teleportation would make this much easier
June 15, 2010 1:09 AM   Subscribe

How could I ensure that a surprise trip overseas with my wife remains a surprise for her, without any logistical hiccups?

I know, I know...I'm a cliche: I've bought plane tickets for two to Paris. My main concerns are:

1) How do I get my wife's luggage packed, without her noticing?

2) How do I get her to secure vacation from her employer?

I guess I can try to do both myself...but it seems fraught with risk of ruining the surprise. I really would like to see the look of surprise on her face as we arrive at the airport and make our way toward the check-in counter.
posted by randomstriker to Travel & Transportation (49 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the trip itself a surprise or just the destination?

If the former, one option would be to give her time to pack, and perhaps even time to shop. But don't tell her the destination. Just give hints like hot/city or temperate/rural etc.

In summary: you're a brave man if you want to pack for your wife. I'd go with keeping the destination and details secret, personally.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:20 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love to travel, and I love surprises and I gotta say this one would be awesome. Really though, I'd rather be surprised with the tickets and be allowed to do my own packing. Would you want to be in Paris and realize that you only packed her uncomfortable shoes, or the dress that you like but she thinks makes her look gross? Plus, the anticipation for the trip is one of the most exciting things to me. Part of the fun of traveling is looking forward to it.

I don't know what kind of work your wife does, but most people have to take care of projects and fill people in on things before they can leave on vacation. If you let her know about the trip she can be fully prepared. I'd hate to think that she'd be spending time in Paris worried about all the stuff she left sitting on her desk.

Here's what I'd do. Tell her that you need her to book the time off with her work and she needs to make sure her passport is in order. When she asks why tell her that it's a surprise and that she can't ask any more questions. Don't give her any hints, you don't want her to guess what it'll be. Then a few days before you're due to leave let her know when you'll be leaving and what climate she needs to pack for. Then the day of you can take her to the airport and have the big reveal. That way all the necessary things get taken care of, she still gets to anticipate the trip, and you still get the chance to see her face when she finds out where you're headed.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:30 AM on June 15, 2010 [12 favorites]

Well, for the luggage, I would recommend enlisting the help of her closest female friend or relative (sister/mom/cousin/aunt/whatever).

For getting vacation time, I don't know. Depending on what kind of position she holds, a coworker might be able to help you do this smoothly, or a personal assistant.

The trick is to enlist enough help, but involve a minimal number of people.

Or you could chicken out and do what Muffin Man suggests. (just kidding. If close allies are not available, his advice is spot on.)
posted by bardophile at 1:30 AM on June 15, 2010

You really want to make sure she has an up-to-date passport first, as I am fairly certain she's the only person capable of getting that settled, and that'd really dictate how "secret" things could be.
posted by nightchrome at 1:58 AM on June 15, 2010

Dude, I did this.

You will need to get her to agree on this trip, you just can't hit her with a club and drag her through the airport...especially if you're all "ethnic looking" and she's a cute white chick.

First get it into her head that you want to get a passport. Even fill out the application and leave it somewhere she will see it. A few days later, do away with the application, and tell her that the Dept of State told you that it will take X months for them to process it and send back to you; "not a biggie".

A few days after that, tell her you want to take a trip somewhere. "Lets start off somewhere domestic...just to get outta town...even though my passport doesn't get renewed for 6 months after *date of trip*. Tell her you want to take a nice vacation with her. Find out the weather of Paris for the exact week that you will be there, and find a boring ass city that seems believable enough with the same weather. Juuuust believable enough.

Secure her passport, and make sure you bring it to the airport along with yours; keep them in the same place. Try to see how far into this trip you can keep from spoiling your BIG ASS SURPRISE!

I predict the ride to the airport, you give it up.

This is an excellent method, it helped me elope with my wife to Branson, Missoura ...or well, Fiji.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:19 AM on June 15, 2010 [13 favorites]

OP is in Canada, from previous questions. I would go with a mix of hal_c_on's approach and TooFewShoes. From experience, ladies really do not like going on holiday without their favourite pair of shoes/cute sun dress etc. And the anticipation is half the point.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:25 AM on June 15, 2010

One thing about packing: Whatever you forget to pack, they sell it there. Indeed, you can buy shoes in Paris! (Even comfortable ones.)
posted by Houstonian at 3:39 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

The giving of elaborate and long-planned surprise gifts is legendary in my family but... this one needs her (partial) knowledge that will only add to her enjoyment.

