How to Surprise Someone With a Trip for Christmas

Looking for creative ways for how to surprise someone with a trip? Inspired by the Travel Channel to give the gift of travel this Christmas? Are you wondering how to surprise someone with a vacation for a special anniversary or birthday gift?

How to Surprise Someone with a Trip

Do you look at your playroom floor and wonder why on earth your children need any more toys for Christmas? Spoiler alert – they don’t!

Giving your loved ones the gift of travel will broaden horizons, make irreplaceable memories, help declutter your space, and bring your family closer together.

When it comes to my holiday wish list, contributions to our travel fund are always, always, always at the top of my list. I love instilling this love of exploration and adventure seeking in my children as well.

Who has seen this meme quote floating around?

When it comes to your holiday shopping, I’m a size window seat in plane tickets!

However, just wrapping up a printed out plane ticket image isn’t quite exciting enough for my kiddos (although it would be for me!). So I have come up with this list of some fun and creative ways to give the gift of travel this Christmas! Making the gift opening an experience is the perfect way to set the stage for excitement and anticipation.

  • Increase Anticipation with Holiday Travel Books
  • Wrap Your Gift of Travel with Tangible Destination Themed Items
  • Give the Gift of a Travel Experience

Some of the links below are affiliate links which means that we earn a small commission if you choose to purchase – at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products that we use and think you will love as much as we do.



Before expecting your children to squeal with delight at the idea of a vacation planned in the near future, it would be a great idea to lay the foundation of travel as the ultimate exciting event – especially if this type of gift is a new idea for your family.

Our favorite way to explore the world when we are stuck at home is through books with colorful illustrations or photographs and adventurous and historical facts about the area.  While we have these types of books in our home year-round, we have a few favorite Christmas travel books that we love to read under the Christmas tree while dreaming of our next destination.

Where Would Santa Go? is a new book for us this year and my kiddos LOVE it! It follows two children around the world on Christmas Eve as they explore new cities with Santa Claus. The sweet descriptions and lively images kept my children captivated.

How to Surprise Someone with a Vacation for Christmas- Santa Travel Book

This adorable book covers Santa’s stops in Morocco, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and Germany to name a few. I asked my children which countries this book had inspired them to visit and they said “Costa Rica!” and “A safari in Africa!” Mission Accomplished.

How to Surprise Someone with a Vacation for Christmas- Santa Travel Book

17 Christmases is also an old favorite in our house as it documents a family’s road trip around the country (in a completely irrational way) from California to New York to Nebraska to Florida and everywhere in between. The rhymes and vibrant characters keep us smiling all the way through.

This Travel Advent Calendar was only recently discovered but it SO going on our list for next year’s holiday season. What fun it would be to explore a new place each morning! If you know where you are headed for Christmas, city specific books are also a great choice like this one for London or this one celebrating Christmas in New York.

If you are actually traveling during Christmas, you might find this adorable packable Christmas tree to be just thing to decorate your hotel room! These travel ornaments are also perfect souvenirs or for decorating a traditional tree.

How to Surprise Someone with a Trip - Snowy Christmas Town


Giving your recipient something to open paves the way for a perfect surprise. Also, whether or not travel is one of my children’s main gifts that year, we love gifting them useful, but also fun items that they can use on vacation. Since my children are still young, we like to include a few extra items that are non-essential and simply to boost the excitement factor. It can also be fun to have them guess the destination  based on the “clues” that they unwrap.

waterfalls in washington - snoqualmie point

Our children have received a camera and Hawaiian dresses and shirts before a trip to Oahu, a sled before a trip to the snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe, and digital boogie boards, water wow books, and reusable sticker sets before a long road trip.

Giving Children the Gift of Travel

**Here are a few more examples to get your creative juices flowing. Are you stuck? Leave me a comment below on your destination and I’ll pull together some ideas for you!**

SNOWY DESTINATION GIFT IDEAS: You could wrap up a jacket and gloves for an adult’s gift, but for children, you might want to spice it up a bit with this sweet book and these Artic Ice Explorer or Snow Chalet Legos!

