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

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It took us back to our childhood and spending time at the roller skating rink (do kids even skate anymore?). We remembered crossing over on the turns for the first time and bending at the knees for "Downtown" by Petula Clark. So many great memories. ⁣
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Sometimes, we focus so much on getting away that we forget that we have some really interesting places close to home, as well. The next time you feel a hankering to go somewhere, maybe try going down the street. You never know what treasure you might find and what memories it evoke.
  • This was our Valentine’s Day dessert last year. Chef Kurtess Mortensen at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile created this memorable dish he called “Fat Elvis.” It was a chocolate bread pudding, served alongside banana brûlée and caramelized peanuts then topped with marshmallow cream, homemade peanut butter ice cream, and a candied bacon garnish. We are giddy with anticipation to see what he comes up with tonight! We are budgeting our calories accordingly. 😉
  • “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”
– Lewis Carroll
  • It's been a long winter. I need to see flowers again! Are you with me?Let's talk about these flowers. ⁣
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We are often asked about our favorite place we've ever visited. While that question is hard to answer, we almost always mention Tallinn, Estonia, as a contender.⁣
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Estonia has an interesting history. Conquered in 1227 by Denmark, it never again enjoyed independence until  1920. That freedom was short lived, however, as the Soviet Union occupied the country in 1940. Finally, in 1991, Estonia regained its independence and has remained free ever since. The country joined NATO in 2004. ⁣
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Visiting Estonia, we could see the remnants of Soviet control. Large block buildings dominate the landscape. They are of Soviet Communist design: utilitarian in nature with no thought given to design. They look just like the buildings you've seen in movies about the Soviet Union. ⁣
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Now free, Estonians have done what they can to erase the gray days of Soviet control. The Soviet-style buildings are painted bright colors, and flowers abound in the streets. The people are warm, cheerful, friendly, and welcoming. ⁣
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Yes, Estonia is a wonderful country, and we can't wait to return.
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We traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, one of the best cities for crane viewing, last year. Because the best times to view the cranes is sunrise and sunset, we found ourselves with some free time during the day. It turns out that Kearney has a lot to offer in terms of things to do.⁣
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Scroll across our highlights on Instagram, and you'll find the stories highlights we made during our time there. On our blog (link in bio) you'll also find a post we wrote with ideas for 20 things to do in Kearney while you wait on the cranes. ⁣
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Put crane viewing on your bucket list. It really is one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had in nature. And don't worry about being bored between sunrise and sunset--Kearney has too much to offer.
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In the Mason City, Iowa, airport, (about halfway between Mason City and Clear Lake) we found a wonderful little restaurant called CAVU-American Kitchen and Coctail Lounge. It's different from any other airport restaurant and bar in the world because it is place so good, the airport becomes the destination.⁣
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While there last fall, we sampled a couple of their specialty cocktails. On the left a refreshing take on a margarita, on the right, a cocktail featuring St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur. Both were fantastic and worth a trip to the airport, even if you're not flying anywhere.
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You should know that 99% of the people we meet on cruises are nice people and fun to be around. However, it seems like there's always that one guy or gal who just gets under your skin. ⁣
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Click on the link to our blog in our bio and see what made of our list of things to do to avoid being "that guy" on a cruise ship. ⁣
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Are there some things we missed? Let us know - we'd love to hear from you.
  • The Sandhill Crane migration will be starting very soon, and @visitkearney, Nebraska, is the perfect place to go to witness this amazing sight. ⁣
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Because the cranes are best viewed at sunrise and sunset, a good cup of coffee is a necessity. ⁣
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During our hosted visit to town last year, we re-caffinated at a couple different coffee shops, including @baristasdailygrind. ⁣
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Ann loved the way her coffee was served, with a barista's kiss--a chocolate covered espresso bean sitting in a little cloud of whipped cream. Talk about a great good morning kiss!

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