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Plan a Romantic Surprise Vacation

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Maureen Mattson - Assistant Editor, Excellent Romantic Vacations

By: Maureen Mattson, ERV Asst Editor - Updated: Apr 4, 2023 

Want to surprise that special someone with a romantic getaway? Here's a collection of travel ideas for surprising her (or him!)...

Planning Tips:

choose the right destination

  • Give careful thought to the destination. Think of a place your significant other has always wanted to go? A place he/she holds special, and has always dreamed of going? That’s the kind of trip we’re talking about. Choose a place that will help both of you break free of your usual routine, but don’t plan a trip that’s secretly for you!  

maintain the element of surprise

  • Be a little bit sneaky to protect the element of surprise: How can you make sure your husband or wife takes the time off for a getaway or doesn't schedule something else for that time? It's tricky, but you could try a "fake" arrangement or booking of something else for that time period (a visit to relatives, a household project, a mundane trip of some kind, etc).  You may even need to coordinate with the boss of your significant other. 

careful with that cc!

  • If you're booking a romantic surprise vacation more than a month in advance, be careful when using a joint credit card. If your husband or wife shares the account and they see the statement, you’re busted! As well, be careful with e-mails and any other correspondence that your spouse could see that might provide strong clues or even give away your surprise trip.

book an add-on package

  • Research romantic package deals or enhancements: Lots of hotels and B&B's have romance packages with extras like champagne, chocolates, picnic lunch or romantic carriage ride. When you make a booking, ask the staff to keep it a secret until the right time. You can also request flowers in the room for arrival, or a romantic turndown service. (See our pages that suggest in-room hot tubs or plunge pools

Know the eateries

  • Search ahead of time for local restaurants: Know what is available and where it’s located. Consider making reservations. 

be a control freak

  • Pre-plan and schedule your activities or excursions: Ensure tickets are purchased, transportation is arranged, and bookings are made so things go smoothly when it’s time to do what you’ve dreamed of. 

Pre-Packing caution

  • Packing in advance? Packing for her sounds romantic, but is loaded with risk! For many women, wrong or missing items can doom a holiday!  If it's just an overnight surprise getaway not far from home, it could be ok. Perhaps enlist help from her friends or family, or access her packing list if she keeps one.   

upgrade it

  • Upgrade your transportation and/or hotel room: Plan a surprise room upgrade at a hotel or inn. So, if you're booking a getaway in Southern California for example, make it seem like it's going to be the usual room, no frills, etc. But actually make the reservation for a Romantic Hotel Getaway in Los Angeles or Palm Springs.

the big reveal!

  • Some people love to have the bags packed and not reveal the surprise until you are at the airport or train station. Others tell their loved one a day or two in advance so that he/she can enjoy the anticipation and have time to prepare. If the trip is particularly long or far away, allow time for the recipient to do some shopping and preparing. (And make sure that passport is valid!) Perhaps gift a travel essential with a note inside announcing the plans. Whatever you decide, we wish you a lifetime of good memories. 

surprise honeymoons

  • Surprise Honeymoon Vacation? Our advice: Don’t. Plan other romantic getaways as a surprise. Your honeymoon is for both of you, and should be planned together. Besides, it’s once-in-a-lifetime, and too important to be left to just 1 person.

Surprise Vacation Packages: Hawaii, Las Vegas 

Sometimes, planning it waaaaaaay in advance increases the chance your surprise will be discovered! So for some last-minute vacation deals:


Las Vegas:

Surprise Engagement Trips

  • Surprise Marriage Proposal: If you're not only looking for a romantic surprise vacation but a surprise engagement as well, don't rely on the Jumbotron at the sports stadium! Instead, you could try:
  • proposing while on a romantic Gondola ride

  • renting a limo for a city tour and proposing while sipping champagne
  • enjoying a picnic in a park or on the beach on a nice afternoon
  • get to a place with a great view, and dropping down on one knee
  • popping the question while ice skating
  • take his/her to the location of your first date together

Got More Money than Ideas? Fairmont Hotels Proposal Packages are waiting for you!

More Romantic Surprise Vacation Ideas & Destinations

  • Pull the Old Switcheroo: This is done by diverting to a romantic destination close to where you might normally travel. For example, let's say you always visit family in Northern California. So make it sound like it’s another routine "visit the family weekend", but instead, turn it into a romantic weekend in San Francisco or the romantic Northern California Coast instead.

Other possibilities for the "usual destination / nearby romantic alternative" include:

Best Type of Surprise Escape from Stress: an all-inclusive resort where most everything is looked after, and where you can relax and unwind in one place (not have to jump from location to location and pack-unpack-pack)


Are you a couple that's been everywhere? Looking to plan a unique surprise vacation and adventure? Why not try something different, like a romantic getaway in Iceland or a beach vacation in Belize? 

Have Some Fun: in your husband or wife's carry-on bag, place a travel magazine with the page corner folded on the surprise destination your headed to. Then suggest that for a "hint' about where you're going, check the bag!

Not Adventurous? For sure-fire destinations you can't go wrong with, stick to:

Plan a Surprise romantic hotel stay:

New York

Hotel 50 Bowery NYC

Hotel 50 Bowery


Royal Sonesta Chicago River North

Royal Sonesta

Los Angeles

Shade Hotel Manhattan Beach CA

Shade Hotel


Hotel Granduca


Hyatt Regency

San Francisco


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