“I’m going on an adventure!”
Remember how excited Bilbo Baggins was when he headed off into the unknown? Sure, he was on his way to facing giant trolls, a fire breathing dragon, angry elves, epic battles and unnecessary plot changes, but he also had the memory of a lifetime.
There’s something really exciting about the unknown, like a pirate following a treasure map or detective seeking clues to a mystery. Those who find this concept appealing aren’t the only ones, as there are some very innovating travel companies now dedicated to mystery or surprise journeys. These aren’t to be confused with “mystery weekends” or events with scripted “whodunit” for participants to solve. Fun as those are, these trips are true mysteries, in that the traveler has no idea where they are headed until they get to their destination.
Here are three to check out:
Pack Up + Go, run by a “small team of world travelers” who are determined to “never stop exploring,” creates custom, surprise three-day trips to a variety of mid-sized cities in the United States. Don’t expect a mega-tourist draw like New York or Los Angeles, but rather another city with it's own unique appeal.
Instead, potential guests take a survey of how many are in their party and their ages (sorry, no pets), what type of travel they enjoy (cultural, action, fine dining and breweries, museums, outdoors, live entertainment, historic sites, etc.), trip budgets, where they have recently been, and similar questions.
One week before the trip, guests receive a weather forecast of where they going, recommended items to pack, luggage size restrictions, and where and when to go for departure. A few days before the trip, guests receive an envelope in the mail — which they are NOT to open yet. When they get to their point of departure, they can open the envelope at the time given, and find out where they are headed. There will even be a “city guide toolkit” with recommended activities.
Fair warning, this company’s demand has gotten so big, you might need to plan for a month or more down the line. If the testimonials from past guests are any indication, however, it will be worth the wait.
This one is for those with a little more budget and time to travel, as its destination choices are worldwide.
Like Pack Up + Go, adventure seekers will be asked several questions from budget, to dates, as well as any additional likes and dislikes (one might hate the beach, but love the mountains).
Since these are longer trips, they will also ask about passports, desired length of trip, questions about potential air or sea travel, languages and more. They recommend giving at least six to eight week advance notice to the desired travel date.
Then, the fun begins in a similar manner with weather report and the mystery envelope only to be opened once travelers arrive at the airport.
For those not up to a “magical mystery," quite yet, they book traditional trips as well.
At £12,339 (more than $16,700 U.S.), the U.K.-based Bolsover Cruise Club isn’t an ideal option for everyone. It's for those who have the time and money to venture to the unknown on an international luxury cruise line.
According to their site, “the details of the entire itinerary are hidden in riddles.” Guests only know the trip will be 16-nights long with five stopovers. To where? That is up to the traveler to figure out.
Travelers can opt to have the riddles’ answers reveled to them upon boarding, or they can continue to decipher the clues on their own.
For example, one riddle reads “…our natives praise (the) highest point on the island; still active it displays…”
Hmmm, that one might be a little tricky to book right now, so plan ahead to avoid unwanted surprises, yet still enjoy the mystery.
If you want to get away this summer, or anytime, don’t just go on a vacation, add a little mystery and go on an adventure!