As you know, I had a particularly exciting Bank Holiday weekend as I was whisked off on a Surprise Trip – an initiative launched by Expedia whereby you book a trip without knowing the destination! If you saw my Facebook page over the weekend you would have seen the big reveal of my Surprise Trip mystery location…. It was Geneva! Here’s the video in case you missed it –
As you can see it’s all very tense and exciting as you find out where you’re going, watching the destinations tick over in the video. And it’s really mental to already be in the airport with your bags packed, ready to go, with no idea where you’re going or what to expect.
I’ll be honest, the not knowing didn’t sit right with me at first. In the days leading up to the big reveal, I was anxious and stressed out. I’m a planner and I’m just not used to leaving this kind of thing in someone else’s hands. And there was really nothing to be stressed about because I would have been totally happy with any of Surprise Trips’ 77 destinations!
But once I found out where I was going, it was a lot more exciting than a normal trip. It’s like usually you have that big rush of excitement when you book a trip and then another when you’re heading to the airport about to embark on it. And with Surprise Trips it’s like I got both adrenaline rushes at the same time! It felt extra fun and spontaneous and, for want of another word, exciting!
Beforehand I had worried about what happens after you watch the reveal video. I’d watched other bloggers’ videos and read their posts but it didn’t really say what happened next. Which the control freak in me did not like at all. But as soon as I watched the video, I got another email from Surprise Trips with all of the trip information, the flight itinerary for both outbound and return legs as well as my hotel reservation. Phew, that relaxed me much more and I could enjoy the adventure!
Although there are a few not-so-great things to mention at this point. Firstly when we went to check-in with Easyjet, the woman behind the desk asked why we hadn’t checked in online and I explained the whole Surprise Trips concept and the fact that we had only just found out we were going to Geneva. And although she thought it was really cool, she did say that it is Easyjet policy that passengers need to check in online in order to secure their flight. So if they had oversold the flight we could not have been guaranteed a spot on the plane, which is a bit worrying really… I would just say that in order to avoid this, watch the video as soon as it comes through and head straight to the check-in desk. Me and my mum were chilling out in Starbucks chatting about what we would do in Geneva instead of hurrying to check-in.
And for the record, we were told to get to the airport for 10.25am and the video came through at 9.35am. So you can definitely get to the airport a bit earlier in order to avoid any problems. I don’t think there’s anything Surprise Trips can do about this but it is just worth knowing I think. You can check-in for the return flight though, as you have your flight times and booking confirmation and all that.
The last minute check-in also meant me and my mum weren’t sitting next to each other. This doesn’t bother me at all because I tend to be super unsociable on flights anyway, burying my nose in a travel mag, but thought it was worth noting.
Other than that, my airport experience was pretty exciting. We were researching places to see in Geneva and asking people we knew had visited for tips and recommendations, it was fun!
I loved that I got Geneva as my destination, purely because it is not somewhere I ever would have booked to go myself. I mean places like Venice and Seville would have been great but they are already firmly on my bucketlist and I know I will book to visit them myself at some point. The beauty of the Surprise Trip meant that I got to experience a city I never would have thought to go to and I really enjoyed my time there! I think it helps that I had no expectations at all so was pleasantly surprised with everything.
It was an adventure I got to experience with my mum as well which was nice, figuring out how to use public transport without prior research and navigating our way to the hotel.
The hotel itself was 3 star and was pretty nice, clean and decorated with arty stuff on the walls and had a lovely host at Reception who was so friendly and welcoming. It also had breakfast included in the package which was a nice surprise. Fresh croissants with jam and coffee is always delightful, continental breakfasts are massively underrated IMO.
The only downfall of the hotel was the location. Although it was super handy to be so close to the train station, meaning the journey from the airport was super easy, we were actually slap bang in the middle of the red light district! I guess that’s a drawback of not picking the hotel yourself. But it was actually quite funny in the end as me and my mum would watch the girls on the corners getting business from our hotel room window whilst we took our make-up off at night! Was a bit of a laugh so not a big deal – part of the adventure I guess!!
The hotel also gave us free transport passes for the city, which was such a massive bonus. It meant we could use the buses and trams and boats as much as we liked, completely for free! Get in.
There were pros and cons in the trip itself, I think just because of the lack of research. So it took us a while to figure out where the centre of town actually was, as near our hotel there weren’t any obvious sights or busy areas (turns out it was across the Lake Geneva). And I was a little anxious I was going to miss something great in Geneva. But actually the lack of a planned itinerary meant our trip was really relaxing and chilled out. Everything felt more natural and easy-going, which I think was perfect for a mother/daughter trip.
Although a point my mum made was that your spending money budget for the trip could be massively different depending on the destination. I think the fact that we were in one of the most expensive countries in the world brought this up as a low budget would not get you as far in Geneva as it would in Berlin or Amsterdam. But I think that’s part and parcel of the surprise, you just don’t know how it’s going to turn out!
Overall I really enjoyed the experience. I know I’ve highlighted a few negatives in this post, just so you know what you’re getting into when you book a Surprise Trip, but in the end it was a positive experience for me. I actually think it was good for me to try to let go of the control a little and just go with it. And in the end I managed to see everything I wanted to and had a really lovely Bank Holiday weekend in a new country with my mum. Plus the weather was epic, over 30 degrees all day, erryday. Score.
It’s a fun and spontaneous concept that makes your little weekend away feel like a much bigger adventure!
(Stay tuned for all the goss on what I actually got up to in Geneva!)
What do you think of the Surprise Trips concept? Would you do it? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!
Total Blogger Transparency: My Surprise Trip was a complimentary press trip but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I wouldn’t play you like that shorty.