Image: Entrée Destinations
The latest vacation trend is quite unpredictable—literally. We're highlighting five "surprise" travel companies that plot twisting, turning travel itineraries made just for you.
Part of the thrill of a holiday is experiencing the unexpected. But just how high is your tolerance for x-factor fun? With "surprise" travel companies, you never know exactly where you are going to wind up. Your itinerary can be filled with creative recommendations just for you, and you could be left guessing what's planned right up until the airport. Here are five travel companies that specialize in creating a thrilling adventure just for you.
1. CAPERACE CULTURAL ADVENTURES
Home Base: St. John's, Newfoundland
Specialty: CapeRace Cultural Adventures organically incorporates local personalities into your self-guided tour of the Rock and provides you with a guidebook that offers navigational tips only the locals know. “You’re going to know the names of your next-door neighbours, and you’ll know that the undocumented path that goes by the house will actually take you up to Signal Hill,” says CapeRace founder Ken Sooley. The guidebook offers the names of lifelong inhabitants who love to chat with visitors, tell them about the neighbourhood and enhance their trip. “It becomes a self-guided, self-catered, self-managed trip,” says Sooley.
Surprise Factor: Founder Sooley loves to share his many “hidden agendas,” including detours with a majestic view or a museum with a curator who's fascinating to chat with.
Home Base: Vancouver, B.C.
Specialty: Entrée Destinations offers wilderness vacations through the Rockies and the North for clients with five-figure travel budgets who want to outsource their vacation planning.
Surprise Factor: The surprise isn’t so much where you are going—it’s what you’ll find when you get there. Popular destinations include chasing the Northern Lights through the Yukon by dogsled, a helicopter tour through the Rocky Mountains, or a stay at the most northern lodge on Earth, Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge. For a couple who loved lumberjacks, the company arranged a private meet-and-greet with a local Alaskan axe-swinger.
Home Base: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Specialty: Magical Mystery Tours creates a custom itinerary just for you, whether that’s a short jaunt within spitting distance of your home base, creative takes on the Caribbean, or far-flung European adventures. Trips are planned around how you answer a survey that notes your best and worst vacations, tolerance for new experiences and a vacation wishlist where you can check off categories that appeal to you, such as nightlife, adventure, kid-friendly, learning and relaxation.
Surprise Factor: After receiving only a weather report and a sealed envelope in the mail, Magical Mystery Tours advises you to wait until you're at the airport to rip open your envelope to find out where you're going.
Home Base: Washington, D.C.
Specialty: The Vacation Hunt offers American, international and all-inclusive resort vacations, with a special focus on honeymoons for those burnt out from wedding planning. Past honeymooners have enjoyed parasailing, horseback riding through a Tuscan vineyard and truffle hunting with a little help from a pack of pooches.
Surprise Factor: Clues on where you're headed first appear on your social media accounts, followed by a weather report that arrives in the mail 10 days before your trip. A full itinerary comes a week before departure, allowing some time for the excitement to build.
Home Base: Chula Vista, California and Mexico City
Specialty: Jubel is known for surprise trip itineraries in which each leg of your adventure is revealed every time you rip open an envelope, Amazing Race-style.
Surprise Factor: Jubel can customize your surprise around something specific, such as volunteering with an orangutan sanctuary in Indonesia, or you can roll the dice on a globetrotting adventure. To tailor the trip to your interests, Jubel asks you to choose one of five paths: active nature, chilled nature, party purist, culturist or oceanist—or take the “Jubelist” path, which is a mix of all five.