Viking River Cruises allow you to explore places like Monte Carlo in the winter. Photo courtesy Viking River Cruises.

Getaway gifts: Kristin Songy Diehl of Depart & Discover on presents you can’t wrap

While all the items that are soon to cover the skirts of Christmas trees across the Capital City are sure to bring immediate joy when hastily unwrapped on December 25, how long will those items stay in the playrooms and closets of the recipient? In an environment that is increasingly focused on the experience over the ownership of things, Kristin Songy Diehl, the travel agent behind Depart & Discover, is taking a new approach to gifting–one that she says is focused on the immeasurable value of time spent together.

“There are a few ways to ‘gift’ a trip,” explains Diehl, noting that for some people, making the decision during the holidays to go light on Christmas and instead plan something for the future takes the place of a traditional present. “The beauty of working with an agent is that you have the luxury of leeway with things like dates. That way, we can get started planning but everything doesn’t necessarily have to be booked.”

Here are a few of Diehl’s suggestions, based on different gifting methods:

  • To surprise your partner, I suggest riverboat cruises like Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt 12-day Cairo cruise. Not only are riverboat cruises easy to plan, but they also offer flexibility if you need to change a cruise date or destination. Perfect for a surprise.

    The inside of one of Uniworld’s boats. Photo courtesy Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.
  • To surprise your kids, forget Disneyland! I suggest visiting Europe or another international destination with Adventures by Disney, which are tour-based trips that offer culturally immersive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that parents and kids can enjoy.

    Adventures by Disney’s Icelandic tour. Photo courtesy Adventures by Disney.
  • If you and your partner are sharing equally in the planning, there are countless options. From an easy getaway at Gateway Canyons in western Colorado to a custom-tailored trip through Asia, you can work together to find what speaks to you and make the whole planning process part of the fun.

    The landscape surrounding Gateway Canyons Colorado Resort. Photo courtesy Gateway Canyons Colorado.
  • To treat yourself, I suggest taking a retreat dedicated to solo travelers at BodyHoliday Saint Lucia. During the month of September, the resort designs each guest a personalized schedule of daily spa treatments, fitness classes and an entire array of sports on land and on water. In addition, the resort also organizes an assortment of hosted group activities that range from cocktail and dinner parties to sunset cruises.

    BodyHoliday also offers dedicated yoga retreats for people at any skill level. Photo courtesy BodyHoliday.

Diehl says if you are opting for surprising your partner or kids, one fun way to make up for the intangibility of a future trip is to wrap things like luggage tags, a travel journal or even a small item that is customary to the place you are going.

“I have a client who is gifting his wife a Viking River Cruise for later this year,” says Diehl. “Since one of the places they will be going is Amsterdam, he is going to give her a bouquet of tulips when he tells her about the surprise.”

And for Diehl, it’s the thoughtfulness of a moment like that one that makes trips the ultimate gift. Not only do they key into things like bucket lists, but they allow a couple, family or just yourself to set aside time dedicated to creating memories.

To learn more about Diehl, check out this story from the inRegister archives. And to get started with the booking process, visit