10 Creative Ways to Reveal a Surprise Trip

“An Unexpected Trip can be an Amazing Surprise,

but creating the Wow Effect is an Art”


Gifting one travel to someone is surely one of the most meaningful and creative presents you can make. Things get consumed, get broken, get forgotten; the memories and the learnings that a trip can give instead, are invaluable, and can last a lifetime.

Still, have you ever wondered how to wrap a trip? How to tell the other person what you prepared for him/her in an original way and how to create that WOW effect that’ll surprise them and leave them speechless? After all, a journey is not the easiest thing to pack inside a box!

I found myself in this situation once, when I had planned to gift my girlfriend a short getaway to Paris for her birthday, but didn’t have a clue on how to tell her.

I thought of simply give her a copy of the flight ticket, but it sounded extremely boring and un-romantic to me (and somewhat predictable too if the other person likes travelling a lot!).

Carefully planning all the details for a trip takes quite some time (as I also explain in my article How to Gift a Trip and Don’t Mess Up!); the least we can do is avoid ruining all our great effort with a boring delivery. Instead, what we need is to cherry-top our travel-cake with creativity to make for a unique and memorable surprise!

As I thought for hours about the best way to deliver the birthday gift to my girlfriend, I came up with numerous different ideas which I thought of sharing in this article for all other creative travel-buddies finding themselves in my situation xD

The following are 10 Creative Ways to Gift a Surprise Trip. At the end of the article in the conclusions, I’ll also tell you which one I personally went for! 😉 

UPDATE 2022: As I found myself in the same situation of having to reveal a surprise trip again, I thought of some new ideas too, which you can find in this new article: 5 Creative Ideas for a Memorable Surprise Trip Announcement 😉

Let’s get started!

1. Use technology:

Undercover QR Codes!

Let’s start with something out of the ordinary: technology!

Have you ever seen a QR Code before (like the one in the image)? I guess so! They’re literally everywhere nowadays!

For those who don’t know how they work, those little dotted squares contain an encrypted link to a webpage that can be easily deciphered and read with any mobile device. What many people don’t know though, is how easy it is to make one with a custom link entirely for free and in a few seconds.

If you google “QR Code Generator” (link is to one of them), you’ll find dozens of services doing exactly that! You can encrypt an URL to anything: videos, messages, images, websites…anything you can think of and put on the internet!

Get the link, paste it, and here you have your brand new QR Code to share, print, and stick wherever you like!

For gifting a Surprise Trip, QR Codes open up countless possibilities!

You could make many of them all containing small clues about your destination (ex. a typical song of the destination, a saying, a photo, a date, etc.) and spread them around the house for that person to find them. Or you could make just one containing a video message from you! Or link it to a timer countdown…

On how you can use QR Codes, your creativity is the limit!


2. Old but Gold:

Box in a Box in a Box!

If you want your gift to look like a traditional box-and-ribbon present, why don’t do it with this old and funny trick?

Write a letter or print a flight ticket, then put it in an envelope, and the envelope in a box, and then again in another box, and another, and another…

Wrap up the last one with decorative paper and get ready to see the other person’s face more and more bewildered as she/he’ll be opening containers after container until finding the true and unexpected surprise at the very end!

Optional: add some extra weight in the boxes to throw your special person even more out of the way guessing what it might contain!


3. “Only this?” surprise:

Hide the Flight Ticket into another Small Gift

With this method, the idea is to make your special person feel slightly underwhelmed at first by a nice but extremely small gift; and totally speechless after examining it better.

Think about hiding an envelope or a flight ticket (or a QR Code) into something small and cheap (you don’t want to spend too much on this gimmick, save the money for the trip 😉 ) and wrap it up with good decorative paper.

A small object could be a box of chocolate, a pair of underwear, a t-shirt, a guidebook… anything small that your special person would still like. You could also think about some object that hints about your chosen destination or an activity you’re going to join there!


4. I’ll tell you what, I won’t tell you where:

Gift a Luggage with Dates and a Packing List

This is a method thought to both create high anticipation and to ensure the other person will be free and ready for the trip without really spoiling the whole surprise.

Let’s see how it works!

Buy a suitcase (or backpack!) that your lucky person could use for the upcoming surprise trip. Then, insert two notes: one stating the dates of the trip, and another one with a packing list of things to bring. Lastly, decorate with a colorful ribbon the suitcase and you’re ready to go! 😀

If you need to reveal your surprise ahead of time for technical reasons (ex. the other person requires time to update the documents, has to arrange work, needs to pack the luggage her/himself, etc…) this is the perfect method to still keep the surprise until the very end: potentially even until reaching the airport!

Beware though, that depending on the person you’re making this gift, they might just be deadly curious, pray for hints and bombard you with questions: just be strong, don’t give in, and keep the secret 😉 

5. “I am sure this one was not here Yesterday”:

Hide hints around the House

Put them a bug in the ear!

Why not hiding small objects referring to your destination around your victim’s house? The idea of this method is to make your special person question the meaning of the tiny things she/he’ll find around her/his home in the most unusual places.

First of all, the little gimmicks must be cheap (and you can also use what you already have). For example, if you want to hint a trip to Paris, you could use a baguette; to a sea resort, you could use sunglasses or suncream; to a music festival, you could use some earphones… etc., etc., etc. Be creative!

Afterward, try to “hide” your object(s) in places that you know the other person uses every day (in the toilet’s cabinet, in the closet, in the fridge, in front of the TV, etc.) and where she/he’ll likely find them with ease.

The whole idea is to leave her/him wondering: why is there a baguette in my closet? Why are there earphones tangled around my toothbrush? Why the suncream is in the fridge? At some point, they’ll come surely to ask you what is happening and at that moment you can help them guess and reveal the great surprise!


