This Company Offers No-Stress Vacation Planning—But There’s a Catch

Pack Up + Go calls itself a “surprise travel agency.”

photography by PHUONG NGUYEN


Vacations can be stressful. Planning the budget, scouting travel locations, finding fun sightseeing spots, and researching unique dining experiences can take a lot of time, effort, and stress—so that’s where Pack Up + Go comes in.

Billed as the ultimate “surprise travel agency,” Pack Up + Go plans pretty much every aspect of the trip for you, from the flights to the itinerary. Its mission is to plan three-day, US-based weekend affairs for every type of customer.

The catch? Your destination is a total surprise.

 surprise travel agency vacation

photography by Pack Up + Go


“We wanted to create a three-day experience for two types of people. The first are those who would love to try something spontaneous like this, and the second is for those who normally plan everything themselves, but don’t have the time to plan a three-day getaway,” Eric Johnson, Pack Up + Go’s director of business development, told Domino.

Why three days? Well, for one, the financial and time commitment is low. And for another, say you absolutely hate the place you’re in. In a few days, it’ll all be over—although Pack + Go hopes that isn’t the case. “Feedback has been very, very positive so far,” says Johnson. “We’ve sent over 3,000 travelers to around 60 destinations in the US, and we have a 95 percent satisfaction rate.”

The idea came to founder Lillian Rafson while she was traveling through Eastern Europe. There, she met a couple in Latvia who told her how they were on a “surprise vacation.” Entranced by the concept, Lillian moved back to Pittsburgh to bring the mystery getaway idea to US consumers.

 surprise travel agency beach

photography by Pack Up + Go


Here’s how it works:

First, you fill out a survey on the website that lists everything from your preferences to your budget. Johnson says it’s quite comprehensive, and a continuous work in progress, as the purpose of it is to really hone in on your travel wants and needs. Are you more of a foodie, or would you like an outdoorsy vacation? Whatever it may be, Pack+Go has you covered.

After you fill out your budget, number of people, dates of travel, and whether you’re looking for a road trip, or flight or bus situation, you’re done. Pack + Go researches your answers, and figures out your destination, but here’s the catch: You won’t find out where you’re going until you get to the airport.

In order to avoid packing mistakes, the company will send you a weather forecast and a suggested packing guide a week before your trip—but your proposed itinerary, travel, and living details won’t come around until a few days before you’re expected to leave. All you’ll get? A time and date for when you’re supposed to get to the airport (or bus or train station).

“You’ll get a sealed envelope in the mail with suggested activities and your booking details soon before you’re expected to leave, but you’re instructed not to open it until you arrive at the airport—it’ll ruin the surprise!” says Johnson. Whether you’ll have the willpower to wait that long, though, is TBD.

It’s important to note that Pack + Go only picks the destination and provides travel and living arrangements—while they might offer suggested itineraries, the activities are all up to you.

So if you’re conflicted about where to go for a late summer or early fall getaway, why not try a surprise trip on for size? As Johnson says, “Traveling is stressful, and we want you to enjoy your vacation as much as humanly possible. All you have to do is show up.”

Sounds easy enough, right?

Images provided by @packupgo_travel.

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Published on August 01, 2017 - 6:00am EDT

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