This holiday season, give the gift of lasting memories. Treat your family to a dream vacation or time with a loved one.
1. Substitute a ticket for gifts under the tree. Whether you hop on a plane or pop for a city weekend, forgo wrapped presents for days on a beach, on the slopes or in a culture-filled city.
For example, enjoy a holiday under the sun by taking in a free performance of The Nutcracker at the Occidental Grand Aruba. Guests at the all-inclusive resort enjoy the classic ballet, beach parties and holiday-themed events. Ask about special holiday rates and packages.
Contact: 1-800-858-2258; www.occidentalhotels.com
2. Plan a family-focused experience. Many of today's most successful tour companies offer educational and thoughtful journeys that appeal to families eager to share worry-free time together.
Tauck, a longtime leader in group travel, in 2003 launched Tauck Bridges, family-specific trips. The portfolio includes itineraries in Europe, North America, Latin America and Africa. New for 2010 is a family riverboat adventure on the Danube. Wrap brochures for all, then share in the excitement.
Contact: 1-800-468-2825; visit www.tauck.com
3. Volunteer. Plant trees, teach language skills and assist in building homes and schools in cross-cultural experiences this holiday season or any season. All ages of travelers who give the gift of their time benefit through gaining a greater understanding of people around the world.
Contact: www.voluntourism.org; www.i-to-i.com
4. Dream big. One of the most enjoyable aspects of travel is choosing a destination and then planning the trip. Make preparing for next year's exploration a part of your family fun with Lonely Planet's "The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World" ($45).
Through photos and maps combined with imaginative and informative text, you'll travel through every country in the world. No doubt, your list of possible destinations will be lengthy as you plan to explore the world.
5. Share the holiday. Is there a favorite aunt, a former nanny, a neighbor or a dear friend with whom you would like to share the holiday spirit? Skip gift-giving and pool your funds to visit her or him. Or buy them plane or train tickets so that they can join your holiday gathering. The special effort made to be with a loved one will long be remembered and treasured.