Americans Want Gifted Experiences This Holiday Season

Americans Want Gifted Experiences This Holiday Season

This holiday season, most Americans (77%) would rather receive experiences over physical gifts if they could share them, according to new data from leading travel booking platform GetYourGuide. Findings show more Americans are planning to travel for the holidays this year than 2021 (52% compared to 48% last year), travel tops the list of experiences people hope to be surprised with, and yes, ugly sweaters are one of the worst gifts ever. 

"The most wonderful time of the year is upon us once again, when we can look forward to spending time with friends and family — as soon as we find the right gift, book the right flight or prepare the right dinner menu," said Caroline Berger, Head of Brand, U.S. at GetYourGuide. "While choosing the perfect gift can be a challenge, it's our goal at GetYourGuide to enable travelers to find joy in discovering authentic experiences. Perhaps as we prepare to enjoy more time with loved ones this holiday season, the best gift to unwrap isn't a box, but an unforgettable experience to share and create long-lasting memories."

Hint: Americans want to be surprised with a travel experience this holiday season

Hint: Americans want to be surprised with a travel experience this holiday season. Giving is an important part of the holidays and gifts can be a joyful thing that gets us to think deeply about loved ones' interests and needs — but not everyone gets it right. Some of the worst gifts respondents have ever received were something regifted (34%), followed by unwanted clothes, such as an ugly sweater (20%) or socks (19%). 

While most Americans find gifted experiences one of the best surprises, 90% say they usually receive physical gifts they may or may not like. When it comes to experiences, what they would most enjoy includes: Surprise travel (63%), Tickets to a concert or show (50%), An outdoor activity, such as skiing, boating or hiking (43%), Food tour or cooking class (36%), Wine or beer tasting (31%), Or a trip to the museum (29%).

But most respondents weren't picky — 96% said they would gladly take any of these experiences. 

When it comes to buying gifts, those we are closest to appear to pose the biggest challenge. The majority (87%) of respondents said family members were the hardest to shop for, especially their parents (36%), partner/spouse (29%) and siblings (14%). Gen Z (50%) are the most likely to say their parents are the hardest to shop for, compared to Millennials (35%) and Gen X (28%). Women (34%) are more likely to say their partner or spouse is the hardest person to shop for than men (24%).

Holiday gift shopping is once again likely to look different than years past. Between continued supply chain issues, rising prices, shipping delays, and more, Americans are gearing up for a challenging holiday season. The good news is, in the same way the best things in life aren't things, the best gifts for the holidays don't need to be things. 

"At GetYourGuide, we believe the greatest gifts to give are stories to share and memories to last a lifetime. I'll never forget when I visited Robben Island, where Mandela was once imprisoned. The tour was given by a former prisoner who was in the prison for 20 years. He shared his personal experience with us – it was simply a special and life-changing moment and a story I'll tell for years to come," comments Jean-Gabriel Duveau, Vice President of Brand & Partnerships at GetYourGuide.

With GetYourGuide, travelers in the U.S. are able to choose from a wide selection of unforgettable experiences vetted by local experts. The platform provides easy access to the world's most sought-after, one-of-a-kind experiences, including tickets to awe-inspiring attractions, exclusive discovery tours, exhilarating outdoor activities, local food immersions and other memories to last a lifetime.

Thanksgiving Day and the day before Christmas are generally the busiest travel days in the U.S., and this year, with decreasing travel restrictions and health concerns, four out of five (80%) respondents say they will travel during the holiday season. Last year, only half (52%) said they were able to travel for the holidays.

While there is high desire, holiday travelers are making their travel arrangements later than usual this year. Only one in three (30%) has booked their holiday travel to date, which is a significant decrease from almost two in three (58%) at the same time in 2021. Out of those who have not booked anything yet, 32% still plan to book holiday travel. 

This year, Americans are also hoping to spend less on their holiday travels than in 2021. Despite rising airline ticket prices, 42% spent or plan to spend under $500 on their holiday-related travel plans as opposed to 32% last year.