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Ever Surprise Someone/Been Surprised With a Trip?

My MIL is turning 80 in a few weeks and we have been planning a surprise trip to Scotland for her since last summer.

My husband, SIL, BIL and I were visiting her this weekend and we had the four grandchildren on a video call yesterday for the big “reveal”. All of us were wearing custom made t-shirts (bagpiper on the front/map of Scotland with our itinerary on the back) under our sweaters and my SIL made a “flip book” with Scottish symbols/hints about the trip.

We all watched as my MIL flipped through the book and when she got to the Loch Ness monster page and the light bulb went off, we all revealed our t-shirts. Cheers erupted and some happy tears were shed. She was thoroughly surprised! Just five months until the ten of us enjoy a twelve night trip celebrating the matriarch of our family!

Anyone else ever plan or go on a surprise trip?

Posted by
316 posts

Beautiful! I think all of us on this page dream about something like this! How fun and how very considerate and loving gift to her! I hope you have the BEST trip! I’m sure that she will!
I always plan trips for friends and family… hmmm I may have to think about this “surprise “ element. How fun!

Posted by
13697 posts

Years ago for Christmas I gave my Mom a trip to NYC. I was in my 40's, newly divorced, had just gotten a big raise at work and had bought my Dad his first computer (remember Compaq brand? It was THAT long ago!!) Anyway, nearing Christmas I realized my Mom's gift was not nearly as splashy as Dad's so I gave her a trip with tickets to her choice of 2 plays. My Aunt lived in NYC so we could stay with her but I did her plane ticket, all food for herself and my Aunt when we went out, plays and museums which is what she wanted to do.

We had an awesome time!

I'm sure your MIL was thrilled and you'll have a wonderful time with the whole fam!

Posted by
862 posts

Years ago we (group of 8) surprised our friends with a honeymoon. They had very little money and had told us they couldn't afford a honeymoon and would take one in a few years time. It was only a four day domestic holiday at a lovely mountain resort with golf course, but took some planning. Both our friends bosses were in on it so we knew they could take the time off work. They loved it.

Posted by
683 posts

Not a Europe trip, but 9 years ago my husband wound up with a business trip to Orlando over our 2 younger kids’ winter school break (oldest was in college). They were 9 and 7 years old, never been on an airplane, and my son (the 7-year-old) was (still is) a Mickey Mouse fanatic.

My husband and I decided we’d all go on the trip, but we’d keep it a secret from the kids.

We woke them up at 5 am on the day of departure, asked if they wanted to go to Disney, handed them their already-packed suitcases, and drove to the airport.

They’re still talking about it.


Posted by
9354 posts

These are really lovely stories. Aimee, yours is priceless !! Fran, I love how you all did the reveal !! The anticipation is also part of the gift, so now she has some precious time to know you are all setting off on this wonderful adventure together !

Posted by
1541 posts

My sister surprised her kids with a trip to Disney World at Christmas. On Christmas morning she had set up an elaborate scavenger hunt which led to the packed car, and off they went.

I have no idea how a working mom secretly packed for three kids and set the whole plan in motion.

(Although they still talk about the trip to Spain with Auntie and Uncle more! Ha!)

Posted by
200 posts

I love surprises!!

I did this for my Dad's 55th birthday almost five years ago now. When I was 15 I cam home from a trip to Disney that I had taken with my Mom, and told my Dad how amazing it was. He said to, "I'd love to be able to take you somewhere too but I'd never be able to afford it". I decided that day that one day I'd make a trip of our own happen. We had a very tumultuous relationship that took a ton of work to get to a place that I can call "healthy", but this dream stayed stuck in my heart. Once we were in a better place, a decade later, I decided I was going to make it happen.

A few weeks before his birthday I wrote a letter to him detailing that day all those years before, and how I'd never forgotten it. At the end of the letter was a birthday proposal, simply asking "where do you want to go?". I typed the letter on cardstock and then cut it up into about 20 jigsaw puzzle pieces and put them all in a wrapped box. I came over for dinner and presented him with that box as an early birthday gift. Looking perplexed, he dumped the pieces on the table and slowly started putting it together. I recorded it all and the look on his face was priceless.

He of course immediately said Philly, but then said, "I'm not sure if there's enough I'd want to do there after the game". I was prepared with my own plan and knowing how he thinks, so I told him what I was thinking: 4 days in NYC with a full day in Philadelphia to see his beloved team and get some team gear on home soil. He was stunned! He loved the plan and how I knew it would be exactly his dream.

