Looking for a last-minute travel gift? Consider a meaningful and memorable holiday gift that doesn't need to be shipped.
And the best thing about giving a vacation or activity is that it will be enjoyed at least twice. It's exciting to open a vacation on Christmas morning. And then the recipient gets to look forward to the trip and make special memories when they actually take it.
If it's a gift that the whole family can enjoy together… all the better!
Here are my top ideas for last-minute travel gifts. Many of these go on sale during the holiday season and you can buy and print online. No shipping needed!
A Disney Vacation
How dreamy would it be to surprise your family with a Disneyland or Walt Disney World vacation?
The holiday season is usually a good time to buy a Disneyland or Walt Disney World vacation because
- There are usually holiday sales for tickets and hotels
- There is still availability at popular hotels for the coming year
- You can still get park reservations for most dates. Reservations are currently required to enter Disney parks.
I always book my Disney vacations through Get Away Today at getawaytoday.com. They have a low-price guarantee for Disneyland and a fantastic price-monitoring system for Walt Disney World.
Get Away Today also offers a layaway plan so you can lock in your price and put your Disney trip under the tree with a down payment. Then pay your balance on your own schedule – anytime before your trip.
And the experts at Get Away Today know how to help you plan a successful Disney trip. They know everything about park reservations, the best hotels, the new Genie+ system, and more. Their customer service is top-notch.
Get Away Today can also help you plan a Universal Hollywood, Universal Orlando (think Harry Potter!), LEGOLAND California, or SeaWorld San Diego trip for the best price.
Click the buttons below to learn more about discount vacation packages and park tickets through Get Away Today. Use my code Tips10Trips to save an extra $10 on your vacation package. Or tell them that Tips for Family Trips sent you.
A City Pass
Many large cities offer a bundle-and-save pass that includes popular activities in that city. If you live in a city that has one or want to surprise your family with a vacation to a particular city… consider gifting a CityPASS or Go City Pass.
CityPASS and Go City both offer passes in lots of cities. Here are some of the benefits of buying a pass for your hometown or a city you want to visit this year.
- Save 30-50% on admission to popular attractions
- Unactivated passes usually don't expire for 1-2 years
- Access your pass on your phone through the official apps
CityPASS takes the top 5-6 attractions and bundles them for a single, affordable price.
Go City varies somewhat from city to city. You typically choose from dozens of top attractions. You buy a number of attractions or a number of days, depending on the pass.
If your city isn't in the CityPASS or Go City networks, do a search for “[your city] pass.”
My hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah has its own pass – the Salt Lake Connect Pass. It has a 1, 2, or 3-day option for visitors. It also has a 365-day option for locals. We bought 365-day passes one year and visited a different local destination every month. My family loved it!
An Annual Pass
Do you have an amusement park, ski resort, zoo, museum, aquarium, garden, or other fun attraction near your home that your family would enjoy visiting often? They probably have an annual pass or membership that will pay for itself in 2-3 visits. And it may be discounted during the holiday season.
Annual passes usually come with extra benefits like discounts at the gift shop and restaurants. You can enjoy a favorite premium activity as often as you want, which feels decadent but is actually quite affordable.
Reciprocal benefits are one of the BEST parts of an annual pass for travelers. Most zoos, museums, gardens, etc. belong to large associations. When you buy an annual pass, you usually get a discount or free admission to EVERY zoo/museum/garden in North America that is part of the same association.
We bought an annual pass to the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City several times because it included these reciprocal benefits:
- Discounts or free admission to zoos and aquariums in North America in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- Discounts or free admission to gardens in North America in the American Horticultural Society
- Discounts or free admission to Hogle Zoo, Ogden Dinosaur Park, Discovery Gateway, Ogden Nature Center, and Ogden Union Station
The Ogden Dinosaur Park was close to our home and free everyday admission was included at that time. I took my young children there at least twice a month with my Tracy Aviary pass. We also visited the Hogle Zoo and other free/discounted destinations during the year. And of course, we visited the Tracy Aviary several times that year too.
We got a HUGE bang for our buck from that annual pass. And it was so much fun!
Gift Wrapping a Vacation
Vacations and passes work well as last-minute gifts because you don't need to wait for it to be shipped. You can usually print the pass immediately or access it via app.
I recommend that you get a little creative with how you gift wrap a vacation. You'll find a few ideas in this article: 5 Ways to Wrap a Disney Vacation.
I love gifting experiences for Christmas. They are exciting to give on Christmas morning and then I enjoy looking forward to them for weeks or months. They usually include my family, so we make special memories together when we take the trip.