When it comes to big surprises, it's hard to top gifting someone with a surprise vacation. Whether it's a long weekend in Paris to celebrate a milestone birthday or a bucket-list adventure like seeing Machu Picchu, there's a lot of planning and thought that goes into giving travel as a gift.
Luckily, Oyster's editors have been on the giving and receiving end of these kinds of surprises. With that in mind, we've put together a list to help you out. So, how do you plan a surprise trip? Where should you consider going? And how should you break the news? Read on for the ultimate guide to giving someone the gift of travel — the ultimate gift when quarantine is over.
HOW TO BEGIN PLANNING A SURPRISE TRIP
If the person you're gifting wants to go on a trip, you've likely heard them talk about where they want to go in conversation. Perhaps your wife has mentioned wanting to go back to Paris after more than a decade, or your parent often reminds you of the one place they've never seen. Or, maybe your kids are obsessed with a particular amusement park. In any case, the yearned-for getaway will have been on their lips — frequently. With that in mind, there may not be any mystery to the destination.
You'll want to get a sense of how flexible their schedule is first. In some cases, reaching out to their boss at work (if they have a good relationship with them) can help you get a handle on whether the person has vacation days and can use them when you'd like to escape. You can also organically weave this into conversation. For instance, if it's a parent or grandparent, tell them that you're planning a trip home for the time you're taking them away to make sure they don't make other plans.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN BOOKING THE TRIP
Depending on the kind of trip, consider how much of it you should schedule ahead of time. Chances are, if it's a trip the giftee has been talking about for some time, they have very specific ideas about what they'd like to see and do. With that in mind, your best bet is to purchase the plane tickets well in advance, but hold off on any expensive tours, excursions or nonrefundable hotels. This allows them have some input when you do reveal that you're taking them somewhere.
However, when booking the plane tickets, you must have certain pieces of information. If you're booking an international trip, you'll need to make sure the person either has their passport, or there's enough time for them to get one (allow at least three months for this). On top of that, you'll need to know how their name appears on their government-issued ID or passport. The best way around this is to use their first name and last name — leaving out the middle name. TSA agents will let you through if that's present on the ticket, but if you've gotten the middle name wrong, misspelled it, or the government-issued ID doesn't include it, you might have to pay extra to have the ticket changed at the airport desk.
OUR FAVORITE DESTINATIONS FOR A SURPRISE TRIP
For a Long Weekend from the East Coast: Paris