Our secret birthday anniversary trips

21 June 2017

2017 is a big year for our family! John and I both turn 30 (I already did), and we’ll celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary in September. Usually, we mark our anniversaries with dinner out and cards, and birthdays get a special day of adventures and usually a smaller gift. For this banner year, though, we decided to roll all of the festivities together for one (well, actually two!) landmark celebrations!

To celebrate our birthdays and anniversary, we’re each planning a SECRET TRIP for the other! We set out a few parameters at the beginning of the year:

— The budget is $1,000 (for each trip – we supplemented our normal vacation budget with money from savings). Flying is allowed, but would likely be challenging given the budget.
— We can each use one day of vacation.
— June can come or not, as long as one set of parents is available to come stay with her.
— The point of the trip is to delight the other person, so every decision should be made with that in mind!
— Everything must stay SECRET!

mariposa grove

From our California trip

While we are both still excited about this idea we dreamed up, there have been a few unforeseen challenges:

1. John cannot keep a secret. Well, he can, but it’s very challenging for him. He desperately wants to tell me what he’s planning, and is always trying to trick me into telling him what I’m planning. The secret aspect is definitely more for me than for John, as I love being surprised but (for the aforementioned reasons), John surprising me is not a very common occurrence :)
2. We share an Airbnb account. John booked the accommodations for his trip a few months ago, and I’ve been effectively locked out of our account ever since, for fear that I’ll accidentally stumble upon the details of his trip. This makes booking accommodations for MY trip on Airbnb problematic, but it’s not very practical to open a new account since I wouldn’t have any guest reviews. A friend has offered to let me book through her account if I decide to go that route, but I’m also looking into hotel options! We’ll see.
3. We usually plan trips together. Before this year, I would definitely have said John was the trip planner in our family – and he is. But the truth is that we each bring something unique to the trip planning process, and we’ve both lamented the lack of the other person’s expertise at different times this year!

Despite those few challenges, it’s been good to shake things up and try something different :) Plus, I’ve appreciated the exercise of brainstorming the things John in particular enjoys – not just what he and I both enjoy – and to dream up little details that will let him know I put lots of thought and love into celebrating him.

John’s trip for me is scheduled for September, and mine for him for October (back to back just by accident!). He’s already booked his accommodations, and I am on the brink of doing the same, plus I’ve roughed out our itinerary. As of right now, June is coming on both trips. I can’t tell you much more now, but I will of course report back later this fall!!

Until then, I’d love to hear: have you ever planned a secret trip, or anything else big and secret? I’m a total newbie!

23 Responses to “Our secret birthday anniversary trips”

  1. This is such a fun idea, Emily! Not only will you both be blessed by the gift of two grand adventures, but also memories to cherish for years to come! :)

    Em

    Yes! We both generally prefer experiences to gifts, so it’s a good fit for us! :)

  2. Natalie

    I LOVE this idea!

  3. Emily

    So delightful! Now I’m excited to find out. I’ve heard of “secret dates” but not secret trips yet.

  4. Emma

    Such a wonderful idea and smart to clearly think through those parameters!

    For my husbands 30th a few years ago I planned a surprise trip home to celebrate with his family and friends! The hardest part was coming up with a fib as to why we were headed to the city where the airport is an hour away. I was sure he would guess what was happening as soon as we started driving toward that city but when he didn’t I quickly made up that we were going to look at new cars(?!). He really didn’t understand until we were parked at the airport and was SO.EXCITED!!

    I also had to take into account that his real bday date was BEFORE that weekend so I had to come up with a present given he didn’t know about the trip. Since he didn’t know we’d be seeing family and friends I asked everyone to do a Dubsmash (heard of that app?) and I compiled them into a video. It was awesome!

    Em

    Hahaha I love that!! New cars :) :)

  5. Oh my goodness, I LOVE this idea!!! But now I’m just dying to know where you’re going!

  6. Such a fun idea!!! And so special! My husband turns 30 this year and I think I’d like to surprise him with something similar! I have a couple more years to go, but I also have my golden birthday of 31 the same week as our 5th anniversary so I’m already planning a big trip for that week even though its still years away! Ha! Can’t wait to see what you choose for each other!

  7. What a fun idea!! I’d love to incorporate this into my marriage, too! Enjoy your upcoming trips!

  8. What a fantastic idea! Just in case you need to tell someone what you’re planning for John, I’m all ears!!!

    Em

    Hahaha you know I will probably hit you up for some suggestions! :)

  9. Kelly Strawberry

    Love this idea and definitely makes me re-think how we do trips in my family. My husband typically doesn’t seem excited about traveling. It’s not how he would choose to spend money typically, which creates some conflicts since traveling is something I always look forward to. I always end up planning everything and he always seems less than thrilled, then it’s a domino effect of me being disappointed that he’s not excited, etc. I’ve just learned to have really low expectations LOL! This post has got me thinking that I need to be more creative in coming up with some compromises in this area. Maybe if I tell him how important it is to me and that he needs to be in charge of planning, it would ultimately make it better for both of us!

    Em

    As you know, I truly think consistently low expectations have led to a happier life overall for me, haha! Maybe try incorporating something you know he particularly loves to do on the trips, and let him have ownership over that part of the planning?

  10. Megan

    I LOVE this idea! My husband and I have talked about full-day adventure surprises that we plan for the other, but not a full trip. I’m now thinking we should! I can’t wait to hear all about them. Gifts are #5 on my husband’s love language list, so for his 30th birthday this year, I flew his best friend across the country to surprise him at his beer tasting birthday party!

  11. What a fun idea! I’m excited to see where you guys end up :)

  12. Kara

    My husband and I both planned secret trips for each other the year we turned 30 too! He planned mine in Bermuda and his was in Puerto Rico. We both evidently spilled where we were going before each trip though!

    Em

    So fun!!! I would love to go to Bermuda!

  13. I’m so excited to see what you have planned. I cannot keep a secret, so I wouldn’t be great at this. I love being surprised though. We are hoping to go on a big trip next year for our 5 year anniversary too!

  14. kayla

    SO FUN! love this idea so much. the best surprise i could muster was for my husband’s 29th birthday when we were living about 4 hours away from most of our friends & fam. i had them send me cards for him so i was able to give him a big ol’ stack of bday cards from friends who we were missing dearly. not extravagant but a fun surprise nonetheless.

    Em

    So, so sweet! I’m sure he loved that!

  15. Love this!! We prefer experiences over gifts too, although we’ve never tried planning trips secretly! Such a fun idea! May have to try this next year! :) Last year for my 30th + Jordan’s 31st + graduation + 7 year anniversary we went to Hawaii! Lol! Since it was a bigger trip, we rolled ALL the celebrations into one! This year we opted for smaller weekend getaways for our birthdays and haven’t decided yet on what to do for our anniversary! Can’t wait to hear where y’all end up going! xo!

  16. I love this idea! I’m getting married in September, and while I’ll be getting my fiance a smaller, traditional gift, I’m also signing us up for a cooking class after we are back from our honeymoon because he loves to cook! I’m SUCH a big fan of experiences over gifts :)