A few years ago, friends introduced me to the idea of the experience economy when they presented my daughter with a "Get set to be a vet" class at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. The class has stayed with her, while toys she received that year may be long gone.
Helping to fund travel can be one of the most effective ways to give a gift that keeps on giving -- in the form of great memories.
Newlyweds Leah and Adam Vier- thaler can attest to that. Ahead of their July 23 wedding, the Minneapolis couple registered for a few necessities and baubles at Target and Crate & Barrel, but also registered for a helicopter tour and spa services for their honeymoon at Traveler's Joy (www.travelersjoy.com), one of several travel registry sites.
As a sign the trend is gaining traction, most of the 225 guests gave the duo cash or contributed to the honeymoon via the site. Far fewer brought wrapped presents. At the site, friends and relatives could choose to contribute toward specific activities.
The funds helped the Vierthalers enjoy a much more lavish honeymoon than they would have otherwise been able to pull off. They traveled to Banff, in the Canadian Rockies, and stayed at chic Chateau Lake Louise and the Fairmont Banff Springs.
Leah said that she wouldn't have been comfortable staying at the hotels without the financial boost. "They were around $300 to $400 a night, and that's with a AAA discount."
"We have a lot of household stuff already," she said. "It was great to be able to have really a memorable honeymoon."
Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at email@example.com, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.