First up, she needs to book holiday from work - do you know any of her colleagues? Can they be trusted to book it without her knowledge? If not you'll have to use your guile to request that she book it herself for a "lesser" holiday (a home remodelling project?), as others have suggested.

Also, I would definitely give your wife 24 hours notice to pack - I'm getting anxious just thinking of arriving in Paris without the right clothes (and I've both lived in Paris and am now only a short plane ride away!)

How about taking her out to dinner at a local French restaurant, hand her the tickets and itinerary bundled in French themed gift wrap and a red ribbon and say something like "In 48 hours we'll be doing this in Paris!"

The "look on her face" you're anticipating will be there but she'll have the added bonus of being able to plan her packing (it's not just which clothes, it's which bra looks right under which sweater, it's the "oh I'll need a slip under that dress" knowledge that with the best will in the world you couldn't know about! Oh and then there's favourite and special toiletries, notebooks, pens, etc.). The fun she'll have packing these I think more than outweighs the surprise of the check-in desk.

Having said that, this is a wonderful gift and I hope you both have the holiday of a lifetime!
posted by ceri richard at 3:44 AM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Mr. Shebear just did this for me last month. He actually emailed my boss about the surprise in order to get the days off. If this is possible, try to do it that way. After that was firmed up, I was told of the surprise, and I think this is definitely the way to go - half the fun of the vacation is the anticipation and planning what you might do when you get there. I'm sure she'll be happy to know in advance.
posted by Shebear at 4:05 AM on June 15, 2010

I'm getting anxious just thinking of arriving in Paris without the right clothes

Seriously! OP, please consider revealing the destination at least a few days before you leave. You could do it in a fun way (at a French restaurant, or at home with a bottle of Champagne, or give her a pain au chocolate and a beret.) It will still be a "surprise" trip, but she'll have time to pack (or buy) what she wants. Of course you know your wife, maybe she's the type who doesn't care. But I have to say, I'm not a high-maintenence girl, but if I showed up at the airport and found out that the suitcase I'd packed for a week in Kansas City was really going with me to Paris, I would probably hate you. And cry.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 4:45 AM on June 15, 2010 [10 favorites]

Whatever you forget to pack, they sell it there.

...unless you forgot to pack prescriptions for drugs or contact lenses, or she is an unusual size, or very particular about her clothing choices, or they are out of tampons in the shop in the airport, or ...
posted by emilyw at 4:56 AM on June 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

DestinationUnknown: "... if I showed up at the airport and found out that the suitcase I'd packed for a week in Kansas City was really going with me to Paris, I would probably hate you. And cry."

Eponysterical, and also right on.

When I proposed to my now-wife, I took her on a surprise weekend trip (nothing as fancy/involved as Paris), and I had to let her know at least climate/general activities. Going to Paris, she might want different clothes than she would wear in a US destination. Although clothes can be purchased there, many people wouldn't enjoy shopping in a foreign country when they are pressured to get the items they need for the next day.
posted by JMOZ at 5:28 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

1) How do I get my wife's luggage packed, without her noticing?

DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT do this. Tell her and let her pack and probably shop for something to wear in Paris. You're waaaaay overthinking this. At most talk to her boss about the time off. Hopefully the tickets aren't for a certain time frame when she'll really be needed in the office.

In the future, I'd recommend planning this out with her as opposed to springing it on her. She probably wants the thrill of anticipation, being able to tell others "Oh, I'll be in Paris next week" etc, etc.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 AM on June 15, 2010

nthing nthing nthing letting her pack her own bags.
Put it this way: you want to surprise her with Paris, but you've still got to get to the airport, board a plane and then sit in it for several hours while crossing... so the surprise will occur before the tour of the Eiffel Tower.

