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Experiences For Gifts

Updated on September 13, 2014

Give Once-In-A Lifetime Experiences For Gifts They'll Never Forget!

How many times have you given a gift that you thought was perfect, but which received a less than enthusiastic response from the recipient? That will never happen when you gift an experience. Whether for retirement, birthdays, Christmas, weddings, or anniversaries, an experience gift will instantly raise the excitement level of the occasion.

So what is an experience gift? Unlike a tangible item that takes up space, gathers dust, breaks, or just gets old, the gift of an experience never loses its luster. It's the opportunity to go, to see, to learn, and to do something out of the ordinary. It can be in your home town or in a different country, as a destination in itself or as part of a larger vacation trip.

Help someone start off a new chapter in life with the wedding gift of culinary travel in romantic Europe or a retirement gift of learning to sail. Put the spark back into life with an anniversary safari trip. Whoever the recipient and whatever the occasion, here are just a few experience gift ideas - ideas for life-enriching gifts that they'll treasure forever. And the best part? All experiences are better when shared, so you can go, too!

Sailing In Virgin Islands - Learning to sail in the Caribbean is a dream experience gift

Evening Yachting
Evening Yachting | Source

Sailing lessons are a fun gift for anyone who dreams of wind-in-the-hair freedom, but when those lessons are in the Caribbean, the gift recipient will be rendered speechless. Give your loved one the gift of sailing in the Virgin Islands, a gift which you can enjoy, too.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are located in the Caribbean east of Puerto Rico, and consist of about 60 islands - only 15 of which are inhabited. Imagine being able to sail to a tiny, uninhabited island where you can have the sparkling blue water and white sandy beach all to yourself. You'll learn the required skills on a Cruise & Learn sailing adventure with the Vancouver Sailing Club.

It's not all lessons and work on this learning cruise. There's ample time to enjoy snorkeling and diving, as well as the beaches and local cuisine. Sample the traditional fungi (fun-gee), made of cornmeal and okra, and callaloo soup. Indulge in luscious tropical fruits and herbal "bush tea" from native plants.

The best time to schedule your sailing experience is between December and March, when temperatures range from 75 F to 90 F degrees, and hurricane season has not yet begun. When you book your lessons, the Vancouver Sailing Club can advise you on travel arrangements to the islands.

When your sailing lessons have come to an end, hang around paradise a bit longer to explore the coral reefs, the Baths on Virgin Gorda, and all that the British Virgin Islands have to offer. The main language is English, with a local dialect, and the official currency is the U.S. dollar, so you'll have no worries about exploring on your own. The gift of sailing in the Virgin Islands can be just the beginning of an unforgettable experience.

Sailing: The Basics: The Book That Has Launched Thousands
Sailing: The Basics: The Book That Has Launched Thousands

No matter how good the sailing lessons, it's always best to go in with a little knowledge, especially of sailing terms and protocols. Franzel has been teaching people to sail for over 35 years, and his experience comes through in his book. With the background from reading this book, beginning sailors will board the boat ready to learn. After the lessons, even seasoned sailors will appreciate the book as a reference and refresher.


Storm Chasing Trips - Gift an experience of education and adventure


For an electrifying gift of experience, give a storm chasing trip. Perfect for an amateur meteorologist, thrill-seeker, or photographer in search of dramatic photo opportunities, joining a storm chaser tour gives your gift recipient the chance to get up close and personal with the raw power of nature.

If your idea of storm chasing comes from the movie Twister, remember that real-life chasers are after big storms in general, not just tornadoes. While tornadoes don't always develop, recognize that there is excitement and adventure in any large storm system, as mounds of cumulus clouds grow into massive thunderheads and electricity in the air raises the hair on your arms.

Most storm chasing takes place in "Tornado Alley," stretching from Texas and Oklahoma through Kansas and Colorado and into Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota. This wide open landscape favors storm development and good viewing. Although the season generally extends from April through October, plan your storm chasing experience for late May in order to maximize the possibility of desirable weather.

A typical storm-chasing day starts with studying weather data and anticipating where the action may be that day. Usually storms develop around 6 pm, but chase participants must be flexible and ready to go at a moment's notice. Chasing down a storm can involve hundreds of miles of driving in a day, with quick meals caught at any available eatery.

When choosing a storm chasing tour, remember that no certification of any kind is required, and there is no agency that regulates tour operators. It is up to you to research the company's experience. Silver Lining Tours has been offering storm chasing trips for more than 15 years, and has been featured on The Weather Channel, Discovery Channel, and NOVA. They don't just deliver you to the action, they educate you along the way. You'll end your tour with a much better understanding of weather forecasting and storm development.

Silver Lining Tours' customers become part of an online community of weather enthusiasts, with exclusive access to their forum even after the trip. With their experience and the professional customer service they offer, it's no wonder so many of their customers come back again and again. In fact, tours fill up quickly, so if you're giving the gift of storm chasing, plan ahead and book early.

