Going On A Surprise Holiday: My Experience

I went on a surprise holiday and this is what it’s like!

Holiday planning can sometimes be a little overwhelming. There are so many great destinations on my bucket list… Which one will I tackle next? And what if I am missing out on some fantastic destinations just because I never considered them?

Taking the leap and going on a surprise holiday may be just the right option for you! Even though I’m an absolute control freak when it comes to travel planning (Uhm… hello, have you seen my itineraries?), stepping out of my comfort zone isn’t something I’m very unfamiliar with – plus, it seemed like a cool experience to have! That’s why I went on a surprise holiday with ATO Tours, who specialize in these types of trips.

Disclaimer: This surprise holiday was sponsored by ATO tours, all views are my own

How do surprise holidays work?

Whether you’re feeling spontaneous or you really can’t be bothered with hours of travel planning: the surprise holiday is one to consider. You don’t have to worry about picking the destination, picking the hotel, or even the budget. ATO Tours take care of that for you.

When booking a surprise trip with ATO Tours, you start by filling out a simple questionnaire. In here, you set the dates you want to travel, the place of departure, your budget (which is the price you’ll pay, no extras!), if you wish to travel by plane or train, any holiday features you want, and anything you’d like to avoid.

Usually, ATO Tours will send you the final itinerary, tickets, and hotel confirmations seven days before your departure. This way, it’s still a surprise, but it gives you enough time to read up on the destination and make sure you don’t miss out on anything due to lack of time. If you want the “full-surprise” experience, you can let them know, and your destination will remain a secret until right before your departure!

My surprise holiday

As mentioned before, I’m quite particular when it comes to planning my trips. Especially as travel blogging is my job, I want to make sure I make the most of my trips. So giving full control to someone else when it came to where I was going to spend two nights was… something entirely out of my comfort zone!

I filled out the questionnaire and decided I was going for two nights in early March, somewhere with culture and sightseeing, around 20 degrees. Preferably somewhere I hadn’t written about yet. I quickly received an email back saying that everything had been set in motion!

As I booked my surprise trip in December, it left me with three months of daydreaming and wondering where they were going to send me. It got me even more excited to find out! I was telling people about my surprise trip, and they started guessing with me. “What if they send you to Vienna? That’d be fab!” “Or maybe Oslo?” “Somewhere in Germany?

Then the day came where I found out where I was going. As I did want to plan what I was going to see, I opted to find out seven days before my departure. As mentioned before, you can also wait until the very last minute to find out if you prefer.

My surprise trip was going to take me to… LISBON!

I received an email with my surprise destination, flight tickets, hotel confirmation, a culture pass for my city trip, and tons of extra handy information (things to do and how to get to the hotel). I actually got a little nervous before opening the email, cause I honestly had no idea where I would be going!

And Lisbon was such a fantastic surprise! I had never been to Portugal before, and Lisbon had never even crossed my mind. Even though I had heard great things about the city but never had I considered going there myself. I also really liked that I found out a week before leaving because it felt like the perfect balance between a surprise and still giving me enough control to plan my trip.

A week later, I left early in the morning for my first ever trip to Lisbon. The extra information sent to me by ATO Tours about how to get to the hotel from the airport was incredibly handy and saved me a lot of time. I also picked up the Lisboa Card from the airport after arriving, which was included in my surprise holiday package (and saved me a lot of money visiting the sights!).

The hotel itself was fantastic, too. I don’t think I could have picked a better hotel myself. Located on Rossio Square, close to the metro, and with a room looking out over the square – it was perfect.

ATO Tours also sent me recommendations on what to do in the city, which helped me plan my two days in Lisbon correctly. Lisbon, along with its 20 degrees sunrays (compared to rainy, gloomy Manchester in March), absolutely blew my mind too. It is such a stunning city with so many beautiful sights to see. I was almost embarrassed that I had never considered visiting before!

2 day lisbon itinerary

What did I think?

This whole experience has been absolutely incredible! It felt really liberating to completely let go of the destination and hotel picking process and just go-with-the-flow. Especially looking back at how much fun I had exploring a city that I had never even considered visiting (shame on me, I know!).

The fact that I experienced three months of growing excitement about finding out where I would be going, topped off by one week of even more excitement after finding out the destination was fantastic. It’s been unlike any booking and planning experience I’ve ever had, and it’s something I would absolutely love to do again in the future.

Even if you’re a bit of a control-travel-freak (like *moi*), a surprise trip can be such a fun and liberating experience. After the fantastic experience I had, I would highly recommend it to anyone.


How do I pack for a surprise holiday?

If you’re worried about packing for a surprise trip, ATO Tours give you the perfect balance between surprise and preparation as they will tell you the destination seven days before your departure. This way, you can pack accordingly.

You can also set the preferred temperature when filling out the questionnaire when booking your surprise trip, which will help too.

What do I do when there is a specific destination I don’t want to go to?

In the last section of the questionnaire, you can add some “no-gos”. Here, you can add up to three destinations you really want to avoid.

How much does a surprise holiday cost?

When booking with ATO Tours, you can set your own budget for your surprise trip. This way, you only pay what you want and they will plan your trip according to your budget.

Can I book a surprise trip as a present for someone?

Of course! You can book a surprise trip as a present for someone – just make sure they are available and have their information needed for buying tickets.

When will my surprise destination be revealed?

ATO Tours will reveal your surprise destination seven days before the departure day. This way, you have the perfect balance between the surprise and having enough information to plan your trip accordingly.

If you want it to be a surprise until the last minute, that’s also possible – just let them know!

Book your own surprise trip

To book your own surprise, head over to ATO Tours website, and fill out the questionnaire. They will get in touch and will plan the perfect mystery trip for you.

Going on a surprise trip with them is definitely something I’d like to do again in the future!

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