Mystery Trip: Destination Unknown (Part I)

I still can’t believe I agreed to this. In three short months, I will be dropped off at O’Hare International Airport, Terminal 5. International Terminal. I will be gone for ten days, nine sleeps. I will have no frickin’ clue to where my destination is until I get to the ticket counter.

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A few months ago, my friends Kelly, Amy and myself went out to breakfast. I never thought you could get in so much trouble while trying to decide between an omelet or some french toast. But here we are.

We were talking about our recent hiking trip and the vacation Kelly & her husband were planning over Thanksgiving (Katmandu & Nepal). With the holidays approaching I started talking about the photo album project I needed to start for my mom and niece. I wanted to capture the Ireland vacation we took in 2017, and have it be a Christmas gift, but I had yet to start it. This led to how I would love to head back to Ireland, as would Kelly. Amy had never been. Therefore, logically, we should do a girls trip. To Ireland. In the spring of 2019.

I was of course, agreeable, as I loved Ireland. But, seriously, who actually goes leaves a Sunday breakfast with friends and books a trip? It’s not going to actually happen, right? Right??

Then, the email…

KELLY THEN STARTED TO THINK…and sent us this email…
“How about we just say we’re traveling in April or May.
And how about we say we go where ever we can get to on a good deal on those dates. And how about I don’t tell you where that is.
As in – you don’t know until we get to the airport and walk up to the gate. 
I mean, maybe it *is* Ireland. 
And maybe it isn’t. 
It would just depend on what sort of deals I could find. 
But it would be to Europe – Ireland, Iceland, England, Prague, or one of those nifty Scandinavian countries…
I’d do the Kelly trip plan thing…sort out the destinations and whatnot, maybe only plan one “absolute” excursion – the rest of the time we can wing it. Or I can plan a trip to Ireland and you can tell me to shut it and settle down. That works too” 

We know Kelly plans amazing trips. We went climbing in New Paltz, New York last spring that was perfect. She & her husband have gone to Ireland, Scotland and soon to Nepal. Adventures were well thought out, unique and always cost effective. Then there is me – organized, play by the book, have an itinerary with planning almost daily leading up to the trip. My local vacations or day trips are fun, but there is always a plan and I KNOW THE PLAN. This email was the opposite over everything I logically stand for.

I was certain that Amy would put a stop to this madness. She didn’t. Not only was she a willing participant, but then the destination was wide open. I could have said no. I know I could have said no. BUT WHAT IF IT WAS A REALLY COOL VACATION AND I MISSED OUT??? I mean, Kelly is planning this. She always plans awesome vacations and we tell her she should plan trips for other people, but I assumed the people going on the trip would know what the trip was! I was so torn on what to do.

I replied to the email. Yes.

Then I put my head in my hands and started to have my first of many panic attacks. This is so outside my comfort zone, what the heck did I get myself in to. Of course, there was still time to back out. There’s always time to back out until the tickets are bought.

Three weeks ago we gave the final “ok” on the dates (late April – early May) and the general price tag, and then were told our vacation was officially booked. We had a mere 24 hours to change our minds. None of us did. The travelers will be Kelly, Amy, her daughter Emma and myself and only Kelly knows where we will be going.

What we know…

Before the booking, we knew there were some parameters. It wasn’t a place anyone of us had been before. That means Ireland, Belgium, Mexico, Italy, Scotland, and England were out. We do need our passport, so it is outside of the United States. We have some dietary restrictions and prior conversations revealed that anything in Asia would be difficult to manage without prior planning. We wouldn’t need immunizations. It wasn’t a place where we needed to defend ourselves from polar bears. (Long story).

We received this text last week and know so very little more about our adventure:

There are more things: Just so you all are hearing the same story:
– you will need a bathing suit
– there will be a boat
– have foot wear good for walking around urban environments 
– have foot wear good for walking around nature environments (think casual hike, not trekking expedition)
-we are always in walking distance to restaurants, cafes, pubs, patisseries, and/or eateries of some variety. We will also have a kitchen in 2 places
– no washer in the 1 or 2 actually but there’s a washer (no dryer) in the third.
-we will be in an urban area eating dinner out the 2nd and 3rd night, so decent (not schmancy) clothes for one of those. 
-if you haven’t already done it – make sure you have either the google translate app on your phone or Duolingo works too (I’ll give you the language at the airport)
– If you like, I can order currency in advance; I’d need whatever amount you’d want to change over no later than 1 1/2 weeks prior to the trip so it can be ordered. Your credit cards will work in said country as well.

