Looking for traditional anniversary gift ideas for a couple who likes to travel? We’ve got you covered. For the first 12 years of marital bliss, anyway.
Steve and I were married Aug. 27, 2011, after one year of dating and a two-month engagement.
Celebrating our wedding anniversaries
As our first anniversary approached, we had no idea what to get each other. Having gotten married when we were 38 and 42, we had accumulated almost everything we really needed before we said, “I do.” Therefore, we decided to commemorate the occasion with a photo (in a photo) each year and purchase something together for our home.
Then, in another nod to traditionalism, we decided to follow traditional anniversary gift suggestions. You know the ones: paper, tin, china, silver, gold, pearls. Our rule was to keep the cost under $100 and look for something related to our love for travel.
So far, we’ve been able to stay within our budget (mostly), the traditions, and the travel theme. Who knows how long we’ll be able to keep it up, but at least for now, we’ve added some unique pieces to our home. We’ve also created lasting memories of our travels. Here’s a look at the traditional anniversary gifts we’ve given ourselves to celebrate our first 11 years of marriage.
PIN FOR LATER
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Traditional first anniversary gift: paper
The first anniversary was pretty easy. Paper maps seemed like the most logical travel-related gift and we’d already thought about purchasing maps to document our travels.
We got the idea from Steve’s grandparents. They had displayed a large world map in their den, marking the 70-plus countries to which they’d traveled together. We purchased a world map and a U.S. map at a local office supply store. We took both to a local framer who laminated the maps, mounted them on foam core, and framed them in wood. They cost about $100 each (I know, double the budget on the first year).
On our first anniversary, we hung the maps on the walls in our basement and stuck a #1 pin in the first place we traveled as newlyweds: Costa Rica. We just love the maps and look forward to adding pins to them each time we return from a trip. I found the number pins HERE on Amazon.
More first anniversary ideas
Another great paper idea would be a gift certificate for a cooking class with The Chef and The Dish. Read about our amazing experiences taking cooking classes in our own kitchen via Skype with chefs from Italy and Spain HERE and HERE.
Traditional second anniversary gift: cotton
For our second anniversary, I found these great hand painted, continent pillow covers on uncommongoods.com. According to the website, the pillow cases are made of 100% cotton and the decoration is applied using Batik, a traditional Indian art that creates patterns on fabric. The company that makes them helps the greater good by providing fair wages and development opportunities for artisans in Southwest India.
They fit perfectly in our downstairs living room that has a bit of a travel theme going on already. Sadly, when we updated this post and checked our link to the pillows, it looks like they are no longer sold there. Here are a few other ideas.
Traditional third anniversary gift: leather
This one was a little tricky, so I just Googled “travel related leather anniversary gifts.” I got quite the array of suggestions but wasn’t really impressed with leather passport covers or luggage tags I saw online. Then I ran across a shop on Etsy called Killogrin Creations, that makes a subway scroll on leather with your life’s journey for about $70. It was perfect!
Steve and I narrowed a list of places we’d traveled in our first three years of marriage to nine and sent it to the online store. In a couple weeks, we had a unique, customized piece made of leather and the perfect traditional anniversary gift for travelers like us.
Traditional fourth anniversary gift: flowers
The fourth anniversary was probably the most difficult one to figure out. The traditional gift is flowers and we had a difficult time thinking of something to purchase that wasn’t going to die in a week to 10 days. Then, Steve had a great idea! “Let’s travel to the Rose Bowl this year!”
Well, that was bit over our budgeted $100, so we scratched that idea. Pinterest and Etsy were dead ends, as well, so I came up with something on my own. I have always enjoyed photographing flowers when we travel. So I went back through my photographs and selected 16 pictures I’d taken of flowers on our travels together — like this one below from our trip to Alaska.
I arranged them in a 4×4 grid (since it was our 4th anniversary) and for about $60, purchased a framed print of the flower photos from www.socialprintstudio.com that arrived just in time for our anniversary. It turned out great!
It includes photographs of wildflowers we spotted along on the highway in the Nebraska Sandhills; the wisteria we saw while on a wine tasting trip to Sonoma; gorgeous flowers we found in Anchorage, Alaska; and even the flowers from a bouquet at our wedding. They all bring back wonderful memories of the places we went during our first four years of marriage and the picture was a great addition to a gallery wall/shelf in our dining room that summer.
Traditional fifth anniversary gift: wood
There were lots of options for traditional anniversary gifts made out of wood for our fifth anniversary. We considered some type of wooden picture frame or custom wooden sign. However, both seemed a bit ordinary and meaningless. Then, a few days before our anniversary, while browsing at a local shop called Home & Closet (a must see if you’re anywhere near Lincoln, Neb.), we spotted this small, wooden box, and we knew it was meant to be.
It would fit perfectly in the home office we were in the middle of remodeling. Better yet, it was just the right size for storing some of the memorabilia we’d collected from our first five years. We snatched it up for $25 (our least expensive anniversary gift yet). We filled it with ticket stubs, photographs, hotel keys, and of course, a few postcards.
