Frequently Asked Questions
How much will this cost?
Our mystery trips start at $1,500 for one person (basic 3-day domestic trip with airfare and hotel) or $2,000 for two people (basic 3-day domestic trip with airfare and hotel), but beyond that, the cost of your adventure is entirely up to you. We plan customized getaways to your specifications and your budget. If you’re unsure how much to budget for your trip, see the question below about example trips and budgets.
What costs will my budget cover?
What it includes: Your travel budget will always include airfare, accommodations, and our small service fee. If an in-destination transportation need is essential to your trip (such as a rental car or train between cities) and/or a guidebook is available, we include those costs in your budget as well. If you would like activities planned for you, we offer this as an add-on service; you may need to add extra money to your budget to account for those costs.
What it doesn’t include: The budget you provide to us does not include checked baggage fees, souvenir shopping, and in-destination costs like taxis, food, and activity/sightseeing charges, so you will need to account for that spending separately.
While the vast majority of your budget goes to your trip costs, we take a small service fee out of the total ($300 minimum or 7-15 percent of the total trip cost, depending on the size of your trip).
Can you tell me about some example trips and budgets?
Trip costs depend on a variety of factors, including number of travelers, dates, trip length, originating airport, and hotel preferences. Because of this, it’s difficult to predict a precise amount for every possible scenario. However, here are some examples of what some typical budgets have purchased in the past:
$1,500 (basic domestic weekend trip for 2 people or long weekend for 1)
Previous examples: a September weekend in Savannah for a couple from Connecticut; an October weekend in New Orleans for a couple from Dallas; and a September long weekend in Toronto for a solo traveler from Washington, D.C.
$2,000-$2,500 (long weekend or 5-day trip for 1-2 people)
Previous examples: a June long weekend trip to Chicago for a couple from Seattle; a 5-day December trip to Sedona for a couple from Los Angeles; a January long weekend trip to Puerto Rico for a solo traveler from Texas; and a 5-day July trip to San Diego for a couple from New Jersey.
$3,000-$3,500 (budget all-inclusive trip for 2, longer domestic trip for 2, short group trip, or week-plus solo international trip)
Previous examples: 7-day spring all-inclusive trips to Riviera Maya and the Dominican Republic for two couples from New Hampshire; an 8-day Oregon honeymoon in May for a couple from Ohio; July 4 long weekend trips to Austin and Miami for a group of three from Madison and a group of four friends from Illinois, respectively; a June long weekend trip to New Mexico for a family of 6 from Atlanta; a 7-day December trip to Copenhagen for a solo traveler from Memphis; and a 7-day spring trip to Amsterdam for a solo traveler from California.
$4,000-$5,000 (more luxurious and/or longer trips for 2, longer/multi-stop international solo trips)
Previous examples: 7-day December trip to Jamaica for a couple from Connecticut; a 7-day October trip to St. Lucia for a couple from New Jersey; a 10-day summer California road trip for a couple from Virginia; a 5-day trip to Bermuda for two sisters from the D.C. area; an 8-day multi-stop trip to Scotland in April for a couple from Minnesota; a 10-day, multi-stop August Portugal trip for a solo traveler from NYC; and a 13-day multi-stop July trip to Eastern Europe for a solo traveler from Maryland.
$6,000-$8,000 (more options for luxury, trip length, destination choice, and # of people)
Previous examples: a 5-day October bachelor party in Mexico for a 6-person group from Texas; 10-to-12-day, multi-stop summer and fall honeymoons in Spain, Italy, and France for couples from Ohio, New Hampshire, and Canada; a 10-day December trip to Belize for a couple from Nevada; and a 9-day early summer trip to Costa Rica for a family of 3 from Ohio.
$10,000+ (more travelers, business or first class airfare, longer trips, big international rush trips, and still more options for destination choice, luxury, and trip length)
Previous examples: a 6-day spring break trip to the Canadian Rockies for a group of 8 from D.C. and Atlanta; a two-week trip to London and Paris for a couple from California; and a last-minute trip to Europe for a couple from Florida.
