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Mystery Traveler Q&A: Ulisa Bowles

Ever wondered if mystery travel is for you? Read on to hear about Ulisa’s mystery trip experience—and check out the other installments in our Mystery Traveler Q&A series to find out about Ariana and Brett’s mystery long weekend, Cheryl’s mystery birthday trip, Dave and Jaclyn’s mystery honeymoon, Tony Austin’s mystery Memorial Day weekend getaway, and Felix and Sarah’s mystery trip with active travel company Backroads.

For Ulisa’s first solo vacation, she decided to make the whole adventure a surprise and was both nervous and excited. When she showed up to the Raleigh airport in late May, she opened her packet to discover she was off to…Curaçao! [Editor’s note: I was delighted to get an email from Ulisa when she was at the airport titled “OMG!” and saying how she couldn’t stop smiling and talking to people around her about the experience. We love hearing from our travelers!]

IMG_0344MMT: What inspired you to try mystery travel?
Ulisa: In March, I decided that I wanted to do a solo vacay…for me, this was a super big deal, as this would be a first-time experience. Now, once the decision was made, the ominous question was “Where?” So, like most overwhelming life decisions, I looked to Facebook for the answer! I posted my solo vacay intention, and literally in minutes I started receiving all kinds of solo vacay suggestions. However, it was the Magical Mystery Tour suggestion that caught my eye. I searched the name, went to the site, chatted with my assigned travel consultant, Katie, and the rest, they say, is history!

Solo travel is on the rise! How was the solo travel experience for you?
The overall experience, from beginning to end, was simply amazing. It felt so incredibly awesome to be committed to doing something so adventurous. While traveling, it was very liberating to just simply do what I wanted to do…with the only consideration being that I wanted to make sure that I maximized every single moment of my time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am an extrovert, so I love the energy, vibe, and company of others, but this mystery trip was an adventure that I needed to do for myself and by myself!

What were your destination guesses? Was it difficult to wait to know where you were going?
Funny, I tried not to guess, AND I told my family, friends, and coworkers that I did not want to hear their guesses either. I absolutely did not want them to ruin any part of my surprise. Now, with that being said, I secretly thought that I was probably going to Cancun. (Shhh, I would never admit that!) Needless to say, I was absolutely overwhelmed when I opened my envelope. As for the waiting…I sooo wanted to experience ALL that the mystery vacation entailed, so waiting until I got to the airport to open my packet was a no-brainer. Furthermore, I love surprises way too much to have spoiled it for myself!

Were you completely surprised when you opened your packet? What was going through your mind as you started toward your plane?
Surprised? That just does not adequately describe how I felt. I was completely and utterly blown away, to say the least. My mother was on the phone with me—she insisted that I call her when I got to the airport so that we could open the envelope “together”…mind you, it was about 4:30 a.m., but I digress—and she, too, was blown away. I kept thinking, “I can’t believe that I am going to the Dutch Caribbean! OMG, I’m sooo excited!” Needless to say, my excitement was palpable, and as I sat and waited to board, everyone around got an earful about my solo mystery vacay! By the way, taking a mystery vacation is a GREAT conversation starter!

Tell me about your trip! What did you do, see, eat?
My trip! The island of Curaçao was gorgeous! First, my lodging was amazing. LOVED IT! I stayed at a Marriott property (which was perfect—I’m a platinum member!) and was literally located within walking distance to shops, foods, and culture. I stayed five days and 4 nights, and in that time, my solo vacay was filled with activities, including visiting a Sea Aquarium (and letting a dolphin kiss my cheek—I have the pictures to prove it!), touring an ostrich farm, experiencing a glass-bottom boat for the first time, dinner at sunset by the pool, and a tour that took me all across the island.IMG_0307

What surprised or excited you most about the mystery travel experience?
What surprised me most was the feeling of empowerment and confidence that I felt while I was away. The fact that I traveled outside of the U.S. by myself STILL amazes me! And honestly, that’s why those feelings still resonate with me today. And most importantly, why I am already thinking about doing this again next year.

Do you have any advice for other travelers considering a mystery trip?

  • Be open to something different! This was the motivating factor as to why I chose a mystery trip.
  • If you are still a little hesitant, schedule a chat with your travel consultant. I did this, and I loved being able to speak directly to Katie. She answered all of my questions, and I left our conversation convinced that she would create the best personalized experience just for me!
  • If you want to travel outside of the country, make sure that your passport is up-to-date.
  • Although the mystery vacation IS a mystery, be very clear about where you DON’T want to go. You can definitely note this on the questionnaire.
  • Once you get the mystery vacay bill via PayPal, don’t delay in paying it. Although I only waited less than 24 hours, my flight price still increased.
  • When you get there, maximize your trip to the fullest! Whether it’s reading a book on the beach, hiking, or taking a local tour, create memories for yourself, just like I did!
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