With holiday shopping on the horizon, it’s time to start brainstorming a list of goodies for your loved ones. But there are gifts, and then there are gifts that keep on giving. Whether the traveler on your list is a vinyl aficionado with eclectic tastes or a former New Yorker jonesing for proper pastrami, there’s a subscription box or membership gift that will last long after the celebration is over.
Food and snack subscription boxes
Many of us travel to try new foods, but these boxes let hungry adventurers explore flavors from around the world without leaving home.
Try the World
Buy Now: from $19/month, trytheworld.com
Gourmands will go ga-ga for Try the World box’s chef-curated collection of snacks and cultured ingredients; they include a backstory and recipes to help them shine.
Buy Now: from $14/month, universalyums.com
The Universal Yums monthly subscription box is packed with sweet and savory snacks and candies from grocery stores around the globe, and each box is typically tied to a particular country.
Buy Now: from $54/month, mouth.com
Mouth is a more gourmet snack option, whose Indie States of America box entails goodies from a different U.S. region every month.
Salt & Straw
Buy Now: from $65/month, saltandstraw.com
Keep your favorite sweet-lover’s freezer stocked with ice cream delivery from their favorite scoop shop: West Coast fave Salt & Straw sends five (oh yes, five) pints per month of the latest seasonal flavors—say, peach and vanilla bean in September or gingerbread cookie dough in December.
Buy Now: $450 for a three-month subscription, katzsdelicatessen.com
For something more substantial, New York’s iconic Katz’s Delicatessen drops a multipound box of cured meats, pickles, sweets, and breads on members each month, like manna from deli heaven.
Coffee subscription boxes
For that special caffeine-fueled someone, a coffee subscription box is the holiday gift of dreams. (Do your loved ones opt for tea time? We’re fans of Teabox, which delivers fresh varieties handpicked in India and Nepal.)
Buy Now: from $15/shipment, driftaway.coffee
We’re particularly excited about Driftaway Coffee, whose personalized boxes connect you with farmers from all over the world (and you can even send them thank-you messages!). For that service, you can choose to receive your coffee weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
Atlas Coffee Club
Buy Now: from $9/shipment, atlascoffeeclub.com
Atlas Coffee Club is another winner, which sends freshly roasted micro-lot coffees from more than 50 countries around the world.
Beer, wine, and spirits subscription boxes
For the people on your list who prefer their drinks a bit harder, a subscription to a beer-, spirit-, or wine-delivery service is sure to bring them holiday cheer.
Buy Now: from $59/month, wineawesomeness.com
Wine Awesomeness sends out regular three- or six-bottle packs each month along with tasting notes and recipes. Shipments are red, white, or mixed from South America, Europe, and beyond.
Craft Beer Club
Buy Now: from $44/month, craftbeerclub.com
Beer fanatics can enjoy cold one after cold one with subscription boxes of craft brews from all over the world, too. Craft Beer Club sends 12 beers per month from two two different breweries. Past breweries featured include Nashville’s Yazoo Brewing Company and California’s Lost Coast Brewery.
Buy Now: from $44/month, tastersclub.com
Looking for something harder still? Taster’s Club sends spirit lovers a world-class variety of whiskey, tequila, rum, gin, or vodka monthly (from $44/month).
TV and movie memberships
Netflix has reached its zenith of influence, producing captivating original series and constantly refreshing its library of great movies and TV shows. Binge-watchers will appreciate your covering these monthly fees, especially when it helps them pass the time in lockdown—and on international flights in the future. In addition to Netflix, two other popular services include Hulu and HBO Max. Want to be a hero? Give your TV nerd a subscription to them all. Subscriptions start at $9, $6, and $15/month, respectively.
Reading and music subscriptions
Book subscription services are a great way to please travelers—because few things are more soul-soothing than a flight or a train ride with a good book in hand. We also have ideas for those who miss listening to live music on their trips around the world.
Book of the Month
Buy Now: from $15/month, bookofthemonth.com
Book of the Month lets members choose from one of five hard copies each month from a variety of genres including historical fiction, thrillers, fantasy and sci-fi, or contemporary fiction.
Buy Now: from $22/quarter, cratejoy.com
For those looking to diversify their bookshelves, Call Number is a quarterly book subscription box curated by Jamillah R. Gabriel, an academic librarian, featuring newly released works by Black authors. Choose from either fiction or nonfiction, as well as book-only boxes or ones that also include two or three small items like bookmarks and notecards related to the book’s theme.