How will you determine my destination?
The first step in the process is you completing our mystery travel survey, which includes questions about your budget, travel dates, previous travel experiences, and other preferences and parameters. Using that information (and any other details ascertained from follow-up questions/conversations), we’ll research a variety of destinations and options to plan a trip that fits your specifications. We rely on the information you provide, so be as thorough as you can!
Why would I want to go to an unknown destination?
Great question! Maybe you have a great sense of adventure and want a unique experience. Maybe you hate travel planning or don’t have time for it. Or maybe you find the plethora of information and websites on travel deals, recommendations, and reviews to be overwhelming. Here are some of the reasons our travelers have told us they opted for—and enjoyed—mystery travel:
- It prevented them from stressing out and overplanning their trip because they couldn’t research it in advance.
- It ended family/friend squabbles about where to go because the decision was out of everyone’s hands.
- It allowed them to experience a destination they never would have thought of on their own.
- It gave them a chance to simply relax, be present, and enjoy the destination in a different way because all of the arrangements were taken care of.
- It was a chance to capture the magic of a surprise that we so rarely experience as adults!
How much time do you need to plan my trip?
Customized mystery trip planning takes time, so we ask that you give us at least 8 weeks’ notice in advance of your departure date (although the more time, the better). If you need a getaway and don’t have as much notice, we always do our best to accommodate shorter timeframes. However, this is subject to staff availability, and rush trips do incur rush fees (see below) because it’s more difficult to pull together an individually-customized trip on short notice.
Less than 8 weeks – $75
4 weeks or less – $150
2 weeks or less – $250
Do you plan activities at my mystery destination?
Because many of our travelers prefer to make their plans themselves upon arrival in their destination, we offer this as an add-on service for a $25-per-activity/meal service fee (this does not cover the cost of the activities themselves—for sample activity costs, see below). If you opt in for this service, we will send you an additional short survey to gather more information on your activity/meal reservation preferences. If you opt to skip this service, don’t worry—our standard service includes providing some suggestions, guidance, and/or resources on where to eat and what to see and do in your destination.
Activity costs range from free walking tours to all-day wine tasting excursions. Here are some example per-person estimates to help guide your budgeting:
- Walking tours: $25-$50
- Food/beer tours: $60-$75
- Multi-stop wine tours: $150+
- Partial-day sightseeing tours: $50-$100
- Full-day sightseeing tours: $60-$150+
- Spa treatments: $75-$100 minimum for 30-minute massage
- Sporting event tickets: $35-$150+
- Theater or concert tickets: $35-$150+
- Museum/historical site admission: $15-$50
- Athletic activity (such as ziplining or kayaking): $50-$75
How will I find out where I’m going?
A day or two before your departure, you will receive your travel reveal packet, which contains everything you need to know for your trip, including a destination guide, flight details, accommodations information, and any other material on activities or meal reservations you opted to have pre-booked. To get the full mystery trip experience, we recommend waiting until you get to the airport to open your packet (although of course this is up to you!).
What do I pack?
A week before you leave, we’ll email you a pre-departure update that includes a weather report for your destination and a suggested packing list. If there are any specific items you’ll need to bring—such as your swimsuit, athletic gear, or your passport (important!)—we’ll include it in the list.
Can I use my frequent flyer miles or other travel rewards?
Unfortunately, no. Using miles or points connected to your personal account means we can’t guarantee your destination will remain a secret, and award travel availability can limit the dates and destination options for your trip.
When do I pay? What payment methods do you accept?
Once we receive your survey and confirm that you’re ready to move forward, we send you an invoice for your full trip payment (total budget). We have to charge the entire amount upfront because we need to be able to book and pay for your flights, accommodations, and other arrangements as soon as your trip plan is finalized. Travel pricing is volatile, and delays increase the chance that we will miss out on the quoted price that we’ve found for you. If we don’t need to spend your entire budget (and this happens frequently!), we will issue you a refund for the unspent funds.
