Best Gift For The Holidays: Memories, Experiences, Travel!

AmaWaterways offers 60 or so wine themed cruises in 2023, plus a new wine themed "Flavors of Burgundy" itinerary. Photo by AmaWaterways.

Not sure what to get your spouse, parents, adult children or close friends for the perfect holiday present? Well, think “out of the box.” The best, most appreciated gift may not be clothing, jewelry or electronics. The best kind of gift is often one that’s a memory-maker — and nothing does that better than travel.

Think about those past travel experiences and the lifetime memories created with loved ones and friends. For instance, The Meandering Traveler will never forget piling into a car as a child for a three-month, cross-country family road trip. Also, after venturing for the first time to Africa’s Serengeti, we came back “changed.” It was the trip of a lifetime that we’ll always remember.

Alternatively, you may talk lovingly about your European honeymoon — taking a gondola ride in Venice, viewing magnificent ancient sites in Rome, and toasting each other in Paris. Or, perhaps you fondly remember a family celebratory cruise.

Why not consider gifting a vacation in 2024 or beyond to a cherished loved one, spouse, adult child, grandchildren, parents or close family friend?

(Photo above shows a “Celebration of Wine” river cruise experience. Photo by AmaWaterways.)

The Best Gift: Memory-Making Experiences

A&K guests with a monk in Siem Reap/Angkor, Cambodia. Photo copyright 2015 Abercrombie & Kent.
(Recent travel surveys show that travelers desire “experiential,” memory-making experiences. Shown above, A&K guests interact with a monk in Siem Reap/Angkor, Cambodia. Photo copyright 2015 Abercrombie & Kent.)

Those kinds of examples show just how the gift of travel can become a precious memory-making experience. It’s something that most people will cherish for a lifetime.  So, if  you’re still searching for that perfect gift — with Christmas just a week away, and New Year’s Day just beyond — think about a gift of travel.

“Imagine when your family or close friends open a cheery holiday card from you and inside is a gift certificate from Pavlus Travel — so they can plan their dream trip for 2024 or  2025,” says Shelby Steudle, president, Pavlus Travel. “That’s exciting!”

Providing flexibility, a gift certificate could be used to select an escorted tour, land safari, ocean, river or expedition cruise. Throughout the year, this is a great gift for people to consider for celebrating a retirement, a 50th anniversary, a college graduation or perhaps a wedding.

But during this time of year, it’s a great gift for celebrating the holidays and toasting to fantastic experiences yet to come in the new year or beyond. So, chat with your personal travel planner about gift certificates to make that happen.

Best Gift for Wine Enthusiasts  

AmaWaterways' AmaDouro will operate longer river cruise seasons on Portugal's Douro River. Photo by AmaWaterways.
(AmaWaterways’ AmaDouro sails from Porto, Portugal, along the Douro River Vally to small towns and vineyards. Photo by AmaWaterways.)

If your adult children are wine enthusiasts, think about gifting them a gift certificate that would cover a river cruise through Germany, Austria, France or Portugal. AmaWaterways offers more than 70 “Celebration of Wine River Cruises” in 2024. Each is hosted by a qualified wine expert from North America or Europe.

In Portugal, AmaWaterways is launching Douro River cruises earlier than usual this coming season. Now, it’s starting to sail in March 2024, providing more departure dates through the year for guests.

On any designated “Celebration of Wine” cruises, guests will enjoy wine tastings, vineyard visits and presentations by the onboard wine host. For example, a seven-night “Enticing Douro” river cruise sails roundtrip from Porto, Portugal on July 20, 2024.

Prices for that departure start at $3,799 per person, double occupancy. A three-night add-on stay in Lisbon, Portugal, is also available.

Tauck, Uniworld, Scenic, Viking, Riviera River Cruises and others also offer voyages through wine-producing regions of France, Germany, Austria and elsewhere in Europe.

Best Gift for Families

The dramatic scenery of Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Tauck.
(A great gift is a chance to explore Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by Tauck.)

If your family members — grandparents and/or parents and children — love spending time together, one good option is any Tauck Bridges escorted tour. Designed specifically for multigenerational groups, these tours have one upfront price and virtually every family travel expense within the tour itself is included.

For instance, an experienced Tauck Director will travel with the tour group. He or she will handle every aspect of the journey on tour. So, some people love to give a gift certificate that covers their adult children and grandchildren heading out on a family trip. They might accompany the family if they so choose.

So, tour goers can relax and enjoy creative activities together. Family members of multiple generations will hear from local experts, entertainers and hosts, and enjoy hands-on cultural experiences.

Red Rocks & Painted Canyons

“One appealing, close-to-home trip within the U.S. is Tauck Bridges‘ eight-day “Red Rocks & Painted Canyons” tour in 2024 or 2025,” says Pavlus’ Steudle. “Family travelers will explore three U.S. National Parks — Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion, and stay at classic, inside-the-park lodges.”

She adds that this fun-filled family trip also travels to Lake Powell, straddling both Utah and Arizona, as well as Sedona, AZ;  Kanab, UT; and Las Vegas, NV. At press time, Tauck Bridges’ pricing for this specific escorted tour started at $4,490 per person, double occupancy.

Value with a Short Cruise

Highly affordable options for the gift of travel are also available. For example, three- or four-day cruises are a great way for an entire family to benefit from a gift certificate.

