What’s a wanderluster to do while the whole world’s on pause? Stay home, if you want to help get things going again in the foreseeable future. And while a global pandemic isn’t the time to buy someone an airline gift card or a near-term train ticket, you can still satiate the yearnings of those who ache to roam—and help keep the travel industry afloat—by giving travel-themed gifts to the grounded voyagers in your life.
In Lieu of Admission…
Just because they can’t travel doesn’t mean they can’t have souvenirs. Plus, buying something from an attraction’s gift shop means that you’ll be supporting important places that are suffering from a lack of income. Need a few ideas? How about a national park poster, a Monterey Bay Aquarium gift pack, Yayoi Kusuma-inspired homeware from The Broad, or nabbing Disney park souvenirs without stepping past the entrance gates? If you happen to miss paying for plane fare, an innovative company called Plane Tags lets you pay for a piece of a plane instead.
Map It Out
Travel lovers are usually map lovers too, so get the cartophile in your life something to longingly gaze at until the pandemic is done. A scratch-off world map lets you use a coin to scrape the gold off any country or state that you’ve already visited. You could also give a map mask, a showpiece globe, GeoJango’s attractive pushpin maps, hangable wooden maps, a color-in map mug, or Wildkin’s playful children’s rug, which features colorful U.S. geography.
Hang It Up
If they can’t go visit their favorite destination right now, help them keep that place front and center by turning their favorite photos of it into art that they can enjoy at home, either on canvas or on wood, or even—via a clever company called Fracture—on glass. For expertly curated photo books, PikPerfect lets them hire a designer to sift through their digital travel photos, choose the best, and transform them into a keepsake album, printed on archival paper. And for a step up from the typical travel slideshow, the Skylight digital frame lets you email photos directly to the frame—they appear immediately.
Wouldn’t it be nice for them to be able to speak the language (at least just a little) the next time they land somewhere new? They’ve got time to learn right now, so consider subscriptions to language-learning apps and services like Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone, or TakeLessons. Or, invest in a good old-fashioned phrasebook.
A Taste of Place
Nothing brings people back to a place more than its tastes and smells. If it’s Hawaii your recipient is missing, spring for some Kona coffee or chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. If they left their heart in San Francisco, ship ‘em some Ghirardelli or Boudin. If they adore France, make it Champagne or Courvoisier, and if Ireland makes their eyes smile, choose Waterford crystal, Knappogue Castle Whiskey, or a Guinness gift set—you get the idea.
It’s obviously not the same as being there IRL, but at least with live virtual experiences, they can almost feel as though they’ve traveled elsewhere. Fortunately, there are plenty of real-time, interactive travel-themed “journeys” to choose from these days, from the myriad options on Airbnb Experiences and Amazon Explore to this virtual basecamp retreat from Mountain Trek, and Vosges’s round-the-world chocolate tasting. You can also give the travel lover in your life an online shopping experience from Local Purse and Intrepid Travel, during which they’ll “visit” spice and rug merchants in Morocco, and get their purchases shipped home. You can also consider gifting non-real-time virtual journeys with a subscription to MagellanTV, which offers a “Travel the World” playlist, or via an Oculus headset for its virtual reality travel apps and the ability to “be” at live events around the world.
The upside of getting comfortable new clothes for home is that post-Covid, they can easily turn into comfy clothes for travel. Take Vanity Couture’s first loungewear collection, a line of melt-into velvet jumpsuits, hoodies, and joggers that would look just as great in front of the fireplace as they would navigating the airport. Same goes for Unbound’s Merino crew neck, anything from the Sugarshirts collection, the striped wrap from Nevis & Bim, and the retro-cool cashmere TWA sweater by Alex Mill. Besides clothes, consider other comfort items that transition well from home to travel, like the versatile Infinity Pillow, or Patagonia’s warm, lightweight Macro Puff Quilt.
Give it away
Spread light during dark times by making a donation in your recipients’ honor—and move us all a step closer to being able to travel again by giving to those who are working to get the coronavirus vaccine into every arm, like Gates Philanthropy Partners, Fred Hutch, and UNICEF. Print out the receipt, fold it into a card, and you’ve got a tax-deductible way to check another person off your gift list. To increase your impact, check whether your employer matches donations.
So many artisans around the world depend on the tourists who come to buy their traditional handiworks. Needless to say, the pandemic has demolished their income. But just because we’re not traveling doesn’t mean we can’t still support their talents and livelihoods. Just a few fantastic ideas: Soukra’s gorgeous Tunisian fouta towels, Abroad Modern’s vibrant, Jaipur-made face masks, Someone Somewhere’s pocket tee, whose pockets are hand-embroidered by rural Mexicans, and Mar Y Lana’s Crudo poncho, meticulously loom-woven in Colombia. You might also go with STIK’s lovely merino mittens, knitted by a community of 170 Peruvian women, or World Vision’s Capiz shell coasters, made by Filipinos who are working to overcome poverty. Looking for something like an artisan subscription box to give? There are plenty of meaningful options to consider, including the magical Bali Box, stuffed with delightful handmade gifts, and She Lives Aloha, packed with treats from Hawaii.
Turn the page
Everyone’s an armchair traveler right now, so subscribe them to Travel + Leisure or Conde Nast Travel and stock their shelves with inspiring travel books from National Geographic, Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, or individual tomes like Atlas Obscura, The Best American Travel Writing, and Vacationland, a memoir both funny and sad.
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