Oh, The Places You Go — Mystery Trip

25 Dec

A guest blog by Patrick.

With exactly one week to go before Mystery Trip 2018, I sat down to wrap my head around everything that had happened since we received the following text from Sammi on Monday, August 14:


I can’t tell you which is more intriguing:  an EPIC, personalized travel-ganza or the though to my passport’s exoneration.


I scoured every last text message for hints, clues, and instructions. This was the result:

Sammi recommends duel-purpose undies.  #is13pairstoomany?


For months Colleen and I had organized clandestine FaceTime chats to try to prepare ourselves for what would surely be an EPIC adventure. But how do you properly prepare for a Mystery Trip? Do you read into every single clue and try to figure out your exact destination (there are a lot of places with an average temperature of 31℉ in December)? Or do you try your hardest to not think about it despite the fact that EVERY SINGLE PERSON you mention it to immediately starts throwing their guesses at you? How many times do I have to tell you, we’re not going to Canada!

We chose Option C: obsess over packing. Countless hours led to two carefully packed bags, each less than 55x20x40cm, with everything we could possibly need to be able to go out on New Year’s Eve (and possibly other times) in public during the 60% of the trip we’d be in a city and largely inside, and still be prepared for the possibility of snow/rain and for weather that feels colder than the 17℉ low during the 40% of the trip we’d be not sleeping outside. We obviously wore LAYERS onto the plane.

Colleen obsessed took care of the snacks. I convinced her to bring a curling iron so we could use it as a microphone.

We put together a Mystery Trip Playlist: you should check it out! Sammi requested the first song, and we curated the rest…



Our planes from Chicago and Denver converged at LaGuardia in New York, where we turned on our phones to find instructions from Sammi to meet her at JFK. We left a trail of candy cane crumbs in our Lyft on the way to the airport. We scoured Terminal 7 far and wide before finally spotting Sammi – she was hard to find because of her camouflaged hat.


Headline: Savvy American tourists prepare to integrate into local culture.

We immediately handed over our passports to Sammi who worked her incredible magic to get us through the check-in counter and security clearances without a glitch. All that stood between us and a true mystery was getting on the plane.

We were a hit at the airport – people couldn’t believe what we were up to and went out of their way to talk to us. #AdventureSam

Colleen and I synced our music, turned it up to full blast, pulled our hats over our eyes, and stumbled down the long hallway to our gate.


3-2-1: Board!

Sammi guided us expertly onto the plane – we only ran into her like 17 times. We got to our seats, where she quickly scoured the area for anything that might give our destination away. Nothing. Then she looked up and saw a giant map of our flight broadcast on a massive TV 6 feet in front of our seat. Whoops! We resolved to keep our eyes to our row. : )



The thrill of successfully getting on a plane without knowing where we were going was powerful. Colleen and I were pumped! Sammi immediately fell asleep. Her loss: she missed out on two awful meals (“What if the place where we are going isn’t known for its food?”), a bootlegged version of iRobot with Chinese subtitles, and discovering that our overhead reading lamps were controlled by the wrong seats.


How could she possibly sleep with a  delicious meal of overcooked noodles and mystery strawberry foam nearby?


One of the aspects of the trip Colleen and I hadn’t prepared for was the fact that we had no idea how long the flight was. Here we were, wedged into seats on a low-cost airline with our heads down to avoid looking at the giant map in front of us, with no freaking idea where we were going or when we would get there! Luckily, I had put together a Funtivity packet that allowed Colleen to win an EPIC game of dots and squares.



And then, finally we landed! We had no idea what time it was, where we were, or what was waiting for us once we stepped off of the airplane. But, as we were soon to find out, you can always count on an amazing experience when AdventureSam is wearing her ‘I Planned This!’ hat…


— Patrick

2 Responses to “Oh, The Places You Go — Mystery Trip”

  1. deekerson January 17, 2018 at 12:07 am #

    Nice one, Patrick! Now Colleen, it’s time to step up. Come on!!

  2. deekerson January 17, 2018 at 12:17 am #

    I’m leaving a replay to the first person that commented. That would be me. Can I even reply to myself?
    Patrick, that’s it? Did you record the Game of Dots and Squares, at least? I’d love to analyze some of that strategy. What was the most difficult word to find. Still nothing from Colleen, huh?

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