I first heard about the travel agency, Pack Up and Go, a few months before Christmas. I’m in a group conversation on Messenger with half a dozen other people. We talk about everything, but travel brought us together and we continue to talk about travel quite a bit. When talking to my hubs I refer to this group, or people from it as, “the conversation” with air quotes. It was someone in “the conversation” who read about PUAG and shared it with us.
I’m an admitted control freak. It shouldn’t be referred to in such a negative way. Control freaks get things done. We’re organized. Very, very organized. We’re on time. In fact, we prefer to be a little early. My family was able to maximize their time at Disneyland because of my carefully planned schedules. So don’t talk about us like it’s a bad thing.
However, I think one of the things I enjoy so much about my Grand vacations is that I don’t have to be organized. I can let go of my control issues. Although I will admit, I do like that they require dinner reservations. I don’t want my days to be completely unscheduled. Relaxed is one thing. Total chaos is another thing altogether. Other than the dinner reservations, I like the “go with the flow” vibe of those vacations. It might say a lot that I’ve done 25 of those vacations in ten years. But those are conversations with a therapist. Definitely not material for a travel blog.
For some reason, my control freak self was immediately intrigued with the idea of completely giving over the details of a vacation, even the destination, to someone else. I thought it would make an awesome Christmas gift to my husband.
He threw down the gauntlet for awesome Christmas gifts three years ago when he presented me with a key fob to the red Jaguar that was parked in our driveway. Unbeknownst to me, or our two adult children who were there that Christmas morning, It even had a big bow. Just like the commercials.
The bow was just on loan We actually had to return it. Apparently those things are crazy expensive.
The very funny thing about that surprise was when one of those commercials came on TV that Christmas morning, before our gift exchange. I had turned to him and said, joking, “Is there something for me in the driveway with a big bow?” He looked at me, rather surprised. I remember thinking it was taking him a long time to respond. He finally said, “Do you know something that I don’t know.” I think we both exhaled at that moment. I laughed and went to brush my teeth.
But I digress. I have have a digressing habit. I wonder if there is a Digressers Anonymous?
PUAG offers a gifting option, but then he would have gotten an immediate email, and I wasn’t going to be able to time that just right. Instead, I gifted it to myself, so the email was sent to me. I printed that out and put it in a box. I wrapped the box in a map of the US. All PUAG trips are in the Continental US. I put that in another box and wrapped that in Christmas wrapping paper. This was all payback for the wrapping job of the Jaguar key fob.
He opened the gift and was suitably impressed. We picked a weekend at the end of February. The trips are 2 nights, 3 days. You fill out a questionnaire that includes information that included where we had been recently. That included San Francisco, Las Vegas and Austin. Where we were going before our chosen PUAG weekend. That would be Napa.
I should say here that PUAG can schedule a trip on any two night period, so it doesn’t have to be a weekend.
They also ask if you want to go somewhere warm, or are okay with the cold. That was easy. I live in Colorado. It’s winter. SEND US SOMEWHERE WARM!!! They ask what kind of things you like, like fine dining, hole in the wall places, comedy clubs. Yes, no, yes. They ask about dietary restrictions. I didn’t mention anything. Mine is so weird, it’s easier to tell the actual restaurant. I can’t eat anything with cows milk or cream. I can, however, eat things made with butter and harder cheeses, like cheddar and mozzarella. Greek yogurt is okay. I know. Weird. Much easier to explain in person.
PUAG requires at least four weeks planning time. As we got closer and closer we got more and more excited.
A week before our departure day I received the expected email with the weather forecast for our destination and packing suggestions. It was in my email box when I woke up at 6 am.
Let the guessing begin!