Ready for the Unexpected: Surprise Travel on the Rise

3 min read

Surprise Travel . Alright, picture this: Jake and Robin, newlyweds, standing at the Grand Rapids airport. Jake throws Robin a look and says, “You ready?” Robin pulls out this big envelope, and bam! It says “Portland, Maine.”

Jake’s like, “Whoa, really? Portland?”

So, these lovebirds were off on their honeymoon, but they were stuck on where to go. Enter Pack Up + Go, a travel agency that specializes in surprise trips. They decide to let someone else handle the planning, and boom! Portland it is.

Surprise Travel: A Big Trend

Surprise travel, also known as mystery vacations, is catching on big time. In 2024, it might just be the next big thing. did a survey with 27,000 globetrotters across 33 countries, and guess what? Over half of them are super keen on booking a surprise trip where they don’t know squat about the destination until they’re there.

Ryan Pearson from says this whole “no plan” vibe for 2024 is about breaking free from the daily routine and diving into something totally new. It’s all about that thrill of heading somewhere unknown and getting a fresh travel experience.

How It Works

Here’s the lowdown on how this surprise travel gig usually goes down: You pick a price and how many days you want to travel. Then, you fill in a questionnaire about your past trips, interests, and stuff like dietary needs.

A week before you’re set to go, you get an email with some sneaky hints about your destination and what to pack. Then, a few days before your flight, you get a letter in the mail. It’s got two things: a smaller envelope you’re not allowed to open until you hit the airport, and a letter with your surprise destination and a whole itinerary, from restaurant bookings to must-see sights.

The Companies Behind the Fun

Pack Up + Go, started by Lillian Rafson in 2016, has sent more than 20,000 people on surprise trips across the U.S. Bookings for these surprise adventures are up by 30% compared to pre-pandemic times.

Then there’s Black Tomato, offering these cool “Get Lost” trips since 2017. You pick your vibe—desert, jungle, or mountain—and your destination stays a mystery until you’re at the airport. Talk about living in the moment!

Surprises Along the Way

Brown & Hudson, a London travel company, takes this whole surprise thing to another level. Their “Journey With No Destination” trips are all about solving a problem or just focusing on an issue while you travel. They get travelers to fill out a detailed profile, and they throw in surprises along the way based on that.

Journey. Philip Brown, the company’s founder, says surprises make your brain zoom in and get super curious. They once arranged a surprise piano performance for a woman with memory loss on a trip to Iceland. She played the piano, and it was filmed so she’d never forget the moment.

The Future of Travel

Surprise trips are changing the travel game, making it more about experiences and solving problems than just ticking off places on a list. It’s not just about tech or cheap flights; it’s about pushing boundaries and getting creative with how we explore the world. Travel can be therapy, a way to solve problems—if we’re ready to think outside the box.

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