Curating a travel experience for a loved one might be the most rewarding thing you ever do. “Research has shown that giving makes us far happier than receiving. Thus, in a way, we are actually being both selfish and selfless by giving to others.” (Haltiwanger) And, Christmas is nigh…and we all need ideas.
The novelty of curating an experience for another, instead of planning a trip together, came to me after binge watching The Calling on Netflix. If you haven’t seen this show, I highly recommend it. It is a heartwarming depiction of how lovely people can be to each other, and since the show is based on winning a scholarship by making fellow contestants as happy as possible, the irony is obvious. In order to win the contest, you have to learn what makes your opponents tick, and then curate travel experiences for them, so that they rate the experience you gave them as the best. At its heart, it’s a contest, but it appears more like three friends helping each other achieve their bucket lists and grow emotionally.
We all talk about what’s on our bucket lists, but most people don’t act them out. What if you secretly planned a trip for your loved one based on everything you know about them, down to the smallest detail? This means, not just booking flights and hotels at a destination you know they’ll enjoy, but really getting down to feelings, making them feel special and understood. Being understood is a basic human need. “It may well be that feeling understood is a prerequisite for our other desires to be satisfyingly fulfilled.” (Seltzer) “Without experiencing that others know us, or are able to, we’re left feeling alone…” (Seltzer) “Feeling understood connects you to others, allowing you to feel welcome.” (Seltzer) So, creating a tailored experience for your loved one will not only be fun and emotionally satisfying, but will strengthen your relationship. It’s a triple win.
Here’s an example. I can book an all-inclusive beach vacation for my husband because I know he likes nothing better than ‘toes in sand’ and not worrying about paying for things. If I stop there, it’s nice, but not fully tailored to him. If I also make sure it is an adult’s only resort, then he’ll know that I understand how much he doesn’t like the noise and disruption of children. Not stopping there, I can also plan a distillery or wine tour, and a visit to a historical house of a well-known local author. I know this would make him super happy. Adding something that might challenge him, that we do together, like surfing lessons, would also strengthen the bond between us – never a bad thing.
To craft your unique travel experience, you can start in a few ways.
- If you know any items on your loved one’s bucket list, start with one of those.
- Think of times when your loved one expressed the most happiness. What were you doing? Where were you? Try to recreate this environment at the target destination.
- What hobbies or sports does your loved one enjoy? Is it possible to do this at the target destination?
- What foods do they like to eat? Find restaurants in the target area that you know they’d enjoy. Possibly, plan a cooking class. If your special person is a foodie, then the whole experience can revolve around culinary delights.
- Plan according to their nature. Are they introverted or extroverted? If they are on the quiet side, don’t take them to a loud concert. Remember, it’s about them, not you.
Around Christmastime, we start thinking deeply about what our loved ones might like as gifts, and I think giving a gift of travel should be considered as well. You know your loved one the best, see them during down time, when their shield is down, which gives you the best advantage to create a travel experience that will be the most rewarding for both of you, a memory-making trip you will talk about for years. Not only will a trip like this be a grand experience for the both of you, but it’s also an investment in your relationship with a winning outcome for all.