Dating a person who really, really likes nice surprises has taught me one thing – you can never plan enough mystery trips. (Although I have yet to prove that the success of the first one wasn’t an accident, and even though I have yet to plan a trip for more than two.)
At the moment, I’m in the middle of planning a second mystery trip for my co-alpha/girlfriend. So I thought I’d share some basic starters’ tips – in hope your super-mysterious destination doesn’t change at the last moment like mine did – thank you, winter tourist opening hours. (growl)
#1 Teasing is everything.
This one almost explains itself, but do let me expand on the subject for a second – when I say “teasing is everything”, I don’t just mean “tickle your co-alpha until she cries from laughter”. I mean, literally, tease her about the trip. Some of you packmembers may not be as easy to lead on as mine is, but it’s still worth a shot. It’s especially rewarding when they resist for days, letting you watch their curiosity boil up from inside. Leak hints about your trip. Never say too little, but never say too much, too. (The picture above leans more on the former – but still, it might be just a tad too easy if I let her see anything more for Mystery Trip #2.)
#2 There’s almost no way to keep the starting destination secret, at least not once you board your designated transport.
Still, I wouldn’t bet on it being totally impossible, at least in theory. I’m open to suggestions. What do you do when the ticketperson (or someone sitting right next to you or your packmemeber) announces the destination out loud? Tricky.
(Also, careful with that blindfold in public transport. You never know.)
#3 Always check all of your IDs in advance. Twice.
Luckilly, all of our papers are usually within my almost-everyday reach, so I can go about my business attracting no suspicion whatsoever. The joys of planning a mystery trip for a pack of two. Be sure to re-check the expiration dates on all of them, because – unfortunately, I speak from years-old experience – you can never check too many times before you reach a border (or run into an emergency).
#4 Think like a tourist in your own home region.
Maybe it’s a thing about living in Croatia – small country for great random sight around every (or every other) corner – but I’m pretty sure it relates to other locations too. The idea is almost as old as time (not all of us need to switch continents to get that feeling of being away), but people seem to keep ignoring it for some reason. Trust me on this one. Not even you know all that can be enjoyed at your location (or close nearby) – or maybe you can, if you happen to be a tour guide. Do you happen to be a tour guide?
#5 Places you can reach for under 14 EUR (100 HRK) are a lot further than you think.
For our first mystery trip, I took us from Zagreb to Graz. We boarded a 100 HRK return ticket shopping bus and enjoyed the city for almost a full day. I didn’t believe it was possible. Hell, it’s 2 x 181 kilometers! (That’s 362 km both ways! Almost one for every day of the year!) The second trip (one we have yet to embark upon) has a similar budget. And I have a hunch it’s just the beginning. Who knows, maybe we’ll go on a more daring adventure next time…
#6 There’s always a combined museum ticket (or whatever catches your fancy) out there somewhere.
If you haven’t found it yet, you didn’t molest the internet long enough. Go dig. Now. Shoo!
#7 Brown bagging your lunch works for grownups, too…
…and it adds to the whole picnic-y feeling of the trip, if you dig things like that. My pack-of-two does. And, at the moment, it’s almost a prerogative for our mystery trip budgeting. (Not that we budget the trips or anything. For the first trip, and this one, I just told her what the approximated cost would be, because I still can’t cover the whole trip by myself. Working on that.) Add some playful ingredients in your sandwich (homemade tempeh spread, anyone?) and pack them in neat little boxes. If you plan on going to a destination which provides sitting benches in cute parks, like Graz does, you don’t even need to bother with a bulky blanket.
#8 Do tell your victim/packmember some basic info in advance.
I highly recommend sharing at least the date of the trip, planned arrival (and return) time, if you’re gonna be outside of cellphone range for x hrs, expected temperature and terrain, etc. Of course, if they are of the daring variety, you can always pack them in secret and wake them up in time to catch the designated transport. Hell, that sounds so fun I might even dare to try it at least once in the future…
#9 If you hold your life dear, don’t spoil the mystery at any cost.
Do you really wish to risk the look on their face when they finally figure out where you’re headed? Or (as was the case of our first trip), when you finally reach the designation inside of the designation, tailored specifically to suit their desires? Hell, no. (Actually, I’m looking forward to the beggining of our Mystery Trip #2 – although, this time, it’s more of a random day trip than a specially tailored one. But I have no doubts it’ll be perfect none the less. There’s always time for something really intended for her – hello, summer tourist opening hours!)
#10 Never forget what you’re doing it for.
For me, it’s the look on her face. For you, it might be for the sheer pleasure of torturing your packmembers with tip #1. Either way, fun. Don’t overplan. Don’t overthink. Just take a leap of faith and allow for yoursefl to be surprised, too. You never know what’s waiting just around the corner.
And happy first Full Moon of the year, all. May it be a mysterious one.