I made it super special, picked a nice hotel 8 blocks from Times Square, saw 2 Broadway shows (another dream for him), toured him around all the highlights of the city (I had already visited with my mom), took him to a studio your and a late show filming - he was awestruck. He was like a kid in a candy store looking at all the lights and I could tell it was really a dream come true.

The best thing though is that it opened his eyes to travel. He had never been anywhere other than down South or places in Canada and this big city experience that was so different than our little corner of the world has made him want to explore and I am so grateful for that.

You will have a fantastic experience to remember!!


Posted by
9350 posts

Aimee, what an amazing gift you gave your kids. Love your story.

I had a birthday party for a milestone year here at my house with lots of friends. I opened a gift from my son, it was an updated RS travel guide. I was thrilled to get it and then put it aside. Some friends said “hey, there’s a piece of paper IN the book”… i pulled it out and it was plane tickets for 2 to Europe. I was blown away surprised. I stood up, jumped up and down, and cried from happiness. It’s a beyond happy memory that i’ll never forget.

Posted by
32313 posts

I saw the small post 6 posts up asking if MIL has an up to date passport. That is an important one. Seeing some of the delays mentioned on the Forums, now would be the time to act if she hasn't. Same question about all the other 9 too.

Posted by
396 posts

For some reason, probably family illness, I ended up with some annual leave I needed to take, while my wife had almost none left, so I organised a language school in Siena. It seemed unfair that I was going alone, so I hatched a plot with my wife's boss to give her a day off on the Friday. I had hid an envelope in the house before I left containing an air ticket, parking voucher, timetables and her passport. On Thursday I called her - look in the top draw of the desk - I'll meet you at Pisa airport - but you'll need to set off at 3am tomorrow!

It was a great success - we both loved Siena and have been back frequently since.

Posted by
10145 posts

I was there when Susan opened the gift and saw it was a Paris guidebook. I whispered to my husband that I was pretty sure there would be tickets to go with it. Yep, there were. Her son is just that kind of guy.

Posted by
6029 posts

PQ, what a wonderful story - it almost brought tears to my eyes. I had a tumultuous relationship with my dad, too, and I love how you were able to work all that out and give him such a dream trip.

Posted by
91 posts

I have enjoyed reading your fun and sometimes touching stories of surprise travel! Like some of you, I love surprises. I couldn’t wait to do the reveal, which had been rescheduled from Christmas (when all of us would have been together)because my husband and I both contracted Covid.

Susan- you were the only one in the thread that was a “surprisee”- good for you!

Joe and Nigel- thanks for the reminder about passports. Eight of us are good to go, one of my daughters just submitted her online renewal today, and my 18 year old nephew needs to get his renewed into the “non-kid” version. My SIL is on it!

Posted by
2728 posts

My mother and I traveled a lot when she was younger and years before she had gone to the Greek isles and loved it and she often talked about Greece she loved ruins

so one year for Christmas. I gave her a trip to Greece and island cruise. She was incredibly surprised and happy. And now as we are in the twilight stage of her life It’s one of my best memories. I don’t remember what that trip cost but I remember every moment of it. we’ve traveled a lot together. I’ve been very lucky. It breaks my heart to know. I’ll never go to anywhere with her again.

Posted by
9350 posts

It was cool Aimee, makes me happy that Andrea and Jim were there, my dear friends.

Posted by
9350 posts

Fran, lucky me. Truth be told, i don’t like being surprised 😂 but if it’s for a trip to Europe i’m in!

Posted by
10145 posts

@Susan, if you don’t like surprises I would be happy to accept that surprise from R. Or anyone else for that matter. 😄

Posted by
9350 posts

Duly noted Andrea, I’ll send all surprises your way! I assume you only want the good ones 😉

Posted by
357 posts

I have done this 3 times. The first almost 30 years ago, was a surprise 40th birthday trip for my husband to Washington DC. My husband doesn’t like surprises and likes flying even less; he was so worked up on the way to the airport, I finally had to tell him where we were going. Once we got there, he had a great time. He loves history and I knew it would be right up his alley.

The second time my brothers and I took our Mom to Las Vegas for her 80th birthday, which included a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. She always loved to take bus trips to Atlantic City and has always had an adventurous streak, so she was thrilled to death. One brother has lived in California for years and does not get back East very often, so getting to spend time with him as well made it extra special.

Finally, about 10 years ago I did a scavenger hunt for my daughters’ last Christmas gift. After about 15 minutes of running around, they opened the final box. It was so fun to watch their reaction as it dawned on them what they were holding in their hands – tickets to a One Direction concert – In Paris. They went crazy! We had an awesome time and they still talk about that to this day and how there is no present that could ever top that 😊 Still makes me smile when I think about it.
I’m still waiting for someone to return the favor ;p)

Posted by
91 posts

It is a privilege to be either a travel surpriser OR a travel surprisee. (Well, maybe for Mister E his status as a surprisee left something to be desired.)

