Give Experiences, Not Things

REI had it right this year when they launched their successful campaign #OptOutside. They encouraged everyone to take Black Friday (the busiest shopping day of the year) and reserve it to spend it outdoors rather than indoors buying products you really don’t need. They shut every one of their stores so their employees could enjoy time with family during the Thanksgiving weekend. Brilliant PR and a brilliant idea. Why? Because experiences will always trump things. And those who have traveled near and far understand; Experiences are life-changing.

I never understood how much I really had until I started to travel. Yes, travel can be that stereotypical eye-opener, but it is also one of the best teachers you’ll ever have. I remember being in Europe craving a Coke and paying three Euro for one. At that time the exchange rate made that out to be around five dollars. Unreal for a soda right? Well what I really wanted was a fountain soda with loads of ice. What I got was a can of Coke and a glass with no ice. They didn’t have any ice. NO ICE. I was devastated.   Now I can look back at that and laugh thinking of my troubles that were so minute but so big at that moment.

I had no idea places were so different from home. But as I traveled on throughout Europe, I adapted. Not only with no ice, but no dryers, no A/C, no elevators, and no free refills on anything. I sound like a lazy ass and I was. America makes you lazy, I’m sorry if you disagree. But we live in a country where everything is about consuming and convenience. I was not prepared to climb so many stairs, eat smaller meals, hang my clothes out to dry and just sweat because A/C was not available. But as much as I disliked it at the beginning, I began to live without. And when I lived with less things and less ‘comforts,’ I began to really enjoy life as it was; simple.   My point with this long-winded story is that everyone can change and adapt to having less and doing more. We all have to start somewhere, and I started in Rio when I was 19. My next trip was Europe and I still had a lot to learn. But once I started to travel and expand my horizons, I realized that there was so much out there to see and experience. And that changed everything.

I’m proud to have hit 30 countries this year.  Each country I got to tick off the list, provided me with at least a dozen stories and memories to last a lifetime. And not one of those stories involves buying something tangible. They’re all based on experiences I had meeting people, going on adventures, and sometimes running out of luck on the road.

It took me a while to get to a place where I would rather have a plane ticket to somewhere new over a new TV or wardrobe, but it’s a lifestyle that I’m really happy with. I’ve learned to live in the simplest of means, yet have maximized my day-to-day life experience. I have grown comfortable with new experiences and being out of my comfort zone, making all aspects of my life a hell of a lot better. Challenging yourself is one of the best gifts you could ever give yourself…and someone else.

  Travel Tuesday is upon us and I wanted to share a special moment with all of you! I personally take time out each day to express my gratitude for my life and everything I have. One of the best ways for me to be reminded of the incredible life I lead is to look over my travel photos and see where I’ve been. This picture popped out from all the rest today because I remember every single thing about that moment. I was so happy to be in Budapest, experiencing that incredible city for the first time. The girls who took this photo were two young ladies on a trip for school. They were studying abroad and were in Budapest for the weekend. I chatted with them about solo travel and their plans to do the same once they’re done with school. I was elated. It was a life-affirming moment on my trip that I will never forget. I knew that my passion and words were going to inspire others to do the same. I saw it in those girls’ eyes when I spoke about my travels and what I’m doing. They were ready to experience it too. I threw out a heart in this pic because I needed to remind myself down the road just how lucky and happy I truly am on the road. And today, I’m really feeling it. What was one of your favorite travel moments? Share with us below! #ttandw #wanderlust #traveltuesday #traveltalk #inspired #grateful #beautyeverywhere #Budapest #Hungary #visitBudapest #famouslandmark #tourist #solotravel #getoutside #exploredreamdiscover #gosolo #globelletravels #dametraveler #europtrip #nomad #travelabroad #travelawesome   A photo posted by Travel + Trust & Wanderlust ? (@traveltrustwanderlust) on

So this holiday season instead of buying someone a Bath + Bodyworks gift basket or candy or ugly sweater, put that money towards an experience that will bring a new perspective to their life. Buy them a gift card to an airline to get the ball rolling on their dream vacation, buy them a passport holder to entice them to get a passport, or buy them a tour package so they can go hike Machu Picchu in Peru. The point is to really question your gift giving. Are you buying them something just because? Will they really use it? What is your intention with this gift? Give a gift and you’ll get a thank you. Give an experience and you’ll change a life.


*** If you need great gift ideas for the female traveler in your life, sign up for our newsletter on the sidebar —> and we’ll give you a FREE 2015 Holiday Gift Guide!


About the author:

JenHeuette (1 of 6)

Jen Heuett is the creator of Travel + Trust & Wanderlust, an online community to educate, empower and inspire women to travel solo. Her words can also be found on Huffington PostMind Body Green, and Travel Hooligan, her first travel company that inspires young adults to utilize the Working Holiday Visa in Australia and New Zealand. When she’s not traveling the world, she’s enjoying the Pacific Northwest and her mom’s tacos.


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