Surprise Sojourn

In December 2021/January 2022, Do by Raleigh MagazineLeave a Comment

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No planning, no problem. Local Emmy-winning broadcaster gives firsthand account of surprise travel agency Pack Up + Go. 

By Rosalia Fodera

All we knew was that the weather report said it was going to be 50 degrees, we needed comfortable shoes, and we were getting on a plane at 5:45pm. 

Our bags were packed, but I didn’t know where my fiance and I were going. In the RDU terminal, I opened an envelope with the words “No Peeking” written on the outside and pulled out a piece of paper saying “Chicago!” We were headed to the Windy City! Our hotel was booked, and we already had dinner reservations set for the weekend. 

How?! Pack Up + Go—that’s how! … Let me back up. A month before that Friday in October, my fiance, Chris, and I decided we wanted to take a weekend trip, but couldn’t decide where. 

Enter Pack Up + Go. We picked the budget, the dates—and the rest was up to them! The surprise travel agency has travel planners who live all over the country and are familiar with the best local spots. We filled out a survey with questions ranging from “what do you like to do on vacation?” to “what is important to you when traveling?” We said we love eating, relaxing and staying at nice hotels. When you book, you’ll decide between different budget options and whether you want to fly, take a train or road trip—and they pick the city. The budget includes your transportation, stay and a 20% fee. If there is money left over, Pack Up + Go will include “extras” like gift cards for food and Uber rides. In order not to end up somewhere you do not want to visit, you choose places to avoid upfront. I am from Boston, and we recently visited D.C., so those were on our avoid list.

But don’t worry—you don’t go into it completely blind. To pack accordingly, Pack Up + Go sends your destination’s weather report a week in advance and then an update two days prior. Inside the envelope is all the fun! It has your destination, reservations and suggested itinerary.

Our travel specialist, Lauren, made dinner reservations for Friday and Saturday nights. We went to one of the breakfast places she suggested on Saturday—delicious! We did not follow the itinerary exactly—we had guidance, but not a completely set schedule, and I loved that. We stayed at the Fairmont Chicago Hotel right near the river. Dinner at Quartino Ristorante and The Gage was great for us as foodies.

Ultimately, I loved showing up at the airport with my vacation planned for me. I didn’t have to look for flight times or figure out the best restaurants at which to secure reservations; however, I do wish we were given a budget breakdown to see how our money was spent.

So if you like having control over exactly where your money is going and where you stay, this would not be for you. But if you are ready for your next adventure and aren’t sure where to go, book with Pack Up + Go and thank me later!

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