Surprising Journeys: A New Dimension of Travel

Playful Cultural Immersion and Collaborative Group Travel on a Secret Itinerary

Are you ready to experience the world in a whole new and enjoyable way? Journeys International is bringing you Surprising Journeys, mystery trips where travelers know the starting and ending points but unlock the middle of the itinerary day-by-day by completing group challenges. These adventures blend the excitement of gamification, the suspense of mystery tours, and the spirit of overcoming challenges with the Journeys International values of curiosity, cultural connection, can-do spirit, and play. This unique approach to exploration engages your mind, body, and playful spirit in discovering the essence of the places you visit, ensuring that no participant can be a passive observer in the experience. As you work together with fellow travelers to complete locally rooted challenges, you will make new friends and delight at the insights you gain into your destinations.

How It Works: The Details of Surprising Journeys

  • Destinations: The featured region for each Surprising Journey will be part of the trip headline, and its trip listing will include the starting and ending city (along with the trip dates).
  • Mystery Itinerary: Beyond the starting and ending cities, the rest of the itinerary will be revealed day-by-day as you go. Finishing a challenge unlocks the next waypoint.
  • Daily Challenges: Unique, culturally immersive challenges each day will challenge the group to work together.
  • Exciting Rewards: Completing challenges without assistance earns bonus upgrades and access to hidden gems.
  • Additional Experiences: On days when time remains beyond challenges and travel between locations, enjoy opportunities for guided exploration of surrounding cities and towns.
  • Trip Leadership: Alongside destination guides who bring cultural knowledge and local access, your Adventure Ace will manage logistics and ensure challenges and group dynamics run smoothly.
  • Accommodations and Meals: Comfortable, unique accommodations with daily breakfasts and selected meals included.
  • Transportation: All transportation necessary for the itinerary is included in the trip, whether by public bus, private van, or group flight.
  • Group Size:8-12 people per trip for set departures; smaller or larger groups are possible for private trips.
  • Pre-Trip Preparation: Receive a tailored packing list and detailed pre-departure information and advice.
  • Concluding the Journey: Finish your journey with new friendships and unforgettable experiences. Extend your adventures with additional travel, or depart for home.

More on the Adventure Ace: Steward of Unforgettable Experiences

Surprising Journeys are uniquely fantastic experiences due in part to their uniquely fantastic leadership. At the helm of every Surprising Journey stands an Adventure Ace – a mastermind of experiences who skillfully unveils daily challenges, weaves together trip elements, and guides you through each step of your expedition. As a partner to local guides, the Adventure Ace is the challenge calibrator, curiosity role model, traveler advocate, spirit captain, and chief problem solver. Whether navigating urban landscapes on creative scavenger hunts or foraging for fungi in unexplored caves, the Adventure Ace ensures that every challenge is a doorway to cultural discovery and personal growth (and that the trip is tons of fun in between).

Step Just Outside Your Comfort Zone 

Surprising Journeys invite you to travel in a new way, where you fully relinquish the planning to us. We know this is probably a little bit outside your comfort zone – and that’s part of the power of these trips. When you approach an experience in a new way, from a new vantage point, you have the opportunity to discover new perspectives and insights. You maximize the potential for wonder and discovery.

Several people paddling a canoe.What isn’t required is any particular skill set. All that will be required to participate are a creative and resourceful mindset and a willingness to collaborate. The journey, led by local guides and an Adventure Ace, will gently encourage you to find your own best means of contribution to the group. Some challenges may ask the group to be its best, while others emphasize a spirit of learning and growth. Along the way, you might discover hidden talents within yourself.

Who Should Join Surprising Journeys?

Surprising Journeys pose an invitation to travelers who enjoy thrilling new experiences, want to connect with fellow adventurers, bring openness and curiosity about new cultures, and enjoy the unknown. If you enjoy gathering with others for scavenger hunts, escape rooms, game nights, and novel experiences in general, you’re likely to enjoy Surprising Journeys.

group of people, drumming, hands with motion blur

Intensive physical fitness is not required. Activities may require the ability to do things similar to (but not specifically including, and not limited to) walking on uneven surfaces, climbing 2-3 flights of stairs, riding an e-bike over gentle terrain, paddling a kayak 100 meters, or reading a map. If trip designers know about limitations in advance, accommodations are usually available.

Surprising Journeys are appropriate for ages 16 and up. Family-specific departures may be designed for travelers as young as 5.

Surprising Journeys are available on set dates to join as an individual or couple. They are also available on your custom dates for your private group. Perfect for families, friends, corporate teams, or solo travelers, these journeys foster a spirit of community and cooperation, making them ideal for anyone seeking a fun yet meaningful travel experience.

Unlimited Opportunities for Culturally Immersive Challenges

The most common question about Surprising Journeys is what to expect from the challenges. Although you won’t know exactly what to expect on your own trip, here are just a few examples:

  • Completing an urban artwork scavenger hunt by e-bike
  • Baking a dessert spread after tutelage from a classically trained pastry chef
  • Conducting each stage of coffee preparation, from farm to table
  • Perfecting a group folk dance to perform in traditional dress
  • Creating puppets and performing a show in a local theater
  • Designing a litter reduction campaign for a rural village
  • Building a house for a family alongside residents of the community
  • Preparing a cocktail tasting with foraged ingredients
  • Creating a signature batik motif for the group

History of Surprising Journeys at Journeys

Last year we piloted a trip concept that was similar to Surprising Journeys in a lot of ways. These trips, called Competitours, are also mystery trips where travelers know the starting point and ending point, and unlock the itinerary challenge-by-challenge. The difference was that Competitours involved separate teams of two travelers each competing against each other to earn points through challenges, and the team with the most points at the end of the trip won a prize at the end. Our good friend Ari Charlestein still runs these trips, and he decided to run Competitours as its own company. Journeys travelers with particularly competitive spirits can still sign up for Competitours.

Meanwhile, we at Journeys decided that our orientation toward deep connection made us want to adjust the model in favor of group challenges. Compared to the original Competitours model, Surprising Journeys challenges are slightly less physically demanding, the destinations will be somewhat more far-ranging, challenges are tailored for group collaboration, and the itineraries will be more in-depth.

Join Us on a Surprising Journey

Are you ready to explore the world in a way that’s unexpected, immersive, and enriching? Join a Surprising Journey, where every moment is a step towards discoveries, friendships, and unforgettable memories. Connect, play, and explore with Surprising Journeys – where every step is an adventure waiting to unfold.

Chef giving instructions to students at cooking classThe inaugural Surprising Journey by Journeys International is a 10-night trip that will take place from May 18, 2024 to May 28, 2024 in the Balkan region of Southern Europe. It will begin in Tirana, Albania, and end in Split, Croatia. To learn more visit our trip page for this adventure, contact Lené Jefferson at, or schedule a call.