Read About Storm Chasing Trips

Hunting Nature's Fury: A Storm Chaser's Obsession with Tornadoes, Hurricanes, and other Natural Disasters
Hunting Nature's Fury: A Storm Chaser's Obsession with Tornadoes, Hurricanes, and other Natural Disasters

Author Roger Hill is co-owner of Silver Lining Tours and has witnessed hundreds of extreme storms. Reading his book, you'll experience the suspense and adrenaline rush of Hill's most dramatic storm encounters. Read what storm chasers actually do during a chase and learn the lingo of weather and chasing so you'll be prepared to hop in the van and go when the big one develops on your storm chasing trip.


Wildlife Safari In Africa - Gift an experience of epic drama on the Serengeti


If you're looking for something a little more exotic for a gift, give the experience of a wildlife safari in Africa. Nowhere else does survival of the fittest play out before your eyes in such raw drama, just as it's been played out for ages. Your gift recipient will be stunned by the vast expanse of the African plains and the thundering herds of migrating animals. It's an experience to remember forever.

The Serengeti region of Africa is consistently named as the best place for a wildlife safari because it is the location of the world's largest mammal migration. Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest, cheetah, impala, and more make the annual migration in response to the seasonal rains. From northern Tanzania into southwest Kenya, millions of animals travel 2,000 miles in their yearly circle of birth, life, and death.

You can see exotic animals any time on the Serengeti because elephants, giraffes, leopards, and hippos don't migrate as the grass eaters do. During the dry season from July to October, these resident animals gather at shrinking water sources. But to really experience the drama of the ageless struggle for survival, plan your wildlife safari to coincide with the great migration. The migration begins in the southern area of the region when the rains end in May. As the grasses disappear, zebra and wildebeest, along with their new babies, travel north followed by lions and other carnivorous predators. The southward migration begins with the onset of the rains in November.


Real Adventure Tanzania is a locally owned wildlife safari company that has been in operation for more than 10 years. They have a high customer rating because of their professionalism, eagerness to design a custom trip, and knowledge. They know just where to find the animals you want to see on any given day. In fact, you may find the other tour companies following you.

Low humidity and moderate temperatures make traveling in Tanzania and the Serengeti comfortable, but dress in layers because mornings can be quite a bit cooler than mid-day. It's best to wear long pants and clothing in light colors (insects are attracted to dark colors) with a wide brimmed hat and plenty of sun block.

Tanzania is a stable country and safe for traveling, but you can check for travel advice at U.S. Department of State. You'll need a passport and visa, as well as proof of Yellow Fever vaccination. Get traveler's health advisories at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the Tanzanian shilling is the local currency, the U. S. dollar is accepted.

African Safari Wildlife Guide

The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals
The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals

There's something about being up close in the animals' own environment that sparks a desire to know more about the animals, rather than just look at them. Study other books before you go, but take this one along. This book gives plenty of serious detail about animal behavior and relationships, but it's user friendly for the amateur. You'll return to it again and again, even after you get back home. (Feedback from readers indicates this book is not very readable on Kindle, so get the printed version.)


Alaska Dog Sledding Tours - Gift an experience of history and adventure

Do you know someone who longs for the real wilderness, who feels he is living in the wrong century, or who dreams of pitting himself against the rawness of nature? For someone like this, gift an experience in The Last Frontier, giving him an opportunity to touch history on an Alaska dog sledding tour. (And it's not just for guys - plenty of gals would enjoy this, too.)

While the other 49 United States became ever more populated and civilized, Alaska remained wild and largely unsettled, earning the nickname The Last Frontier. In the 1890's, with the Alaskan gold rush, many small towns sprung up in the interior of the territory, but there were no roads connecting them. They were served by steamboats in the summer, and when the rivers froze in the fall, dog sleds delivered supplies and mail. Dog sled teams continued to be used for transportation until the snowmobile became popular in the 1960's.

Alaska dog sledding tours offer a variety of ways to experience this traditional mode of transportation. Soak up the great outdoors as a passenger on the sled, leaving the work to an experienced musher. Or join a mushing school to learn how to drive a dog team yourself. And for the truly intrepid, multi-day trips leave civilization behind for a real taste of Alaska's wilderness. There are even tours organized around the famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Once at risk of disappearing completely with the advent of modern technology, Alaska's traditional mode of transportation has made a comeback. Combining the great outdoors, history, and a sense of living with nature, there is no better gift for an adventurous spirit than a dog sledding tour in Alaska.

Read About Real-Life Dog Sledding Adventures

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod
Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod

Touch the soul of dog sledding in Paulsen's account of his Iditarod dream. Starting as a casual dog sledder, he decides to train himself and his team for the Last Great Race on Earth, leading to mishaps both painful and hilarious. From beginning to end, the story recounts his journey from rookie musher through the risky and arduous race, a journey where he learns as much about himself as he does about mushing dogs. The author will have you laughing, crying, holding your breath -- but always, cheering him on.


