New Twist on Travel: Mystery Trips

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Travel planning can be a real chore. Booking flights, deciding on the right hotel, and building an itinerary might be fun for some, but others dread it. In an article syndicated to the AP, NerdWallet writer Sam Kemmis writes this is why some travelers are opting for an unorthodox travel strategy that eliminates the planning stage altogether. It’s called “mystery” or “surprise” travel, and the destination isn’t revealed until the day of departure. As these trips have become more popular, more travel booking companies have begun offering them. Customers pay a flat fee for the trip and set certain guidelines such as dates and preferences, but the destination remains a surprise until the last minute. Although it differs from travel agency to travel agency, the basic process of mystery travel involves:

  • Choosing a date or range of dates.
  • Deciding on a budget.
  • Setting certain parameters or preferences.

Preferences could include the types of activities you enjoy, such as outdoor adventures, or exclusions for destinations you’ve recently visited or plan to visit. Airfare and lodging costs are included in the trip budget, which can vary from $1,499 per traveler for a short weekend trip (3-4 days) to several thousand for international excursions. Beyond the sense of adventure, the appeal of mystery travel lies in its simplicity, writes Kemmis. Rather than spending time and energy on decision making, travelers can focus on the trip’s experience. This simplicity comes with trade-offs: You may prefer an afternoon departure but get stuck with a morning flight. Or you could end up in a destination you would never choose for yourself, for good reason. On the flip side, it might nudge travelers to explore destinations they may never have considered otherwise.

(Read more Travel stories.)

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