When it comes to travel, I'm a planner. Half the fun of a trip is figuring out all of the details ahead of time. And yet, there's undoubtedly something to be said about a surprise vacation where the adventure that awaits isn't entirely in my control. Mystery travel is among the growing trends for travelers seeking new experiences and willing to put their trip in the hands of someone else, in most cases, without even knowing where they're headed until they're at the airport. And I have to admit, the more I look into this novelty, the more intrigued I am by the idea of heading off to parts literally unknown.
What is Mystery Travel?
Just as the name implies, mystery travel means taking a trip you didn't plan out yourself, and possibly not knowing the destination until it's time to go. Of course, there's nothing to stop you from asking a loved one to take your travel budget and plan out a fun getaway without telling you where you're going or what you'll be doing when you get there, however those looking for professional assistance with their mystery travel arrangements have the option of booking a mystery travel package where the ins and outs are handled by the experts. There are actually entire travel sites dedicated to creating a mystery travel experience.
How does a Mystery Travel Package work?
The process of booking and experiencing a mystery travel package seems to vary from one site to the other. Some offer U.S. domestic trips only, while most of the others we looked at offer both domestic and international packages. Some will tell you where you're going after it's booked if you really want to know, but most prefer to keep that secret from you until much closer to your trip. As for pricing, at least one of the sites we researched has fixed options for regular and luxury packages, while others let you set the budget and they'll build a trip around that. And from what we've seen, all of them emphasize taking your personal travel preferences into account, which is nice for those with specific preferences as it relates to climate, activities and other factors. Your date preferences are obviously also taken into account, so you shouldn't need to worry about being sent off on vacation at an inconvenient time.
We'll get into more details about some of the services offered and how they work below.
Where can I book a mystery travel package?
One quick google search for "mystery travel" yields a number of options, so we suggest you do your research and go with the company that seems like the best fit for what you're looking for. They tend to vary based on the options available, pricing and the level of mystery involved. Here are some of the services we found in our search...
Pack Up + Go
Pack Up + Go's packages are very specifically set as 3-day weekend trips in the United States. You set the budget, the dates and some travel preferences and they use all of that to book your trip. Then, a week before it's time to go, they send you information on where you need to go and when in order to get to your destination, as well as the weather forecast for your mystery destination, so you know what to pack and whether or not to bring sunblock and all that. They will also mail you an envelope before your trip, which you're not supposed to open until it's time (unless you want to spoil the surprise), which includes how to get to your accommodations, a city guide and a list of recommendations for what to do in your destination.
Cluventure takes the mystery to the next level by incorporating clues into your trip. They book short and longer trips both domestically and internationally, all depending on what package you get. They book the transportation, lodging and activities, and then provide clues for you to unlock both before and during your trip. Their prices are fixed, depending on which package you want and whether you're up for spending a bit more for the luxury option. For example, a 3-Day trip to somewhere in the U.S. is $900 per person or $1,200 per person for the luxury option. As for the clues, you have the option to set the level of difficulty on them. This sounds like it would be a good fit for people looking to have the whole trip mapped out for them. It also sounds like a sense of fun would be a plus when it comes to the clues, but if you're booking a mystery trip, it's probably safe to assume you have that.
Jubel offers trips for both international and domestic destinations based on your budget and preferences. You take their survey, they send you a proposal and then in the days leading up to your trip, they'll send you a bunch of envelopes, each labeled with the date you should open it, so that each destination within your trip can be a surprise. According to Thrillist, at some point between the survey and actual booking process, you'll speak with someone at Jubel to work out the specifics on budget, travel dates and specific preferences, after which they'll send you two proposals to choose from.
Magical Mystery Tour
Magical Mystery Tour has you set the budget, give them some preferences and then they work out all of the details from there. According to their site, the cost of a Mystery trip starts at around $1,500 for two people for a weekend trip (the cost for a solo weekend trip is a minimum of $1,100). And of course, that minimum price goes up the more days you add. A few days before your trip, they'll send you a packet that contains your itinerary and other details about where you're headed. They suggest you wait until you get to the airport (or wherever you're departing from) before opening the envelope. And if you're concerned about not knowing what to pack, don't worry. They'll send you a weather report ahead of your trip, along with any other information about what you might need to bring. So if you really want to be surprised up until you're headed to the airport, you have that option.
The Vacation Hunt
The Vacation Hunt offers a selection of fixed prices for both domestic and international destinations. They also have pricing for all-inclusive vacation packages, which include the cost of food and drinks, airport transfers and on-site resort activities and entertainment. It starts when you take their survey, after which you can choose a surprise vacation package. They'll give you three options to choose from ranging from 3-10 days. Those who want their activities planned out for them can pay an extra fee for a custom surprise itinerary. About 10 days before your trip, they'll send you packing tips and weather report, along with the tracking number for the surprise vacation envelope they'll be sending you a week before your flight. That envelope will include the details of your destination, flight and hotel information and whatever activity bookings and dining reservations might be included.
These are just some of the options we found online for mystery vacations. If this is something you're considering, we advise you to do your research and read the reviews to ensure you find the best option for you.
In addition to mystery travel, Glamping is another rising travel trend. It's an option for those who want to experience the outdoors while also enjoying some of the luxuries of the modern world. Here's a list of great glamping locations across the U.S. for a variety of budgets.