grandchildren. Why not give them a trip hosted by you and provide the opportunity for a perfect family reunion. Maybe a cruise or ski trip would be the ideal time to get together and enjoy each other’s company. So much more meaningful with lasting memories than maybe a savings bond that doesn’t quite excite them.

Best Friend’s Gift

Imagine the look on your best friend’s face when they open your gift to find an airline ticket to some exotic destination that both of you have visited in the past, or maybe a pair of tickets to a Cubs Game for your best buddy who has heard you discuss each game in great detail over the lifetime of your friendship.

Giving and receiving a gift of travel is unique and a special way to celebrate Christmas. You may not remember what you received 10 years ago or even last year, but everyone remembers a trip of a lifetime!