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How to Buy Gifts When You’re Away from Family & Friends

Vintage gift box with bow on wooden background

One of the downsides of travel and living abroad is that we can’t always be with our loved ones when they’re celebrating milestones and annual events like weddings, birthdays or even Mother’s Day.

Having now lived in a different country to my family and friends back in New Zealand for many years, this is something that I’ve sadly become used to, but I know not everyone is!

Things are more than a little different for most of us right now and I know people are having to get used to being away from family and friends when they wouldn’t normally be. But that doesn’t mean that you, or they, have to miss out!

Although I’ve missed a lot of important occasions, I always try to send a gift whenever I can. Sending gifts to loved ones overseas is fun because you can choose a present that you know the person will love and then get the anticipation of waiting for them to get it before you can share in the excitement with them. 

Everyone loves getting mail after all!

However, in recent years I’ve taken to ordering gifts online and having them sent directly rather than shopping in person.

Partly because it saves time and often postage but also because it’s not always as easy to find the perfect gift on the high street as it can be online.

And now, of course, this is the only way for many of us! 

Over time, I’ve also taken to gifting experiences rather than things.

Family in Prague at Prague Castle

Why give a gift experience?

Whether shopping in person isn’t an option or I’m searching for something for the impossible to buy for person in my life, there are lots of reasons to gift an experience

I always treasure having new experiences with family and friends and taking them out for a treat in person, so it’s amazing to have the opportunity to still treat them from afar.

But what do I mean when I say “gift experience”?

A gift experience allows you to buy that special someone something to DO rather than something to HAVE. And this means there are a wealth of different ideas to choose from!

In the past, I’ve gifted a half-day of mountain biking to my husband for his birthday one year and walking around the top of a skyscraper for another.

I’ve also kindly been on the receiving end of gifted meals and massages from my in-laws.

My Mum loved getting her nails done for Mother’s Day one year and going for afternoon tea last year. As much as I couldn’t be with her on the day I got to see all of her photos and talk to her about her experience which helped me to feel like I’d done something special for her even though I couldn’t see her.

Ultimately, giving a gift experience is like giving a gift voucher but for something a little more memorable.

Imagine getting a gift of that one thing you’ve always wanted to do but you know would never buy for yourself!

Sky Tower Skywalk Auckland City New Zealand

What kind of experiences can you gift?

Here are a few other ideas of what you can expect when you’re looking to buy someone a gift experience. 

Adventurous Activities

There’s always lots of adventurous experiences to choose from, which is great if your loved one is into that sort of thing or you want to surprise them with a bit of a thrill. Some examples are:

  • Bungee Jumping
  • Cycling or mountain biking
  • Parasailing
  • Balloon ride
  • Boat rides
  • Horseriding
  • Surf Lessons
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Kayaking/Canoeing
Boat on Loch Ness, Scotland

Food Experiences

Food experiences are always a winner, surely!

  • Food tours
  • Brewery or Distillery Tours
  • Fancy dinner out
  • Afternoon Tea
Sitting at afternoon tea with law books behind

City Sights

City experiences can include a few different things but would usually mean something like a city tour or a visit to an iconic place like the Rockefeller Centre or Statue of Liberty in New York for example.

These can be great for visitors but they can also be a fantastic gift for locals, allowing them to learn something about their home town they might not otherwise have found out.


Need I say more?

There are often spa packages available as gift experiences and I’ve had my fair share of those over the years as well! Often in combination with an afternoon tea too, I’m very lucky/spoiled by my friends and family!

Feet in slippers in spa lounge looking out window

I know many of the above aren’t options right now. But it won’t be that way forever! 

How do you know what to get?

When thinking about gifting an experience often the stumbling block is the worry that the person you’re buying for either might not like the thing you’ve bought them or worse not have the time to be able to do it at all.

You have a few options when considering gift experiences.

You could go directly to the source of the experience, but they may have restrictions on the time you have to use your voucher and you may not know when you can do so.

There are also gift experience companies who you can book a specific experience through, but the same rules often apply. Which is where Tinggly comes in!

Tinggly Gift Experiences

Tinggly is a little different from other options for gift experiences for a few reasons.

To begin with, instead of choosing the exact experience to gift your loved one, you gift them a whole box of experiences instead! Then they get to choose what they do for themselves.

Tinggly has created different packages of experiences from all over the world. You choose the package or “box” you think suits, and then your loved one can choose from the many hundreds of experiences within it!

Tinggly Gift Experience Box - Superwoman Box

They choose the experience

They have collated activities into all sorts of different boxes with different values.

For example, choose the “Happy Birthday” box for over 400 experiences in 100 different countries and you could be gifting a visit to Shakespeares Globe in London plus Afternoon Tea, or Farm Tour & Tasting in New York.

With Mother’s Day coming up, there are lots of different Mother’s Day Gift Box options. From the “Perfect for Her” box to the “Superwoman” box, there are hundreds of different experiences to choose from so there’s bound to be something that suits.

There’s no expiry date

The worry I’ve often had with gifting vouchers for things is that the person won’t have time to use it before it expires.

Sometimes through no one’s fault, the chosen experience gets put off and before you know it there’s no time left!

One of the best things about Tinggly Gift Boxes is that they don’t expire! This means that if the person you’re gifting to isn’t able to do anything at the moment, they can still look forward to the experience in the future and don’t have to worry about any expiry date.

It will give them something to look forward to planning! Plus, with so many different options within the box available, they can have the flexibility to choose something that suits them when the time is right, rather than being locked into one experience.

Also uniquely, part of the profit from each gift box goes into sustainable projects, including removing plastics from the environment, rather than creating more through possessions.

So if you’re struggling with ideas for what to give friends and family when you can’t be with them, then you now know you can give the gift of a future experience for them to look forward to! 

Sonja x

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