Most of the time when I read through the forum posts it occurs to me what a lucky bunch we are to have travelled so much and to continuously be planning travel. I consider myself so fortunate to have found something my husband and I share a true passion for and to have the means (time- and finance-wise) to pursue it.

Posted by
335 posts

@ Fran brought tears to my eyes. A loving family and friends are priceless.

Tim and Susan’s son need male support. We can be romantic at times. My story contains sadness, deliberate lies, subterfuge, and gratuitous sex. So, if you think you will be offended look away now.

In early 2010 my MIL was diagnosed with liver cancer. She and surgeon agreed that an operation was unlikely to be successful. Late September that year my 16-year-old daughter’s school year went to Italy, Rome – Florence – Venice. Daughter was asked to be one of the team leaders. As time got closer MIL and wife were anxious as in case of emergency as it was around 26hrs flying time away. So, with 2 weeks before fly out time, at MIL stubborn insistence ( a DNA eagerly passed onto my wife and then to daughters with granddaughters showing glimpses of it) it was decided that my wife, 2 of her brothers and I should shadow at a discreet distance for the 4 weeks as backup. MIL did not want to impede granddaughters’ development. And you just do not argue with her. We had a marvellous time. Prognoses was under palliative care that MIL had about 4-6 months. A little optimistic, died 2 days after we returned.

My wife, first born and only daughter was devastated that she was not in Perth to be with her mum for her last few weeks. All our relatives, friends and others tried to console and comfort her. She cried frequently and castigated herself for not being at home. Gave me a hard time over the most trivial of things.

As we approached the first anniversary, I had a round table with my children who suggested that perhaps cruising in southern Asia/Pacific would be a good idea as she had shown an interest in cruising a couple of times. Had a chat with a local Travel Agent but I was a bit late for booking the times I wanted. He had just that day received a deal offered by Garuda Airlines for Nusa Dua Bali. Nusa Dua is Bali’s Riviera. 5 Star resorts. So, I took it on the spot. 7 Days @ what is now Grand Hyatt Bali, a generous meal, and drinks allowance, return airfares and a couple of other sweeteners. Bali is known as a northern suburb of Perth, only a little over 3.5 hours flight time away. Popular with us. A good mate sponsors a Balinese taxi driver and his family. He is flat out taxing our group of extended friends.

Had to get my wife’s passport details without rousing suspicion. Had our son in UK ask his mum to urgently scan the front details page of her passport because his security clearance was being reviewed. My children and I told her we had to do likewise. So, when she did that, I took her passport for safe keeping.

I then had to get her to the international airport. She was still working, did not have to, but in her words “gave me some independence and could replace you with a toyboy if you do not do what you are told.” Her brother had clients, two young men who needed guidance in building a business in mining support. Accounting, reporting and other controls. For three odd years she had been in her element as she had two young men and others to boss about. They and I lured her to the airport with a story that one of my merchant banker mates and a board member from FIAT Machinery were making a visit to open up opportunities to sell mine processing machinery, bringing their wives who had not been to Perth previously, and it was thought that a local female who could speak a little Italian would be a good idea as a welcoming party. She easily took the bait, had no idea what was going down. The women who worked for her in the office thought I would not get away with it.

Posted by
335 posts

My daughter had packed a bag for her. Her boss brought her to the international section of the airport. Even seeing my daughter with a suitcase, one of her brothers and me with a suitcase did not phase her. She wanted to know where the Italian women from Milan were and more importantly, what they were wearing.

My daughter had to tell her twice what was going down. Her first reaction was, “no, I have too much unfinished work.” Or maybe the thought of 1 week in Bali with just me was too much. I have gotten to know her well. So, I had about twenty or so of our friends magically appear, (my version of a flash mob) so she could not throw what my daughters call, a hissy fit, and not go. They had supported and encouraged me through the process. Sneaky bunch of friends.

In Bali was mostly good. She was very remorseful on the actual anniversary day. Gave her lingerie as a present and made bad jokes about how she looked as good as in her early 20’s and gravity had missed her completely. That got her mind on to more fun things for the evening.

Was not until 2018 and our family 8 weeks in Italy, France, and Belgium that she was able to let go and realize that she was now the family matriarch.

Fran, thank you for the opportunity to tell my story. Best wishes for your family endeavour.

Regards Ron