And give her a day to pack, not an hour - an hour might be romantic but won't give her time to do laundry or pick up little necessities. And she can spend the day at work SQUEEE!ing about going to Paris "tonight omg!"
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:44 AM on June 15, 2010

Also consider that she might have a doctor/dentist/haircut appointment during that time that she'll want to reschedule.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:58 AM on June 15, 2010

Does she really like surprises? Because this is a really big one, and even people who are generally unopposed to surprises might be taken aback by the magnitude of this. For people who hate surprises, this situation would be torture. I am one of those people, and if my husband said, surprise, we're going to Paris tonight, I would freak out and refuse to go.
posted by crankylex at 5:59 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely let her pack her own bags.

Since no-one else has spelled it out so directly: Paris is the fashion capital of the world. The women of Paris are unbelievably stylish, in a chic, under-stated sort of way. Even if your wife is not usually a high-maintenance woman, she will probably want to pack carefully to ensure she does not look (and feel) dowdy in comparison. Whatever you pack for her will be wrong, wrong, wrong. Worst case scenario, there will be a huge argument and she will cry. Best case scenario, she will put on a brave face but spend the holiday feeling under-dressed and self-conscious, unable to let go and revel in the romance of the city.
posted by embrangled at 6:25 AM on June 15, 2010 [7 favorites]

I would find somewhere in the US with a climate similar to Paris at the appropriate time of year. Tell her "we're going on a trip. You need to take these dates off work. Pack for Minneapolis."

Nobody - but nobody - should pack for someone else's trip to Paris.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:26 AM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I would hate this, personally, but the look on my face at the airport might not include laser beams to kill you dead on the spot if I was at least prepared to go away for a week somewhere.

No sane employer should ever allow someone else to book a person's time off anyway (could be a trip to Paris, could be so it'll be at least a week before anyone starts looking for the body; the liability possibilities are infinite), so I think you have to tell her there is a trip, even if you surprise her with the destination.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:37 AM on June 15, 2010

I am going to say that it depends heavily on your wife, if you can pack for her. If she is a clothes horse type person (like me!), it may be hard. I know which clothes of mine are clean/dirty/at the cleaners. I know my jewelry, my shoes. I do all the laundry here. So, I would notice if these things were not where I expected. Would your wife notice? If yes... well, can you go shopping for her? Does she have a female friend or family member whom can keep the secret, and knows her taste, size and what "feel" of clothing she likes? If my husband got me a few polyester based dresses, no... the vacation would not be so comfortable, I would be itching and scratching the whole time. Not a dream vacation.

You know your wife though, we don't! She may well love this. Where were you planning to go, that may make all these "what about the clothes, and won't someone think of the shoes?" posts silly. I mean, if you are taking her white water rafting, or hiking because that's you thing, that may make the issue go away.
posted by kellyblah at 6:37 AM on June 15, 2010

ack. Just noticed, tickets for Paris. There goes the possibility of white water rafting. So, yea, I would personally want to pack myself for such a trip, OR! go with just a small carry on, and go shopping straight away, right after eating and napping. That's just me though, your wife may vary.
posted by kellyblah at 6:39 AM on June 15, 2010

Here's a way to give her adequate warning while maintaining the surprise:

Ask her now to book some time off because she'll be accompanying you on a mystery trip. Tell her no questions are allowed, but you'll reveal more details closer to the time. A week before you leave, start dropping hints that suggest Paris: An Eiffel Tower fridge magnet that appears overnight, croissants for breakfast, Les Champs Elysees playing on the stereo. Continue refuse to answer questions - just wiggle your eyebrows and say she'll have to wait and see. Of course she will guess Paris, and pack accordingly, but it will still feel like a romantic surprise.
posted by embrangled at 6:49 AM on June 15, 2010 [7 favorites]

I really would like to see the look of surprise on her face as we arrive at the airport and make our way toward the check-in counter.

Unless her enjoyment of surprises is positively epic, this is a recipe for disaster. And by epic I mean people have commented, "Wow, your wife is insane" when you tell them a story of a surprise she liked. Would it the surprise really be so different if you were to take her to dinner and said, "Hey, I got you a little present" and handed her two tickets to Paris? A surprise trip to Paris is still awesome even if it's not a shocking trip to Paris.

