Looking for traditional anniversary gift ideas for a couple who likes to travel? We’ve got you covered. For the first eight years of marital bliss, anyway.

Steve and I were married Aug. 27, 2011, after one year of dating and a two-month engagement. 

Our ceremony at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, began at 10:30 a.m.. Yes, it’s a non-traditional time for a wedding, but that’s what you get when you book the church just eight weeks out. Fortunately, we’re both morning people. And let me tell you, Steve was pretty excited to have piles of bacon served at his wedding reception.

Celebrating our wedding anniversaries

A year later, when we had our first wedding anniversary, we had no idea what to get each other. Having gotten married when we were ages 38 and 42, we had accumulated almost everything we really needed or wanted before we said, “I do.” So, we decided to commemorate the occasion with a photo (in a photo) each year and purchase something together for our home. Here we are back in 2012.


first anniversary photo idea

Then, we added another nod to traditionalism (after all, we had organ music at our ceremony and we didn’t live together until the day after our wedding). We decided we’d try to find something each year that fit the traditional anniversary gift suggestions. You know the ones: paper, tin, china, silver, gold, pearls. Our rule was to keep the cost to under $100 and decided we’d look for something related to our love for travel.

map with pins

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 eight years of marriage.


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traditional anniversary gift ideas


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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.

first anniversary gift world map with pins

We had gotten the idea from Steve’s grandparents. Bud and Kathleen Teget had displayed a large world map in their den, marking the 70-plus countries to which they’d traveled together.  We loved the idea. So for our first anniversary, 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).

us map with pins

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.

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 pillows cases are made of 100% cotton and the decoration is applied using Batik. Batik is a traditional Indian art to create patterns on fabric. The company that makes them helps the greater good by providing fair wages and development opportunities for artisans in South West India.

I purchased this set of three continent pillows from uncommongoods.com for about $95.

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 passports 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!

leather sign

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.

The cities we chose

We included a variety of cities we’ve visited. They weren’t all necessarily our favorites, but they were the places that best summarized out first three years together. We chose our honeymoon to La Fortuna, Costa Rica; our first family vacation to Ketchikan, Alaska. Then we added our three Sine Die Adventure cities (Chicago, Nashville, and San Diego);  Branson, Missouri, near where our daughter went to college;  and destinations from our first trip to Europe together (Monaco and Salzburg).  And of course, we included Rochester, Minnesota, where we traveled the most for my appointments at the Mayo Clinic there.

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.

flower garden in 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!

flower picture

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.

wooden box fifth anniversary gift

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 (or least expensive anniversary gift yet). We filled it with ticket stubs, photographs, hotel keys, and of course, a few postcards.

We save some of the memorabilia from our travels such as ticket stubs, photo booth photos, and 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 you may recall, after 21 years in public education, Steve resigned his position as middle school principal 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.

gold compass wall art for iron anniversary

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.

Pendleton blanketIt 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.

Pendleton blanket on bed

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.

8th bronze anniversary gift idea

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!

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.


Next year is our ninth anniversary and the traditional anniversary gift is pottery. Any ideas?

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traditional anniversary gift ideas

  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.
  • Set in a renovated middle school in Grinnell, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell is one of our favorite boutique hotels. The owner thoughtfully designed the space and included touches from school including “Hall Pass” key card sleeves, and a bar cleverly named, “The Periodic Table.” We wrote a story on this hotel, you can read all about it on our blog. Link in bio. @hotelgrinnell #hosted @traveliowa
  • Everyone has a happy place, a spot where the world melts away and a sense of relaxation and calm settles in. For Steve, this place is on board a cruise ship, out on open water. He can spend hours sitting and watching the water, the ship's wake, and looking out for other ships. He loves soaking up the sun and fresh ocean air while cruising along on the sea. ⁣
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What's your happy place? ⁣
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