Calling All Adventurers: Whisked Away Is The Travel Experience You've Been Waiting For
Dec 14, 2018
You know that moment when you're planning a vacation and you're trying to coordinate flight times, airport transfers, hotel check-ins, restaurant reservations, excursions, and sight-seeing and you think, "This is my favorite part of traveling!"
No? The planning and detail-oriented part of the process isn't the part that you enjoy?
Well, it is for Charlotte McGhee. That's why she started her own surprise travel planning business called Whisked Away.
Charlotte plans travel for people... and for an added element of excitement, she keeps the destination a surprise until you get to the airport.
Travelers come to Whisked Away because they are feeling overwhelmed when it comes to planning their next trip. "Maybe they've asked their friends and family where they should go (or asked in a travel Facebook group), and after getting tons of recommendations they are left feeling even more confused," Charlotte said. "Whisked Away travelers are just ready to take their free time back, head to a brewery, and leave the hours of planning to someone else!"
The Whisked Away booking process takes only 10 minutes - you just choose the region you'd like to go to and your budget, and then you fill out a fun survey letting Charlotte know what you love to do while traveling (and where you've traveled in the past, so you get to go somewhere new). Then you're done!
Two weeks before you travel, you'll get an email with: 1.) predicted weather at your surprise destination; 2.) what to pack; 3.) when to be at the airport.
One week before your trip, you'll get an envelope in the mail with your completed itinerary and surprise destination!
Most travelers wait until they get to the airport to open the envelope and find out where they are going. Here's a great blog post with video of a recent honeymooning couple opening their envelope at the CLT airport.
What led Charlotte to start Whisked Away?
After seven years of teaching for CMS, Charlotte decided she wanted to make her own hours and do something completely different. Plus, she had been planning travel for family and friends for years, and noticed that while searching for the perfect accommodations or activities, she lost track of time (in the best way). "I got really excited at the thought of people I love experiencing a unique trip that I had planned so I started thinking about doing it for others," she said.
On a weekend trip to Savannah with her husband in early 2017, the two were sitting on a rooftop bar watching the boats come in and he casually mentioned that she should think about doing this for a living. When they got home, Charlotte started a simple website, and the rest is history!
Charlotte's first solo trip was to Costa Rica when she was 17. It opened her eyes in the way that only travel can, and she was hooked. Many folks reading this probably have a similar story - travel has that effect on people.
"Since then, I worked so that I could travel," Charlotte said. "I volunteered with AmeriCorps in southern Colorado, I taught in Ecuador for a year and a half - and I've lived, studied, worked or traveled through about 30 countries since then."
How many trips has she planned?
"Outside of Whisked Away? A gazillion," Charlotte said. "But since starting Whisked Away in March 2017, I've planned about 30 surprise trips (some for repeat customers) and I'm also co-leading a retreat in Tuscany this May with Dana Childs Intuitive."
But why surprise travel, rather than just plain-old travel planning?
"Surprise travel makes it easier on everyone, but it isn't for everyone," Charlotte explained. "Making the trip a surprise means the client gets to order up a perfect trip that is customized for them, but they don't have to do any of the work to make it happen. My hope, and what I have heard from past clients, is that the process was stress-free and super fun. As people living in the US, we spend so much of our time working, and many people get very little vacation time. Why would you spend your free time 'working' on planning your travel?"
Charlotte said she meets with a lot of her clients in person. "It is so exciting to talk with them about what they are dreaming of in their perfect trip and then make it happen for them," she said. "Getting to see people's faces when they open their envelopes, or hearing how wonderful their trips were... it's just the best."
If Whisked Away planned a trip for someone who loved beer and fitness (hint, hint!), what kind of destinations might Charlotte consider?
"Oooh okay," said Charlotte. "In North America, you've got to go Pacific Northwest, right? You could do a Portland/Seattle brewery tour combo pack, check out Willamette Valley while you're there, take in Mt. Hood & Mt. Rainier..."
But what about in Europe?
"The obvious choice is Bavaria, right? You've got the glorious mountains, amazing beer, tons of history... but did you know that the Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than Germany?" Charlotte said. "Their beer is pretty good too, and Prague is insanely beautiful. It is the only city so far that I've sent two different clients to."
Outside of planning incredible surprise trips for people, how does Charlotte work for her beer?
"My fave spots in Charlotte to work out are MADabolic (there is no better work out in my opinion), Flywheel, Be Yoga & Okra," Charlotte said. "I also love hiking with my pup!"
Any favorite spots to grab a beer?
"My all-time favorite brewery in Charlotte is Wooden Robot, but we live on the east side so really love Free Range, Birdsong and Legion as well," Charlotte said. "Plus, I used to think that NC wine was sweet and kind of gross, but then I had Dover Vineyards wine! They're located in Concord and sell wine at some of the breweries. It is so, so good."
To learn more about Whisked Away (and how you can get yourself or a loved one a surprise trip that is totally customized to your interests!), click here.
Stay tuned to the Work For Your Beer blog for more tips from this travel expert in weeks to come!