With regard to packing: if my husband tried to pack my luggage for a trip, I guarantee I would not be happy. Not because he's dumb or would forget socks or something like that, just because he doesn't know how my clothes feel on my body--he wouldn't know that my favorite jeans are just about worn out and I really just need to buy a new pair (and would, if I knew we were going on a trip), he wouldn't know that the dress he thinks looks amazing on me is actually a little too tight right now because I gained a few pounds, and he wouldn't know which of my shoes have the best walking-comfort to Paris-appropriateness ratio, and so on. In short, he just wouldn't know what I'd want to take on a big vacation like that. And I know this is totally a first-world problem, and I shouldn't even say it out loud, but it kind of sucks to be on vacation and feel like you don't have any clothes you like with you. (And I'll add: I'm not an especially high-maintenance or super fashionable person, I just try to make a special effort when I'm on a romantic vacation with my husband.)

I understand the impulse to make this a huge grand gesture, but: dude. You've already bought her surprise tickets to Paris. On preview, I like embrangled's suggestion for maintaining some of the surprise. I think your current plan would have the effect of a really shocking prank, whereas embrangled's suggestion takes it more into the romantic surprise territory you're aiming for.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:53 AM on June 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

Oh man, now I want to know how this goes!
posted by Happy Dave at 7:35 AM on June 15, 2010

Is your wife a planner at all? If she is, not having any advance notice might be stressful. I planned a surprise trip for my husband somewhere that was a 4 hour drive away and while he was appreciative of the gesture and had fun on the trip, the leaving part was stressful because he was not part of the planning process. As others have said, at least give her a few days to pack what she wants and get whatever supplies she wants. And get approval from her boss (I just emailed my husband's boss when I did my surprise) ASAP so they can plan for her being gone.
posted by Kimberly at 8:21 AM on June 15, 2010

Not knowing what she does, this may or may not be feasible, but if possible, you could arrange the holiday with work - and perhaps have a manager at work play along and say that she's got to fly to the head office in [some city with similar weather] for a week.

That way she's packing herself (although one assumes what she'd pack for leisure and work would be different, but hopefully you can add a few leisurely things of hers to your pack, or buy them their. Maybe have work mention that she should pack some comfortable shoes for some sort of team building exercise in [some city]), and then when you "drop her off" at the airport you can produce your bag and tell her what's what.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:59 AM on June 15, 2010

Can you tell her that you're taking her to New York and she needs to pack for at least one nice dinner? I would probably pack the same for both NY and Paris. Plus, you can just grab her passport and take it with you and keep the surprise until you're at the airport.

However, if when you arrive she doesn't feel like she has the right clothes you can always go shopping. It's one of the funnest things to do there.
posted by Alison at 8:59 AM on June 15, 2010

I had worked in my job for about three months when my then-partner conspired with my bosses to send me to what we termed "Julie Andrews Fantasy Knitting Survivor Camp." (It was a week-long shoemaking camp in Toronto.) They were pretty open to it and enjoyed playing along. Of course, they also knew who he was, as we ate lunch together every day. A personal rapport really helps, so maybe you could call them on the phone or say it in person.

I got to guess how I could get to this place (I knew it was accessible by land but would require either a plane or train) and how long it would be. Then I found out what it was quite a bit before I left, so I didn't get completely surprised, but the anticipation was really, really fun.

I agree with the "day or two to pack" suggestion. I love to travel and use it as an excuse to upgrade sme things and go in comfort/style, so those last few days usually involve buying things like a new dress or sunglasses. Or even underwear; the stuff you wear at home might be a bit worn, but you can be damn sure that the stuff that might get searched by the TSA is in tip-top shape :)

One out-on-a-limb reason to make sure she knows in advance: it might be during That Time. If I were suddenly presented with a romantic trip overseas on a week when I was expecting my period, I certainly wouldn't say no, but... Sometimes I can feel a little physically and emotionally puny in those first few days, so I like to know about bigger events ahead of time. Plus she'd have to bring adequate amounts of supplies (unless she uses a Diva Cup), since some women can be very picky about their chosen brands.