Lake Tahoe Winter Activities: Free Sledding

CAMPING & MOUNTAIN VACATION IDEAS: Perhaps the adventure lover in your life is planning an epic trek through Glacier National Park. You might want to gift them a travel tripod for gorgeous landscape photography, practical bear spray for safety, or a new leak-proof water bottle.

TROPICAL HAWAII GIFT BASKET IDEAS: I’m just going to put this out there… I have created my dream gift basket right here! For him or her, don’t miss this sweet pineapple beach bag, fast-drying Turkish towel, reef-safe yummy smelling sunscreen, underwater camera (Go Pro or pretty great, cheaper version), and Aloha Water Bottle.

Want to keep it simple? Print this cute Hawaii sign and put it in an envelope – your loved one will love it! I promise!!

Pineapple Beach Bag - Christmas Gift o Travel

If we are going to surprise kids with a beach vacation, we like to include a few play items. These collapsible sand buckets are amazing for including in your suitcase and these tropical legos will keep them entertained on the plane. Good Night Hawaii is our favorite board book, although Geckos Make a Rainbow and Twinkle, Twinkle Small Hoku are close behind. Kanani or Nanea are American Girl books that take place in Hawaii and keep my daughter entertained for hours. These metallic beach-y tattoos leave my children sparkling in the sunlight and feeling the island vibes.

Collapsible Buckets  - how to surprise someone with a vacation

EUROPE GIFT IDEAS: A package of delicious macarons from a local patiserrie, a gorgeous scarf, a universal adapter, portable tripod, electronics case, and Rick Steves guidebook will give your loved one practical items, but also great clues about where you are headed! If the kids get to come too, consider this Paris scavenger hunt book or London Modeling Kit for extra fun activities.

Portable Tri-pod

PRACTICAL GEAR: Perhaps you don’t need any creative ideas, but just good recommendations on some quality packing gear! We love these hard shell suitcases, are crazy about these carry-on friendly toiletry bags and silicone travel containers, and don’t go anywhere without these amazing packing cubes (they come with colored labels! Where are all my label lovers?!). Check out this post if you need more ideas on what to bring on the airplane to keep your littles entertained.

Hardshell Chester luggage


While creating a themed gift basket is SO MUCH FUN, perhaps your traveler doesn’t need any gear, or maybe already has their vacation planned and you’d just like to contribute to it. Gifting experiences are always our favorites. Would your gift recipient enjoy a private wine tasting on their planned trip to Sonoma Valley? A Pike Place Market Food Tour in Seattle? Or a tour to visit the real Jurassic Valley in Hawaii?

Jurassic Valley Hawaii

Airbnb Experiences is one of our favorite ways to get inspiration on unique things to do in a new destination. Just type in the city and it will give you a list of fun activities offered by locals to choose from. You can use the link above to get $15 off your first purchase of $50 or more. Hooray!

Airbnb Experiences as the gift of travel

If you’ve been around here awhile, you know that my FAVORITE gift, besides plane tickets, is a Flytographer Vacation Photo Shoot. They connect you with a local photographer of your choice in your vacation destination, you choose the location and style desired, and they gift you with the most incredible souvenir you’ve ever invested in. Consider planning a surprise photo shoot during a large family vacation or gifting a certificate to a loved one or honeymooning couple. Use this link to get $25 off your first booking or gift card!

Flytographer Photo Shoot Paris

Have fun packaging up your holiday gifts of travel in creative ways! You can be as simple or extravagant as you choose. Tickets can be just packaged with a simple book or clues can be hidden all over the house as an extreme treasure hunt.

No matter how you give the gift of travel this Christmas season, your recipients will be blessed by the gift of adventure and memories! Au Revoir! Bon Voyage!

Free to Travel Mama | Travel Inspiration for Families

A big thank you to author Julia Inserro, for sending us a complimentary copy of “Where Would Santa Go?” for review. As always, all opinions are our own.

Want to Pin for Later?

Author: Sierra

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Pin It on Pinterest