Pack Up & Go: A Surprise Vacation Review

When I received my generous tax refund in March (thank you, IRS), I decided to put part of it toward a trip with my husband. We had not taken any time away together since my son was born last summer, so a long weekend to ourselves was long overdue.

What is Pack Up & Go?

I had several friends who have used Pack Up & Go for weekend getaways, girls’ trips, bachelorette parties, etc. 

Pack Up & Go is a travel agency that books trips on your behalf. The twist – it’s a surprise.

I know some of you just had a heart palpitation. Hear me out. First, you decide what kind of vacation you want to go on: plane/train ride, road trip, outdoors, or staycation. You fill out a detailed trip survey which will provide guidance to the team about where you have been already, the types of vacations you like to take, and every other priority to make your vacation the best ever. Then you set a budget, where the minimums vary depending on the type of trip you want to take. 

Preparing for my trip

A few important things to note:

  1. To make the most of your budget, the closest airport options from Lafayette are Baton Rouge and New Orleans. So, be prepared for a small drive when you leave and arrive. 
  2. Be. Very. Detailed. We are not big travelers, therefore do not have huge traveling preferences. I thought it would be more fun and spontaneous to leave some things open-ended, but I definitely should have been specific about a few things.
  3. Flight times – one of the things I should have been specific about. There is a question about specific departure and/or arrival times. Make sure to take into account when you want to actually be in your home, not just flying into town. They originally had me scheduled to land in New Orleans at midnight….yuck. They were able to change it, but I had to pay an additional $200. 

One week before the trip

The # 1 question I got when I told people what we were doing: how do you know what to pack?

Pack Up & Go thought of that. One week before the trip, they let you know a few things:

  • The weather forecast
  • Special items to pack (walking shoes, swimsuit, nice outfit, etc)
  • Generic vacation items.

I personally think the weather report is the most helpful. Plus I got VERY excited trying to guess where they were going to send me. 

A few days before the trip

You will receive a packet in the mail. DO NOT OPEN IT until the day you leave. 

Packing tips

Travel is insane right now. Avoid checking a bag as much as you are able. I have been traveling for work, and packing became stressful. I invested in an Away suitcase, and it was worth every. Single. Penny. I was able to pack so much stuff in this little guy. Sure, I had to lie on top of it to close it, but once it was closed it was easy to move around, and I never worried about it breaking. Plus, it’s so cute.

I actually used my leather diaper bag as my carry-on and put a small crossbody bag inside for day-to-day exploring. This was a great setup to accommodate airport travel and regular day-to-day needs.

Other tips

I might sound like an 80-year old, but I just put Apple Pay on my phone. It made checking out 10 times faster in the airport, coffee runs, etc. 

I regret not purchasing a portable charger. I highly recommend getting one so you don’t have to hunt for outlets in the airport. 

Also, I forgot a refillable water bottle. Big mistake. Huge. Bring one with you, or buy one and continue to fill it. 

The day before departure, you will receive an updated weather report for any last-minute changes. 

Time to go!

My husband and I arrived at the airport without peeking in our envelope (by the grace of God alone). Once we arrived, we parked the car, made our last and final guesses, and opened up our envelope. 

This was so worth the wait. Our location was one of my guesses, but it was still SO FUN! The packet included our location, an itinerary of our flights and hotel, and a very comprehensive list of the best dining, attractions, shows, transportation, etc. My Type A self was Googling and circling my top things to do while we waited to board the plane. It was the perfect amount of surprise but also flexibility. 

On the trip

Our packet had a few pre-planned activities for us. We had dinner reservations made for each night we were on the trip. The recommendations were excellent, and they allowed us to fill in activities in between. Our hotel location was smack in the middle of everything, which was perfect. We could get everywhere by walking or the train. 

Chicago fulfilled nearly every request I had on my trip survey. Lots of places for great dining and drinking with places to explore on foot, mild weather, and opportunities for both adventure and relaxation. 

Highlights and Lowlights 

To summarize the whole experience, I made a list of my favorite parts and not so favorite parts.

The Pros

  • The surprise. It was really fun to guess, and I didn’t have to have the internal war of where we would go.
  • They chose a place that had great public transportation.
  • They provide a huge number of options for dining, entertainment, and a great background about the city. 
  • I hate having to scavenge for flight and hotel deals, so I loved that it was taken care of for me.
  • The customer service and response team are amazing. They are quick to help and available 24/7. They answered every question I had. 

The Cons

  • I did not put enough details on the travel survey. They said not to be shy, and I did not think I was, but as a non-seasoned traveler, I definitely should have taken some details into account. 
  • Not that it was Pack Up & Go’s fault, but Chicago was expensive. So in addition to the hotel and flights we paid for through PU&G, we spent a lot while we were there. 
  • The hotel where we stayed was nice, but our room was quite small. My husband and I literally had to let the other one pass in front of us in parts of the room. 

I am so glad I did this experience. If I did it again, I would likely book a girls’ trip or something similar. Overall, I give the experience an A-. 

Jessica is a marketing manager who loves bopping around Lafayette for the best burgers or bands in town. She is a full-time marketing strategist with a passion for storytelling. She and her husband Chris have two littles at home (Jane and Clark) where there is lots of giggling and always a cup of coffee brewing. Jessica is passionate about community-building and empowering working mothers. She is a board member for Downtown Lafayette Unlimited and the Lafayette Re-Entry Coalition, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette, and a survivor of being a mother of 2 under 2.