Sunday, January 9, 2011

Where Are We Going?

Imagine going on a vacation...without knowing where you're going. For many, it's unsettling, for others, it's thrilling.

Mystery vacations are growing in popularity, with hundreds of people planning their own trips or signing up for prearranged ones. Some people will ask spouses, family and friends, to plan a trip without revealing any details to them until it's time to board the plane or hop in the car. Most of the time, people have no idea where they're going or what they'll be doing once they get there. The idea behind this growing trend is to let go, give up complete control of their travel plans...and many are taking the challenge.

For anyone who loves a surprise--and doesn't mind letting someone else take the reigns--then a mystery vacation might be a great way to mix things up with your travel plans this year. So for that summer getaway you've been thinking about...consider having someone else plan it for you, sending you a suggested packing list the day before (you know, so you're not completely unprepared.) Although, some adventurers go to the extreme of having someone else pack their pack, so everything--even the weather--will be a complete surprise. Stories of successful mystery vacations:
  • A two week road-trip to Colorado, Arizona and Utah, planned by a 70-year-old man's wife. It took her two years to organize the whole thing, ending with a birthday surprise that included their whole family.
  • A father organizing a scavenger hunt like trip through Colorado for his daughter and her husband. He left notes for them throughout the trip letting them know where they would be going next and where they would find the next clue.
If no one you know is willing to take on the task of planning your next vacation, (come on, if you don't want to plan your own, do you really expect others will want to?) there are companies that offer destination-unknown trips. For a set fee, you can get whisked off to a winery tour, boating excursion or cooking class. Pink Bus Mystery Tours offers vacations for women, charging $200 for a four-person room and surprise adventure.

While this may seem like an exciting endeavor to some, others are a little less enthused. A number of people like to be in control when they travel, planning every detail down to meal times and bathroom breaks. Giving up that control is difficult, because suddenly you have to rely on someone else. Some people who participated in mystery vacations--not by choice, most of the time--reported unsettling feelings and frustration. Not everyone has a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow attitude, so a surprise trip is probably not the best idea.

With this trend growing, it seems more companies planning these kinds of vacations will increase, and it's possible that travel agents will even start offering this service. I think it would be great if you could just tell a travel agent your desired trip length, the budget and a theme you're interested in--romance, outdoors, culinary, etc--and they'll take care of the rest. All you need to do is show up at the airport with an open-mind.

In all honesty, I'm not sure how I would handle a vacation like this. I like planning activities and figuring out accommodations, but there is some appeal in not having to worry about organizing everything. It would be nice to hand it over to someone else, and let them work out the plans. I would gladly go along for the ride--at least once.

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