Gifts that aren’t stuff: a gift list of experiences for 2021

Year 3 of my traveler gift guide and I’m excited to give you some fun, unique, personal, and practical ideas for you and your family. 2020 had us stuck inside and sick of stuff so everything on my list this year is consumable and doable. Bye clutter, hello memories. In no particular order:


Nothing beats the gift of a night away. In 2021 I know we will all be trying out of the house so this gift is a sure thing.

If you want to find AMAZING AirBnBs that look like something out of Architectural Digest, follow Everywhere With Erika. She’s got THE best AirBnBs from all over the US. Yurts in Texas (see below), cool campers, hipster treehouses, infinity pools (see below), and more – Erika has curated the coolest list. Because these spots are so amazing, they book quickly so plan way ahead and make sure to use her affiliate link so I can keep swooning over her pics.


The zoo, Costco!!, the local theater, gardens, coffee clubs, gym or yoga passes, online memberships like Disney+ or games/apps that they love. Even if you can’t afford an annual pass, single entry tickets are my go-to for kid’s birthdays. I email or print the ticket and usually pay for an adult or parking so that the gift doesn’t turn into a debt for the parent.

What about a National Parks Gift Card? For $80 your pass covers entrance for one vehicle and it’s occupants (up to 4 people) Buy yours here from REI and they donate 10% to the parks service. How cool on so many levels.


This is the ultimate gift for a family. When you sponsor a child, elder, or family  it’s a great reminder of the true meaning of the holidays. My kids have learned so much from our sponsored boy and his family in Guatemala. We email him and he writes us back. Emilson is my son’s age and feels like part of the family now after 4+ years. You can pick from lots of countries and profiles to find the perfect match for your family.

This may not be a “wow” present in the moment, but this gift will reveal its beauty over the months. is the best way to do this with over 98% of sponsorship money going directly to the families. Read my post on gifting your kids culture here.


AirBnB offers experiences too. Everything from visiting a Chimpanzee Sanctuary in north Georgia, to beekeeping tours, helicopter rides, and goat picnics (yes, that’s a thing) are all on AirBnB Experiences. Check out what is near you and also take a look at your local visitor center website. Brewery tours, gin houses, local farms, food tours, museums, Segway tours, tarot card readings, ghost tours, hot air balloon rides, and more.

Take some time and think through the special day – you could give a gift card for a gas or to get a meal near your tour. So thoughtful.


A fun way to learn about culture and history by making it personal. This might spark new family relationships, ideas for fun books to read, and travel destination inspiration. My kids are getting a kit this year from for only $49 each. (yes, siblings have different DNA)


With over 6,000 digital magazine titles, Zinio is a great place to gift a sports fan, decor fanatic, foodie, or any niche hobby-er their monthly fix without all the wasted paper. Cooking Light, Martha Stewart, National Geographic, People and much more. Don’t worry, the high-quality images are not compromised on your digital copy. Read magazines on or offline and enjoy them on any device. It’s one of those I-never-knew-how-much-I-would-love-this kind of gifts.


Are you a house plant murder? No problem – with a subscription a new one will arrive just as your old one starts a slow death.

Bouqs is incredible. Farmer’s market flowers delivered to your house as often and whenever you choose. This gift reminds the recipient monthly of how amazing you are.  You’ll never be on the couch boys! Use my code here for 30% off.

A little more modern, and pricey, is Urban Stems but they have amazing houseplants…see below. Here’s a code for $15 off.


Food subscriptions make an awesome family gift. Try The World lets you choose between a “Snack Box” or a “Country Box” and each month a delicious selection of food from around the world is delivered to your doorstep.

They use all-natural ingredients and small-scale producers. Know you’re buying something that will get used and appreciated throughout the year. Each box costs around $15 and includes shipping.

Other fun subscription ideas: Netflix, online audiobooks, underwear (Panty by Post), makeup (Play! by Sephora or Birchbox), shave clubs, and more. I gifted Vinyl Me Please, a monthly vinyl subscription, last year and my sister-in-law was obsessed. I know, it’s “stuff” but I’m low key sneaking this one in. twss


Cooking classes, sewing classes, courses for kids are all a great gifts for friends and family that love to learn. French, gaming design, sewing, pottery, scuba lessons, intro to guitar, and more are so fun to give and receive. Check out your local craftsmen and Groupon for cool things like glassblowing and candle making and support local artisans.


Professional family pictures on your travels?! If this sounds fussy, it’s not. It is quick and easy. Book online with Shoot My Travel and pick your photographer and see their portfolios. They have photographers in over 300 destinations across the globe.

We arranged a time and place and showed up. The shoot took about 30 minutes and we ended up talking and learning about the city from a local who gave us great recommendations. The pictures arrive to your inbox in 1-2 days and you pick your 30 favorite images online with the option to purchase more.

If you’re going to pay for family photos, why not have them in a unique place? Also, you can enjoy your trip knowing that you got a good shot of the family.

Experiences are forever. Happy Holidays amigos and thanks for reading and sharing.