This New Road Trip Planner Is Mom's Best Friend

With a travel agency that specializes surprise road trip driving routes, you can relinquish your duties as Mom Planner Extraordinaire, and let someone else do the planning for once.

Hands Holding Coffee Over Laptop Camera Notebook
Photo: Svante Berg/EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s no secret moms take on too much as parents—not least when it comes to planning their family’s vacation. Sure, trips are supposed to be fun, but as moms, we're often the ones who book the travel, toil over the packing list, schlep to CVS for bug spray, count out diapers and organize suitcases. It can be exhausting enough to make us wonder why we bother to travel at all—and that’s before you get to the are-we-there-yets of long road trips and smatterings of Cheerios across the back seat. But, I recently learned, there’s a way to get back the hours spent trip-planning: get someone else to do it for you.

Don’t DIY your travel

A new service (heaven-sent for parents), called Pack Up + Go, will plan a road trip for your family and surprise you with the destination so you don’t have to think about much other than how many times you’ll let your kiddo watch Coco before they get car sick.

Here’s how it works: First you answer a few quick questions about budget per person, travel dates, travel preferences, and information on who will be on the trip. They book your travel and accommodations based on your budget—but they don’t tell you where. Then, a week before your trip, you’ll get an email with a weather forecast for the mystery destination, packing recommendations, and optimal time of departure (you can use your own car, or they can arrange travel for you). Next, a few days before your trip, you'll get an envelope with directions and city guides that is to remain sealed until day of travel. All you have to do is a CVS run and, okay, still count out a few diapers. You set the budget (they take 10-15% commission) and you can even pay in installments.

The love of no plans

As the stressed-out co-parenting mom of a 2-year-old, when I was given the opportunity to take a surprise road trip that I didn’t have to plan, I let out a long “Thaaaaaank you!” Between momming and working full-time I don't have a moment to think, let alone use my vacation days or map out a trip.

Since I have my daughter every other weekend, I opted for a romantic getaway with my S.O. (they let you pick family or couple getaways) and because my life is as chaotic as it gets, Pack Up + Go decided minimalism was the name of the game. So they sent us to a A Tiny House Resort in New York’s Catskills region in a Ford EcoSport (Ford’s smallest SUV that still boasts tons of awesome features for its size, like a Wi-Fi hotspot, Amazon Alexa, and Waze integration)—and I loved it…for the time away, for the excuse to travel, but maybe mostly for the very fact that, much like our kids, I got to just go along for the ride.

A Tiny House Resort
Julia Dennison

Letting go

The downside? It’s not for the obsessive planners, control freaks and people who don’t like surprises. It became a kind of personality test between me and my boyfriend: He wanted to open the envelope; I wanted to wait (we ended up meeting in the middle and peeking a couple days early).

And yes, it may not be the best way to get the cheapest deals, but I like that you stay in control of your budget, know what you’re going to spend ahead of time and don’t have to think.

“We’ve grown so accustomed to planning and organizing every aspect of our lives,” says founder and CEO Lillian Rafson. “But when was the last time we had the chance to be genuinely surprised?” If you don’t count an impromptu temper tantrum in aisle 3, the answer for most of us parents with endless mental to-do lists is ummm… never?

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