The text did help. Not certain if it helped my excitement or my anxiety, but it did help.

Three months till departure

The only thing I have control over is packing. Of course, I have no idea what to pack. I do know I will have one carry-on and one checked bag. Since we have four people and a regular size rental car, I should pack light. I also need to plan for souvenirs (lessons learned from Ireland) so I really need to pack light. I have a great travel backpack that I bought on eBags last year that I think will be my carry-on. My checked bag will be another story, but do think I will need more packing cubes. If you never have used these before they are the bomb. The amount of stuff you can keep contained in your suitcase is mind-boggling. I know I need another set to keep the carry-on in order.

So, packing is the only thing I can focus on, but I have no idea what I am packing for. Ugh. What have I done? Is this something you would even fathom doing? Am I crazy?? What should I pack? What shouldn’t I pack?? Where do you think we are going???

Only three months till we find out.


23 thoughts on “Mystery Trip: Destination Unknown (Part I)

  • January 14, 2019 at 14:50
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    This is so exciting! Did you give your friend a monetary limit for how much you were willing to spend?

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    • January 17, 2019 at 12:56
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      The less the better but we’re also in the “were only doing this once!” Mindset! Airfare was to be around $500 and we’ve kept that price point

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  • January 16, 2019 at 05:40
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    Omg!! What an AWESOME idea! I’d be having a ton of panic attacks too, but my motto is you only live once! I can’t wait to hear about it!!

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    • May 12, 2019 at 11:59
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      I agree and have the same motto “YOLO” in fact years ago I took that “bucket list” of mine, crossed out the title and wrote above it “YOLO List.” It gives a WHOLE NEW MEANING to the list! It’s a living list now instead of ‘oh, lets do this before we die” or “now that we’re dieing, let’s live a little.” Since we are ALIVE we should LIVE LIFE to the fullest…within reason…and having a trusted friend plan an entire mystery trip certainly fits into REASON. Kudos, what a GREAT idea.

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  • January 17, 2019 at 10:52
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    hahahaha this is so AWESOME! I’m totally going to do a mystery trip for my family!

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  • January 17, 2019 at 12:38
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    So exciting! The spontaneous side of myself is so excited to hear where you end up going! The anxious side would have me freaking out!

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  • January 17, 2019 at 13:15
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    I am so jealous of you! I’ve always wanted a mystery trip!!! Have a great time! I can’t wait to see photos!

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  • January 17, 2019 at 16:09
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    Mystery trip!!!! These are always the most memorable.

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  • January 18, 2019 at 08:59
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    This sounds awesome! I met some people on spring break when I was in high school that did exactly this. I always thought it was such a great idea!

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  • January 18, 2019 at 09:20
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    This is such a fun idea! Also, I have to know more about that polar bear story haha.

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    • January 21, 2019 at 22:05
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      Kelly sent us a link to a place with great round trip ticket prices. It’s some island and you keep your doors unlocked so you can escape from the back door if a polar bear enters. Since we have been instructed to plan a bathing suit I am assuming this place is off the list! (I HOPE!!!)

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  • January 18, 2019 at 17:33
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    I would be all for it.. unti l the day you leave.. then I would be freaking out… Hope ya’ll have fun!

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  • January 18, 2019 at 17:36
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    This sounds like an amazing trip. Don’t know where you are going until you’re at the airport. I would have anxiety too. What to bring and not bring. And to leave room for souveniers. Awesome!

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  • January 18, 2019 at 19:54
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    I am totally going to try to do this – I’ll bring it up at the next friends outing! Hopefully, there will be takers.

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  • January 18, 2019 at 21:22
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    This sounds like an awesome way to plan a trip….let someone else! I would love to go on a surprise vacation.

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  • January 18, 2019 at 23:45
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    I love a great mystery! Sounds like a super trip!

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  • January 19, 2019 at 08:15
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    How fun! I’d be like you a little out of my comfort zone, especially with not knowing what to pack. Can’t wait to hear about your adventure!

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  • January 19, 2019 at 13:27
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    This sounds so cool! I usually like to know things ahead of time as well, but I would feel better if my friend was as great a planner as yours. I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Can’t wait to hear more!

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  • March 7, 2019 at 21:45
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    Wow! You are brave! I got anxiety just reading the text. Lol! Have a great time!! Bon voyage! ; )

    Reply

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