I love surprises; receiving them, and planning them! And the fact that you’re reading this is an exciting thought. When my friend asked me to write this post on How to Surprise Your Partner with a Trip, I figure 25 years of experience might count for something. You’ll find a list of ideas for your surprise travel itinerary further down.
Keeping the Surprise
Quite simply, the best way to surprise your partner with a trip is to keep it a secret to the last possible moment. Top three tips on how to do that:
- If you have a joint bank account or credit card account, hide the statement or tell them not to look once credit card charges start appearing.
- Make sure they get the necessary time off and don’t double book anything for the same weekend. If you have to, tell them the truth! “I have a surprise booked, and you don’t want to miss it.”
- Pack their bags for them if you can, but if you can’t, give them a general packing list and throw in one or two random items to keep them guessing.
25 Years of Surprise Trips
In April 2020, my husband and I celebrate 25 years of marriage. This means we’ve had at least 25 long weekends away together with just the two of us. Before we got married I proposed that we celebrate our wedding anniversary every year with a weekend away. The weekend had a few strings attached, but my awesome young husband-to-be was totally on board.
Here’s what we agreed:
- No matter what, no matter how many kids, the weekend away would be just the two of us.
- We would take turns organising it, and it would be a surprise trip for the other partner.
- It didn’t have to cost a lot.
- One of the dinners on that weekend would be devoted to an honest reflection of the previous 12 months of marriage.
My husband squirms when it’s time for that dinner, but we’ve always done it (even if the “serious” part is only 5 minutes long) and, we’re still happily married. But this is not a discussion on how to stay happily married, this is a post on how to keep the vacation plan a surprise until the very last minute.
Let’s talk about money. Don’t overstretch. There’s no need to go into debt for a holiday. One of my siblings spent a lot of money on their wedding and regretted it for many years to come. Long-lasting memories are ultimately created in the context of time, place and people. And you don’t need a lot of money for that, just some planning.
Set a Date
Our wedding anniversary is at the end of April. Some prefer to keep the dates of travel a surprise too. For me, that’s another level of deception that takes too much energy. I think it’s more fun to share the dates, but not the plan. You build anticipation that way!
Set the date as far in advance as you can and if the date is important (like the celebration of an important anniversary) try not to let it get pushed around by other commitments. Give those dates the respect they deserve.
Pick a Location
Sometimes I pick the location based on cheap airfares for the dates I’ve selected. Our wedding anniversary weekend in Bangkok was a result of cheap airfares on offer.
Sometimes, you’ve been thinking about a place for years, and the opportunity finally presents itself – that’s how it was for our wedding anniversary trip to India. And sometimes, circumstances dictate the location, like the time I was heavily pregnant with our first child and we had no money. Our weekend away that year was in a city 4 hours drive from where we lived.
Location is important, but it’s not the most important decision when planning a surprise trip. What really matters is what you do once you’re there.
Plan the Itinerary
Consider what your partner likes to do and build in some fun.
Even if you choose an all-inclusive resort, book or plan something extra special. You’ll know best what you can do, but as I think back over some of our romantic weekend adventures, here are some of the activities we’ve added to itineraries:
- spa and massage treatments
- comedy shows, concerts, and theatre
- bungy jumps and ATV rides
- sports activities like kayaking, hiking, beach, golf and boating
- visit natural wonders of the area
- cooking classes and food tours
- train trips
- cultural tours
- movies and picnics
- take to the air with a hot air balloon or helicopter ride
When the previous 12 months have been busy, we’ve gone for more relaxed weekends like this all-inclusive trip to Bintan. Other times, we’ve built in a lot more activities.
Choose the Accommodation
Totally up to you. Ours have ranged from camping to all-inclusive resorts. That’s the beauty of a surprise trip with your partner every year, you get to try them all. I’ll be honest, the older we’ve got, we don’t do the camping thing so much anymore. 😄 There’s a lesson in that too, you know. Basically, do the physical, adventurous stuff while you can!
When, and How, to Share the Surprise
I remember the time we jumped in the car and I had no idea where we were going. We drove 2 hours to a big city and pulled off the motorway. ‘This is it,’ I thought. I was wrong.
We got back on the motorway and kept driving. Next big city, same thing. Finally, late that evening we pulled into a tiny motel in the middle of nowhere. I had no idea where we were or what we doing – I was out of guesses. Over pizza that night, my husband told me we were getting up early the next morning and would be white water rafting down a river for the next 3 days and camping on the riverbank each night. It was a well-kept secret till the last possible moment and we had a blast.
Other times, we’ve got all the way to the check-in counter at the airport before the secret was out. Sometimes, we’ve shared it the night before, but always as late as possible.
You could always consider a Surprise Trip Reveal with poems or cards if that’s your preference.
Whose turn is it this year? It’s his turn to organise. 😄 I hope you’ve found some useful ideas on how to surprise your partner, and maybe even some inspiration! Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts.