Surprise! How to Plan the Perfect Birthday Getaway

By Marla Cimini

A surprise birthday getaway can make for a memorable and joyful experience that stands out as a great story for years to come. But planning a secret birthday trip for a spouse, friend or child requires a bit of inspiration and some imaginative preparation.

Birthday Vacations and Trips

Here are a few tips to create the happiest of birthday celebrations:

Choose the right birthday destination. Whether it’s a location close to home or a one that requires a cross-country flight, choose a place that the birthday boy or girl has expressed a desire to visit. Ask yourself what they will most enjoy. Do they love going off the beaten path or prefer a lavish escape? Would they opt for a cozy condo for two or a larger house to accommodate friends and family? The varied options include a woodsy getaway in Tennessee, a ski trip in the Colorado mountains or a beach vacation in Florida.

Keep it secret. Chances are you’ll have to be clever—if not downright sneaky—to plan a surprise destination birthday party. For starters, you’ll have to figure out how to clear the person’s calendar for a few days. If you live with the person celebrating the birthday, it will be even more of a surprise if you can pack their suitcase in advance. (Just don’t pack too far ahead, or they may wonder why their clothes are “missing” from the closet). If you invite others to the getaway, make sure they don’t spoil the secret and tell the birthday person, who will be surprised to see them.

Birthday Getaways and Celebrations

Arrange activities. Plan a few fun activities while allotting free time for the guest of honor to relax and unwind. Depending on the person’s interests and hobbies, the activities can be as low key as a cooking demonstration, yoga class or leisurely hike or as adrenaline-pumping as rock climbing or stand-up paddle boarding. If you want something specific in your rental, let your vacation rental manager know in advance that you’re planning a surprise birthday vacation. They can recommend local merchants for flowers, balloons or a bottle of champagne.

Plan a birthday dinner. By renting a property with a fully-equipped kitchen, you can make the celebratory dinner extra special by hiring a personal chef to whip up a gourmet meal or by having the dinner catered by a local company. If dining at a restaurant, you can still arrange for pre-dinner appetizers and cocktails in your vacation home before hitting the town. And for the finishing touch, don’t forget the birthday cake—whether homemade or store-bought—to cap off the celebratory birthday getaway!

Start planning the perfect surprise by finding a vacation rental home.

Freelance journalist Marla Cimini has a passion for travel, music and culinary adventures (combining all three whenever possible). Her articles have appeared in USA TODAY and numerous publications worldwide. She is co-author of the book, A Century of Hospitality, a historical exploration of U.S. hotels.


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Nova Davis

I want to plan my own 40th birthday party. I want to stay close to nyc a weekend trip for myself and a few friends