This is Part 2. You can read Part 1 from yesterday.
If you are planning a surprise trip where you need a passport, make sure you have all the necessary information beforehand. You need to know things like the other person’s exact name on their passport, the ID number, date and place of birth, and the passport expiration date. Also be sure to check whether a visa is required.
Airline tickets also pose some unique issues. You can purchase tickets in your name for other passengers but remember, they may find out about the trip if they check their online airline account. One way around this would be to not include their frequent flier number on their reservation. That would keep it out of their account but that would also mean you would have to forego the award and elite status miles on their ticket until the information was added.
Here’s what I did… My husband is a longtime Delta Diamond so I knew if I arranged to fly Delta, he would see where we were going right away. Instead, I made the reservation through United Airlines. Yes, he has an account there and does sometimes fly United but knowing his travel schedule, I knew there would be no reason for him to check that account. Phew! It worked.
Alternatively, consider using airline miles and hotel points instead. One benefit to using them is that it’s easier to keep the trip a secret but be careful, you don’t want to forego a chance for upgrades or other benefits either. Another advantage here, depending on the travel provider and maybe your status with them, you may have flexibility to adjust your travel dates or redeposit the miles and points in your account without a penalty or charge if your plans change or don’t work out.
It should go without saying that if you are planning to surprise someone with a trip, that person needs to be someone you trust very much. A lot of travel costs today – and this includes hotels, car rentals, cruises, airfares, tours, and other costs – are frequently nonrefundable. If you purchase nonrefundable airline tickets, for example, and the other person does not go, any potential airline credit (possibly after change fees, depending on the airline) would actually go to them, not you. If you have any doubt, it may be wise to purchase the appropriate type of travel insurance.
I admit planning this surprise trip was a lot of work. There were so many pieces that had to fall into place perfectly, not to mention the research and creating all the daily clues and posting these blogs every day. But as I said at the top, my reward was enjoying all the comments trying to guess the destination as well as the expression on my husband’s face when he finally found out.
A side note never mentioned before, my husband narrowed his guess down to Copenhagen or Florence a few days before the trip began. While we have been to both cities, he leaned toward the first one because we have spent more time in the latter. Well, he guessed wrong and didn’t know where until we arrived at the airline gate. Even then, he didn’t know the destination was not just Florence but actually touring the Tuscany region of Italy.
So would I do it again? Absolutely, a labor of love. My husband frequently surprises me, whether at home or traveling. Even on this trip he surprised me with a gold pendant replica of the first Florin coin used in commerce. Every time I wear it, I think of him and our surprise trip. These are the kind of trip memories that last a lifetime.
A surprise trip, whether a day or longer, might make a great holiday gift for someone — give it some thought!