Traditional sixth anniversary gift: iron
Our sixth year of marriage took us lots of new directions. But the important thing is, we went in those new directions together. We focused more on our blog, we traveled to new places like St. Kitts in the Caribbean and Pawhuska, Oklahoma. And, we got more involved in our church and local community.
As we searched for direction
After 21 years in public education, Steve resigned his position as middle school principal that year not knowing exactly what his next career move would be. Needless to say, this iron compass wall art seemed like a great traditional anniversary gift that year, as we aren’t sure which direction we’d go next.
We found this metal compass on Etsy in a shop called AlacartCreations. It sold for $79, so it was under our budget. It has been a lasting reminder of the new direction our lives took in our sixth year of marriage.
Traditional seventh anniversary gift: wool
We knew right away that a Pendleton wool blanket was the perfect traditional anniversary gift and addition to our new home in Pawhuska, Okla. Our friend, Jaime, helped us select and order this San Miguel Pendleton blanket.
It cost more than our usual $100. But we figured we’d been well below budget several of the previous years and this was worth the extra expense. When we’re at home, we have the wool blanket on our bed and when we’re gone, we tuck it away for safe keeping. This is because when we’re traveling, we share our Pawhuska home on Airbnb. We call it Postcard Place and you can check it out HERE.
Traditional eighth anniversary gift: bronze
If money were not an object, we would have splurged on a bronze by an artist from Pawhuska, Okla., where we live part of the time. Instead, we thought long and hard about something that cost less than $100 and would remind us of our eighth anniversary year. Since we spent thousands of miles in the car during our eighth year of marriage and bought a new vehicle that year, keychains seemed like the perfect gift.
We found a shop on Etsy called Jewelry Everyday that could make us bronze keychains for $19.95 each with a customized engraving. We ordered matching bronze keychains that said, “JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME” on one side. They had our anniversary date, “8.27.11” on the other side. The turnaround was ridiculously speedy! We ordered the keychains from the car (of course we did) on a Wednesday and they arrived in our mailbox just two days later on Friday!
Traditional ninth anniversary gift: pottery
In 2020, our ninth anniversary came during the coronavirus pandemic and by Aug. 27, we’d spent more than five months at our home in Crete, Nebraska. We’d planned a Route 66 road trip that was to have taken us through New Mexico earlier in the year. We knew that would be the perfect place to find a beautiful piece of pottery for our ninth anniversary. But, since we spent most of the year in our hometown, we decided we’d look for a piece of pottery from an artist here. Our local Ace Hardware store actually has a section of pottery by artist Gary John Martin and we found this gorgeous bowl there.
We plan to use it as a serving dish and will display it, as well. It will be a reminder of that year we all self isolated and the 872 meals we made at home.
Traditional 10th anniversary gift: tin or aluminum
It wasn’t particularly easy to find a travel-related anniversary gift made of tin or aluminum. Who picked these traditional gift themes, anyway? Here’s what we came up with – a metal wall hanging with a list of all of the countries to which we’ve traveled together in our first 10 years of marriage.
It took us a while to trace back each year’s travels and list the countries. In the end, there were 33 countries we’d visited together in our first decade as husband and wife. From Austria to Vatican City (yes, it’s considered its own country) we have counted each of these experiences as a blessing and never take the opportunity to travel for granted.
Traditional 11th anniversary gift: steel
When I saw the traditional 11th anniversary gift was steel, I wondered if it was time to abandon this tradition. But then I came across a shallow steel tray on Etsy. It was a pretty cool idea and something we actually needed. I’d been looking for some sort of tray for Steve to put his watch, wallet and keys in each night.
This tray from www.giftforhimandher.com was perfect! The steel tray comes in two sizes: 5×5″ ($89) and 8×8″ ($109).
Just just send them the name of a place special to you, along with your initials and date and they hand make this tray for you. We chose to include a map of Costa Rica. It’s one of our favorite travel destinations and was where we honeymooned.
Traditional 12th anniversary gift: silk
For our 12th anniversary in 2023, we decided not to purchase a gift for our special day in August. Instead, this year we are planning to find something silk when we travel to Southeast Asia later this year! Yes, that’s right. We’re going to be traveling to Asia (and beyond) at the end of the year on what we’ve been calling our “trip of a lifetime.” We’ll be sharing more about our travel plans soon on our blog and in our subscriber e-newsletter. If you’re not already signed up, you can do that HERE and be among the first to know our itinerary!
Loving our traditional anniversary gifts for travelers
Anniversaries are special for us and we love celebrating them. We both waited a long time before we found one another. Our traditional anniversary gifts are wonderful reminders of just how blessed we are to be on this journey together. How do you celebrate your anniversaries?
Next year is our 12th anniversary and the traditional anniversary gift is silk or linen. Any ideas?