It has been so much fun sharing my adventure with you. If you are just tuning in, this is the 4th and last part of a series where I have described my surprise trip with Pack Up & Go. This post will be about my reflections on the whole experience.
This post is not sponsored.
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Overall, I was super impressed with Pack Up & Go. Honestly, I was mad I hadn’t thought of this brilliant travel idea. I feel like they planned all of the important details and let us know ahead of time what to expect. Nothing was over-planned, causing us to stress out about where to be or what to do. There is still a little bit of planning on your end to figure out what to do before and after your arranged items, but I was not spending a whole lot of time trying to find out what to do. Everything that we picked was on the suggested papers, recommended from our friendly waiters, or we might have looked at the map to see what was around us. The quality of the papers in the folder were solid, and from beginning to end, we felt special and seen. Everything was well-thought out, and that also calmed me when I had my freakout moments about booking a trip and not knowing any of the details.
A week before the trip (and a couple days prior to the trip), they sent us the weather forecast. Having the weather temperatures was super helpful in packing. When the weather changed, we had to make adjustments, but jeans, a denim jacket, t-shirt, and layers, are golden anywhere. I didn’t use my bathing suit or activewear, just based on the activities that we chose to do. The logistics of coming back to the hotel to change for a hike or something wasn’t too realistic, so I could have ditched some of the clothing, but I was pretty happy with what I brought. I almost wore my dress Sunday, but it was rainy and cold, so I was glad I had some jeans.
The timing for the dinner reservations were very well planned. It gave us something to be grounded in every day. The way that we planned our days was pretty simple: the night before we decided what time we wanted to wake up – did we want to sleep in and rest, or did we want to get a nice breakfast, or grab something small for breakfast and sit down and have a nice lunch? We may look at the map and some suggested activities to decide which direction to head or what to do. Of course, always consider shoes and the weather. In our case, it was going to rain on Sunday, so we tried to do all the outdoor things Friday and Saturday, and save museums for Sunday. We looked to see when things were open or closed. And we looked at our dinner reservation time to figure out what time we should get back to the hotel to change for dinner. Having 1-2 solid things made it easy to plan around. Even on the first night, a 9pm dinner reservation was perfect timing to allow time for us to land, take the train from the airport, check in to the hotel, change, and get to the restaurant. We decided to go with whatever restaurants they picked, so there was a lot less stress in looking at ratings and having to call places and figure out what time we would be there. So I definitely liked them booking the dinner reservations ahead. Plus when we walked in to restaurants I just said my name and they always had me. There was never a time when the restaurant did not have our reservation. A common question I’ve been asked is if they pre-pay for your food. No. They simply make a reservation and you can decide to keep it, move it, or cancel it.
If there’s enough money after booking your flight and hotel, Pack Up & Go may purchase some activities tickets for you. We received 2 pre-purchased activities. The pre-paid tickets for the Architectural boat tour and the Ice Cream Museum were printed and put in the folder. Each morning I put the corresponding tickets in my purse. We had to sign a waiver for the Ice Cream museum (what?? Right??) and Pack Up & Go let us know in our DAY OF email (received at midnight the day of the trip) so we did that from the hotel. I do recommend sending any emails from Pack Up & Go into a folder so that you don’t “accidentally” click and find out where you are going. There are tons of warnings to prevent this, but I wanted to have one less thing to worry about, so the night before the trip I had all the emails go into a “Travel” folder, that I checked once I was past security in the airport.
This trip was the perfect amount of time as well. We did a Thursday night thru Sunday night. It allowed us to work Thursday and only take 1 day of vacation, plus it was short enough that all of our clothing could fit inside a carry-on suitcase. I loved traveling at night and being able to wake up and start my day in a new place, versus losing the off day due to travel or having to wake up super early and packing everything in.
My friend and I were discussing how this might look if we had planned the trip ourselves. We never would have stayed in a 5-star hotel in the center of the action. And I don’t think we would have picked those restaurants. So it was nice to have a variety of food available and to see different parts of town. They also had some other ethnic restaurants on the recommended lists. If I was to stay longer I definitely would have made an effort to check out some local spots and support minority-owned businesses. Staying in a popular area without a car worked out very well, as the area was very walkable. We did Uber sometimes, depending on the weather, our footwear, or how much time we had to get there. But for the most part we did a LOT of walking. They provided us with a $20 Uber card, and we did buy the metro pass, but really just used that for the airport back and forth – quite a deal ($15) for Round Trip to/from the airport.
Being the engineer that I am, I wanted to see how we did money-wise. I would have liked a bit more transparency from Pack Up & Go on how much they took out and charges for various items, but I was able to figure it out myself. Based on looking for flights when we flew, knowing the hotel rate, and seeing the costs of the tours, I feel like we really got a deal. Travel agencies are going to get better prices than the average person anyhow, but it was well worth it to have someone plan our trip. I don’t feel like they overcharged a whole lot for their services.
Would I do this again? In a heartbeat (yes). Both my friend and I travel a lot, so it’s pretty hard to get a location that both of us had not visited. I had been to Chicago before, so maybe there could be more room on their survey to state places you have gone, but I hadn’t been in 7 years, and I definitely did not stay in the swanky area where they had us, so it was still a new experience. There’s definitely room to take kids or to meet with a bunch of friends from all over the country. I don’t know that I would do a surprise trip internationally or if that is even possible with all the paperwork/visas required, but this was just perfect.
It was also fun telling people about this. Everywhere we went people wanted to know more about how we found this company or where the destination was going to be. When we said we didn’t know, initially they assume we were bing mysterious and didn’t want to share, but after they learned it was a surprise, they always inquired more. I’ve had friends reading this sign up for Pack Up & Go (please use my referral code so I get referral points) and just an energy in people that are looking to relax and let someone else plan something for them. We are all so busy in our “real lives” that we don’t always pause to smell the roses and enjoy the money that we work so hard to make.
This is definitely not for everyone though, and that’s ok. I hope everyone can enjoy reading my point of view and decide for themselves. It takes a huge leap of faith to just know that everything will be ok. I definitely prayed before opening the envelope and packing and paying. Of course you could always plan a vacation for yourself that is cheaper than what you will get for a service like this. But it’s comparing having a burger at a fast food restaurant versus cooked by a gourmet chef. They are just different experiences. I wanted to try the gourmet chef. You can also get the travel insurance if you are completely freaking out, and at the end of the day you don’t have to be as dramatic as I was opening the letter at the airport. You can open it when you get it, which gives you time to calm down, and think of a game plan if you are not happy with the selection.
Thank you so much for tuning in. It was my pleasure to share this experience with you. I loved all the texts and DMs asking me “where is Part ___???” It definitely kept me motivated in writing.
Check out my instagram for pictures/video: @joyfishbowl. And I always love comments from my readers, so feel free to comment below. I hope you Pack Up & Go!