Birthday gift idea: How to travel around the globe without leaving New York

It was Sean’s birthday time of the year again, and of course, a few weeks prior to his birthday I started to think about a perfect gift for him. We both love to travel, and we both much prefer experiences, spending time with each other and friends/family, and doing fun stuff instead of getting things.

Last year we went on a weekend trip to Providence and Newport, RI, that was a lot of fun and just a perfect celebration getaway, including romantic gondola ride, amazing dinner, visiting mansions and seeing a show at a tiny theater. This year I was thinking if it’s possible to figure out something fun like that, but at the same time different enough, and exciting enough. For some good logistical reasons, we can’t really travel far away from home these days. So all the fun had to happen here, in NYC… and that’s how I got the idea of creating an around the world adventure here at home!

I picked a few European countries that we’d love to visit in the near future, and decided to make a little suitcase, plane tickets and a passport with clues and fun facts about those countries. Sean would open up a package, find tickets and solve clues, then we would go and visit cafes, restaurants and places that represent our countries and pretend that we are actually visiting them!

What you’ll need:

  • list of countries/places you want to feature, with clues, fun facts, anything fun you can think of. Google is your good friend for this.
  • research on places you want to go, like cafes and restaurants. Find out their locations and opening hours, so you can plan and make reservations if needed.
  • themed paper goods: I found a perfect selection of a printable paper suitcase, customizable airplane tickets and a matching ticket jacket on Etsy. They send the files to you, and you just print and assemble them! Very easy. I’d suggest printing them on thicker/glossier paper for a nice finish (I stole, ahem, borrowed some from my office).
  • passport: I made one myself in Photoshop. The the pages took a bit of time to design, but I think it came out nicely (although the resolution was not that good and could be done better) and it was a lot of fun to create.

  • postcard: optional, but I think it just tied together the theme so nicely. I found this super cute traveling bear postcard on Etsy, and the designer Shanna was really kind to even personalize it for me with a European stamp and country flags on the suitecase. I totally loved the postcard when I got it!
  • country-themed little gifts: optional, I wanted to have them as souveniers that you would bring from real travels. So for Sean I got a bottle of beer from each country (Whole Foods on Houston St. in NYC has a great selection), and vintage posters from Etsy. Some other ideas: luggage tags with country flags, candy/chocolate from different countries, pins, etc.
  • and finally, a bit of time, good spirit and thirst for adventure!

Places we visited in NYC:

We are lucky to be living in New York, where virtually any culture in the world can be found within the city limits. But if you live in other cities, you can probably still find some unique ethnic restaurants, or even create your own adventure by just picking fun places to visit, such as museums or parks or cafes, and thinking of a theme to tie them together into a story.

As you can probably guess, the whole “traveling around the globe” day was a lot of fun! We had the most beautiful weather, perfect for walking around and exploring, and having only 3 countries to focus on made it easy and manageable. All the places we visited were great, and we had the best time (I loved watching Sean figuring out clues and seeing that he liked the food we tried and places we went). Now we just can’t wait to travel for realz!