New GetYourGuide Survey Finds a Staggering 92% of Americans Would Rather Receive Experiences Over Physical Gifts this Holiday Season, Reinforcing the Increasing Desire To Create Lasting Memories With Loved Ones

  • The best experience might just come with the perfect someone to share it with: 92% would like to receive an experience to share with a loved one.1
  • GetYourGuide bookings data shows a 63% year-over-year increase in total bookings.2
  • If they were to receive an experience, half (51%) would prefer to travel or take a trip, especially among Millennials (56%)


This holiday season, a staggering majority of Americans (92%) are hoping for gifted experiences over physical gifts compared to last year (77%)3, according to new data from leading travel booking platform GetYourGuide. Now, loved ones are wishing for unforgettable experiences that create lasting memories — with 61% of women preferring experiences to physical gifts, compared to a still notable 51% of men.


This is the third year GetYourGuide surveyed U.S. consumers about their holiday shopping and travel plans, unearthing noteworthy trends. Americans’ desire to give and receive experiences as gifts has seen remarkable growth, surging from 62% in 2021 to an astonishing 92% in 2023. The latest survey dug even deeper to uncover top categories for travel experiences, what motivates people to travel or where they get their inspiration, and what they consider the most important factors for unforgettable experiences.

‘Tis the season of shopping

Holiday gift shopping is once again likely to look different than years past — especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Most Americans no longer sit back and wait to start hunting for the perfect gifts until they’ve got a belly full of Thanksgiving turkey. 

  • Nearly 2 in 3 (64%) begin their holiday shopping before Black Friday or Cyber Monday, an 11-percentage point spike since 2022 (53%). 
  • Getting holiday shopping done early is a priority for the busiest shoppers: parents (69%) are more likely to start their holiday shopping before Black Friday or Cyber Monday than those without kids (59%). 
  • Just 24% wait until the last weekend in November, a 9-point drop since 2022 (33%) — though Gen Z are particularly likely to wait until then (32%) — and 12% still plan to wait until December.

While price (56%) remains Americans’ top concern when gift shopping, it is a 7-point drop from last year when 63% said the same. Likewise, concern over inflation fell 9 points, from 41% in 2022 to 32% in 2023. Instead, this year is seeing more than a third concerned about shipping delays (37%) with nearly as many stressing over out-of-stock items (32%). Concerns over return policy (24%) rose 4 points over 2022 (20%). For those who may be concerned about shipping delays or items being out of stock, GetYourGuide gift cards are a great way to give a memorable gift, and offer flexibility with over 60,000 experiences to choose from across the globe. Plus, GetYourGuide experiences allow for free cancellation up to 24 hours before the activity starts to receive a full refund.

Thinking outside the gift box

Exchanging physical gifts may bring immediate joy, but over time, the happiness derived from these surprises may fade. In contrast, the act of giving and receiving experiences leaves a lasting impression on both the giver and the recipient. Most Americans also agree that uniqueness makes for the best gifted experience (79%), followed by exclusivity (70%). If they were to receive an experience this holiday season, most people are hoping to be surprised with: 

  • Travel or trip (51%) 
  • Concert or show (40%), 
  • Outdoor activity such as skiing or hiking (30%)
  • Museum visit (27%)

Giving and receiving an experience is on the rise, which coincides with an increase in bookings data on GetYourGuide – the brand has seen a 63% increase in bookings in 2023 compared to last year. For a quarter (25%) the best holiday gift they’ve received was an experience. This narrowly outranks jewelry (24%, including 29% of women) but blows away third-place contender clothing (17%).

Another busy travel season

This year, as economic woes slowly wane and supply chain issues aren’t top of mind anymore, Americans are also willing to splurge more on holiday travel than last year. While 57% spent or plan to spend less than $1,000 on their holiday travel this year, the 43% who have spent or plan to spend over $1,000 marks an 8-point increase from 2022 (35%).

While more than 2 in 5 of those who have booked their holiday travel (44%) did so in the last 1-2 months, another 28% did so 3-plus months ago — that’s June or earlier. But, not everybody is booking early, and it might be because family time requires less planning than a vacation to an exciting new destination. Among those traveling this holiday season, nearly 2 in 3 of those visiting family or friends (63%) have not booked their holiday travel, nearly one and a half times those who are traveling for pleasure (44%) who have not done so.

Among those planning to travel domestically, warmer destinations including Florida (17%) and California (12%) are top spots to travel to this winter, while chillier New York rounds the top 3 (11%). For international travel, it’s less about hot weather than it is about hot romance: France is the top international spot to visit for winter travel (13%), among those traveling internationally, followed by Mexico (10%), and rounding out the top 3 is our neighbor to the north, Canada (10%).

Inspiration may come from anywhere, especially TV and films

Many Americans (45%) have been inspired to pick a specific travel destination by an event or experience they heard about that was happening there, such as a concert, game or other event — but these days, picking a spot is about a lot more than word of mouth or a brochure. A surprising 36% have been inspired to visit a specific spot after seeing it featured in a TV show or movie they enjoyed, while another 31% cite being inspired because a TV show or movie was filmed there. In fact, GetYourGuide’s Sicily bookings saw a 230% increase in 2023 compared to 2022, following the second season of HBO’s “White Lotus,” while Chicago bookings saw a 62% increase immediately following the June 2023 premiere of “The Bear” on Hulu.

Pop culture inspiration is also on the rise, with more than 4 in 5 (81%) citing it as their reason to travel, including 33% who saw the local cuisine featured in a show or article. In fact, food tops the type of experience Americans are looking for, with more than half (56%) choosing this as the category they would book for vacation.

Meanwhile, 25% have been inspired to visit a location after it went viral or trended on social media — including 31% of those under 40. Another 22% have been influenced by a celebrity or influencer showcase to pick a location, including 32% of Millennials and 26% of men.

For more inspiration, travelers can find a variety of unforgettable experiences to choose from during the holidays and beyond, including the latest Originals by GetYourGuide experiences on

Listed below are GetYourGuide’s top gifting picks this holiday season:



  1. GetYourGuide commissioned an online survey by Wakefield Research between Sept. 5 and Sept. 10, 2023 among 1,000 nationally representative Americans aged 16-56.
  2. According to GetYourGuide bookings data for American travelers from January-October 2022 and January-October 2023.
  3. GetYourGuide commissioned an online survey by Wakefield Research between Nov. 9 and Nov. 14, 2022 among 1,000 nationally representative Americans aged 16-56.



About GetYourGuide

GetYourGuide is the world's leading online marketplace for memorable travel experiences. Travelers use GetYourGuide to discover and book the best and most unusual activities in any destination – from guided tours with local experts to culinary excursions, workshops, skip-the-line tickets, and exclusive travel experiences. Today, GetYourGuide offers more than 118,000 activities from over 18,000 suppliers globally. Since its inception, travelers from over 150 countries have booked more than 120 million tours, activities, and tickets to attractions through GetYourGuide. GetYourGuide has a global team of over 800 travel and technology experts. The company is headquartered in Berlin and has 17 local offices around the world, including the UK and USA.

Press Contact

“With the holiday season upon us, along with the familiar rush to shop for gifts, our data is showing more and more people are choosing to share an unforgettable experience and create meaningful memories with their loved ones, instead of giving a physical gift,”

“To capitalize on the increasing interest in unique travel experiences, we launched Originals by GetYourGuide earlier this spring. This collection offers travelers a curated collection of unique experiences, some of which are exclusive to the brand, guaranteeing that their trips are the most memorable yet.” 

Press Team
Madison Pietrowski
Director of Brand US at GetYourGuide
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