Kimberly Howard was knee-deep in planning her wedding when she and her then-fiancé heard some friends talking about a service they used to plan their own honeymoon. The friends raved about having to do almost nothing — and then literally getting whisked away.
Her friends were talking about Whisked Away, a travel company that does every bit of trip planning for you. You pick a region (North America, Latin America or Europe), choose a budget and travel dates and fill out a short survey, and then they plan the trip. “After being overwhelmed by the level of planning involved when we were already planning a wedding, Whisked Away was SUPER appealing,” Kimberly says. “It also struck our interest because many of our date nights are surprises, and we thought this was such a cool way to travel and see somewhere completely new that we likely wouldn’t have picked for ourselves.” They book flights, accommodations, even day trips. Two weeks before you leave, you get an email with some guidelines for packing.
Charlotte McGhee, CEO & Founder of Whisked Away: Surprise Travel, says the idea for the business came about after a friend helped her realize how good she was at planning trips – and how much she loved it. The business launched in March 2017 and has already planned a few dozen trips. “Most people love the idea of being surprised so much that they wait to open their itinerary until they get to the airport,” shares Charlotte. And she says everyone loves the idea of not having to plan their perfect trip. “Planning travel takes A LOT of time,” she continues. “People dread the thought of coming home from work and spending even more time on the computer, sifting through big box travel sites and reading reviews. With Whisked Away, all of the planning is taken off their plate. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and then you just sit back and wait to travel!”
Kimberly says having them plan her honeymoon was the best decision she’s ever made. “I can already say that my stress level is significantly lower than it would’ve been had we tried to plan it ourselves and coordinate all of our own travel. It’s also been fun telling people about it because it gets a fun reaction. Usually ‘Oh, I could never do that.’ I also think that we will get to go somewhere that we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves simply because we didn’t know enough about it.”
Lara Dalinsky is the founder of En Route Traveler and says that if you’re considering a dream vacation and can’t figure out where to go, it can be as easy as asking yourself some basic questions. “What kind of surroundings excite you (e.g., cities, beaches, mountains)? Then, think about what kind of style of travel you’re seeking. Are you all about adventure or relaxing? Do you prefer luxury vacations, historical tours or a chance to connect with local culture?”
She says Pinterest and Instagram are great ways to get inspired, and there are tons of Facebook groups that will help you build your itinerary by informing you of the can’t-miss things in each place. And while most people hear “dream vacation” and think they can’t afford it, Lara says a little resourcefulness and creativity will go a long way in saving you big bucks. “A dream vacation doesn’t have to break the bank,” she says. “It may require some planning and saving, but there are lots of creative ways to save … go during the off-season, look for package deals, rent an Airbnb or house-sit, and don’t forget to take advantage of credit card rewards and frequent flyer programs.”
Lara says more and more people are actually planning extended dream vacations thanks to technology. “There’s a rise in digital nomads – entrepreneurs or employees who can telecommute from remote locations. In both cases, internet technology has made it easier to set out on journeys of self-discovery with the ability to stay connected to home,” she says. “I’m very fortunate that my job as a graphic designer can be done from anywhere. When I worked full-time for a branding firm, my generous boss allowed me to spend part of my summer working from Antibes in southern France. I could spend the day exploring the sunny shores of the Cote d’Azur and checked into work in the late afternoon when the workday was just starting back home on the east coast of the United States.”
The other part of dashing out the door for an extended time that stresses a lot of people out is the “stuff” you have to manage to make that time away seamless. Who’s going to watch the dog? Who’s going to keep an eye out for any packages? When will I have time to get my birth control prescription? We all wish we had an assistant sometimes … well, now you can.
Courtney Kovacs runs CoKo Concierge. She has many regular clients but says she often gets people who just need her help as they’re getting ready to take a vacation. “CoKo helps you handle errands, tasks and planning from A to Z,” Courtney says. And while you might assume a concierge is something only the really rich can afford, Courtney tries to keep her prices within reach. Prices range from $40 an hour for shopping or errands to $125 a week for a complete house check-in. “Our services are definitely not just for the rich and famous. Everyone needs a second hand to help accomplish everything in our busy days. We make it affordable to outsource your to-dos to us,” she explains.
From planning to packing, CoKo will do as much or as little of the work as you’d like. “We help our clients by picking up supplies or making goodie bags for the kids for the road. We’ll hire a house-sitter or do the actual pet sitting. We’ll even take cars in to be serviced while they are away,” Courtney explains.
She says many people even enlist her for help getting major household fix-it projects done while they’re not home. “We take the stress out of getting ready for the trip, and we anticipate clients’ needs so they can just relax and enjoy,” Courtney says.
Ultimately, Charlotte gets to the heart of the matter: “Stop considering it, and book it. Seriously. With Whisked Away or another travel agency or on your own, the most important thing is that you go for it. Don’t wait! And be open to whatever experiences may happen along the way.”
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