Tips for Giving the Gift of Travel
Looking for that great last minute gift? Have you thought of giving the gift of travel this holiday season? Our resident travel expert in Canada, Brian Simpson, has some tips to help you out.
Keeping a secret is never easy, but with a little planning and creativity, you can get the job done. First of all, it will help to work with the recipient’s family, friends and even co-workers. They’ll likely be more than happy to be “in on the secret” and help you out. Bosses and co-workers can help with ensuring the recipient can get the time off, while friends and family can give you insight into what dates may not work. They can also find out if there are any trips already planned and can also help you obtain things like passport information. Let your trusted accomplices in on the plan and fingers-crossed, the reaction when you give the gift will be well worth the sneaking around.
But regardless of who you’re going to work with, don’t communicate with them through a method that the recipient can find out, like a shared email address, Facebook, or any other social media.
Here’s a few other handy tips for giving the gift of travel.
Do your homework: Knowing the type of traveller the recipient is will help you to choose the right destination. For example, ooking your favourite ski bum a 1-week trip to a beach destination during prime ski season, may not be the way to go. And a 1-week Caribbean cruise, however lovely that is (trust me, they’re LOVELY!!), may not be the right choice for someone highly prone to motion sickness. Consider a trip to Italy for the foodie in your life. Or perhaps a relaxing week on the beach for you and your overworked other half.
Flexibility isn’t the key: While hotels are more lenient, most airlines and tour operators charge fees to make changes to a trip (sometimes as much as $150 per person) in addition to any differences in airfare for the new dates. So make sure that the recipient’s schedule allows and firm up your dates before booking.
Keep your budget in check: Nobody likes a show-off. Giving too generously can make the recipient feel uncomfortable as they might not be able to reciprocate.
Give with a Personal Touch: Gift cards are nice, but putting thought into the gift and planning a great trip can mean so much more. If you plan to travel with them, consider booking the main components of the trip, like the flights and/or hotels, to give at Christmas. Then once the cat’s-out-of-the-bag, you and the recipient can research further and personalise the trip by choosing the restaurants you’ll dine at, the attractions you’ll visit, and maybe even the spa treatments you’ll pamper yourselves with. Then the trip is still a gift, but it also becomes something special that you planned together.
Make it usable: Don’t buy only part of a vacation gift, such as a 4-night hotel stay in London, because then the recipient feels obligated to use it and then has to pay for flights, meals, and other incidentals, which can add up. Instead, if you know the recipient has a trip to Europe already booked, then picking up a part of their already planned trip is a nice touch and will be highly appreciated. So be sure to inquire about any plans the recipient may already have before you buy.
Lastly, here’s a few things you should consider before making the booking.
· When a flight is involved, make sure you have the correct spelling of the recipient’s name, as it appears on their identification, along with their birthdate. A name correction can be considered a change by the airlines and that means a change fee. Also the TSA’s SecureFlight initiative requires that the traveller’s date of birth be provided at time of booking.
· If you’re travelling outside of your own country, make sure the recipient has a passport or has ample time to get one before the trip.
· Can the person take time off from work or school? For many, vacation time is precious. So if you know the person has limited vacation days, booking a trip that uses up a lot of their alottment may not be realistic or fair, unless you can get a hint from them somehow.
· Lastly, if travelling with kids, check the school calendar. If you’re planning to pull your child from school, be sure to check with the teacher, to work out a plan so that the child isn’t too far behind when they return.
Happy Holidays and safe travels!
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Best meal I've ever had while traveling: Delicious Chicken Vindaloo in an open-air restaurant during a rain storm at a resort in the Goa region of India, where Vindaloo originated. Lovely….and Spicy!!!
First thing I do in a new place: Stroll around and get acquainted with the immediate vicinity of where I’m staying and if I have time, start exploring further.
View that took my breath away: First view of the Taj Mahal when you enter through the gates and into the main area of the park. It’s a place I’d never thought I’d ever visit and there I was.
Most challenging travel moment: There have been a few! Travelling home standby from Europe in my early 20s and running out of money. The airline I had a ticket for cancelled my flight and other airlines flying that route refused to honour it, and I needed to buy a new ticket. However, because it was the end of my trip, my credit card (I only had one back then), was maxed out and this was a time when most bank machines in Europe didn’t allow you to access an account in Canada. Ugh! A kind airline employee took pity on me and sold me one of her employee guest passes in exchange for the small amount of currency (from 3 countries) that I had in my pockets. She was a lifesaver! There was also the time we decided to forego the cruise line shore excursion to Paris from Le Havre and opting instead to rent a car and drive to Paris for the day. Upon returning to Le Havre, we were unable to find a taxi to take us back to the ship as the town virtually shuts down at 6pm. To top it off, we misjudged when the ship was leaving and had significantly less time than we thought. We finally had to flag down a local and explain our predicament to him in broken French and ask him to give us a ride. 4 adults, plus the driver, in a tiny, TINY European car, that also had a baby seat in it. We made it to the ship by the skin of our teeth. But would I do it again….for sure…..but I’d leave a LOT more time!
Favorite way to get around: My convertible, but if not, then public transit.
Greatest travel lesson learned: If you don’t think you’ll ever be back, take in as much as possible.
Travel ambition: Luxury safari in Kenya, including seeing the annual wildebeest migration and visiting the Ngorogoro Crater.
My most beloved place in the whole world is: my hometown of Toronto. There’s a reason why I choose to live here. You should come visit!
Fondest travel memory: The highs and lows of a round-the-world trip I took, with stops in San Francisco, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, Capetown and London. Every part of that trip was a memory, from doing the Harbour Bridge Climb in Sydney and seeing Sydney Opera House for the first time…to not planning ahead and having to sleep in our car on the Great Ocean Road and arriving in Adelaide after a 2-day drive to find that we’d left our passports in the hotel safe - in MELBOURNE! But I’ll never forget my first time seeing a pride of lions in the wild for the first time. Or coming around a corner of a dirt road to find a huge giraffe standing in the middle of the road chewing his cud while watching us. I loved every part of that trip!