It’s the night before Christmas and all through the house…
not a present has been bought, you feel like a louse!
With strong internet but no time for shipping,
This gift list’ll help you avoid a good whipping.

last minute gifts travel
Christmas lights in Florence

Right. Here’s what happened. I’ve been picking up small gifts here and there for a month. I think I’ve got everyone settled, but the problem is that I decorated the tree and wrapped the gifts and put them under, and now I don’t remember what I got for whom, nor if I’ve gotten anything for my husband! He asked for socks and underwear and I rather fear that is all he is getting. If you’re in a similar situation, or if you’ve just forgotten Aunt Edith entirely, I thought of a few last minute gifts travel lovers will adore and that you can buy online and print out as a gift card – no overnight Fedex required (cuz, good luck with that the day before Christmas). I’m quite sure that anyone on your list who likes to get out of the house and see the world will be happy with any of these.

A #deeptravel experience with Context

Our Context guide at the Borghese studied with one of Italy's greatest experts on Caravaggio
Our Context guide at the Borghese studied with one of Italy’s greatest experts on Caravaggio

I’ve mentioned plenty of times that Context Travel is my favourite and ONLY way to take tours, anywhere in the world. Working with scholars at the MA and above level, their small group tours are called “walking seminars” because there’s no following the umbrella here. Context guides are approachable locals and you get plenty of face time. They adapt what they show and how they explain things based on who they have in front of them, so they can handle children as much as university professors. I’ve always learned something new with them. I think one of the most eye-opening Context tours I’ve taken was the Jewish food tour of New York because it touched a lot on immigrant experiences in the tenements which was fascinating. You can pick a tour for someone or get them a gift certificate in any amount, to receive as a voucher.

Tickets and more with Musement


Hot air balloon ride with Musement
Hot air balloon ride with Musement


Musement is an Italian startup (always happy to support them!) that offers a one-stop shop for museum tickets, tours and experiences. They’ve set up a page that’s so handy for gifting an experience anywhere in the world. There are plenty of options from small to large – from reserving a ticket to the Uffizi to a hot air balloon ride over Rome or a golf holiday in France, or something closer to home (wherever your home is). Pick something specific for them or just get a general gift certificate – it’ll force them to get out and do something fun!

Send them somewhere

The everywhere option!
The everywhere option!

Take a trip with them or send them somewhere. It doesn’t have to be far away or expensive (well, depending on who it is and how much you like them…). I will never forget how happy my in-laws were when I organized a weekend away for them. I’d unbelievably won 2 flights within Europe and I gave the prize to them, and we booked a hotel and some activities and sent them off. They used to travel a lot more, but it’d been a while since they’d taken a proper trip, and they had a blast. If you’re short on ideas or want to pick something based on a budget, try the brilliant “Everywhere” option on Skyscanner!

Get a Room

Boutique Hotel Rooms | Photo credit:
Boutique Hotel Rooms | Photo credit:

I think that 20-30 years ago, the trend was creating series of business hotels so that frequent travelers could step in to their room in “wherever” and it would feel the same as the last place they stayed, be it in Texas or Timbuktu. Now we’re definitely more into boutique hotels where every room is different – and where arriving in one is a pleasant exploration of a new place. I love luxury, but not of the standard type. I like good boutique hotels where the linens are hand picked from artisan producers, not just ordered from Frette, and where the art on the walls is quirky. A good starting point to find these is Mr. & Mrs. Smith, whose “Get a Room gift cards” are perfect for a last minute gift.

Something to Read

What about a travel-inspired reading list? If the intended gift recipient has a Kindle, you can “gift” books straight to his device and create a fun reading list on your computer to print out and give in person.

For example, think about their next trip – can you get them some fiction that will make for good preparatory or plane reading? When I went to the Big Island of Hawaii (best trip ever!) 2 years ago, I just loved reading Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, a fascinating book about a leper colony island (trust me, it sounds worse than it is).

For Italy-inspired books, here’s a list of all-time classic historical fictions set here.

Or failing that, just get them an gift card – if they don’t love reading they can buy just so much other stuff…

To help them find their way

Last but not least, a quick and easy gift for their next trip is an Unanchor Guide! These step by step itineraries are available for major cities, often in various forms (like food lovers vs a museum tour). I’ve written a few of them myself. They are all available in Kindle format on Amazon, or you can buy a PDF (which you could print up nicely in colour and bind it if you want!) on their website

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