The “mystery trip” is reportedly the hot new concept in the travel world. It works pretty much like it sounds: the traveler hires a travel agent, who then plans the trip without disclosing anything about it. The traveler shows up at the airport, or train station, or port on the designated date, is handed an envelope that finally discloses the destination, itinerary, and tickets, and then is off on a voyage into the new and unexpected.
Apparently the “mystery trip” appeals to two kinds of travelers: those who hate planning for trips, and those who really, really like to be surprised. And there are gradations in the degree of mystery you can seek, too. You can set a price range and then leave the trip totally in the hands of the travel agent, or you can identify a general geographic region and leave the rest of the trip in the hands of the planners. And some mystery trippers rein in the latitude and longitude of the surprise by themselves focusing on specific regions, like one website that specializes in weekend trips into the unknown for domestic U.S. travelers. In any case, one “mystery trip” website concludes, “one thing is for certain: the more that is left unknown, the more rewarding and thrilling your experience will be.”
It’s an intriguing concept, but I’m not so sure about that conclusion, really. Vacations are precious, and the “mystery trip” concept really requires you to put a lot of trust into that travel agent’s abilities. If you’ve only got so much vacation time — to say nothing of a finite amount of vacation budgeted dollars — taking a mystery trip could be a big gamble. I also think I’d need to be in precisely the right mood before I’d try a “mystery trip.” Normally, I go into vacations with a clear goal in mind, like unwinding with a toes-in-the-sand vacation in a sunny, warm beach location, or an “experience the culture and see the sites” trip to a place I’ve never been to before but always wanted to visit. Your mystery trip could be interesting, but an adventure in Lapland just might not scratch the right itch if you’re actually yearning to smell that suntan lotion or finally walk through the old sections of Istanbul.
One other thing: how in the world (pun intended) do you pack if you don’t know whether you’re going to Alaska, Borneo or Timbuktu?