One fun thing about working in the adventure travel industry is that I get to encourage people to travel. I get to play travel’s advocate. Part of my task is to stir the wanderlust in others.
How to awaken the inner traveler in tied-down family and friends? Make the case for world travel. Here are a few gift ideas for putting a sense of adventure in a box and wrapping it with a bow.
Nothing ignites the travel imagination like a real, physical map. A world atlas makes great coffee table literature, or go for a personalized world map for the wall where your recipient can mark travels with color-coded pins.
Ultimate map gift: a light-up globe to illuminate a front window with the soft glow of electric travel.
2) Fair Trade Goods
A handcrafted item always has a story to tell, especially if it’s a fair trade product that creates meaningful livelihoods for the people in the world that need it the most. Think of fair trade as a preview of what you can do when you travel abroad – you can go visit villages, meet the local artisans, have real in-person exchanges and come back with the goods as mementos.
The best thing about a fair trade gift is that it counts twice: your recipient gets a cool little item, and the artisan gets a little economic empowerment. Check out Gifts with Humanity for some beautiful ideas.
I finally got some compact binoculars for my recent trip to Ecuador, and now I’m a believer. My only regret is that I didn’t travel with them sooner. While a camera is key for capturing travel memories to relish in the future, binoculars are about intensifying the present moment and zooming in on its rich detail.
So how do binoculars inspire travel? Assuming the recipients eventually get bored with using them at sporting events and for spying on the neighbors, they’ll want new landscapes to scope out. What is there to see through mega-lenses, if not the world?
4) A DIY Travel Kit
Get creative and package your own travel kit. It took me years of long transit sessions on planes, buses, boats, and trains to refine my “sleep anywhere” carry-on kit. The kit contains an inflatable travel pillow, a travel towel that doubles as a blanket, ear plugs, a black-out sleep mask, and usually some Tylenol PM, Nyquil or whatever the local version of over-the-counter nighttime medicine might be. Everything fits perfectly into this quilted pouch that my aunt made. Patent pending.
Package travel toiletries, travel first aid, or your own assortment of hero travel items. Ideal for the first-time traveler abroad.
5) The Gift of Gab
World travel and foreign languages go hand-in-hand. Both can be very daunting. Give your travel-shy loved ones a vote of confidence by getting them started on the basics of a new language. Find a good phrasebook for their region and language of interest, hook them up with some classes, or go all out with Rosetta Stone. Maybe someday they will be thanking you in tongues on a postcard from far away.