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The newest trend in holiday gifts doesn't take up space in carry-on luggage or add weight to checked bags.

It doesn't even need to be packed.

Rather than giving holidaymakers new gear for travel — electronics organizers, Yeti thermoses, yet another airplane pillow — some are giving travel itself.   

A survey of more than 1,000 Americans by the computer company Adobe showed that while 51% of respondents plan to purchase physical gifts this holiday season, 17% plan to give "an experience" instead.

Survey respondents cited spa treatments (25%) and concert tickets (25%) most often, while others said they planned to give plane tickets (21%) and cooking classes (16%) as gifts.

"Experience gifting" — as it is known — isn't new. But it's finding traction this holiday season as a push for minimalist packing converges with a pandemic that has made travel a top priority for many in 2022.    

More experiences, less 'stuff'

Migle Rakauskaite, the chief marketing manager at travel experience website Tinggly.com, said the pandemic is prompting an increase in travel experience gift purchases.

"Gifting traditions are changing," she said. "People seem to value quality time together and doing something meaningful. Experience gifts are so much more valuable than the regular 'stuff.'"

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They're also easy. With a few strokes of a keyboard, buyers can give experiences that once would have required time and coordination to pull off — a street food tour in Vietnam, a hot air balloon ride outside Chicago, or a private gondola tour for two through the canals of Venice, Italy.

Tinggly.com's travel experience "gift boxes" never expire, which played a "huge part" in the rise of purchases during the pandemic, Rakauskaite said.

Tinggly.com's "Bucketlist" gift box ($239) lets recipients choose among more than 800 experiences, from a surfing lesson for two in Kona, Hawaii to a Northern Lights "chase" via minibus.Piriya Photography | Moment Open | Getty Images

Perhaps most important of all, recipients — not the buyers — get to choose their own experiences at a time and date that suit their schedules.

Tinggly addresses a hang-up some have about giving intangible presents — it sends a package for recipients to open. Gift boxes can be mailed worldwide, though last-minute purchasers can also be sent via e-voucher, according to a company representative.

A weekend getaway

For people who prefer to hole up and relax on vacation, booking a weekend away may be a better option.

Ski chalets, lake houses and other homes on the rental website Vrbo can be purchased as gifts, said Alison Kwong, a company senior manager. Once the house is booked, the purchaser needs only to add other travelers' names to the reservation.

Though Vrbo doesn't have vouchers or gift cards, houses like this mountain retreat in Park City, Utah, can be booked for someone else, the company said.Courtesy of Vrbo

Kwong recommends purchasers start by thinking about the type of home that suits the recipient. That could be a house with a game room or home theater for families, or a mountain cabin with ski-in, ski-out access for a group of friends.

"When you find a vacation home you know they'll love … make sure the vacation home offers flexible cancellation in case they need to change the dates of their stay," she said.

Onefinestay rents the"Adobe Old Town Overlook" mountain chalet in Park City, Utah for around $895 per night.Courtesy of One Fine Stay

Onefinestay, a home rental website with houses and villas in "bucket list" destinations — such as Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Cayman Islands and Italy's Amalfi Coast — lets people book homes as gifts.

Purchasers need to confirm dates, credit card information and guest details before the stay, according to a company representative.

Roadtrippers and campers

Those who prefer vacations in the great outdoors can receive travel gifts booked through Campspot.

The website is like an Airbnb for outdoorsmen, connecting travelers with campgrounds, recreational vehicle (RV) parks, ranches and rustic resorts, many of which cost less than $50 per night.

Harvest Hosts members can avoid crowded campgrounds by parking their RVs at secluded wineries and farms during their travels.franckreporter | E+ | Getty Images

Another option for RV owners is a gift membership to Harvest Hosts. Memberships are $99 a year and grant overnight parking access, without extra fees, to more than 2,700 places across North America. Spots are unconventional and less crowded, according to the website, and include wineries, organic farms and museums.  

For $40 more, RV owners can also park their vehicles at hundreds of golf courses on the continent too, according to a company representative.

Splurge gifts

To go big this holiday, companies that combine home rentals and concierge services are an option.

The Nightfall Group can arrange exotic car rentals, like a Ferrarri 488 Spider, during vacations.Agoes Rudianto | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Nightfall Group rents houses from Beverly Hills, California, to the French Riviera.

Travelers can tack on services from airport transfers and stocked groceries to jet and yacht charters. Chauffeurs, chefs, nannies and butlers can also be booked through the Los Angeles-based company.

