Loved and loathed, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that can bring stress or joy depending on whom you talk to. For some, that anxiety stems from struggling to find the right gift for a loved one. If your loved one loves travel, you’ve come to the right place.
While vaccine distribution may give us a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, it’s still not safe to be taking your Valentine on a big, romantic vacation (although you can go ahead and plan one for the future). In the meantime, you can still appeal to their love of travel through a travel-related or travel-adjacent Valentine’s Day gift.
Here are some ideas to get your brainstorming going.
Cookbooks, beach reads and coffee-table books
Add something to your loved one’s bookshelf that reminds them of their favorite places. That could be a cookbook that captures a destination’s flavors and stories. There are great contemporary and classic travel reads, too, such as “Into the Wild” or “Black Girl in Paris,” or beach reads like “Eat Pray Love.”
If your valentine doesn’t want to do much reading, try a coffee-table book based on their favorite travel memories like “Gray Malin: Italy” or “Patterns of India: A Journey Through Colors, Textiles, and the Vibrancy of Rajasthan.”
Eating, drinking and cooking
What did your valentine love to eat and drink on their favorite vacation? If they love to cook, special ingredients may be the perfect gift.
Is your Valentine deeply devoted to tahdig from Iran? Surprise them with Kashmiri saffron. Valentines who miss the flavors and aromas of Chengdu deserve the Spice Evangelist package from Fly By Jing. For those who fell for the coffee in Vietnam, Nguyen Coffee Supply sources premium arabica and robusta beans from Vietnam while supporting the socio-economic advancement of its producers.
Maybe they need tools to re-create their favorite food from a past trip. That could be a molcajete from Mexico, a Japanese chef’s knife or a Lao sticky rice steamer pot.
Conversely, does your valentine hate cooking? Try ordering already made specialties straight from the source on Goldbelly.
On the beverage front, help them drink like they’re traveling by gifting something for their bar cart. A bottle of peated scotch will trigger sensory memories of Scotland. If you went wine tasting together somewhere special (Napa? Hungary? Burgundy?) gift a bottle from the same region.
The pandemic has inspired a new generation of campers. Whether your loved one is a seasoned camping pro, or one of those who hopped on the bandwagon, gear that supports their hobby may make a great Valentine’s Day gift.
There are about a million different ways you could go with this one. You could get apparel to keep them warm or just looking cool, camping cooking essentials or a subscription to the Dyrt. Opinel sells simultaneously practical and sentimental knives that can be engraved for your loved one.
Virtual travel experiences
While you can’t physically go on a far-flung romantic trip this Valentine’s Day, you can virtually. The Table Less Traveled, Airbnb, Amazon, Intrepid Travel and plenty of other companies are offering more virtual travel experiences than ever, and you can find something to suit your Valentine’s personality.
Through the magic of the Internet, take your loved one on a walking tour of Norway, a ravioli class in Capri, a yoga session in Delhi, or a free tour of New York that focuses on its historic love stories.
Future trip experiences
If the idea of a staycation just isn’t cutting it, surprise your loved one with the promise of a future vacation. Although it’s unclear when we’ll be able to visit places like Europe or Asia again, you can take advantage of savings now on trips to take later. Buy credits and vouchers or make bookings (very) far in advance with tour companies, hotels and experiences — just make sure they easily can be canceled or rebooked.
Support your loved one’s self care with travel-tinged bath and beauty products. Plenty of the world’s beloved hotels sell their toiletries, candles and robes.
You can also think of local bathing rituals from the places your lover loved to visit. There’s the NETT Exfoliator originally from Ghana to keep your valentine’s skin smooth, fair trade Argan oil from Morocco for hair and skin care, and birch branches to re-create the aroma of a Russian sauna in your shower. This “seaweed bomb” is allegedly good for you and will also conjure memories of trips to the U.K. coast.
Pay homage to the patron saint of travel while surprising your significant other this Valentine’s Day. There are a lot of Bourdain gifts to choose from — whether its one of his classic books like “Kitchen Confidential,” or something less well-known, like one of his graphic novels. For the chef in your life, there’s “Appetites: A Cookbook” as well. Should your loved one already own everything Bourdain-themed, preorder the forthcoming book “World Travel: An Irreverent Guide,” print out the book cover and stick it in a card.
Read more on travel during the pandemic:
Tips: Advice column | Coronavirus testing | Sanitizing your hotel | Updating documents
Flying: Pandemic packing | Airport protocol | Staying healthy on planes | Fly or drive? | Layovers
Road trips: Tips | Rental cars | Best snacks | Long-haul trains | Rest stops | Cross-country drive