Travel Ideas

The Best Gift Ideas for the People in Your Life Who Love Experiences More Than Things

Photo: Getty Images/Phillip Suddick
Experience gifts are #1 on our holiday list this year. After all of the online shopping, is there anything else we really *need* to buy? (I mean, yes, probably—but that's not the point here.) After nearly two years of staying as close to home as possible, it’s time to get out and live again (as carefully as possible, of course). You may not be ready to book that post-lockdown vacation to New Zealand just yet (oops, you’re not allowed in, anyway) or plan a pricey, splurge-worthy bootcamp at The Ashram, but there are virtual experience gifts and in-person experience gifts for men and women that will be so much more memory-worthy.

For the holidays, you may be ready to try a truffle class, learn to make Magnolia’s famous banana pudding, or book the family photo shoot you’ve been putting off for years (literal years at this point, we get it). Something new for the new year could mean escaping to a secluded cabin in the woods or mastering a new skill a la Masterclass. If you’re seriously craving adventure— join a city scavenger hunt, book a jaunt to Paris or finally plan that quick-trip to Iceland.

Some of these experiences are great solo. Others are meant for you to grab a bestie or partner. A few are even for you and the kids. Bottom line, have fun, get outside your comfort zone, and do something exciting. Grow your mind, grow your circle of friends, grow your heart. And please have some fun for all of us!

Best virtual experience gifts

astrology class
Uncommon Goods Virtual Experiences

What are you doing next weekend? Don’t say “nothing” when there are virtual experiences like these to choose from. Starting at barely $25, you and your friends/family can learn all about how to read tarot cards, make truffles from scratch, create clay earrings, paint a portrait of your pet, learn astrology, and mix smoky cocktails. Plus too many others to list. All we’re saying is this is how to plan something fun, at home, and learn a new skill that you’ve always been interested in learning more about.

Masterclass — $15.00

For anyone who has not yet tried Masterclass, get on it! This all-access pass brings you up close and personal with 100+ instructors who are each the best of the best in their field. You can get schooled in writing with Judy Blume, home design with Kelly Wearstler, conservation with Dr. Jane Goodall, songwriting with John Legend, cooking with Gordon Ramsay, and more.

Amazon Explore Group Experiences

Amazon Explore lets you travel the world virtually. But if you were hoping to get the gang all together for an adventure, guess what? You can! With Amazon Explore’s group experiences, you can use up to seven different devices to connect over incredible adventures like Empanada making in Argentina, learning about Mexican coffee from a traditional family roaster, learning about the city that inspired Harry Potter (Edinburgh), and getting up-close with wild animals in Costa Rica at the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

italki Virtual Language Classes

You’ve always wanted to be speaking a second or third language—well, here’s your chance to learn with a native speaker! Portuguese, Korean, Russian, you name it, can be learned by the hour during a 1:1 with teachers in 190+ countries. The levels of learning vary, and there is even an ‘instant lesson’ option if you’re ready to get started right now. (Some of us may be signing our partners and children up for this as we speak.)

Adventure gifts

Getaway cozy cabins

When you need to get away, how good does a cozy cabin just a few hours drive (with no WiFi) sound? So, so good. Take that well-deserved getaway in an outpost near you. From NY, for example, there are outposts in the Eastern and Western Catskills in 2+ hours. From Seattle, you’ve got barely an hour plus ride. Getaway’s tiny, superchic cabins are full of the amenities we all need to rest and recharge. Leave your phones in the Cellphone Lockbox and just chill, for once.

Disney VIP Experiences

We’re pretty sure the word “experience” came from Disney, and they don’t disappoint. In fact, to celebrate their own 50-year anniversary, they’re offering a 50th Anniversary VIP tour that takes a group (up to 6 people) on a behind-the-scenes tour of multiple parks including the all new Tri-Circle D Ranch. The magical experience is a must-do for die-hard Disney fans (admit it—you’re one of them!).

Airbnb Experiences

Think of anything you have ever wanted to do, and just do it, with Airbnb Experiences. If you want to do it remotely, you can try anything from a forest bathe in Kyoto’s Sacred Mountain to visiting a rescue goat sanctuary in NY State. If you’re ready to do an adventure IRL, the world is your oyster. Dog sled near Reykjavik, brave the waterfalls of Empress Canyon in Australia or hike the wilderness of Patagonia. These adventures are the real deal.

malibu vrbo
VRBO Vacation Rentals

Live the life you always wanted to— for a few days, a few weeks, or even longer. Hobbit lovers, your treehouse in the Shire awaits at Lost Pines.

Oceanfront in Malibu sound more your style? Fair enough. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to see what life would have been like if you lived in the Marais district in Paris.

Christmas experience gifts

Shoott 30-Minute Photoshoot

Commemorate any holiday trip, family gathering or special moment with real photos by a real photographer. Book a free 30 minute session at your nearest city and pay for only the photos you love. You make all the choices from a digital photo gallery just days later. Upgrades include custom sessions and retouching for photos that were *almost* exactly how you wanted them to look.

san diego
Annual holiday stays with

There are some places your family goes back to year after year— they are just that special.

One of our favorites is the oceanfront Coronado in San Diego where they do up the holiday experience! Ice skate oceanfront, watch holiday movies in the sand, and enjoy s’mores and bonfires. Other hotels we love for holiday tradition include the French Quarter Inn in Charleston, The Four Seasons in Maui (which was where White Lotus was filmed!) and The Breakers in Palm Beach.

hello fresh
HelloFresh Taste Tours

Why not give the gift of delicious meals, right? We love the experience of making great, healthy dinners without having to plan it out, or even go food shopping. HelloFresh offers restaurant-worthy menu options in their Taste Tours category which brings food from around the world straight to your kitchen. Think Chicken Ramen in a Shoyu-Style Broth, Sweet Heat Shrimp Tempura Bowls, and Italian Sunday Supper.

Winc 4 Bottle Wine Subscription — $30.00

There is nobody who won’t love the experience of custom curated wines. After a quick quiz (red, white, rose?), Winc will learn your taste (honey or currant?) and your preferred wine region and pack you up a box of select wines. They cut through the thousands of wine brands and types to suggest wines that pair up with your specific palate.

ClassPass Membership

Does today feel like a HIIT or barre kind of day? Do you want to do it at home or in a gym? Should you scrap that and go for a massage instead? All those things can be booked through ClassPass. This app connects you to thousands of online and in-person activities in your area, all of which are booked by using credits based on your membership plan.

Experience gifts for men (and honestly, anyone)

Goldbelly Live!

Goldbelly is known for their amazing food boxes, but their new Live! series brings America’s most acclaimed chefs, pizza makers, bakers and more right into your home. Now who’s ready for a cook-along with Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern or Bobbie Lloyd of Magnolia Bakery? Open your meal kit, gather your basics, and join them in real time via Zoom to create a chef curated meal like none other.

DriveShare Classic Car Rentals

Spend the day driving the car you always imagined yourself driving. Choices range from a 1970 Bronco to a 1967 Mustang to a 1983 DeLorean and everything in between. Just because these cars may not be practical for your lifestyle, doesn’t mean spending the day in them wouldn’t be so much fun!

let's roam
Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt

Pick a city, pick a scavenger hunt! Learn about the city by running around, making discoveries and earning points. You can do it ‘couples style,’ with a group, or even as a team building activity. See the sights, solve riddles, answer trivia, learn fun facts, conquer challenges, and have a great time in your own city or one that you’ll be visiting soon.

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