As we think about giving this year, we all want to give others something valuable. Something that they want and hold dear. We want to give something that has an impact. As outdoor explorers, we all know the value of adventure. But how do you wrap it up and put it under a tree?

In this edition of Therm-a-Rest Beta, contributor Jenny Abegg gives us a few ways that we can give the gift of adventure to our loved ones.

It’s the holiday season, and while your Facebook feed is full of gift guides, it’s likely that your closet too is filling up with presents for friends and family. A new sweater maybe, a pair of ski poles, or a solar-powered camp light. But while material possessions such as these come and go, experiences and their memories have the potential to last forever. This year, we’re inviting you to give the gift of experience, of adventure, to your loved ones—gifts far too large to fit under the tree.

Plan an Escape

Hands down, the hardest part of traveling or going on a vacation for me is deciding where to go and making the arrangements in advance. This pre-trip work can be a show-stopper, really. What an amazing gift it would be to go on an already planned adventure, whether it be hiking the West Coast Trail, skiing in the Alps, or bike-packing through the Cordillera Blanca. Put together an itinerary, reserve the campsites, and plan the bus rides—make all of the complicated decisions here and now. And how you choose to present your gift is up to you—maybe you make a surprise video, photoshop yourselves into your future vacation vista, or gift a dehydrated meal with an itinerary attached. Regardless, you’re about to make some memories!

Gift a Guide

Perhaps your loved one has been talking for years about scuba diving, or recently developed an itch to climb Mt. Rainier. Maybe he’s been stuck in Florida watching ski videos, or she’s taken to fishing in the neighborhood river with a pieced-together rod. Here’s your chance to help your friends or family expand their world with the gift of a guided adventure. Guide services exist for every activity under the sun, and you can even think outside the box for those who are less active. A day of snowshoeing, a pottery class, or even music lessons can set one off on a new adventure!

Hunt for Treasure

Growing up, my dad used to plan a treasure hunt for my sister and me every Christmas morning. I have no recollection of what gifts the hunts led to, but what I do remember is having a blast racing around the house and yard trying to find the next clue. Years later, a friend created a treasure hunt for my birthday in a boulder field, each clue leading to yet another climb that I had to reach the top of to retrieve the next. Whether a wordsmith or not, you can plan an amazing adventure around your house, town, or local trails, with small token accompanying each clue, or a grand gift (refer to the rest of this list for ideas) at the end. 

Trip Tokens 

Each Christmas as a child, I gifted my parents coupons for back massages, dish duty, and promises to walk the dog. They could redeem the coupons at will throughout the next year (though they often took advantage of the back massages right away). Here’s an idea: give a book of coupons to a loved one with promises of future trips or micro-adventures. Maybe it’s an afternoon of hiking close to town, a night at the climbing gym, or a weekend on the coast. It might be wrapped in a small package, but that collection of promises will be worth a year’s worth of fun.

For Generations to Come

Our nation is at a pivotal time in its history, and many of our beautiful and sacred public lands are under threat. Thankfully, many incredible and strategic organizations exist to protect these areas, although they can only work with the help of their communities. Instead of giving money to Amazon, Apple, or your local Walmart this year, make donations on behalf of your loved ones to the Access Fund, Bears Ears Education Center, or a local land trust. More, if you have friends or family passionate about the outdoors being accessible for all people, consider giving in their name to organizations such as Big City Mountaineers or Outdoors for All. And for those of you with children—this is a fantastic way to share your love for the wilderness with them while helping to preserve their beloved landscapes for future use.

adventure