Can You Plan a Surprise Trip and Keep it a Secret?

A couple of months ago, I had this crazy idea to surprise my husband with a 36 hour trip to Las Vegas for our 15th wedding anniversary. It had been quite some time since we went away together and my brother-in-law offered to watch the kids. I watched the sales, booked the trip, and all that was left was to keep it a secret until it was time to go.

Consider how you will fund the trip. This part was easy for me. I have gone back to work and had been putting away some money so I knew what kind of budget I wanted to stick to. I am also in charge of the bills. My husband is very much aware of our bills and financial situation but he doesn’t micromanage the day to day side of it. I knew he wasn’t likely to check the credit card statements online. If he did, I hoped that he just wouldn’t notice. If you are planning a surprise trip, how are you going to hide it from the person you are surprising? If you are surprising your child, this will be easy but if you are surprising a significant other who usually takes care of the finances, this might prove to be a bit more difficult. Also, consider your financial situation and what the other person will say. This is supposed to be a fun trip for you and the person you are surprising. It would definitely ruin things if your significant other asks how much you spent on it before you even leave the house.

Consider how you will feel if you can’t keep the surprise. After the trip was all booked, I told pretty much everyone I knew who did not talk to my husband on a regular basis. For the most part, I wasn’t worried about other people spilling the beans. I was more worried about spilling the beans myself! As it turns out, I was able to keep the secret until my husband told me two weeks before the trip that he had to go out of town for business and wouldn’t be back until the night we were supposed to leave. I quickly told him that if he had to go he had to be back three hours before our flight time. I told him he had to be at the airport waiting for me because we were going out of town. I stopped there with details but boy was it painful keeping it a secret once he learned a little piece of it.

Consider when and how you will tell the person about the trip. I had this whole plan where I was going to pack my husband’s bag, my brother-in-law was going to show up, and we were going to supposedly go out on a date night. I was going to drive us to the airport and then share the surprise. Of course, that all went by the wayside when I had to tell him about the trip. Since he knew we were taking a plane somewhere, I took him to the airport and we wandered around until about thirty minutes until our flight. Once it was time to board, we stopped in front of the Vegas sign and I told him that was where we were going.

Consider whether to plan the entire trip or leave some of it open ended. I planned the date, transportation, hotel, and person to watch the kids. I left everything else open. There are some pros and cons to this. The obvious pro is that your travel partner will have a say in the plans and you can make plans together. The biggest con to this method is that if there is something that requires reservations or early reservations, you might miss out. I really wanted to see the Neon Museum at night but I wasn’t sure that it would be the way my husband wanted to spend our one full evening in Vegas so I didn’t book it. Tickets sold out and it turns out that he would have enjoyed it. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Have you ever planned a surprise trip? Share your tips with us!


  1. 1

    We haven’t surprised each other, but a couple of years ago, my husband and daughter surprised his mother by flying from the US to New Zealand and showing up at a family event. It took so much to keep it a secret!

  2. 2

    Great tips here I have always wanted to surprise my girlfriend and do a trip to a place she has no idea about but you know girls – they are so organised and they would rather just know so they know what to bring and how to prepare. Hope I can master the art of a surprise trip someday. Safe travels. Jonny