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10 Ways to Give the Gift of Travel

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Does all the rushing around of the holiday season make you want to get away? You're not the only one. In fact, it might just behoove you to give someone the gift of travel this year. There are more ways to do so than you think -- and ways in all price ranges. Here are ten ideas:

10 Ways to Give the Gift of Travel

1. Airline miles. Airline gift cards are tricky; you sort of feel like a jerk for giving anything less than $100. However, if you have some spare miles floating around from those last few business trips, you can get them transferred to somebody else -- and that's a great gift. Check with whatever airline you fly most for their procedure. Alternatively, you can donate your airline miles to charity in someone's name. Johnny Jet explains how here. 'Tis the season.

2. Hotel gift cards. Almost all hotels, from the budget set to luxury boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, offer gift cards. Some will allow you to purchase a number of nights and spa treatments, etc., and some just go by dollar amount. The easiest way to give this gift is of course to get it for free. Luxist is giving away Four Seasons gift cards through December 10 here.

3. Zipcar membership. Zipcar offers "an alternative to car rental and car ownership." If your recipient is 21 years old or older, they have a valid driver's license, and meet a few other criteria here, you can gift them with membership or a dollar amount, and totally claim you gave them a car. Zipcar has also set up a Get Zipcar site so that you can send a message to your parents that says "I'd like to come home for the holidays" or a silly message like "Happy BMW to me!" and encourage them to get you a car.

4. Food. It may not be as good as the real thing, but food is part of the essence of travel. If you know your friend is just dying to go to Paris, why not take them to the best local French restaurant to let them enjoy the Parisian cuisine? Alternatively, you could buy them a cookbook or, even more generously, make them a gift card good for one meal from the country of their choice cooked by you.

5. A guide to the city where they live. Sometimes, you don't have to leave home to travel. Staycation! Most of us don't go to our local tourist haunts very often (and for good reason), but guides to your own city can alert you to cool features you didn't even know your town had. Series like City Walks can help you explore your local area in a whole new way.

6. City Pass. Know someone who's already planning their next trip? Get them a City Pass. The price varies by city, but the pass will get them discounts as high as 50 percent on major attractions and enable them to skip ticket lines.

7. Boat trip. Almost every city has a body of water with boats on it, and you probably almost never ride them (unless you live in Staten Island). Museums are great, but nothing takes you away from your usual routine (literally) like getting out on the water. You may just be traveling up the river and back, but simply changing terrain can feel like a mini-vacation and give you a whole new perspective on a place.

8. Give something they have to travel to use.
Examples: a tent, skis, fabulous swimwear, an enormous backpacker backpack. This is a good idea for someone who deserves a vacation but needs a little push.

9. Give language-learning software/books. Another way to inspire someone to travel is to get them excited about another language. You have to know someone pretty well to know that they'd like to learn a language (and which languages interest them), but a question like "If you could learn any language in the world, what would it be?" should get you all the information you need. If they seem excited, get them a simple book or go whole hog and get them Rosetta Stone's TOTALe package. Once they start to learn the words, it won't be long before they skip town.

10. Invite someone to your home. If you have out-of-town friends or family, one way to give them a travel gift that costs you nothing is to invite them, officially, to come visit your city and stay in your home. Even if you've known them for years, people can feel awkward about asking to stay with you instead of forking out the cash for a hotel. Make a pretty invitation good for a four-night stay (it's a good idea to specify the length, so they don't feel like they're asking for too many nights or, conversely, overstay their welcome), and the likelihood of them coming to visit will greatly increase.

Happy shopping to you all, and happy holidays!

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