We are so thankful to all of our travelers + followers for helping us share the thrill of surprise travel and adventure! This Thanksgiving, we wanted to share the origin story of the Pack Up + Go idea so that you can get to know us better.
While we can not take credit for the concept of surprise travel - it has existed in Europe for some time now, we were on the front lines of bringing surprise vacations to the USA!
The idea for Pack Up + Go came when Founder + CEO, Lillian Rafson, was traveling Eastern Europe just after quitting her job in New York. After graduating from college, she had started working for an office-supply company in NYC — and quickly discovered that a typical 9 - 5 job wasn't for her, "I loved the people and the company atmosphere, but I was restless," she says. "I knew I would rather be traveling."
She was in Riga, Latvia when she met two girls who were in her hostel on a surprise vacation. She had just given up her lease in the City and was hoping for an “aha!” moment, and this was it!
Knowing how that many Americans do not have the time to plan their own travel and love adventure, she thought the idea would be a hit back home — and had thought how Pack Up + Go could help to encourage domestic tourism, "I thought it would do really well to encourage Americans to travel. I was even thinking about the economic benefits and how much money could go to small businesses and restaurants and shops through tourism," she says. "A lot of American cities are being robbed of that because we’re so quick to travel overseas."
She spent the next few months of the soul-searching trip finessing the idea, talking to anyone who would listen about it. After the trip, she moved back to her hometown, Pittsburgh, and got to work. Pack Up + Go started as a single-woman operation and she rented a desk at a co-working space, registered as an LLC, and learned how to become a travel agent! The business went live four months later.
Since then, Pack Up + Go has moved a few times, from co-working space, to co-working space, and finally to our own office in Downtown Pittsburgh! The Pack Up + Go team has also grown, now with 8 full time team members working to create a greater traveling experience for all and we have sent more than 10,000 travelers to 85 destination cities!