Vinyl Me, Please
Buy Now: from $33/month, vinylmeplease.com
Vinyl Me, Please delivers all the thrill of a vinyl store, without the legwork. Every month, members receive an album from an international artist, such as Japanese American singer-songwriter Mitski and the late Ethiopian funk musician Ayalew Mesfin. Each album is pressed on colored or patterned vinyl and is paired with a cocktail recipe inspired by the music.
Multilingualism has incredibly far-reaching benefits, and in our minds, is one of the best ways to travel deeper wherever you roam. It also never hurts to start a child’s love of travel early.
Buy Now: from $12/month, rosettastone.com
Rosetta Stone is a tried-and-true method of learning a new language that’s been inspiring cross-cultural communication for 25 years and counting.
Kiwi Co. Atlas Crate
Buy Now: from $20/month, kiwico.com
Help kids explore the world via hands-on, travel-inspired projects with KiwiCo.’s Atlas Crate. It starts broad—little ones can build their own globe—and then narrows to country-specific crates. The Japan box features a traditional game and a recipe for onigiri rice balls, and the Peru box includes a DIY antara flute and an introduction to textile weaving.
Clothing and jewelry subscription boxes
Avid travelers, whether for business or pleasure, may not have time to go shopping and refresh their wardrobe for their next trip. That’s where these styling subscriptions come in.
Buy Now: from $28/month, sprezzabox.com
Gentlemen will swoon for SprezzaBox, which for $28/month turns them “dapper or stylish, without [seemingly] trying,” as the Italian slang translation for sprezza dictates.
Buy Now: price is determined based on how many items are kept, stitchfix.com
Stitch Fix appeals to both men and women in a highly personalized fashion. After completing a style profile, clients receive five items to try, with the option to keep what they like and send back what they don’t.
Emma & Chloé
Buy Now: from $35/month, us.emma-chloe.com
Is an outfit really complete without the jewelry on top? One of our favorite luxurious bauble subscriptions comes from Emma & Chloé—a French brand that delivers a monthly piece that’s typically 14k-gold plated or dipped in a silver bath. Sound très magnifique? We think so, too.
Beauty and skincare subscription boxes
The beauty market is booming with subscription boxes of makeup and skincare goodies galore. These are a few of our favorites.
Buy Now: from $21/month, glossybox.com
Berlin-based Glossybox offers a mix of sample- and full-sized products from unique European and Japanese brands.
Buy Now: from $12/month, ipsy.com
We’re also fond of Ipsy, which ships recipients five sample-sized products each month (carry-on friendly goodies, anyone?).
Buy Now: from $10/month, maskboxbeauty.com
The spa lovers in your life will go wild for Maskbox, which offers customizable facial masks to help keep them glowing on the road.
Dollar Shave Club
Buy Now: from $2/month, dollarshaveclub.com
Lastly, we haven’t forgotten about the guys! Keep your traveling men looking fresh with a subscription to Dollar Shave Club, which ships new razors along with optional extras like hair gel and body wash.
Stationery subscription boxes
If your loved one considers a travel journal and a stack of postcards an essential part of any packing list, these boxes are for them.
Buy Now: from $29/month, studiocalico.com
Help crafty friends beautify their travel memories with the Traveler’s Notebook Kit from Studio Calico that comes with new stickers, washi tape, and notebook inserts each month.
Cloth & Paper
Buy Now: from $18/month, clothandpaper.com
Cloth & Paper’s monthly boxes will keep them well-stocked with stylish pens, postcards, sticky notes, and notebooks.
In our opinion, anything that encourages exploration is an ideal gift. Some of these might be better post-pandemic options, but more accessible options include local memberships to museums, zoos, theaters, or botanical gardens—because, as our cofounder Joe Diaz says, travel begins when you leave your doorstep.
America the Beautiful Passes
Buy Now: $80/year, nps.gov
America the Beautiful passes grant access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites and national parks, from an annual fee of just $80.
Buy Now: from $99/year, prioritypass.com
Give the gift of airport ease: Priority Pass operates more than 1,200 lounges in airports around the world. Members get free Wi-Fi, food, and beverages, as well as around-the-clock access to support services.
Buy Now: $149 for 12 months with promo code “AFF149” (Was $179), clearme.com
Even if your travel partner has TSA PreCheck, a Clear membership can help them get through airport security even faster. After verifying their identity, travelers can walk up to a Clear kiosk at any of the 35 airport it currently serves and scan their fingerprints or eyes. Then a Clear representative will escort them straight to the security checkpoint, bypassing the regular line.
This article was originally published in November 2017; it was updated on November 10, 2020, to include current information. Products we write about are independently vetted and recommended by our editors. AFAR may earn a commission if you buy through our links, which helps support our independent publication.
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