I'm just sayin', okay????
posted by Madamina at 9:09 AM on June 15, 2010

I'm just going to go ahead and assume that unless you wife is actually my husband in some sort-of quirky, long-running disguise, that you know her a little bit better than I do.

I would love the hell out of this surprise as long as I was happy taking the time off. I would want to make sure I had a sweater and stuff so, there you go.

Maybe ask her a few things about her clothes, but having her pack for a trip to somewhere meh and then taking her to Paris instead is a great plan.

If she's not packing anything nice, just suggest that you might go to really nice restaurants or something.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:10 AM on June 15, 2010

"Can you tell her that you're taking her to New York and she needs to pack for at least one nice dinner? I would probably pack the same for both NY and Paris."

Great point!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:12 AM on June 15, 2010

Can you tell her that you're taking her to New York and she needs to pack for at least one nice dinner? I would probably pack the same for both NY and Paris.

based on nothing more than the use of the word "bloke" in his profile, I'm going to guess this guy is in the UK, in which case a trip to NYC would probably be a bigger deal than a trip to Paris - so this plan would backfire.

If he is in London, a trip to Paris is a less insane getaway - a wonderful romantic gesture, but also just across the channel... so the surprise element may be more acceptable, and more important to the story.
posted by mdn at 10:06 AM on June 15, 2010

Granted, I was only 11, but my parents did this for me.

I lived with my dad. He woke me up one morning super early at the beginning of Presidents' Week break, and said we were going to watch the sunrise -- completely out of character for him and I was pissed about having to wake up so early. We were driving, and I was fuming. I started to realize we weren't driving East, and that the sun had already started to rise, but he completely kept on the innocent face.

We showed up at the airport and he checked me in and walked me to the gate (this was a while ago, obvs). My mom was there, with a suitcase full of clothing, and I found out we were going to Jamaica.

Probably the best surprise of my life.

Enlist a close female friend to help pack. Even though I am pure insanity when it comes to clothing and packing (think weeks ahead, spreadsheets, etc), I think I'd like this surprise even today. Any upset I might have over not having the perfect wardrobe would be COMPLETELY eclipsed by the amazing surprise. I'd be with my amazing husband who'd planned this totally romantic trip and wouldn't really worry about impressing French women.

Talk to her boss -- explain the situation and see what the boss thinks. Maybe the boss will enlist some coworkers (or maybe you know the coworkers well) to sort out her to-do list, and maybe have the boss/coworker call her on the day before the trip to say "Oh gee, a pipe burst in the building and the office is going to be closed tomorrow. Don't come in!"

I'm not sure how to work it the day of -- I think it'd be fun if you just got her out of the house somehow and then she'd realize you were arriving at the airport. But run this by the packing-helper friend. I have a prepared-for-everything-in-my-purse mentality, so it'd make me nervous not to have a shawl or book or cell-phone charger or whatever last-minute thing. Anyway, she'll be in on the surprise once you get to the airport -- enlist her to help keep the surprise. Have her stand back while you check in, hold both of your tickets', etc.

Good luck! I think if you can make this work, it will be awesome.
posted by thebazilist at 10:37 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Clarifications:

We live in Vancouver. We are both have valid passports and have traveled extensively overseas, though rarely to the US and as such are completely unfamiliar with references to American geography.

She has been wanting to go to France anyway (she lived there in her childhood), but so far I have been hemming and hawing, ostensibly about budget reasons. I toyed with emailing her still on the fence about that. She is stylish, as am I -- packing appropriately and looking good in Paris is not the concern -- packing surreptitiously is.

However, now that you remind me, she actually isn't that good at handling surprises. So maybe this isn't such a good idea.
posted by randomstriker at 10:45 AM on June 15, 2010

I'm going to go against the majority of the comments and say that if you think carefully about whether your wife would like the surprise, and you think she would like it - you should go for it.

