Gifting a Family Trip for Christmas
Next holiday season, instead of packing up clothes your kids have outgrown and tossing toys that already broke, you could be reminiscing about giving your family something far more durable: a dream vacation.
Here are three reasons why gifting a trip could improve your family's Return on Life this year and for many more years to come.
1. Experiences last.
Study after study has found that the satisfaction we received from experiences is more lasting and meaningful than the quick hit of happiness we get from more stuff. In part, that could be because even the best-loved gifts are often for personal use. Experiences, on the other hand, create and strengthen connections with other people just by sending us out into the world. A family trip can enhance that satisfaction because you'll be doing something special with the people who mean the most.
Taking your family to a favorite spot or a dream theme park destination will certainly create lasting memories. But there's another group of research that shows new and diverse experiences can enhance our happiness even more. At a resort or theme park, family members might drift off and do their own thing. But try something none of you have ever done before, like learning how to ski or camping, and you'll all be learning, growing, and experiencing together.
2. Bad gifts are bad for the environment – and your wallet.
Even in an up-and-down economy with higher-than-usual inflation, folks tend to buy themselves what they want when they want it. So, there might be a reason that the person you’re shopping for doesn’t already have what you’re thinking about buying them: they don’t want it!
According to a study by financial research firm Finder, Americans will spend $9.1 billion on gifts that recipients don't want this holiday season. In the U.K. shoppers spend £700 million on unwanted Christmas gifts and throw away approximately £42 million of unwanted presents each year. If you're shopping for younger Gen Z or millennial loved ones, the chances of your gift ending up in that unwanted pile are even higher.
And if you're thinking a gift receipt will reduce your holiday waste, think again: an estimated 5 billion pounds of returned goods end up in landfills because it's cheaper for shippers and retailers to throw some goods away than it is to repackage and restock them.
Joining all those discarded gifts in the dump will be approximately 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper that isn't -- or can't be -- recycled. The British will toss in additional 108 million rolls.
Of course, travelling can have a negative impact on the environment as well. But eco-conscious vacationers can plan ways to reduce their carbon footprints, including taking more efficient routes, using public transportation, and renting a house instead of staying at a hotel.
3. Planning can be a gift as well.
Even if you and your spouse decide on a vacation gift ahead of time, arranging all the details can be a rewarding family experience. Let every family member have some input on activities, meals, lodging, sights, and activities. Consider booking a longer slow travel trip that includes a couple of smaller day trips that everyone will enjoy. Or, if you want to sprinkle a few smaller gifts around the tree, buy presents that the family will use on the trip, like a waterproof digital camera, active wear, or a subscription to an app that teaches a foreign language.
Finally, don’t forget that while a trip might give everyone a memorable experience, it also might cost more than all the stuff you usually buy. Before you book your flights, make an appointment to review your annual travel budget and discuss how gifting a family trip fits into your 2024 financial plan.