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Give the Gift of A Once in a Lifetime Experience

Sometimes it’s hard to find the “perfect” gift for someone. Believe me, I’ve been there. Tom and I have been together for ten years, but we still have a hard time shopping for each other. What we have found that works for us is a travel “experience”. This year, don’t stress out about what to put under the tree. Give the gift of a once in a lifetime experience to your favorite love one.

Take our trip to Lima recently. Neither one of us had been to Lima (a present for both of us). Lima had some of the world’s best restaurants (present for him, but I enjoyed it, too). And Lima had a Swim with Wild Sea Lions excursion (present for me, rest day for Tom). A person who seems to have everything can still be given a gift that creates memories.

This holiday season I’m inviting you to think outside the box and give a gift that keeps on giving. An experience isn’t just a one-time thing. The person relives the experience through their own pictures and stories again and again. It’s something they can share with their friends and family even if others don’t share the same fanatic passion.

Below I’ve listed some gift ideas for different personalities. Some options may be easy for you to obtain because they may be local in your area, others might be in faraway places for your world traveler. Check Tripadvisor for the specific area you are looking in.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.


Some options may require a date and time reservation or personal information which makes it harder to schedule. Print out the page of what activity you would like to give the other person. Fold it neatly and put in a card with their name on the envelope. Put it IN the tree (my relatives used to do this with gift cards). It’s sort of like a scavenger hunt among all the ornaments.


Put the card in a small box. Then put the small box into a larger box. Then that box into an even larger box. This way your loved one has many things to open on present day.

When the person opens the card, you can reserve the experience together, which will mean more to the gift-getter because you both designed the experience just for them.

For The Food Lover

Easy and local: Gift card to a favorite restaurant or take them to the most exclusive restaurant in your town.

Destination Food Tour

I highly recommend food tours when visiting any new or international destination. The guides are very informative and know many hidden mom-n-pop restaurants that are a must to visit. We’ve gone on food tours in Penang, Bangkok and Seoul, and each one was fantastic. Check out tripadvisor for the 10 Best Food Cities & Food Tours in the World.

Ethnic Cooking Class or Cooking Class with a World-Renown Chef
Cooking classes when visiting a new country have become increasingly popular. To kick it up a notch, find out if a famous chef is doing any type of demonstrations. Many chefs are including special one-on-one sessions to connect with their audience. Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino of Malabar Restaurant in Lima does special workshops, pisco tastings and private dinners.

Tom and Tiffany with chef team of Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand
Us with the chef team at Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand


Experience For The Wine Lover

Easy and local: A very expensive and exclusive bottle of wine or nice glassware.

Wine Tasting Tour
You can do so much with this! Wine tours with a private driver, river cruise with stops at various vineyards or even an overnight stay at a winery hotel. Check out the choices you have in Napa, Oregon, Spain, France and Italy. Many tour companies handle transportation and custom makes your itinerary.

If you are visiting Central Mexico, we can show you the wineries and pueblos magicos on our customized wine tour.

Bottle of Trinchero wine at winery tasting in Sonoma, California
Wine tasting at Trinchero Winery in Sonoma, California


Wildlife Experiences

Easy and local: Behind the scene tours at a zoo or aquarium near you is an easy gift to give. Plus this gives the person a chance to connect with animal caretakers and learn about the personalities of the animals. I highly recommend this for any age.

For any nature lover, a National Parks Pass is a must. $80 for a pass to 2000 parks is a really great deal!

Wildlife Tourism
Responsible wildlife tourism not only helps pay for the protection of the animals you want to see, but also gives the local community a steady income and reason to protect their native species. Snorkel with manatees, scuba diving with dolphins and giving an elephant a bath at an elephant sanctuary are just some ways to give an experience of a lifetime while helping a community.

TRAVEL TIP: look for reputable wildlife sanctuaries in the chosen destination. Some hotels also offer wildlife experiences. Check out Mexican and Caribbean resorts for scuba diving excursions, beach walks and turtle releases. Check out this post by National Geographic Where to Vacation with Hatching Baby Turtles.

Dolphin Dive in the open ocean with UNEXSO Dolphin Experience, Grand Bahamas Island.
Dolphin Dive in the open ocean with UNEXSO Dolphin Experience, Grand Bahamas Island.

For the Photographer

Easy and local: That special lens for their camera they’ve been wanting for months or cell phone accessories like a fish-eye lens or compact lighting.

Photography Workshop
Photography workshops are offered around the world for cities, food-styling and nature photography. These aren’t cheap but are well worth the money becausegroups are small and the individual receives more guidance from an expert.

Flytographer sessions

Your little shutterbug may love taking photos, but there’s usually something missing when they share their photos with you. The photos never have THEM in it. Selfies are ok but it’s hard to fit a full length Eifel Tower or Bangkok Temple in the background. Give your little photographer real memories of their trip by hiring a flytographer for their next trip. This is a great gift for solo travelers and couples as well.  You can find a flytographer in almost every major city of the world and you can buy gift cards on their Flytographer website.

Flytographer photo experience of
My friend and fellow blogger Brianna from tried Flytographer, and their pictures were gorgeous! You can check out her website by clicking the picture.


Adventure/Thrill Seeker Expereriences

Easy and local: Theme park tickets and year passes are always a great gift. Adrenaline junkies can hop over to their favorite theme park anytime they feel the need for speed.

Zip-lining companies are popping up everywhere and are safer than skydiving.

What about a trapeze? Hotels like Club Med offer trapeze lessons, and it’s a blast!

Or maybe a hot-air balloon ride over pyramids, canyons or a favorite town?

Thrill seeker activities can range from surf lessons and wind boarding to ATV rides and rappelling. Choose something you feel comfortable with and go with a reputable company. You may want to give your thrill-seeker the world, but you also want them to live afterwards.

Trapeze experience in the Caribbean
Trapeze experience in the Caribbean

For The Art Lover

Easy and local: Year pass to museums in your town. Museum pass in a city they will visit. Artist supplies or gift card to their favorite art store.

Workshops: Depending on what type of art they are into, sign them up for a workshop. Workshops all over the world offer painting, sculpture, glass-blowing and leathercraft classes. They might even make you something special as a thank you.

3- expand the bubble

Health and Spiritual Lover

Easy and local: Pay for a session of yoga classes or massage sessions.

Yoga retreat: Help finance their dream of going on a island getaway yoga retreat. Yoga retreats can be pricey, but everyone I’ve met who went on a yoga retreat said it changed their life.

And that’s really what we want for our loved ones, right? Something that expands their world and changes their mindset so that they see the world in a new light. Experiences are learning opportunities to dive deeper into their passions. Really, what better gift can you give than enlightenment?

Check out tripadvisor for more great ideas.


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  1. Hi, I’m wondering if you can answer a question for me. My grandson is an ex-pat in Malaysia, on Penang Island. I would like to give him a gift card to his favorite restaurant, but I’m having a hard time finding any restaurant gift card info online. Can you tell me if there are restaurant gift cards available in Malaysia? Thank you!

    1. Hi Laurie,
      That is an excellent question. Other parts of the world aren’t as savvy when it comes to gift cards. The best thing to do is find out from your grandson what places he really enjoys and check the individual websites for those places. They may have gift certificates or some other incentive that you can buy and send.

      Another alternative is a gift certicate from Your grandson can use the gift certificate for any excursion that he’s interested in. Because Penang is close to the Malaysian Peninsula, Thailand and Singapore, he has lots of choices!

      If you are at a complete loss, you can always send the gift money to his American bank account (if he still has one) and he can withdraw the money in local currency for a nice dinner.

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