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Husband: “Maybe we should just book a mystery trip for our summer vacation this year.”
Me: Ummmmm how ’bout no… *cue stress induced panic attack*
The thought of someone taking complete control over my vacation AND not knowing where I was going was enough to make me freak out just a little. Or a lot. But, Nathan and I were in the midst of one of the busiest, most stressful years of our lives and he and I both knew that our summer vacay wouldn’t happen unless we had some help! Between moving, selling our condo in Steamboat, buying a new house and both starting new jobs, there were about negative 500 hours in the day to plan a vacation. But as nerve – racking as it was to think that someone else would be planning our vacation, there was something appealing about being bold and adventuring out to someplace new and unknown!
Using Pale Blue to Book a Mystery Trip
After giving it some thought, I reluctantly agreed to book a mystery trip for our summer vacation. Our friends, Erin and Alex, had recently launched their travel company, Pale Blue, which specializes in mystery trips. We had used them previously to help us book our honeymoon to Hawaii. They were so great at learning our needs and likes, so we figured this whole mystery trip thing was pretty low risk! So, I agreed to relinquish all control. And thank goodness I did, because what was to come was better than anything I could have planned or imagined!
Booking a Mystery Trip – The Process
Our first step in booking our mystery trip was to go to the Pale Blue website and choose our vacation type. They had all of the options laid out so nicely for us and we were able to pick our type of trip based on duration, budget and desired mode of transportation!
We decided to go with the “Longer Than a Weekend” option where we would travel domestically by plane/train. Next, we were redirected to a brief, but thorough, questionnaire where we gave our preferences for the trip. Some of the things that they asked were:
- Our budget
- Preferred transportation method
- Travel dates, and if they were flexible or not
- Climate preference (hot, mild, or cool)
- Resting habits (early or late riser)
- Lodging preferences
- Anywhere we did NOT want to go
- And more!
After we pressed the “submit” button, it was all in the hands of Pale Blue! We eagerly awaited the arrival of our trip envelopes that would reveal our destination.
The Big Reveal
About two weeks before our mystery trip, we received a packing list from Erin and Alex so that we knew what to bring. But, those tricksters also included some random items to throw us off. There was no way we were going to guess where they were sending us!
Finally, a few days before our trip, we received our package with the envelopes revealing our destination, activities, and more. Each envelope was labeled with when to open, so we were in store for some exciting surprises all throughout our trip!
You know that feeling you get before Christmas morning, where you can hardly sleep because you are so excited? Well, that was us! Sleeping the night before our trip was nearly impossible. We could hardly wait to see where we were going! Pale Blue gave us instructions on when to arrive at the airport, so we headed out bright and early. We had the option to open the envelope revealing our destination before we left, but we decided to wait until we got to the airport! The suspense was killing us. When we finally arrived, we opened our first envelope which revealed our destination… Boise, Idaho!
Boise or Bust! – Highlights from Our Mystery Trip
When we arrived at the airport, Pale Blue emailed us our boarding passes and a downloadable travel guide from Guidester. The travel guide was full of amazingly useful information that saved us tons of time researching restaurants and activities! We read through the guide and were able to hit the ground running when we arrived in Boise.
We had two activities that were planned for us with the rest of our trip being free time. This allowed us to relax a bit and be flexible with what we wanted to see which was very nice! We packed a lot into our Boise trip, but here are some of the highlights from our vacation:
Indulge Boise Food Tour
Pale Blue’s first activity that they booked for us was Indulge Boise’s Historic Downtown Boise Food and Cultural Tour. Our tour consisted of visiting 6 culinary locations in the Old Boise Historical District and Capitol District with multiple tastings of delicious food at each of our stops!
My favorite locations were Olivin and Bacon. At Olivin, we sampled a variety of olive oils as well as this Maple Balsamic Vinegar . It was so delicious, that I had to buy some to take home! Bacon was exactly what you would expect – a restaurant with dishes revolving around BACON. YUM! We tried their famous “Berryhill Bacon” which was to die for! I got inspired by both of these stops and made my own version of Berryhill Bacon using Olivin’s Maple Balsamic Vinegar. You can check out my recipe here!
Aside from eating some amazing food on the tour, we were also able to learn about the culture of Boise! Our tour guide educated us on the culture of the Basque people who first settled in Boise. To this day, the Basque families in Boise still speak the native language and hold traditional Basque festivals year round! Pretty neat.
Exploring the Artisan Pathway in Garden City
Our vacation rental came with two bikes to use, so we decided to ride down to Garden City and explore the Artisan Pathway! Along the pathway there were tons of restaurants and wineries tucked back into the trees. Idaho has over 40 wineries and is pretty big on ciders too. There were tons of tasting locations on this path!
We stopped at Telaya Wine Co. and shared a wine flight before making our way down the path to the Whitewater Park, where we watched surfers and body boarders show off their skills at a man made section of the river that was designed to have waves!
This area was so much fun to explore and we went back multiple times! There were so many paths to take and restaurants to see as we cruised around on our bikes.
Floating Down the River in a Raft
This particular day was my husband’s birthday, so I had made a special request to Pale Blue to plan a fun activity for him. He loves to be on the water so we got to raft down the river in Boise for a few hours! And the best part? It was a surprise for me too, and I didn’t have to do any of the work!
Pale Blue made all of the arrangements for us and had our tickets ready to go for the rafting trip. All we had to do was show up! This was such a relaxing activity, and a great way to see some of the natural beauty of Boise as well. We even made a few friends on the river!
Exploring the San Inazio Basque Festival
This is something that we just stumbled upon during our free time and it was one of the main highlights of the trip for both of us! The San Inazio Basque Festival is a super fun and lively annual event that honors the Basque settlers of Boise. This event happens every July and there is music, dancing and food all throughout the night and into the morning!
We had a blast wandering around and enjoying some good people watching while we sipped on a Kalimotxo (pronounced cali – mo -cho), which is a traditional Basque beverage made out of red wine and Coke. Our friend lived with a Basque family while studying abroad, and he told us that the saying there was, “The cheaper the wine, the better the Kalimotxo.” Sounds gross but it was delicious – you’ll have to give it a try at home!
Riding Bikes Around Town
Boise is surprisingly bike friendly, so we got around town mostly with the bikes that were available at the vacation rental! We rode them downtown and all around. They also have these electric scooters, called Lime, that you can rent and ride around the downtown area. They were all around downtown and were super accessible. These scooters were such a blast! And they go up to 15 mph (not that I tried or anything…).
- Bacon – You have to try their famous “Berryhill Bacon” and a bacon flight!
- Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro – We ate here when we landed in Boise and it was delicious. The place was packed, which is always a sign of a good restaurant!
- Cafe Luciano’s – They have a nice patio overlooking the river on the Artisan Pathway.
- Boise Co – Op – This is a great place to pick up some healthy snacks and breakfast foods!
- 10 Barrel Brewery – We tried both of their flights and this was a nice place to go in the evenings! They have food options there as well.
Why You Need to Book a Mystery Trip
The most amazing part about this mystery trip process was that it was so simple, stress free and most importantly, so much fun to be surprised! Going on a mystery trip pulled us out of our comfort zones and allowed us to explore a place where we would have NEVER thought to go to! I loved feeling like we were on an adventure the entire time. Pale Blue really tailored the trip to our preferences and made it such an enjoyable experience. Booking a mystery trip might just become an annual tradition for us now! If you are looking to try something new and don’t want to deal with the hassle of researching and booking everything on your own, you MUST book a mystery trip. I promise, you won’t regret it!