Surprise! We are going to (insert incredible destination here). Whether it ‘s a birthday, anniversary, or holiday gift, there are many reasons to plan a romantic surprise vacation for your significant other. Learn how to ensure success in 7 easy steps while you create everlasting memories. 

Imagine the look on your significant other when you reveal the surprise of a vacation to one of their bucket list destinations. Most likely, you will be giving them one of the best gifts they’ve ever received.

Many people prefer an activity or a trip as a gift rather than a material item. Your partner probably wants to travel more, but may have difficulty making the time to getaway. So, why not make it easy for them and plan a romantic surprise vacation as your next gift? Not only will they love it, but your relationship will also benefit from the bonding experience, and you’ll get a happiness boost during the planning process.

I’ve just experienced my first romantic surprise trip that my wife, Leslie, planned for almost an entire year to Yosemite National Park in California. I’ll share details of this incredible gift as well as the steps to take so you can plan a romantic surprise vacation.

7 Easy Steps Is All It Takes To Plan A Romantic Surprise Vacation

When you begin to plan a romantic surprise vacation it can seem very overwhelming. There are a lot of details to consider to ensure success. Depending on how big you want to go, the planning process will take some time as well. A weekend away at a bed and breakfast a few towns over may only take a few days of planning, but a trip overseas could take several months.

These 7 easy steps will provide a checklist and guide for you throughout the process. Don’t forget to come back and share your story after the trip to help guide others.

1. Timing is Everything

You’ll be able to figure out what works best for you fairly easily. Your partner’s schedule will be harder to predict. If you are lucky, you may have access to a shared calendar where you can see if any prior personal or work obligations might conflict. However, you still might not know every golf outing, work trip, baby shower or other events they may have planned in the upcoming months. 

Little White Lies Can’t Hurt 

This is where you need to put on your best poker face and play detective. When you come up with a few possible dates for the trip, ask questions to gauge if they might have any prior engagements. While I am not an advocate for lying in a relationship, this is a circumstance where telling a few white lies might be needed to pull off the surprise.

You can also come up with a cover story. For example, your friend will need some help moving or is having a party on a particular weekend, and you want to know if he or she can attend.

Recruit Some Help

Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of your partner’s work colleague or best friend. Your recruits will seem a lot less suspicious when asking questions about your partners plans a particular time of the year. I knew a co-workers wife who arranged everything with his boss for a surprise trip to Vegas for his birthday.  His wife showed up at lunch that he was having with his boss to celebrate the day and said, “Finish up lunch, we are going to Vegas baby!”  

Length of Trip 

How long to plan the trip for depends on your budget, the amount of time you can both take off, childcare needs and other factors. However, the trip can be great regardless of the length of time.

Our Experience

Leslie gave me the surprise trip as a birthday present, which fell this year on Memorial Day weekend. Being a long weekend, she knew we would have an extra day off. She also knew we had no big plans that weekend already booked.

To ensure, I didn’t plan anything she asked me not to book anything without running it by her first. By her doing that she did risk me knowing that something was being planned. I wasn’t confident we were going away, but I had a hunch. It was a risk Leslie was willing to take, and it worked out well because I was in constant suspense and greatly looking forward to what the weekend would deliver.

2. A World of Choices to Choose From

The dates you have picked out will now help determine the location. Some locations will be a better fit at certain times of the year. But, this also depends on your partner’s ideal dream vacation. Do they love skiing, surfing, or lounging on the beach? Remember this trip is a surprise for him or her. You shouldn’t pick a location you’ll be miserable at, but put their desires first when picking. 

Their Travel Bucket List

Have they always wanted to eat freshly made pasta in Rome after touring the Colosseum or watch the Seattle Seahawks score a touchdown? Listen throughout the year for hints on where they might want to go. Ask them about their travel bucket list.

Most likely you will have several potential destinations. The length of the trip, your budget, and time of the year will help you narrow down the list and decide on the perfect location to plan a romantic surprise vacation.

Our Experience

Leslie had a list of places she knew I wanted to visit based on our conversations starting back from our first date. Because the dates she picked only gave us four days, she needed to pick a destination that was either a short flight or drive away. Late May was perfect weather for an outdoor adventure, and she knew I wanted to do more hiking. Yosemite fit all of the criteria and was in her budget. 

3. The Little Details Can Make the Difference

Now that you have the dates and location picked out, it is time to start booking the other details of the trip. The first important detail is how you will get there and where you will stay. Check out our resources page for some help in this area. While these two big-ticket items are essential, it is the non-essential details that will truly make the trip special and allow you to add in some romance. 

