One week and a whole lot of mystery later, I’m home and getting back into my routine after our Pack Up & Go trip. After several months of waiting, I can’t believe it’s over. But I’m already plotting my next adventure. I read quite a few articles when I first discovered the mystery travel agency. So I thought I’d share my experience. Everything from the amazing to the extremely picky is included in today’s Pack Up & Go review. Let’s get started!
What is Pack Up & Go?
First things first, what am I even talking about? Pack Up & Go is a travel agency that plans 3 day 2 night vacations with a twist. You pick your budget, the city want you to leave from, how you’d like to travel (car, train, plane) and when you want to go. But they pick your destination. And it’s only in the USA.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
There are several budget options available. Depending on how many people you have in your group, there are options for as low as $450 a person (car) or $650 (plane/train). You’re required to book at least 4 weeks in advance. However, if you know when you want to travel, I’d suggest booking as soon as possible. They are growing in popularity and may already be too full to take your trip on.
You pay up front for the cost of the trip. If you’re traveling with a group, you should know that only one person can pay for the trip. So be prepared to pay your friend(s) back. They also offer travel insurance and will send you quotes.
WHICH TRIP DID WE PICK?
We opted for the plane trip with a budget of $750 per person. We also opted for travel insurance and that worked out to be about $30 a person. Because our airport is smaller and tends to have flights that range from $300-400, we wanted to make sure we weren’t limited with a $650 budget. Plus, we figured that if nothing else it would go towards a nicer hotel.
What does the budget cover?
The cost per person covers your plane & hotel fares. If there’s any additional left over, they will use it towards something they think you might like or find useful. But I think we pretty much maxed ours out.
WHERE DID WE GO?
We went to Washington DC!
HOW DID THEY PICK WASHINGTON DC FOR US?
When you book your trip, they ask you lots of questions. Everything from previous travel to things you prefer to do are on the questionnaire. We’ve both lived in bigger cities (Birmingham, Atlanta, Tampa) so we made sure to include that info so we didn’t end up there. We also noted the places we’ve recently been or will be going in the next few months (Orlando, Nashville, St. Louis) so they wouldn’t send us there.
WHEN DO YOU FIND OUT WHERE YOU’RE GOING?
You’ll get a packet of info in the mail a few days before you leave. It includes where you’re going, a suggested itinerary and any other pertinent information. You are free to open it whenever you’d like to know. Some people wait until they get to the airport. We chose to open our packet the night before so we could make sure we had anything special packed we might want to shoot.
HOW DO YOU PACK FOR A TRIP WITHOUT KNOWING WHERE YOU’RE GOING?
Your travel agent will send you the weather for your trip a week before along with any packing notes. We were told that there was a lot of walking and the option for a rooftop pool. Personally, I’d suggest packing a pair of shoes you’d be comfortable with doing a lot of walking in no matter where you go. When I first read the note about walking, I didn’t think it would be at the level we did. So I ended up being happy we looked ahead of time.
HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY YOU’LL NEED WHEN YOU’RE THERE?
Because I went with one of my best friends, we know our spending habits pretty well. We’re both foodies and love a good meal. But we will also split food if we want to save funds. There’s only so much you can do in the window you’re given. So we decided to plan as though we’d end up in one of the few cities we knew we’d want to splash out more in (LA or NYC). Neither one of us wanted to feel like we couldn’t enjoy ourselves on our trip. I’d suggest keeping in mind the activities you’d like to do and budget around it.
If there are certain events (i.e. broadway shows or dinner theaters), I’d keep those in mind. And because you don’t know the location, I’d advise saving extra for transportation. We used lyft or walked while in DC and it worked great. But depending on where you go, you may want the extra budget for a rental car.
DO YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT’S ON THE ITINERARY?
Not at all. They give you tons of suggestions for things to do. However, it’s up to you how you choose to spend your time. We took a lot of things from the list and we also winged it when we felt like it. It’s nice not having to search for where to grab dinner or something you might like to do. So we mostly consulted our list and went from there. But it’s your trip so do what makes you happy!
WHAT DID I LIKE ABOUT IT?
Honestly I loved not having to plan anything. I never would have picked DC to go to again since I’ve been before. But we had such a blast. Our hotel was lovely and they made sure to leave a bottle of champagne in our room to celebrate my birthday. We told Pack Up & Go that was why we were going. We made friends with the rooftop bartender, Joseph, who told us about another awesome rooftop bar with an amazing view
Plus, Pack Up & Go suggested lots of places I’d never been before. The Museum of the Bible, Newseum & The International Spy Museum were all new to me. We ate lots of amazing food and saw some great places. It was a lot fun.
WHAT DIDN’T I LIKE ABOUT IT?
There really wasn’t much that I didn’t like about our trip. There were two things I’d note but neither are major. Our hotel had a nightly amenity fee that we didn’t know about and wasn’t covered ahead of time. We made sure to maximize on what they offered (wine hour in the lobby, fresh coffee in the mornings, etc.) so I think we got the most from it. But it wasn’t something I thought we would need to cover.
The other note isn’t really a dislike but something we found challenging. Inevitably, we felt like needed more time. With such a big city, we really needed one more full day to do all the things we wanted to do. We spent a full day traveling and a lot of the places we wanted to go closed at 5pm. So it limited what we were really able to see.
The morning of our trip, our plane had an issue. There was a brief time where we thought our flight was going to be delayed by an hour which would have caused us to miss our 2nd flight. As soon as we saw it, I called our Pack Up & Go travel agent Jordan to let her know. She was amazing. Super on it and ready to help find us alternatives within 5 minutes. We also reached out looking for later flights home and she was incredibly helpful. I can’t imagine a smoother trip or experience.
I also think it’s worth nothing what could be considered a downside to traveling with Pack Up & Go. The idea behind not planning .or stressing about a trip is amazing. But there is a chance you’ll end up in a city and not be able to snag tickets ahead of time if there’s something you really want to do. Our itinerary suggested a local comedy club we were really excited to try. But they were sold out. We made sure to book anything we thought we’d want to do as early as possible (dinner reservations). Nevertheless. there were a few things we would have done if we could have gotten tickets.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?
Absolutely, we had an amazing experience. If you are incredibly busy or just want to get away, I think it’s perfect for taking a trip without the stress. I also love that they took the time to find places they thought we would truly enjoy. And I really enjoyed everything we did. It’s something I’d love to do with my mom for a fun and stress free get away. So I definitely see myself using Pack Up & Go again.
DO I RECOMMEND IT?
Yes! There was not a single person I’ve spoken to about the trip that had heard about it before. So I’m excited to see more people go and have just as much fun as we did. No matter what you like to do, your dietary preferences or where you’ve been before, Pack Up & Go is sure to be a new experience. If you do go, tell them I sent you. We both might get a little bonus for it. 🙂