‘Surprise travel’: The travel trend all adventurers need in their lives

Suprise travel start-up Anywhr only tells you your destination when you're at the airport. Source: Anywhr

THE excitement of packing up and heading off on your next adventure is usually titillating enough that most people don’t need any added level of exhilaration. But for those travel junkies that have an inexhaustible urge to explore, or for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed by choice, a new trend that’s shaking up the traditional vacation may be just the thing.

Surprise travel is a relatively new phenomenon that’s capturing peoples’ sense of adventure and putting a new buzz into holiday time. While the idea of knowing nothing about your destination until you’re standing at the airport check-in desks may be a nightmare for some, this wave of truly spontaneous yet tailored travel is proving popular with people from all walks of life who don’t want the process of planning a holiday to feel like the reason they need one.

This is certainly the case with Zelia Leong, whose appreciation of truly experiencing a destination and her belief that excessive planning “kills the true joy of travel” prompted her to set-up travel start-up, Anywhr.

After a “life-changing” trip that started in Sweden and ended months later in Ukraine, Leong decided to spread the travel-bug love with co-founder Felix Tan.

“We decided to bring the joy of traveling to more people, and keeping the destination unknown till the airport helps to remove all preconceived (mis)conceptions of the places and allows travelers to dive right into it and embrace the journey instead of the destination,” Leong told Travel Wire Asia.

Zelia Leong (right) co-founder of travel start-up Anywhr. Source: Anywhr

Launched in January, the online agent allows you to pick the type of holiday you’re after – adventure, getaway, and experience – and the Anywhr team pretty much takes care of the rest.

After answering a few short questions specifying your budget, travel dates and any essential details, such as dietary requirements, future intrepid explorers can sit back and wait in anticipation. Only one week before departure will an envelope arrive holding your personalized travelogue with flight and accommodation details, hot tips for where and what to visit, and US$25 in local currency – so you’re not stranded at the other end.

While you can choose to open this once you get it, Leong recommends the more adventurous of you let the anticipation build and only open it once you’re at the airport, ensuring you get a truly “authentic” travel experience.

“For us, authentic travel means to truly embrace the journey and destination for itself, instead of relying on a set of excessive planning and assumptions made before even visiting a place,” Leong said. Discovering the destination at the airport eliminates this time for excessive Googling and review hunting, enabling travelers to “just go out there and explore, get lost, learn, and discover.”

Each trip Anywhr plans is 100 percent personalized, from beginning to end, and their insider local knowledge means travelers stray far from the beaten track and get to experience a destination for its true charm. Besides visiting the countries themselves, they also have local partners who are able to verify local information and provide the top tips for your personalized travelogue.

The team also guarantees no major cities or run-of-the-mill over-populated tourist hot spots – and their formula seems to be working.

After the initial apprehension that comes with being the first of its kind in the region, Anywhr has gone from strength to strength as more people gain an appreciation for one-of-a-kind travel experiences.

“The response so far from all our super cool travelers has been resounding, and it shows that the joy of discovery and travel lives on!” Leong said.

“Anywhr travelers come from everywhere – from families with babies, father-daughter trips, to first-time solo female travelers. The typical Anywhr traveler is somebody who wants to travel to experience something new and different, escape the tourist masses, and truly embrace the joy of travel and discovery.”

So if you’re lacking inspiration for your next trip or just feel like throwing some added mystery to your next adventure then it might be worth exploring the unknown and taking the road less traveled with a surprise travel experience. After all, as Leong puts it – “That’s where the magic happens!”