American Express Travel is offering an interesting new service called “Nextpedition“, a “custom-made mystery trip” based on your interests. Here’s how it works: you meet with a Nexpedition Specialist to determine your profile as a traveler — what you are interested in, what things you like to do while traveling, etc. Then, the specialist creates a custom mystery trip for you based on your interests. They book your flights and hotels, and plan fun activities for you to do during your trip. A week before your trip, you receive a smartphone (on loan) and a dossier. Once you start traveling, the smartphone is how you will receive your instructions and next destination. The dossier tells you what you need to pack (since you won’t know where you’re going until the smartphone tells you to go!), and a description of how the trip will unfold.
All trips are 7 days long, with round-trip air, hotel accommodations, and mystery activities included in the cost. The website has some example videos of Nextpedition mystery activities, including things like go-kart tours of the city, meetings with local fashion designers and artists, and chocolate tours. It sounds like the activities range from touristy things you might never have shelled out the bucks to do normally, to exclusive meetings with local business owners relevant to your interests.
I think the most appealing part of this offer is that they plan everything for you. No Googling for hotels in foreign cities, trying to judge ratings and weigh costs. No trying to book the best flight. Just pack your bags and let the smart phone tell you what flight to catch and where you’re staying! The only thing it sounds like guests are really responsible for is feeding themselves, and the smartphone gives advice for other things to do in your area when you’re not doing a mystery activity, so even that shouldn’t be too hard.
Pricing for these trips seems surprisingly reasonable. There are three pricing tiers, depending on how fancy you want your trip to be: Three Stars (comfortable), Four Stars (premium), and Five Stars (top-shelf). Each tier gives options for US-only travel, or Europe travel. For two people traveling together, Three Star US trips start at $1,000, Europe at $2,500. Four Star US trips start at $1,500, Europe at $3,000. And Five Star US trips start at $2,000, Europe at $3,500. These costs cover round-trip air fare, hotel accommodations, and mystery activities for a 7-day trip. To help put those numbers in perspective, a 7-night Disney cruise to the Eastern Caribbean for two people starts at about $2,000 (value accommodations, entertainment, and dining included, transportation to and from departure city not included), and a 7-night trip to Disney World for two people starts at about $1,500 (value accommodations and park tickets included, dining and transportation to Orlando not included).
Speaking of Disney, it seems pretty clear that the Nextpedition trips are targeted towards adults traveling alone or with other adults. While older children might not need any special accommodations, it seems like these trips aren’t designed with young children or families in mind.
If you check out the Nexpedition website, you can take a quiz that will reveal your “Travel Sign“, sort of like a horoscope for your interests when it comes to traveling, and the foundation of your mystery trip. The questions seem a bit silly, and are limited in their answers, but somehow combine to make 20 different personality profiles. I’m not sure about the accuracy of the results. My top result was Adrenalista: “You push yourself to the edge with every new journey and hurl yourself over it with a maniacal grin.” Not exactly how I would describe myself, or what I intended with the answers I chose. But since you have a consultation with a Nexpedition Specialist before you actually plan your trip, you probably get a more accurate assessment of your interests through that meeting.
The one catch: there are a limited number of trips available each month, so you probably have to make reservations pretty far in advance to get a spot. But that does make me feel reassured that my trip, were I to take one, would be custom-built just for me, and not just the same as every other “Adrenalista” who signs up.
So if you’re interested in a week-long vacation where everything is planned out for you, with a bit of an Amazing Race, unknown destination feel to it, maybe you should look into a Nextpedition!