About a year ago, I read about a company called Pack Up + Go, which bills itself as a “surprise travel agency.” The idea? You supply them the dates of your travel and your budget, and they plan a three-day trip for you — without telling you where you’re going until you're at the airport!
Here’s what their website says:
“We do the work. You Pack Up + Go. Want to get away for a weekend but have no time to plan? What if you don't know where you want to go? What if you want to be surprised? Pack Up + Go plans 3-day weekend trips around the United States. All you have to do is tell us your budget and fill out a quick survey. We'll take care of your travel and accommodation arrangements—all while keeping your destination a surprise.”
I was immediately intrigued. I love to travel but, honestly, I hate having to plan for everything. It’s time-consuming and stressful. And yet, I also prefer to be in control. Could I let go of all control — including the destination of where we traveled to — and let someone else do the work?
I wasn’t sure I could.
Yet in the following months, I thought about Pack Up + Go a lot. I knew a Pack Up + Go long weekend away could be the perfect gift for my fiancee’s upcoming 50th birthday. After all, the excitement of not knowing where we were going would heighten the whole gift! So I bit the bullet and booked a trip with Pack Up + Go.
What had I done?
I picked the best dates for us to travel, set a budget, paid, and filled out a questionnaire that included questions about our recent travel, our interests, and logistical questions.
After booking, I immediately had second thoughts.
What in the world had I just committed to?
Over the next few months, my fiancé and I had countless conversations wondering and guessing where we were going. It turned out that the anticipation we shared was a huge part of the fun. We’d laze around on a Sunday morning and try to guess where we might be going. We’d fill long car rides dreaming up all the things we might do on our weekend away. We’d make bets on if we would be sent somewhere warm or cold.
The reactions of our friends and family were one of the best parts of not knowing our destination. People thought we were both romantic and a bit crazy. We actually had people tell us they woke up early on the day of our departure to watch our promised Facebook Live announcement of where we were headed!
Packing… but for where?
A week before our departure date we received an email with a predicted weather report and a few hints on what to pack — which sent our anticipation level off the charts. We knew it would be warmer than our weather in Maine, but not so warm as to be much further south. We also knew we would need good walking shoes and a camera. With those few hints, we started to try to narrow down where we might be headed.
Packing was not an easy task. I pride myself on being an efficient packer, but not knowing where we were headed or what we’d be doing when we got there made packing a challenge. Once I settled in my mind that I would bring what they told us to bring and not obsess about the rest, I was able to feel better about the packing situation—but it wasn’t easy to do!
Two days before we left, we received a large white envelope with the Pack Up + Go logo on it. We’d been instructed not to open this envelope — which was so difficult because we knew that inside that envelope was our destination and suggested itinerary.
The anticipation was almost maddening.
And we’re off to…
Finally, departure day arrived. We had received an email letting us know what time to arrive at our airport and we were up and out the door in record time — our still unopened envelope clutched in my hands.
We headed off to the airport. Once we arrived, we knew the time had come at last.
As we had promised friends, we hopped on Facebook Live, ripped open the envelope and found out we were headed …
... to Washington, D.C.!
We were so excited! Neither of us had been to D.C. for many years, and we’d never been together. My fiancé is a history buff and we truly could not have asked for a better city to spend his birthday weekend in.
Personalized, memorable fun
We pored over the suggested itinerary they had sent, which included a lot of detail. The envelope also included an Uber credit, maps, a postcard, some fun facts about D.C., and information on our dinner reservation for that evening.
Everything was so carefully thought out and felt highly personalized to us.
Of course, this was just the beginning of our long weekend adventure! It was spectacular. We followed the suggested itinerary from Pack Up + Go, and, in doing so, saw some of our favorite attractions while also experiencing some new ones. The hotel Pack Up + Go had booked for us was very nice and centrally located. We were also highly impressed with the restaurant suggestions that Pack Up + Go had put together for us. We felt the suggestions were tailored to our preferences. A few of the suggestions Pack Up + Go had made just didn’t appeal to us — but it was simple enough to ignore those as they had provided more than enough ideas to keep us busy and having fun!
Many people have asked me if I would choose a Pack Up + Go adventure again. The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, I have already begun thinking about when I will Pack Up + Go again!
Pack Up + Go guarantees your transportation to and from your destination by air or plane (you may also select road trip options) and your accommodations for two nights. It’s important to budget separately for meals, attraction tickets, and transportation around your place of destination.