In addition, those cruises are available from a variety of U.S. East Coast, West Coast and Gulf of Mexico ports. One option is a four-night Bahamas and Perfect Day” itinerary roundtrip from Port Canaveral (Space Coast/Orlando), FL, in 2025.

The pier entrance to Perfect Day at CocoCay. For the first time in 2024, Celebrity Cruises will call at this private island experience with two ships. Photo by Celebrity Cruises.
(The pier entrance to Perfect Day at CocoCay. Photo by Celebrity Cruises.)

That’s operated by Voyager of the Seas. on March 13, 2025, and April 10, 2025. At press time, this short cruise was priced from $373 per person. So, it’s a highly affordable product for the entire family to go — grandparents, parents, kids and even other family members or friends.

Best of all? This voyage calls at Perfect Day at CocoCay, the line’s Bahamian private island experience.

We’ve been there and it’s a whirlwind of thrilling slides, a fun balloon experience, water activities, and relaxing beach experiences. Some activities ashore are included in the cruise fare. Others are available at an added charge.

Other Aspects of Gifting

Hilton Rose Hall is an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Photo by Playa Hotels & Resorts.
(Hilton Rose Hall is an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, that attracts many couples seeking a romantic getaway. Photo by Playa Hotels & Resorts.)

Another gift of travel that has strong appeal, dependent on the recipient’s personal interests, may include an all-inclusive resort vacation with beach time and romantic dining. Talk with your personal travel planner, and find out about any options and the best way to proceed for gifting an all-inclusive stay.

And how do gift recipients travel to the starting point of their vacation? One option is for you to gift them some of your loyalty program flight miles, so those transfer into their loyalty program account. But airline policies vary on this.

It’s good to investigate what the individual airline allows, and also what fees might apply. Here’s what American Airlines says about gifting miles.

However, we’d consider waiting to gift any miles until after you’ve provided the main gift of travel as a surprise. Otherwise, you might “give away” what’s to come, when they’re suddenly seeing miles in their loyalty account and getting an email from the airline informing them about the mileage transfer.

Another option is to simply purchase an airline gift card, available from some airlines. Those can help cover the cost of airfare for the gift recipient to get to and from their “gift vacation” destination, cruise or tour.

Make It Special

When gifting any vacation to a loved one or friend, look for a colorful holiday or “Just for you” card. Write a personal note inside about exactly what your vacation gift is. Explain why you picked it. Then enclose the gift certificate from Pavlus Travel, an airline gift card you buy on your own, or a check.

Desire to allow the recipients to choose their vacation gift? If so, it’s often helpful to narrow things down. Perhaps include itinerary details for three sample options. They can then choose one of those or pick another qualifying vacation.

But if you want to be very specific in your gift, then here’s how to present that gift. If you’re gifting an all-inclusive beach vacation or that short cruise that calls at Perfect Day at CocoCay, for instance, perhaps do the following.

Buy two sets of flip flops, two fluffy beach towels, sunscreen and a few packaged snacks. Wrap them individually with bows, include in a gift bag tote, and nestle the holiday gift certificate or gift card at the bottom of the bag.

Think Big in the Presentation

Another idea is to buy a carry-on rollerbag. Then place small, wrapped gifts representing elements of the trip inside that suitcase. Close it, wrap the outside with paper and a big bow. Presto, you have a “physical gift” to place under the tree or take to a holiday party.

A few years back, The Meandering Traveler and a few other family members gifted a 10-day self-drive trip to Ireland for a couple celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary. We wrapped up three, colorful, large posterboards — all with hand-written headlines and pasted photos or images.

A Festive Hit!

One was about the gift trip itself and included a gift certificate that would cover a self-drive Emerald Isle vacation from CIE Tours. The second covered highlights of the itinerary in snapshot fashion, talking about spots along the self-drive touring route.

The third detailed special perks such as a castle dinner or private tour, as well as the couple having “their own private driver” (a close family member) who would accompany them.

Three different family members were tapped — one per each wrapped posterboard — to vocalize what was included. So, as the recipient opened each package and looked at what it said, there was commentary. It was festive and a huge hit!

Holiday Gift Time is Now!

AmaWaterways crew members sing carols during an evening holiday programs in the ship's lounge. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(AmaWaterways crew members sing carols during a festive evening holiday program in the ship’s lounge. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

So, the time is now. Be thinking of what you might want to give as a travel gift for 2024 or 2025. You might opt for a festive river cruise for next year’s holiday season (see photo above). Or, perhaps you’d prefer to gift an ocean cruise, escorted tour or all-inclusive resort package. Alternatively, you might let the vacation be the recipient’s choice.

Whatever type of trip you decide on, 2023 research surveys show that today’s consumers strongly desire “experiences.” Creating a lifetime of memories, travel can deliver all that. Why not contact Pavlus Travel today to talk about the possibilities? It’s gift giving time!

Important Notes from Pavlus Travel

  • If anything does tweak your interest in this blog and you DO have questions about specific pricing, brochures, savings, accommodations, accessible options and so on, please contact us at  800-528-9300.
  • Or visit us online at Pavlus Travel’s official agency Web site; there you can “live chat” with us online too!
  • This blog site is designed for “basic, general information” about travel. It’s not staffed by travel advisors.
  • Any price examples used in the above blog are subject to change. They also do not represent the full range of options; a travel advisor can assist with additional information.
  • Please don’t use the Reply Section below if you are asking for pricing, travel dates, accommodations, brochures or other specific requests. Please use the 800 number or online link. 

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