Personally, I would want to pack myself (and tie up my own loose ends at work), but I would be absolutely delighted to have the location of the trip changed when I got the airport. If your wife is like me, maybe you could pick a fashionable city that's a few hours drive away, and say you're going there. Then, when you get in the car to go, she'll be mystified when you drive to the airport and start to get excited but have no idea where you're going. . . until it turns out to be PARIS!

If the city you pretend it's going to be has different weather than Paris, you could also enlist one of her friends' help to pack additional clothing for her after she has packed - whatever it is you think she is missing. Just put it in your suitcase. Then, she'll have everything she packed, plus more, which can't go wrong.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:55 AM on June 15, 2010

On non-preview, maybe say that you're going to San Francisco? That's a major city (=good for packing), but it's much closer than either NYC or Paris, so the Paris part could still be a really good surprise.

Since she isn't good with surprises, I would not spring a surprise trip on her - just a surprise location. And that's only okay because you know she really wants to go there.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:58 AM on June 15, 2010

She has been wanting to go to France anyway (she lived there in her childhood), but so far I have been hemming and hawing, ostensibly about budget reasons.

Maybe tell her you're going to take her to Montreal, as a budget-friendly baby step? Then pull the ol' bait n' switch at the airport?

I think you can still surprise her, but if, as you say, she doesn't handle big, out of the blue surprises well, you can prepare her for the surprise and spring it with enough time available that she can have a bit of SQUEE with friends/colleagues and pack any last minute essentials.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:01 AM on June 15, 2010

Given the extra information (that she used to live in France, and doesn't like surprises). I would be very, very cautious. A surprise trip could be a lot less fun if what she really wants to do is meet up with family friends who aren't in town that week, or whatever. Otherwise, I'd follow embrangled suggestion, with the caveat that I would cave if she seemed like she was getting annoyed about the whole thing.
posted by fermezporte at 11:05 AM on June 15, 2010

Maybe tell her you're going to take her to Montreal, as a budget-friendly baby step? Then pull the ol' bait n' switch at the airport?

Yeah, tell her it'll lick a pretend Paris visit, so pack for Paris and you'll do Paris like things, then when you get the airport..spring it on her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:11 AM on June 15, 2010

I would definitely let her pack, even if she only gets a couple of hours notice and you tell her you're going to a fake destination. The little essentials that she could get together in 5 minutes are probably those that you'd overlook and she could be miserable without (Rx drugs, contacts, tampons, chargers, etc).

On preview, if she's a person who does not like surprises that much, I'd give her more than a couple of hours notice. The SF or Montreal bait and switch is a pretty good plan.
posted by wending my way at 12:06 PM on June 15, 2010

If it were me, my husband knows what I wear and like well enough to pack for me (then again, the first time we went to Paris we lived out of one backpack each, so maybe I'm lower maintenance than some).

BUT what would make it 100% amazing, and would clear my mind of any lingering anxieties over my appearance, is if the trip including enough shopping to get a few outfits - I think most women would be charmed to buy a trip's worth of clothes and then be able to tell people at home "Oh, I got this in Paris".
posted by funfetti at 12:20 PM on June 15, 2010

She is stylish, as am I -- packing appropriately and looking good in Paris is not the concern -- packing surreptitiously is.

If she's stylish, you can't pack for her. Trust me.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:55 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I know someone who did this, and pulled it off, and to this day, we're all shocked. It was Venice rather than Paris, but there were a few mitigating factors here:

1. The wife's boss was also her best friend. And she was in on it from the get-go.
2. The couple traveled EXTENSIVELY, and though the wife is quite particular about how she packs, etc., she was also quite vocal about it, so hubby knew what she would want.
3. The hubby told her about a trip, just didn't tell her where they were going. He told her the types of things they'd be doing (ie fancy night out, walking certain number of days, etc.) and told her to pack, and then added a few things to another bag that he knew she'd be upset to not have.

She found out where they were going at the airport, and was thrilled. But to this day (10 years later) none of us can believe he pulled it off, even now.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 1:10 PM on June 15, 2010

she actually isn't that good at handling surprises.

