Q: Why did you sign up for your trip? What were you looking to get out of it?
A: I originally heard about Pack Up + Go from a travel group on Facebook. It sounded intriguing but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to give up the control of trip planning to someone else. Fast forward to a few weeks later when myself and 2 friends were trying to plan our vacation. Between the 3 of us, we couldn’t agree on a place to go. After about an hour of searching flights and destinations, I mentioned Pack Up + Go. We pulled up the website, looked at the information, and booked our trip that night.
Q: Did you have hesitations about taking a surprise trip? Were you nervous?
A: I was extremely nervous!! I’m a very “Type A” person. I love to research where I’m going, plan out what activities I want to do, where I want to eat, etc. So not having any idea of where I was going was a bit nerve-wracking.
Q: Where did you guess you were going to travel? Were you surprised by the destination?
A: From the day we booked our vacation, we were constantly playing the guessing game. Once we got our “hints” in the email a week before departure, we thought for sure it would be either Washington DC or Boston (we were wrong).
Q: Upon discovery of your destination, what were some perceptions about your city prior to the trip?
A: We opened the envelope and it said “Philadelphia” and while we were excited, it wasn’t a big name place like DC or Boston. I don’t know many people who are really excited to say they are going on vacation to Philadelphia. But we knew we were going to have an amazing time no matter where we went, and we were still very excited (the TSA guy at security asked if we were going to Vegas because we were so hyped up and noisy).
Q: What made the trip feel unique and tailored to you?
A: Every note we received prior to the trip was personalized. Lillian referred to us by name, made comments regarding things we filled out in the survey, and we could genuinely tell she planned this trip specifically for us. When we checked in at the front desk of the hotel, they knew that we were on a Pack Up + Go trip. When we arrived at the hotel room, there was a bottle of Champagne and a birthday card - all little details that made the trip feel special and unique!
Q: What did you like most about your travel accommodations?
A: The hotel was gorgeous and the location couldn’t have been better. During the day when we explored Philly, we could leave the hotel and walk in any direction and reach some type of fun activity/historical sight within 10-15 minutes of leisurely walking. At night, we’d take a Lyft to get around town and we’d be there within 10 minutes.
Q: What was your favorite experience that we recommended for you?
A: The Magic Gardens. We spent almost 2 hours exploring there and probably could’ve spent even more time. I’ve never seen anything like that before and it was amazing.
Q: If you could do the trip over again what would you do differently?
A: I wouldn’t do anything differently.
Q: What did you discover on your own (not on your itinerary) in your destination that you feel is shareworthy?
A: A few restaurants worth mentioning: El Vez - the BEST nachos we’ve ever had! Sabrina’s - about 3 blocks from the hotel, great brunch *needs reservations on the weekend*, Tir na nOg - Irish pub less than a block from the hotel.
Q: What was your favorite part of your trip?
A: The suspense of not knowing where we were going and the excitement at the airport when we opened the envelope! I also loved that the trip felt very “organic” - since we weren’t able to plan/research beforehand, we were able to be very go-with-the-flow, be present, and enjoy where we were.
Q: What did you learn on your trip, or from your trip?
A: Philadelphia is a very underrated city! It’s OK to let go sometimes. I was very worried because I like to plan every detail before a trip and be very knowledgeable about where I’m going, so this trip was out of my comfort zone. Make friends with the locals! We quickly made friends with the hotel bartender and he had so many good recommendations for us. He made sure we made the best of our time in Philly.
Q: How would you describe Pack Up + Go and your experience to your friends and family?
A: I’ve been asked this many times since we’ve returned. I always reply with “It’s the best.” Lillian and the Pack Up + Go team made sure that we had everything that we needed from start to finish. You can tell they put a lot of time and thought into making sure we had the best trip.
Q: What would you say to someone who is hesitant to go on a surprise getaway
A: Do it! You will not regret it. The number of memories + experiences I took away from this trip are priceless. We were already planning when to take our next Pack Up + Go trip before we even made it home from Philadelphia!
Guest blogger Corinne Hogge takes us into the details of her recent trip to California, Oregon, + Washington
The Great American Road Trip has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, life happens and plans fall through, but that does not mean that I do not seize the opportunity to take trips whenever possible. Already in 2017, I have managed to travel from my home base of Pittsburgh to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Cape May (NJ), Lorton (VA), Atlanta, London (England), Brussels (Belgium), multiple camping trips around Western Pennsylvania, and most recently the Pacific Northwest.
