For the longest time, I did not know surprise travel agencies existed. One day, at work, a coworker mentioned she was going on a vacation with a company called Pack Up + Go: a budget-friendly surprise travel agency. This piqued my interest; who wouldn’t want to be whisked away to a mystery destination? However, I did not put much thought into it, as I had a busy year of travel ahead of me already.

I eventually chose to embark on a surprise vacation for two main reasons: the thrill of the surprise and the convenience. After a vacation nightmare due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I still wanted to travel, but I did not know where to go, and I did not want to plan it for myself. It was too much work to keep track of the ever-changing rules and regulations. My friend Katie and I went back and forth about our options, which is when I remembered Pack Up + Go. It seemed to suit our needs: exciting, affordable travel expertly tailored to our priorities. The rest is history.

What is Pack Up + Go?

As I previously mentioned, Pack Up + Go is a surprise travel agency. After completing a pre-trip survey and confirming your budget, they select your destination, book your tickets/reservations, and send you off (more on this later). All you have to do is, well, pack up and go! The type of trip you are sent on is completely customizable; whether you’re looking for a staycation, a quick, inexpensive road trip, or a lengthier, pricier plane trip, Pack Up + Go has you covered.

Currently, Pack Up + Go only plans surprise vacations within the United States. Click here to view a list of their destination cities. If you’d prefer to be sent on an international surprise vacation, you are still in luck, because many other surprise travel agencies are offering such packages; The Vacation Hunt is one of the most popular, although I cannot personally recommend them, as I have not booked with them myself.

My Surprise Vacation Experience with Pack Up + Go

Planning My Trip with Pack Up + Go

Once I decided to surprise vacation through the Pack Up + Go travel agency, I started filling out my pre-trip survey. I had first to select my preferred mode of transportation, whether by plane or car; a staycation was also an option. I was then redirected to the full survey, in which I provided information such as my travel dates, places I do not want to go to/would not feel safe going to/have recently been to/will be going to soon, travel priorities, dietary restrictions, and hobbies/interests.

As I made my way through the survey, I also provided them with the information of each traveler, our preferred rooming arrangements, and our budget; I was notified that they plan a trip that fits within our budget and, if money were left over, they’d book activities for us. Pack Up + Go is a great service for budget travelers, as it does not allow you to spend more on flights and hotels than you allotted!

When filling out my survey, I made an error in my preferences. I called customer service; the representative made a note to my file, and I can now confirm that they took it into consideration.

To start your pre-trip survey, click here.

The Hints: Where Could I Be (Pack Up +) Going?

I booked in September 2021 for travel in June 2022, which means I had a long wait until I found out my destination. However, one week before departure, I received an email with some hints to help with packing and timing (and to hype us up, of course). This email told us the weather at our destination, what we should pack based on activities we’d likely be taking part in, airport and flight time information, and luggage allowances. We didn’t yet know the airline we would be flying or the duration of our flight, so there was still a lot of mystery!

Katie and I frantically looked up the weather and flight times in various U.S. cities to find out where we were headed, but we couldn’t crack the code.

The Reveal: Where I Packed Up + Went

A few days after receiving that email with our hints, the envelope disclosing our destination arrived in the mail. Pack Up + Go advises you to wait until the day of your trip to open the envelope, which, admittedly, I did not do (more on this in a bit). One day prior to departure, we received updated weather information via email.

Now, the moment we had been waiting for had finally arrived: the reveal. The destination was…New Orleans, Louisiana! At first, we were a bit puzzled (we could’ve swore we would be sent to Colorado), but the more we thought about it, the more we realized how perfect this destination was for us. We looked back at our pre-trip survey, and all of our answers aligned perfectly with New Orleans.

The reveal of our destination was not the only thing in the envelope. In fact, they gave us a folder full of information on New Orleans. First, and most importantly, the folder contained a packet with our itinerary; hotel accommodations and pre-planned activity information (two dinner reservations in our case) were included in this packet. It also had pages of restaurant and activity recommendations. Digging deeper into the folder, we found important and informational documents on our flight plan, the different areas of the city, how to get around, and good photo opportunities.

One thing I appreciated most upon finding out the flight information was that, although Katie and I were coming from different airports, we were to land in New Orleans at almost the exact same time. Amazing planning by Pack Up + Go!

My Experience During the Trip

The trip went very smoothly from start to finish. I was nervous about the flight times, as I had a short layover, but all of that worry was for nothing.

When we arrived at the hotel, check-in was a breeze. We stayed at the ACE Hotel, which was a great experience. Katie and I discussed how we wouldn’t have booked such a nice hotel if we planned this on our own; we never would’ve thought it was within our budget! It was located within walking distance from nearly every activity we planned.

Pack Up + Go set up two dinner reservations for us. We went to both, although they informed us that we could’ve canceled if we wanted. The first restaurant was not quite my taste, but the second served the best food I ever had in my life – no exaggeration (check out Jack Rose)!

Using the list of recommended sights and activities that Pack Up + Go provided, we built our itinerary; it was very helpful, as many of the activities we would not have found on our own (the bayou airboat tour was our favorite for sure). The list also helped us find some cool bars and live music.

If you’d like to find out more about what we did in New Orleans, Louisiana, stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on this!

Conclusion: To Pack Up + Go or Not to Go?

To conclude, if it were not already obvious, I would absolutely recommend booking your surprise vacation with Pack Up + Go. They meticulously planned a personalized vacation for us and left little room for things to go wrong.

I think everyone should take a surprise trip. Not having a choice in destination allows you to learn a lot about yourself as a traveler. It allowed me to be introspective and think about what I really want in a vacation. They did not choose the destination because it seemed cool, they chose it because it offered exactly what I was looking for. Now, this is something I always consider when planning. To learn more about how I incorporate my priorities into my vacation planning, check out episode 9 of the Runways and Byways Travel Podcast.

The only con I found throughout this experience was that Pack Up + Go does not offer international destinations. I love traveling within the U.S., but it isn’t always necessarily my go-to. This is not a sponsored post, so if there were more negatives, I would tell you! It really was the all-around perfect, convenient, yet insanely fun, trip. I can’t wait to find out where I’ll Pack Up + Go to next time!

If you want to hear Katie and I talk about this experience, check out episode 2 of the Runways and Byways Travel Podcast. Fun fact: the idea of our podcast was born on this trip!

Are you convinced? Click here to book your surprise vacation with Pack Up + Go.

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Do you think you’d plan a surprise vacation with Pack Up + Go? Contact me or let me know in the comments!

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