Depending on your destination, it may be a good idea to make reservations for dinner, book a tour, get tickets to a live show, or plan for a romantic couples massage. Planning a few things in advance will allow you to slowly reveal surprises throughout the trip and keep the excitement going.

Leave Some Choices For Them

Make arrangements for anything you believe they’ll want to do that make be difficult to book without a reservation before the voyage. But, leave plenty of time open for them to choose what they want to see and do. 

Depending on your partner, it may be best to have some details planned but leave time open so they can decide on the specifics. They may have been planning a visit to the destination inside their heads for years and have an idea of what they really want to do. 

Our Experience

Leslie created an itinerary that included the details of how we would get there, where we would be staying, and reservations to a romantic dinner. But, knowing I love to plan and wanting me to choose the final details, she left the rest of the time open. She gave me two guidebooks and I had so much fun reading through and plotting the details during the car ride.

4. Overpacking May Be Applicable

You have three options:

1. You can pack entirely for them and make their packed luggage part of revealing the surprise.

2. You can tell them right before the trip, give them a list of needed items, and ask them to pack.

3. You can do a combo of the two.

If you go with the first choice and pack entirely for them, you’ll need to be smart and strategic about it to not to blow the surprise. Pack items slowly in the weeks or days leading up to the voyage, so they won’t notice a big chunk of their wardrobe missing. Also, hide the luggage well while you continuously add items to it.

You might want to overpack and not risk leaving anything important for their comfort or style behind. In one survey, women said they needed at least nine outfits for a short break. So remember to pack for them, not yourself. For example, you may only need to change your socks once a day, but you know they put on a new pair before going to dinner. If you know these small details, pack for it.

Don’t let it stress you out too much. Odds are you can pick up a toiletry or clothing item you may have forgotten at your destination. You can even make that part of the experience depending on the destination with a stop to a store and a mini shopping spree on you to buy a couple of extra clothing items for the trip.

Our Experience

Leslie went with option number three and did a combo of the two. She packed my luggage full of clothes for the trip to ensure I would have options for hiking in the day and dinner to restaurants at night. When she revealed the morning of our trip that we were indeed going away somewhere, she asked me to just pack my toiletries and any personal items I needed for the next four days like a book and cell phone charger.

5. Be Careful Who You Trust

The more people you share your plans with, the greater potential there is for the surprise to be spoiled. People love sharing exicting news, so the few people you do tell may quickly multiply. Also, accidents can happen and someone may reveal the surprise to your partner unintentionally. 

Be careful when you plan a romantic surprise vacation how you book the trip as well. Don’t use a joint credit card or an email that will be getting weekly reminders that your partner may see. 

Our Experience

Leslie told few people about the trip and fewer people about the destination. Her plan for a romantic surprise trip was put in place almost a year before which could have resulted in someone ruining the surprise if she wasn’t careful. 

6. Get Creative When Revealing The Surprise

The reveal of the surprise vacation can be almost as fun as the vacation itself. Feel free to get as creative as you want. You can have them open a wrapped box that reveals the details of the trip, blindfold them on part of the drive, or show them their packed luggage as you call a taxi for the airport. There are countless ways you can do a very fun reveal of the surprise.

With some extra planning, the joy in your partner’s face and reaction will be well worth all the hard work you did to plan a romantic surprise trip. If you can, video their reaction when they find out about the surprise and create an everlasting memory you can play over and over.

Our Experience

When I woke up at 6 am Leslie presented me with my packed luggage, which told me, I was going somewhere. Since I already had a strong feeling we were the true surprise came from the reveal of the destination.  

When we got to the car, Leslie presented me with a hiking backpack and inside was two guidebooks of Yosemite National Park and an itinerary. It was so much fun, and such an awesome surprise to be clueless up until the reveal and then find out I was going to a dream location. 

While I am a little embarrassed to share this video, you can watch my reaction to the surprise here.

7. Have an Awesome time

Finally, we get to the easiest step, but just as important as the others. You put in a lot of time to plan a romantic surprise vacation. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the experience. Soak it all in, be in the moment, and take pictures to show friends and family.

Our Experience 

Read all about our romantic adventure in Yosemite National Park in an upcoming article. 

Final Thoughts

A surprise vacation is one of the best gifts you can give someone who loves travel.  Planning can be a lot of fun, but it can also be overwhelming and at times stressful. We hope these 7 easy steps to plan a romantic surprise vacation will help you ensure success. 

Your Thoughts

Did you ever plan a romantic surprise vacation for someone? How did it go? Are there any other steps you would recommend for someone planning?