From long weekends to summer holidays, it’s likely most if not all vacation plans you had this year were cancelled. But there are still ways to satiate your wanderlust and satisfy the traveller on your gift list. From dream boxes that will transport you to the rugged shores of Fogo Island in Newfoundland to puzzles that will immerse you in a jungle in India, these ideas may be just the thing to get them through until their next getaway.
Buy the handiwork of local artisans in tourist-dependent regions where travel has slowed to a trickle. Websites such as baobab-batik.com, a social enterprise in Swaziland, sell vibrant batik cushions and wall hangings made by women in marginalized communities in South Africa; find beautiful tablecloths and blankets from Oaxaca, Mexico at textileradelmanantial.com; and nepaliartisans.com will help you source jewellery from Nepal.
Ordinary Habit, started by a mother-daughter duo based in Brooklyn, New York, sells six limited-edition, 500-piece puzzles of works by women artists from around the world with tantalizing titles such as Secret Jungle Tea Party, Ecstatic Motion, Indian Garden and Wish You Were Here. The puzzles are made of recycled materials. US$40 per puzzle or the set of six, US$225, through ordinaryhabit.com.
Dare to dream
Peek through the viewfinder of this birch box, carefully wrapped in a silkscreened fabric, and enter a quaint little room, with handmade furniture, a traditional quilt, crocheted mat and a singular view of one of the four corners of the earth, Fogo Island. The box, a community project, includes a $10,000 gift certificate for three nights at the luxury resort in 2021. For more information e-mail email@example.com.
For some people the best part of travelling is staying in a hotel and enjoying the wonderful amenities that go along with it. The online boutiques of most of the major hotel chains sell their bathrobes, bubble bath and towel sets (ritzcarltonshops.com); Frette pyjamas and matching sleep mask (stregisboutique.com); or candles like jasmine fig or bergamot (whotelsthestore.com). Four Season Hotel Toronto has five luxury gift baskets, with themes like Spa Day or Sip and Savour, designed to pamper the stay-at-home voyeur.
Give me shelter
Interior design duo Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan have provided the perfect escape in the pages of their new coffee table book, Escapology: Modern Cabins, Cottages and Retreats. A country barn retreat in the English countryside, an Airship 002 (a trailer that looks like a space ship) on a remote outcropping overlooking the Isle of Mull, Scotland, or a contemporary tree house deep in the Nordic forest are a few examples of the 24 getaways that will leave you pining for the serenity of nature. $39 at bookstores.
Explore the world from your hometown via local museums or galleries. Buy a loved one a membership to the Royal Ontario Museum ($135) to get a look at ancient civilizations (the museum’s Egyptian Mummies: Ancient Lives. New Discoveries exhibit runs to March 2021) or journey to the place where chintz originated (The Cloth That Changed the World: India’s Painted and Printed Cottons runs to September 2021). View Canada’s north through new eyes at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ exhibition Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures (until May 2021) or explore Indigenous culture at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection retrospective of Metis artist Christi Belcourt (Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth runs to January 2021).
If you’re still mourning that cancelled trip this summer to the East Coast, a husband-and-wife team in Prince Edward Island can help. The Preserve Co. will ship anywhere in Canada a seasonal special called Santa’s Seafood Box filled with samples of the ocean’s bounty, featuring fresh Malpeque Bay oysters (shucking knife included), a jar of bar clams, mussels, smoked herring, and all the sauces and seasoning. They ask that you specify the date you would like the box to arrive so these treats are as fresh as possible. $100 through preservecompany.com.
Once the pandemic shut many countries down, international tour operator Context Travel started looking for ways to connect isolated travellers with experts who could take them on guided tours around the world. The company launched Context Conversations, which offers both 90-minute seminars (the Broadway buff might enjoy Hamilton: How the Musical Remixes American History) or full-scale tours such as The Silk Roads: A Multi-Park Journey. Context offers 50 virtual seminars a week on more than 700 topics. Prices vary through contexttravel.com.
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