Culinary Travel Tours

Give the gift of great taste

Experience gifts don't have to be outdoor adventures. Sometimes we need the finer things in life. For an aspiring chef, a budding wine maker, or anyone who simply has an appreciation for finely crafted foods and wines, the gift of a culinary travel tour is a delight.

While you may think of culinary travel being mainly in Europe, there are fascinating cooking classes in Mexico, the United States, and the Middle East, as well, just to name a few. Starting with a trip to the market for the freshest of ingredients, you'll learn to prepare authentic regional cuisine using traditional methods. Classes can run one day or several, and usually take place in a home setting with small groups, so you become a part of the family.


Instead of -- or in addition to -- cooking classes, give the gift of a wine tasting tour. Enjoy personalized tours of small, often historical, wineries where families have been perfecting their craft for generations. Learn about winemaking and sample various vintages to detect characteristics that differentiate one from another.

All culinary travel tours include ample time for sight-seeing, either with your host or on your own. Either way, you'll have the advantage of insider guidance and be immersed in the customs that make each location special. Imagine tortellini in Tuscany or wines, olives, and cheeses in Burgundy, all spiced with hearty new friendships. Culinary travel tours are perfect gifts to help your recipient get out of tourist mode and experience the real culture of a region.

Culinary Adventures Await Worldwide

A Moveable Feast (Lonely Planet Travel Literature)
A Moveable Feast (Lonely Planet Travel Literature)

Whet your appetite for culinary travel with Lonely Planet's collection of food adventure essays. More than just physical nourishment, food also nurtures our spirits, often becoming the best bridge between cultures. In this book, authors from TV shows and newspaper columns describe some of their most memorable culinary experiences around the world. It's sure to get your taste buds eager to sample some new delicacies.


What kind of experience would you love to receive as a gift?

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    • NigelmJeffries profile image


      6 years ago

      I like the idea of a culinary travel tour

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Alaska dog sledding tour looks like fun

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I would like the sailing trip or the safari

    • fifta profile image


      6 years ago

      wow, I'd love to have the safari tour. Great ideas for gift!

    • MariaMontgomery profile image


      6 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Great lens. I voted for Antigua as the best place in the Carribean. My favorite, though, is Barbados. Unfortunately, it wasn't one of the choices. Guess you can't name them all, huh?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hiking in the Swiss Alps is my dream. Maybe when my boyfriend finishes school, we can make that trip.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You can just surprise me and send me on any of your experiences as a gift, what a cool idea! I've always thought it would be fun to ride on a dog sled, I'm from the land of snow but have never done that.

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image


      6 years ago

      Trip to Italy or pilgrimage to India. Experiences are fabulous gifts, but way to expensive for me to give anyone. :-(

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 

      6 years ago

      i LOVE experience gifts. I like to give people concert tickets (if I know they truly like the performer). Great lens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You've gotten very close with the safari. My 'Bucket List' contains a balloon safari, quietly floating OVER the animals below. I think that would be amazing! While I'm there I'd take a drive into the bush too, so I can see things up close =)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      6 years ago

      A culinary trip to Italy would be my favorite experience.

    • pheonix76 profile image


      6 years ago from WNY

      I would love to experience storm chasing -- it must be such an adventure. Interesting lens!

    • Shorebirdie profile image


      6 years ago from San Diego, CA

      I would love to get an African safari for a gift, but I know how expensive those are, plus all the shots I would need. But, it's a lifelong dream of mine.

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 

      6 years ago

      great ideas, I think the safari or the culinary trips would be my favorite

    • MelonyVaughan profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful ideas!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image


      6 years ago

      These are great ideas! They all sound fun.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Storm Chasing Trips... LOL

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 

      6 years ago from Kansas

      Any of the above I would love.

    • RachelDillin profile image


      6 years ago

      My mother gives my kids experiences as gifts, and I really appreciate it. Of course it's nothing as exotic as these ideas.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

      6 years ago from Jersey Shore

      The wine country of France would do it for me!! Very nice lens :>)

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      I'd cheerfully accept any of these adventures!

    • craigmitchell profile image


      6 years ago

      Swimming with Dolphins!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      wish i could go to africa... mwehh.. like your article so much

    • gatornic15 profile image


      6 years ago

      Something involving some place tropical.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      I agree with Ruthi - the Alaska Sled Dog Tour would be a once in a lifetime experience. Most of the time though, travel is cool. Pinned to my Favorite Places and Spaces board.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      6 years ago

      I know someone who likes to chase storms. Snow storms. Actually, I think he likes to precede them and get snowed in.

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      The culinary trip, but as a walking tour.

    • CruiseReady profile image


      6 years ago from East Central Florida

      Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef - oh, yeah!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      These are all very cool ideas!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      That Alaska Dog Sledding Tour would be a splendid gift! I'd like a bit of warning though, so I could get a bit more fit for this adventure.


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