That's your answer right there. There's just waaaaay too much that could legitimately freak her out about this (work concerns, doctor's appointment you didn't know about, having the right clothes/makeup/prescriptions with her, etc.) that could cast a pall over the entire trip. Instead, dial back the surprise factor to a more human-sized one -- I like the idea of presenting the tickets to her over dinner at a French restaurant (maybe get the waiter involved to bring them out with dessert or something?).
posted by scody at 1:45 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

How sweet! You are trying to be wildly romantic, but please give her enough advance notice to:

1. Have her hair trimmed/styled
2. Shop locally for some cute vacation clothes to fly and arrive in
3. Make her own arrangements for being away from work and home
4. Get mentally prepared for Paris (Paris!)

My nightmare would be to arrive in Paris feeling schlumpy with my unstylish clothes and my hair roots showing. On top of that, having the anxiety of knowing that I didn't get to come to a stopping point on my work projects or finish such-and-such at the house before leaving the country. Paris is definitely a destination for which a woman wants to be prepared. And, as HappyDave says above, "Anticipation is half the point."
posted by Knowyournuts at 2:42 PM on June 15, 2010

oh holy cow, her hair! Yes. If I was suddenly spirited away to Paris and I needed a haircut and my color touched up, I'd be mortified. Unless your wife is a totally wash-and-go kinda gal, make sure she's got enough time to see her stylist before she goes.
posted by scody at 2:52 PM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: Okay, okay. It's not gonna work as a 100% surprise. Too many question marks.

I'm gonna figure out some sorta in-between surprise. *sigh* what a difficult life I lead...heheheh
posted by randomstriker at 5:27 PM on June 15, 2010

The thought of my husband doing this is almost giving me heart palpitations. If your wife is really not that good at handling surprises, this is a bad idea. A couple of things that stand out to me:

Even if you were able to surreptitiously schedule her vacation time for her (which honestly seems creepy/paternalistic to me), how can you be sure she has enough days off for this? Maybe she was planning to take off a week to go to a wedding in a few months, or to visit her family later in the year? I don't know if this would be an issue for her, but personally I keep track of all of my vacation days as they accrue, so that I can be sure I'll have enough left to take off a week at Christmas plus whatever other trips are in the works. If you two had already planned on and budgeted vacation time for an equivalent trip, then this is less of a problem.

The idea of packing for her---well, maybe your wife is less particular than most people, but this would not work at all for me. Even my bestest best girlfriend/sister wouldn't know what to pack for me. Yes, she can buy anything in Paris, but I was recently in a similar situation--what was supposed to be a week-long trip to the Netherlands and Germany turned into almost two weeks of way-colder-than-expected vacation, thanks to the Iceland volcano and unpredictable spring weather. My husband and I didn't have nearly enough warm clothes and had to go out and buy stuff. Shopping in Europe is fun, sure, but honestly it's a pain in the ass when you're shopping because you otherwise have no appropriate clothes. There's a lot of pressure to buy something because you have to, everything is more expensive than you could find it at home, and meanwhile you're wasting precious vacation time in a fitting room trying to figure out those god-forsaken European sizes. Then you get back to the hotel and realize your bra doesn't work with the new top, or the new dress looks terrible with whatever shoes you brought.

On preview--okay, glad you hear you've reconsidered. Don't feel bad--planning and looking forward to a big trip like this is really like 1/4 of the fun! =)
posted by Jemstar at 6:04 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

A lovely surprise with the airline tickets at a surprise dinner in a French restaurant a week before the departure date would be nice. Surprisey but room for planning and prep and lovely anticipation.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:05 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd love someone to do this for me. And I hate not being in control. I just know that whatever happened, someone wanted me to be wildly surprised and happy, and sure, I've not got the shoes or the coat or the WHATEVER, but what the hell I'm in mofo-ing Paris, let's make the first thing we do shopping. BANG, extra kudos.

Buuuuuuuttttt.... I'm a slightly different case, because I have a "Go-bag" packed which contains clothes, contacts and cosmetics. I've got drugs in there and some general purpose clothing and shoes. So I'm always ready to go anywhere (I've got a swag and a camp-box packed, too).
posted by Quadlex at 8:05 PM on June 15, 2010

« Older Help me make a delicious deep dish pizza   |   Advice for Alaska trip? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.