Mystery Trips: All the Fun, None of the Hard Work, No Idea Where You’re Going
By Samantha Butts
Oftentimes planning a trip is the most grueling part. You have to research places to stay, eat, and visit.
This part isn’t always bad, but sometimes it would be nice to not have to worry about all the details of your trip. Planning a vacation has become a long and often difficult process to do alone.
Travel agencies and tour companies are great for organizing trips with ease. However, there is a more exciting option that requires almost no planning on your part: mystery trips.
Mystery trips are not only planned for you, but they also create a sort of suspense for the traveler. For the journey to their location, the traveler never knows where they are going.
New England Coach Mystery Trips
New England Coach offers a variety of tours that suit your needs. They offer retail tours which are open to the public and private pre-formed tours for groups. The tours can be one-day trips or multi-day trips.
One tour, in particular, stands out against the rest. New England Coach’s mystery trips are its fastest and most popular tours according to Belinda Grace-Leonard, Vice President and co-owner of the company.
“Honestly, it’s something that would never sell on a piece of paper,” said Grace-Leonard. “It’s something that people have never heard about or have never done.”
The mystery trips give New England Coach the opportunity to give people an experience that they wouldn’t normally know about. The company wants to give people unique experiences that they may not sign up for on their own.
Keeping it a Secret
“It’s all about the surprise,” said Grace-Leonard. “We don’t tell them anything about the tour until we’re on tour.”
If you’re concerned about what to pack, don’t be. For the mystery trips, New England Coach makes sure to send you a packet of information that does not reveal too much about the tour. The packet informs you of what the temperatures are going to be and gives slight clothing suggestions.
The tour company may give some clues and hints, but only once on the road, and you are never going to know more than one stop ahead. Some people attempt to trick information out of the tour leaders, but they never give in.
What is included?
What you pay, which varies for each trip, includes a few amenities.
Your transportation is always included. Along with breakfast and oftentimes lunch and dinner. All attractions and hotels are included. Tour managers and sometimes guides are also included in the upfront cost.
What to expect on a Mystery Trip?
Everything with New England Coach revolves around group travel, so you can always expect to be with other travelers excited to discover something new. The tour managers work to get everyone involved and make sure everyone is enjoying their trip.
Grace-Leonard, who both plans and creates the itineraries for the mystery trips, tries to stay away from heights or anything that might cause motion sickness.
This means that she usually steers clear from boats. She doesn’t want to have to give anything away to travelers, so tries not to book tours that would require special warnings.
With its trips, New England Coach’s goal “is putting together a great product and seeing the enjoyment that it brings to other people’s lives,” said Grace-Leonard.
Learning en Route
When going on mystery trips with New England Coach, you are sure to learn something new from your travels, whether it’s a fact from a museum you stopped at or something you learned from a local.
In the past, the mystery trips have taken travelers to a wolf sanctuary in Eastern Massachusetts, the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma, alpaca farms in Amish country, and so many more fun and exciting places that take you off the beaten road.
During the day, the tour group rented jeeps which they rode through the range allowing them to see the regrowing Bison population up-close.
Afterward, they retreated to a ranch in the park and got on a hay wagon along with a singing cowboy who serenaded them through the park. It was an experience you would not find anywhere else.
“The next tour is always my favorite tour,” said Grace-Leonard. “I truly never get tired of taking people to new places, even if I’ve been there multiple times.”
Christian Tours is a tour company that offers trips from one day to twenty-four days. The company offers international tours, cruises, and motorcoach tours.
All of the motorcoach tours depart from North or South Carolina, where the touring company is based.
Like New England Coach, Christian Tours offers mystery trips.
Grand Reunion Mystery Tour
Christian Tours has been offering the Grand Reunion Mystery Tour since the late 80s. The trips occur in November and usually last six to eight days.
“We try to keep it different and unique and not the same as our normal catalog tours or normal offerings,” said Heather Paul the customer service and personnel director for Christian Tours.
Paul said they try to have fun with their travelers on these trips, even the coach drivers get in on the fun. They might take a wrong turn somewhere or wait till the last moment to switch lanes to make the journey more exciting for the travelers.
In advance of the trip, Christian Tours gives their customers clothing suggestions and tells them the average temperature but that is all.
What is included and what to expect
“We normally feed them really well,” said Paul. Travel is often known for feeding people, Christian Tours’ mystery trip includes two meals a day that you would not want to miss.
The tour company’s annual trip also includes attractions, luggage handling, and the services of the driver and tour director.
During the mystery trip, you can expect to be up and out by 8 a.m. and usually done for the day around 6 p.m. with dinner following shortly after. Some nights there may be evening entertainment.
Christian Tours is family-friendly and aims to make people feel safe, but the company also wants people to experience something new that they cannot get from the usual catalog.
During last year’s reunion tour, Paul recounts that they did the Grafton Skytour, which took them on a gondola ride up to the top of a small mountain. They were able to have a unique dinner on top of the mountain at Aerie’s Resort in Grafton, Illinois.
Mystery trips are a new and exciting way to travel. They offer the best of traveling and exploring without the hassle of having to plan the trip yourself.