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All You Need to Know About Mystery Vacations

Updated: Mar 17, 2020

Surprise trips are on an upwards trend as travelers are throwing their inhibitions out the window and letting someone else plan their vacation. Listed on Pinterest’s 100 top trends for 2019, this movement is taking the travel industry by storm. New agencies have even emerged entirely dedicated to this phenomenon. Sounds a little scary… but also kind of exciting!


Let’s delve into it a little bit more and find out what a mystery trip really entails. How exactly does it work? Well, it starts with a questionnaire to give your travel planner an idea of who you are and what your goals are for the trip. Practical information like budget and dates of travel are also a must. The survey intends to determine your likes and prefer-not’s as well as places or things you’d be interested in seeing or doing (e.g. you love beaches, you’re allergic to long hikes or you’re interested in trying “foods” that have eight legs). It can even go into specific details such as how likely you would do an overnight bus or if you prefer window or aisle seats. You are given the opportunity to reveal as much or as little of yourself as you wish throughout the questionnaire – the more information you give will result in an itinerary more tailored to your tastes.


With the data (or lack thereof) your consultant will customize a trip based on the answers. Funny to think how much of yourself can be uncovered in just a handful of questions, huh? Two to three weeks advanced notice is recommended for your planner to come up with the perfect surprise trip, however last-minute options can usually be accommodated. Once the trip is booked the waiting game begins as you count down the days to your unknown destination (not quite sure if this makes it easier or harder to anticipate). You are given hints leaving up to the departure date with information such as weather forecasts and clues on activities that may require specific gear so you know what items to pack. Finally, your package arrives in the mail two to three days before departure (just as you think you’re about to explode from excitement) and are instructed to open your goodie envelope revealing the travel plans when you arrive at the airport. You open the envelope, find out where you’re going, scream from excitement and do a little dance, then hop on the plane and have an awesome time. There you have it – the miracle of a mystery vacation!


There is a plethora of agencies that offer surprise trip planning. Some focus on short 3- or 4-day adventures which can take the form of a road trip or short-haul flight within the country, others cater to adventure seekers looking for the road less-traveled, while some concentrate on luxury honeymoon trips and romantic destinations. Wherever your trip ends up taking you, it is designed to be right up your alley.


So who are the ones booking these crazy trips, you ask? Aside from the travelers who despise the planning aspect of a trip, it’s also a great option for couples or a group who’s travel styles don’t always align. By filling out the questionnaire and leaving the rest in the capable hands of a travel professional it relieves the parties involved from the torturous legwork of the back and forth and research required to settle on a destination and things to do. More surprisingly, these types of trips are also popular among the Planners – yes, that person in every group who always initiates and plans every vacation. It’s a liberating feeling when the responsibility to plan and execute a trip is suddenly lifted, in the most wonderful way might I add, from the heavy shoulders of the Planner, leaving them to focus their energy on other things – let’s face it, they likely have a whole bunch of other projects on the go at the same time, anyway.


Travel is, in many aspects, getting out of your comfort zone and embarking on a journey to discover a different part of the world. When you allow someone else to curate that experience for you it could mean something completely different than what you’re used to and often it is in these times of discomposure that you uncover something new about yourself as well. It does, however, require having an open mind and being able to roll with the punches. When you think about it, isn’t that what travel should be about? Getting out there and immersing yourself in another culture and learning about a destination requires an open mind to appreciate the world around you. Surprise trips aim to simplify that process and spark excitement and freedom in travelers; hence the question shouldn’t be why, but why not?

Is this something you would try out for your next trip? Comment below with your thoughts!


If you’re thinking of going on a mystery vacation and want to know more details, get in touch with me here and I’ll be glad to help!


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