On my last pre-COVID trip to Seattle, I visited the Pike Place Market with Savor Seattle Tours. Before we went off on our food adventure, our guide did the typical group activity ice breaker…we all introduced ourselves, said where we were from and why we booked the tour. As we went around the room, one couple said they had no idea they were visiting Seattle until the day before and they found out when they were on the way to the plane. The food tour and other activities were part of the mystery package they received just a few days before the trip. We were all very interested to hear from them how this worked.
Sharon has written about a program from Lufthansa where you book a flight to a surprise destination, so this wasn’t a brand new idea but I’d never heard of it in the U.S. Upon getting home, I did some looking into the website the couple on our tour used. The premise is intriguing and at the same time, it terrifies me.
The website the couple used is Pack Up + Go, a company that specializes in planning mystery getaways in the U.S. The original model centered around short weekend getaways by plane, train or road trip but now they also offer outdoor trips and staycations.
Here’s a video that explains their service:
Booking a trip with them is a straightforward process. They ask a few basic questions. When do you want to leave? Do you have any time restrictions on your travel dates? Where were the last three to five leisure locations you visited and what (if any) trips do you already have planned (they don’t want to send you somewhere you’re already going to visit).
Then you answer questions about your interests.
Just a few more questions to fine-tune the trip (anything that the survey didn’t cover above that you think they should know would be put here).
Finally, you pick a budget for your trip. They offer both road trip options that start at $800 per hotel room for two nights and train/plane trips that start at $650 per person.
Road trips are between a 3 to 6-hour drive from your home location and only include accommodation costs; you’re responsible for supplying the car and fuel. Train or plane trips provide transportation and hotel, but not transfers. Pack Up + Go says not to worry about your destination as all of the cities they send people to have public transportation options to/from the airport/station and plenty to do in the city.
Based on your answers, they’ll pick a location for you and make all the plans. They just don’t tell you where you’re going. They’ll also provide you with an itinerary with things to do and places to eat and/or drink while you’re there. Depending on your budget, if you have leftover money, they also might provide a gift card for dinner, tickets to the theater or a sporting event (if you said you like things like that on your survey).
Being an obsessive travel planner who married a control freak (and she said I could say that in public) (Note from Sharon: True story!), this would seem to be the worst idea for us ever (Note from Sharon: Agreed!). However, I like to think that I’m slowly learning it’s not necessary to obsess over every little thing when we travel. We’ve gone on group tours with Adventures by Disney where the guides planned all our activities for us and even if we did something we wouldn’t usually do, we ended up having a good time (Note from Sharon: But we knew where we were going and what we were going to do ahead of time!).
To me, planning the trip is part of the fun. Finding the flights. Picking out hotels. All of that builds excitement. This would be the exact opposite as the excitement with this trip is the mystery. You have no idea about where you will go until you get the weather forecast. Then you still don’t know where, just what to pack.
I’m interested because I know from experience that you can sometimes find the most amazing things in unexpected places. Like when we found out Cleveland had an incredible market that was walking distance from our B&B:
or when I stumbled onto a fantastic museum in Fort Worth, TX (which was also free)
We also could have never guessed that we’d find the most incredible Italian Restaurant in Sedona, AZ that’s so good we went back to the city so that we could eat there again.
The idea of giving control of a vacation to someone else just sets off so many alarm bells in my head. Still, I’m almost ready to take that leap. They’re not going to send us to places we wouldn’t like. There are plenty of places in the U.S. that we’ve never visited and I’m sure there are great things to see and places to go in every one of them. I’m not so sure about Sharon though; she may take more convincing than I will (Note from Sharon: “May” take convince? MAY? Ha! Well, that’s certainly the understatement of the year!).
Note from Sharon: Available for rent: One husband, to go on a mystery trip to who-knows-where. Somewhat obsessive-compulsive. Snores. Can reach the top shelf. Inquire within cuz I sure as hell am not EVER doing this. 😉
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary