Traveler's Test

How to plan a surprise (birthday) trip in less than 30 minutes

How to plan a surprise (birthday) trip in less than 30 minutes

5 unusual birthday traditions around the world to steal for your party
Four practical handmade travel gift ideas
Oh, no! It’s raining on my birthday! What should I do now?

The challenge: organize the perfect surprise trip in less than 30 minutes

Organizing a cool surprise trip as a gift looks like a big hassle, but it’s totally doable in less than an hour. Just stick to this guide and avoid all distractions, please!

  1. Choose the topic [2 minutes] – you shouldn’t need more than a minute to decide what your friend (wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, dad, etc.) is most into. Animals? Consider visiting a farm or an epic zoo, or booking a nature safari. Wine? Find the best winery offer tastings in the region.
  2. Choose the destination [20 minutes] – there’s no need to browse through thousands of properties – the fact that it’s a surprise will make the experience special anyway. Google something like ‘the best places for animal lovers in X destination’. Choose the main attraction of the trip. Then choose a hotel or guesthouse nearby. Don’t close any of the tabs with the destinations you’ve chosen and then…
  3. Make sure the birthday boy/girl has no other plans for the day. Then proceed to the booking [3 minutes] – make a casual call to ask your friend if they have already planned something for their birthday, using the excuse that your colleagues are inviting you to go to the theater on the same day. Don’t reveal that you are planning something. If the answer is ‘no’, proceed to booking. If the answer is ‘yes’, try to get an idea of what it is and who is invited. I’ve reached such levels of plan sophistication that I called every single guest to tell them the birthday would actually take place at another place and time, and they should keep the secret and pretend to be attending the event organized by the birthday person. It worked perfectly well.
  4. Send a mysterious invitation [5 minutes] – use free online software (like Canva or BeFunky) to create an fancy invitation. Include only this information: when and where the person should be and what they should bring. If you are taking them to a warm place, include flip-flops and sunglasses in the to-bring list. If it will be a wine tasting, you can ask them to bring aspirin. You’re done! Now wait until the birthday when you can…
  5. Blindfold them for extra suspense – just when they think the mystery will finally be over, add some more anticipation by blindfolding them and playing their favorite songs while you arrive. Unless you need to board a plane. Unfortunately you can’t sneak a blindfolded person onto a plane…
  6. Surprise!


…add a spa treatment for two or a dinner at a rooftop restaurant to make it more memorable.


…book a bungee jump, a skydive or ride on horseback in the wilderness.


…because kids like surprises too. In fact, every trip is a trip full of surprises when you travel with kids (at least for you) because you can never know when little Jimmy will spill a whole plate of spaghetti on his sister’s head, while using the tablecloth at the restaurant as a cape. So just look up the best children’s activity nearby and bring the kids’ favorite toys and games. Kids are also usually happy to join in everything the adults do – if you let them. My friend’s daughter went paragliding for the first time when she was five years old, and she even asked to go for a second time.

Pin it because you will have friends with birthdays, like, every year:

Discover more gift ideas here: 52 best gifts that are actually unforgettable experiences


  • comment-avatar

    I would love for someone to do this for me! I think I’m the one who would appreciate it the most 😛

  • comment-avatar

    My hubby has a birthday in February and I am thinking of a bday trip but the one I was hoping for seems a bit too expensive. Great tips in here, I’ll definitely follow some to surprise him.

  • comment-avatar

    Wow! Very interesting post and equally helpful. I like the idea of mysterious invitation and blindfolding. And adding surprises to the trip like a romantic spa or a thrilling adventure is definitely the icing on the cake. I’m going to try these tips and tricks for my spouse’s birthday. Thanks for sharing this post! 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Nina Danielle 2 years ago

    This is such a sweet idea! I would LOVE if someone surprised me with tickets to the spa… not even a trip, just the one in my city! Trips and experiences make the best gifts.

  • DISQUS: 0