News Source: CNBC

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Elizabeth Holmes trial: Theranos founder gruff, and emotional, under cross-examination

Separated by 10 feet and a see-through anti-COVID barrier, Elizabeth Holmes faced off against federal prosecutor Robert Leach for six hours Tuesday, as Leach sought to highlight her alleged lies about the failed blood testing startup, and emphasize her decision-making role at the firm — while also showcasing the apparent affection between Holmes and the former company president she yesterday accused of sexually abusing and controlling her.

Taking the witness stand for the fifth day, Holmes was at times gruff, the frequent small smiles she gave while answering her own lawyers’ largely absent as she fought back against allegations that she deceived investors, retaliated against whistleblowers, and controlled her purported abuser and ex-lover, rather than the other way around.

The testimony followed stunning claims Holmes made Monday accusing former Theranos president Sunny Balwani, with whom she had an intimate relationship for more than a decade, of forcing sex on her when she displeased him, as well as controlling how she worked, her hours and even what she ate. The testimony — coupled with pre-trial filings from Holmes’ attorneys — suggested that Holmes may cite Balwani’s alleged emotional and physical abuse as part of their defense.

Under cross-examination, Holmes became emotional when reading loving messages she exchanged with Balwani, who is also charged with fraud in relation to his work at Theranos and will be tried next year. She wiped away tears as she read aloud the words Balwani had sent. “U r God’s tigress and warrior,” and her own response: “Coming from my tiger, means the whole universe to me.”

In more than 12,000 messages over five years, Leach asked Holmes, “do you know how many times the word ‘love’ appears? Would it surprise you to know more than 594 times?” Holmes, with a sad smile, said no.

Holmes, who founded Theranos at age 19 in 2003, is charged with allegedly bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and defrauding patients with false claims that the company’s machines could conduct a full range of tests using just a few drops of blood, when she knew the technology had serious accuracy problems. She and Balwani have denied the allegations.

Leach, in presenting to the jury the messages between Holmes and Balwani, also emphasized that Balwani repeatedly informed Holmes about problems in the Theranos lab. “He’s not hiding anything from you?” Leach said. “No,” Holmes answered. She acknowledged that Balwani reported to her. Asked whether she at times gave direction to him, she said, “I’m sure.” Asked if there were times she “told him what to do,” she said, “I’m sure there could have been.”

Holmes did manage to turn the tables on Leach, after her he asked her to read a 2014 exchange between her and Balwani that included Holmes asking him if he would be “OK if I saw Jesse and Laura separately in the AM tomorrow?” Leach asked Holmes if this exchange was another example of Balwani being loving.”I think it’s me asking him for permission to see my friends,” she countered.

The prosecutor also elicited an admission from Holmes that she fired Balwani, whom she claims ran Theranos’ laboratory business operations, in 2016, with the support of the. And though she testified Monday that a federal regulator’s finding of dangerous deficiencies in Theranos’ lab opened her eyes to Balwani’s failures as the company’s president and led to the end of their relationship, she admitted to Leach that she did not mention that as a reason for the breakup when asked by federal investigators.

Reinforcing his argument that Holmes was ultimately responsible for everything that happened at Theranos, Leach got Holmes to acknowledge that she could have fired lab officials or board members, and that her ownership of most of the firm’s shares meant she could outvote anyone on the board. “The buck stops with you,” Leach asserted. She responded, “I felt that.”

Leach also struck a deep blow after playing for the jury a clip from a television interview Holmes did in 2015, in which the startup founder — clad in a Steve Jobs-style black turtleneck — declared that “Every test that we can offer in our laboratory can run on our proprietary devices.” Under questioning, Holmes admitted that the majority of Theranos’ patient testing had been done on other companies’ machines and that her company’s analyzer could only run a dozen types of test.

When asked about her behavior in advance of a bombshell expose from Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, Holmes disputed Leach’s characterizations, saying that she was only seeking to protect “trade secrets” from being disclosed when she emailed the newspaper’s owner Rupert Murdoch in what Leach described as a attempt to “quash” the story.

And after admitting last week that she had pilfered the logos of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Schering-Plough and put them on glowing Theranos reports sent to investors and others, Holmes testified Tuesday that she had also removed from the purported Pfizer report that it had been prepared by Theranos for Pfizer, leaving the words, “Pfizer, Inc.” in the space for the name of the report’s creator.

“I wish I’d handled this differently,” Holmes said.

Asked about information she withheld from Theranos board members about use of other companies’ machines for blood testing, Holmes responded, “There are many things I wish I did differently.”

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