So many ideas to write about, so little time to do it! I’ve been thinking of writing this post for a while now. And here I am, finally doing it.

I enjoy getting gifts for friends and family, but same as many of you, I don’t enjoy buying gifts just for the sake of it. It needs to mean something, or it needs to be practical at least.

That’s why my husband and I decided after our very first year together to stop buying gifts for each other. Instead we ideally put whatever we would have spent on a gift towards a weekend getaway, activities on a longer vacation, you name it. And that’s how we’ve decided to give each other the gift of travel. Most of the time in the form of a weekend getaway.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t surprise one another with the occasional thoughtful gift. Most of the times, that’ll be something one of us needs – like my latest travel pillow – best surprise ever!

Our travel style is very planned, we like researching our destinations extensively before our trip. That can sometimes become a little bit too much. So, a few years ago we decided to try something new. We decided that at least one of our weekend getaways that we do in a year should be a surprise for the other person. Of course, it also started as some sort of challenge for me, as I was been told that I can’t hold on to the surprise or I can’t handle the secrecy.

What are the steps to planning a surprise trip?

Set a budget

If you know what’s the budget your significant other is comfortable with you can probably keep this a secret as well. We usually like to double-check with one another what we are comfortable with spending for the trip.

Narrow down a few potential dates

Of course, before going into further planning, you’ll need to figure out the other person’s availability for a few potential dates. Much easier if it’s a weekend getaway and no days off from work are needed. But hey, your goal is to keep the destination as much of surprise, if you need to give some hints about possible dates, it’s not a problem!

Find a destination

Now that you have a budget and potential dates, it’s time to find the perfect destination for your weekend getaway. There are a few things to consider in choosing the destination. By far, the most important of all will be the budget and the duration. You can narrow done destinations by weather, preferences on the mode of transportation plus any personal preferences you or significant other might have. Each one of us has a list of places they would like to go, so whenever it’s my turn to plan a surprise weekend trip, I think of what are my husband’s top 3 preferences. Of course, you can also pick a destination that’ll be a total surprise. Check out our post on Top 10 city-break destinations in Europe for inspiration!

Planning the trip

All that’s left now is planning the trip. In my experience, the closer the date of departure is, the easier it will be too keep the secret.
Look for flights/train tickets/bus tickets depending on your mode of transportation. For flights, our go-to tools are Google Flights or Kayak. If you have enough time for planning, keeping an eye out for sales is a good idea. Unfortunately, the cost of transportation and accommodation might lead to changing your selected destination.
If your destination requires planning some activities ahead of time, take care of that as well. Otherwise, daily activities can be decided together, after you reach your destination.

Keep it a secret

Make sure to keep your plans away from your significant other, by not adding the trip on the shared calendar, paying attention to phone notifications and anything else you might think will give away your surprise.

Packing

If at all possible, pack for the both of you. It will be a bit of a give away if you’re asking him/her to pack light clothes in the dead of winter.

Enjoy your travel

All that’s left is the travel day and enjoying his/her reaction to the surprise! If you want to keep it a total secret, invent a reason why you should meet at the airport/train station/bus station. Every moment of the trip will be a little piece of the puzzle.

As I am writing this post, we are waking up in Krakow, our weekend getaway destination! My husband knew that we’ll be traveling and when, just didn’t know where. So, I’ve enjoyed giving him misleading information in the weeks leading up to the trip, to make it more of a surprise. And I was happy to hear that Krakow was on his top 3 destinations list for this weekend!

We’ve so far only organized this type of surprise trips just for each other. I am hoping that 2020 will be the year we try this as a gift for some of our closest friends and family.

The most memorable gift you can give someone is that of an experience. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a vacation or weekend getaway. It can be a visit to a new restaurant, museum, cinema, tickets to a concert. It’s the thought and the effort that goes into the planning process that counts!

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