6. Do It Old School:

Use the Mailbox!

The physical mailbox fell quiet in disuse nowadays; more used for unwanted advertisement and bureaucratic communication than for anything else.

Finding a letter to us that we actually want to read, is something unexpected and surprising. Even more unexpected, and so even more astonishing is to find within our mailbox a real surprise trip!

To be sure the whole plan will work as intended there are two major points to take care of.

First, be sure that your special person is actually checking the mailbox regularly. If she/he’s not doing it, think about sticking something visible on the box to attract her/his curiosity.

Secondly, be sure the other person won’t dismiss your envelope as spam and will certainly open it once she/he’ll find it. To do that, decorate the envelope on the outside and aim to create curiosity and encourage the person to check it as soon as possible! Pour your heart and creativity into it, and it’ll be memorable!

In the envelope, you can leave a message from you, information about the trip and even the tickets (if you already bought them).


7. Confuse them with Complicity:

Use an Unexpected third party “Corrier”

What if it wouldn’t be you revealing the surprise but someone else instead?

Using an accomplice is an original, and yet extremely unexpected way to unveil a surprise to someone.

Depending on the relationships you have with people close to him/her, you could ask for help from one of his/her best friends, family members, or work colleagues (or if you want to dare, you could even ask a clerk of a shop she/he always visits! 😉 ).

The revelation plans will surely depend on the situation, but try to think about how they could help you: should they just handle a box that you’ve already prepared? Or bring them to a special place? Should they tell them a place where to check? The oil that brain and you’ll certainly find the best option for you!


8. Tease Them:

Stick Around Post-It Hints

Similar to the idea of leaving small objects around the house, with the difference that this time the hints will be given on small post-it papers.

Post-its offer great space for art and creativity; here are some ideas on how to use them!

  • Write one for every letter of your destination and let the other person find them and solve the anagram.
  • Draw landmarks or images related to your upcoming trip.
  • Write single info about your travel (ex. dates, a hotel’s name, an activity you can do there, kilos allowance, etc.).
  • Leave hints about where to find an envelope you’ve hidden…

Use as few or many post-its as you want, think about a logical pattern, a creative place to stick them (they could also be on the ceiling!), and get ready to amaze!


9. Be Obvious:

Drop the Bomb Casually!

Building anticipation through well-crafted surprises is cool.

When the surprise is unbelievably sweet though, also dropping the bomb casually in the midst of a normal conversation may create astonishment, awe, and positive disbelief.

“No, I don’t think we could attend that family dinner on Monday, we would have to travel back 10 hours from Sydney…” or again “yeah, I really like this dress, it’ll be perfect for the Caribbean beaches of Cuba” are few examples.

You can drop the bomb in virtually any conversation: just be sure to choose the right time when your special person is not in a hurry, when you won’t get interrupted by others and when the all atmosphere around is calling for it!


10. Make them work for it:

The Jigwas Puzzle!

Creating a custom jigsaw puzzle has never been so easy and cheap.

If you google “Custom Jigsaw Puzzle” you’ll find countless websites providing this service: you just need to upload a picture, choose how many pieces you would like your puzzle to be, customize the box, place the order, and in just a few days it’ll be at your door.

I ordered one once and I have to admit that a custom puzzle makes for a great surprise just by itself. Still, I also thought it could also be used to reveal a secret message, so why not a surprise trip? Pick a photo of your destination, add some text on the picture if you wish, wrap the puzzle with decorative paper and you’re ready!

As the puzzle is already an interesting present, the other person may not even suspect that it contains a secret message and a connection to a much larger gift. 

Prices for a custom puzzle range between 20-40 Euro (depending on the number of pieces). To orientate yourself, consider that a 100-pieces puzzle is solved by an average person in around 20 minutes, 200 pieces in one hour while one of 500 pieces in 4 hours.

My personal suggestion is to shoot around 200-250 pieces, which makes the puzzle something challenging but that can also be completed in one session. Try to avoid stretching the surprise too long (over more than a day) as it may cool the enthusiasm and the rising sense of anticipation.



Be Creative and Know that you Can Combine!

These were 10 Creative Ideas to reveal a surprise trip to a special person close to you.

As for my choice, after thinking quite some time about how to surprise my girlfriend, this is what I’ve done.

I created on Powerpoint a customized Fake-Boarding Pass, with information about the trip and a QR Code to a private message I uploaded on the internet.

Then, I printed it on lucid paper (to make it look more authentic), enclosed it in a custom greeting card I also prepared with a romantic image of the Eiffel Tower and ultimately I placed it inside a box of Ferrero Rocher (she loves chocolate!).

All in all, I combined some of the previous ideas (QR code, hiding it in a smaller gift, ticket in a card in a box, etc.), added some customization and it worked out fantastic: she couldn’t believe her eyes and kept asking me repeatedly in disbelief if it was for real!

As a last tip, I would suggest you take to your time and thoroughly think about that special person you’re doing all of this for if you’re willing to give her an important gift such as a trip, for sure you’re close enough to him/her to know better than anyone else how to surprise them! So be creative, pour your heart into it, and it’ll all be awesome! ;D

Do you have any other idea to reveal a surprise trip to someone? Or would you like to share a personal experience with us to help inspire other people finding themselves in the same situation? Drop a comment below, I am always excited to hear new ideas!

Thanks for reading 🙂

UPDATE 2022: As I found myself in the same situation of having to reveal a surprise trip again, I thought of some new ideas too, which you can find in this new article: 5 Creative Ideas for a Memorable Surprise Trip Announcement 😉



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