What began as a simple trip with my boyfriend, Nick, my best friend, Deven, and myself to Seattle evolved into a 16+ hour trip – starting from the Sacramento airport all the way to the Seattle train station. The California landscape that met us was dry and barren – far from the lush scenery from my “California Dreamin”. We drove through the desert for the first several hours of our trip until we stumbled upon Clear Lake. A remote town, frozen in time with retro signage and unassuming docks along the highway. It was an oasis for us tired travelers and reminded us of the joy of surprise and why we choose to travel in the first place.
Our first stop on the journey was Burlington Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park – about 5 hours from Sacramento. We ventured here because I was determined to see the Redwood trees first hand and Humboldt is home to some of the oldest + largest trees in the region. As a 6’1” woman traveling with a 6’2” man and a 5’10” woman, it is not often that we get to feel small, but heck does a 300’ tree make a girl feel insignificant. Our favorite fact that we learned in this park was the phenomenon of “fairy circles”. When a “giant” starts to die, it creates a circle of smaller trees around it that spring up from its roots and use the energy from the passing tree to grow strong. Eventually, these smaller trees will grow to be giants in their own right. The renewal of energy and the witnessing the circle of life is one of the wonders of travel.
The second stop was Mill Creek Campground in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, 4 hours north of Humboldt. The journey to the campsite brought us passed black sand beaches with massive, jagged boulders protruding from the ocean floor to remind us of the passage of time and the flexibility of nature. Our campsite itself was unlike one I had ever seen – up a flight of stairs. It felt like our own little tree house, hidden away from the road by ferns and Sequoias.
The third day took us into our second state of the road trip – Oregon. We traveled North passed ranches, mountains, and small towns unbothered by the busy nature of modern life. Our destination was the majestic and breathtaking Crater Lake – a crystal blue lake formed by melting glaciers after the devastation of a volcanic eruption some 7,000 years ago, yet another example of nature’s forgiving evolution. It took us two hours by car to traverse the cliffs of Crater Lake and see the freshwater waterfalls that outline the road.
From there we traveled against the traffic of the Solar Eclipse 4 hours to Portland to return our rental car. We got in with 2 minutes to spare, thank you very much. Here we were met by our friend, Donovan, who flew out to spend the remaining city days of our trip with us. Our one day in Portland gave us the opportunity to check out its downtown area, food trucks galore, and biggest bookstore I have ever seen, Powell’s City of Books. We spent our evening at the DIY bar – a place that combines crafts + cocktails. For a flat fee, you are given the tools and access to a myriad of paints and dyes to bring your creation to life.
We then took the Amtrak train from Portland to Seattle. I am often disappointed by the lack of a high-speed railway system through America, so it was a welcome opportunity to take a relaxing ride through the countryside of Oregon + Washington. We gave ourselves 3 days in Seattle to really take in the sites and decide whether it should be a contender on the list of “great cities we move to next”. We were lucky to have our friend, Andy, who lives in the city, be our tour guide for our time there!
Our first day we enjoyed a Savor Seattle food tour of the Public Market. This was a worthwhile excursion that allowed us to try some of the most famous stops – like Beecher’s Handmade Cheese + Pike Place Chowder – in the market without having to wait in line (I HATE waiting in line). The public market is home to one of the more odd sites we came across on our trip: the gum wall. An alley in the market entirely covered in bubblegum. We learned that the Market community regularly removes the gum and that it always ends up growing again. We ended the evening exploring the many restaurant and bar options of the hip Ballard neighborhood north of the city.
Our second day we allowed ourselves to have a full tourist day, going from the Chihuly Glass Museum to the Space Needle to the Museum of Pop Culture (AKA MoPop). I enjoyed all three, but was notably exhausted afterward and remembered how much being a tourist takes out of you! On our last day, we stopped by the Fremont neighborhood for Brunch at a French-Korean fusion restaurant called Revel and we stomped our full bellies around to see the Fremont Troll, Statue of Lenin and ended our afternoon with a trip through the Theo Chocolate Factory. Seattle is without a doubt the hippest city I have every been too with so many amazing food options that I wonder if you could ever hit them all – I cannot wait to return!
I walked away from this trip with a resounding renewal of love for traveling, an immense appreciation of the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and a fascinating new obsession with donuts. I highly recommend the Great PNW Roadtrip to anyone that wants the thrill of a road trip but only has a short time to take it!