We accept payments either through credit card or ACH. If you would like to pay in installments, please let us know and we can invoice you through PayPal, where you can apply for PayPal Credit. This gives you the option to pay your total trip payment over a 6-month period. (Subject to credit approval; click here for more details.)
How do I know your payment system is secure?
We use two secure systems called Stripe and Plaid to accept both credit cards and ACH payments. Magical Mystery Tours never sees your login information, passwords, or banking/credit card information. These sites will not work if there’s something about your connection that is not secure. You can also double check the links to read more about their privacy policies and understand how they work.
How do I know how you’re spending my money?
We understand that you’re trusting us to spend your hard-earned vacation money well, and we don’t take that lightly. We pride ourselves on spending your money wisely. We have found that most people trust us and are comfortable enjoying their trip without agonizing over the financial details, but you are more than welcome to request receipts for purchases made on your behalf after your trip is complete.
What happens if I need to cancel?
We know that life can sometimes throw some unexpected things your way. If you need to cancel or reschedule your trip, we will assist you in securing any refunds and/or travel credits you are owed by airlines, hotels, and any other suppliers and vendors. Where applicable, these refunds and/or travel credits will be retained as travel credit with Magical Mystery Tours to be used to rebook your trip at a later date. You will remain responsible for any cancellation fees imposed by the suppliers and vendors. In addition, you will remain responsible for payment of Magical Mystery Tours’ service fee(s) for the work done to research, plan, and book your trip, as well as seek any applicable refunds on your behalf in the case of cancellation.
Can you tell my boss/babysitters/dog/etc where I’ll be going ahead of time?
Sure! It’s your trip, so you decide what works best for you. If you need someone at home to know where you’ll be, we’re happy to tell them. Just be sure they can be trusted to keep a secret!
Do you plan honeymoons? Do you do honeymoon registries?
We love honeymoons! Our founder, Denise, even did a mystery honeymoon of her own and guarantees that your wedding guests will love being in on the mystery of guessing your destination. If you’d like your guests to have the option of contributing toward your trip, mention this in your questionnaire and we’ll be in touch to determine the best way to make this happen.
I’m traveling with friends; can we pay separately?
Sure! It doesn’t matter to us. Just let us know and we’ll invoice you separately. We just need an email address for each person.
What if I don’t want to go where you send me?
We can honestly say we’ve never sent someone to a place that we wouldn’t like to go! We do everything we can to pick a destination that checks the boxes on your trip wish list, and you can help by filling us in on places you wouldn’t want to go when you fill out your questionnaire (i.e. you travel to Chicago for work monthly, you used to live in Colorado, you already have a trip to Italy planned for next year, or you’d hate to end up in Toronto since you’d be stuck visiting a long-lost cousin). Ultimately, though, a mystery trip is about the adventure and unique experience of embracing something new and unexpected. Please give your destination a chance—we promise we thoughtfully picked it for you because we think you’ll love it!
Wait, Magical Mystery Tours—isn’t that a Beatles song? Are you connected to the Beatles tour in Liverpool?
When we planned our first mystery vacation, we had no idea it would turn into a successful business. While not connected to the Beatles, from the start we thought “Magical Mystery Tour” was the perfect name for the trips we were planning, so it’s what we coined our new idea. Fast forward a few years and we’re the proud owners of the trademark “Magical Mystery Tours!” (And though we’re not associated with any prepackaged Beatles tours, we’re happy to book one for you on any mystery trip or traditional trip to England!)
This mystery travel thing is interesting, but I don’t think it’s for me. Will you work with me to plan a trip where I know where I’m going?
Of course! While we love the suspense and mystery of showing up at the airport to head off to an unknown destination, we are also happy to offer traditional travel planning services and assist you with the arrangements for a destination you select (or help you choose one!).