The thought of being able to turn up at the airport and book a plane ticket to a random exotic destination now seems an abstract ideal of times past. Even before Covid had disrupted travelling experiences, the ever-increasing popularity of cheap short-haul flights which sell out months in advance have made a spontaneous holiday virtually impossible.
Yet in recent years the creation of a new holiday package has gained widespread attention in attempting to replicate the lost joy of unplanned travel – the ‘Mystery Holiday’, where holiday-seekers pay travel firms to arrange an all-inclusive break at a surprise destination.
After Covid it wouldn’t be unreasonable to predict a surge in popularity for these types of packages – leaving the country for a surprise trip without the stress of booking anything seems incredibly appealing after the dreary monotony of home life. Companies such as Wowcher have already begun to advertise for the Summer 2021 holiday season, tempting travellers with potential breaks to cities all over Europe but also further afield to New York or Thailand.
It is clear that these packages have been conceived to combat the sense of information overload that many of us suffer from when booking a holiday. The Internet provides us with a wealth of knowledge about any destination, consequently reducing the mystery and excitement associated with travelling to a new place. Although the thought of not knowing where I would be going until the day of the flight fills my Type A personality with a sense of dread, it would definitely be a welcome change, forcing me to ditch the methodical plan and take the time to connect with a destination without endlessly reflecting on its ‘must-see’ sites.
The package’s unpredictability offers another advantage for those departing on group holidays with family or friends. Why spend weeks endlessly bickering over where to go or what to do when these companies will do all the hard work for you?
However, with further research into customer reviews these deals could certainly be too good to be true. Wowcher’s £99 offer for a mystery holiday weekend would seem incredibly enticing for adventure-seekers on a budget, yet unsatisfied customers have labelled the package a ‘scam’ due to the company’s tendency to upsell clients. Despite the guarantee of a full weekend, many customers are actually given late departing flights and early morning return flights, meaning they would have far less time in their destination than initially promised. Those wanting a full weekend are often pressured to pay more for more convenient tickets, so these seemingly cheap holidays run the risk of accumulating a greater cost. The hotels booked by the company additionally may not live up to customers’ standards and expectations, and claims that the packages are a ‘cheap deal’ could be incredibly misleading, as customers have found websites listing flights to the same destination for a much lower price.
The popularity of these packages shows that customers are willing to pay companies to relieve them of the obligation to plan ahead, and these promises are clearly delivered as you are always sent to a spontaneous mystery destination. Nevertheless, the possibility of being forced to pay a greater sum of money than expected could dampen the thrill of your break. When Covid restrictions are lifted, why not replicate these ‘mystery holidays’ at a lower price? By ditching the guidebook and forgetting about the Internet, you can embrace the true spirit of travel through a deeper connection with the culture and history of your destination.
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