Charlotte McGhee, Founder of Whisked Away

A Chat with Charlotte McGhee, Founder of Whisked Away


If you love adventure and spontaneity, then look no further than Whisked Away, a company that specializes in Surprise Travel. Founder Charlotte McGhee loves doing all the dirty work behind trip planning. She crafts mind-opening travel experiences that are thoughtfully researched with her clients’ preferences in mind. The catch? You won’t really know where you’re going until right before you leave.


What exactly is Surprise Travel?

Surprise Travel seeks to recreate that oh-my-gosh feeling of being a kid right before your birthday or other crazy, exciting events.

The basics: You choose your region, number of weeks, and budget.  You get: a secret envelope the week before you leave with your surprise destination inside. We recommend waiting and opening it at the airport!

How did you come up with the concept of Whisked Away?

I knew I wanted something a little different, something that took some bravery. I like the idea of asking clients to step out of their comfort zone, and then blowing them away with something totally amazing. I had always been planning travel for folks, and that was great, but I couldn’t see myself going the typical travel agent route. In talking with some girlfriends, one of them asked me if I had heard of Surprise Travel… and it grew from there.

Why are you passionate about travel?

There is a thing our brains do when we move through our normal routines. It stores up all of the information it needs to get us through our days, and we end up kind of sleepwalking through our mornings, through work, through interactions with friends and loved ones. But travel? It jolts us awake because absolutely everything is new and unfamiliar. That can be uncomfortable, but it also makes you grow. I love that.

Charlotte McGhee of Whisked Away “But travel? It jolts us awake because absolutely everything is new and unfamiliar. That can be uncomfortable, but it also makes you grow. I love that.”

Tell us why you got into travel planning.

I’m a Type A personality, so planning comes naturally to me.  I love lists, research, all of it. After falling in love with travel at age 17 (my first solo trip, to Costa Rica), travel planning came quite naturally. I’ve been planning trips for myself, family and friends since then. What could be better than being a small part of an adventure that someone has been looking forward to for weeks/months/years?

Who is the ideal candidate for a Whisked Away trip?

There are so many “ideal” travelers for a Whisked Away surprise trip. Folks wanting to propose, celebrating an anniversary, traveling with a friend or loved one, or even traveling solo. Usually our clients are people who have traveled fairly often and are comfortable getting a bit uncomfortable while traveling. It takes trust to give over the reins of your trip, but from what we hear, it’s worth it!

Which parts of the world does Whisked Away cover?

Whisked Away focuses on three international regions: Europe, Central/South America, and North America. I’ve personally been to Asia and Africa as well, but only briefly. After I explore those regions more, maybe I’ll add them to the list of what we offer!

Describe some examples of itineraries you’ve created.

Some of the recent surprise destinations have been: Prague, Czech Republic; Antigua, Guatemala; San Francisco, CA; and Munich, Germany. Head over to our FAQs page to see an example of a 1-week Surprise trip to Prague.

Charlotte McGhee of Whisked Away

What kind of budgets do you work with?

The per person budget covers flights and accommodations. If a client is traveling for two weeks, we are going to send them to at least two different spots, and then on-the-ground transport between locations is also covered.  We will include a full list of restaurant and activity recommendations based on everything the client has told us they love. The budgets depend totally on which region the client chooses and how many weeks they’d like to go – but whatever the budget, we make sure our clients have an amazing adventure ahead of them.

Whisked Away charges 5% of the total budget to research, book, and follow up on the surprise travel adventure. Hours go into planning each trip so it goes off without a hitch.

What is your most memorable travel experience?

To be honest, the most memorable times I’ve had while traveling have been unplanned.  One that comes to mind is a bike ride I took with friends through the Andes in Ecuador. The scenery was mind-blowing and we were having a great time… until we got to a tunnel. At the mouth we could see that there were giant potholes on the edges of it, making it impossible to ride our bikes anywhere but in the middle. There were no lights inside like there are here in the States, so we were riding blind just a little ways in. If a car had come, we would’ve been hit for sure, but we had no choice but to keep going – our ride home was in a town on the other side. I remember being scared out of my mind, but all we could do was laugh. So we did – the whole way through.

Where’s the next destination on your bucket list?

This summer I’m traveling to Bavaria for a few weeks to soak up the Alps and then to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to take Portuguese classes! I’ll be staying with a family there who live a few blocks from Ipanema. I’m beyond thrilled. After that, who knows? Canada has been on my mind a lot lately, but so has Japan. The lovely thing is that the more you travel, the longer that bucket list gets. It really is the best, isn’t it?


Tell us, where would you want to whisked away for a surprise trip?


CONTACT INFO

Visit www.explorewhiskedaway.com or email them to book a trip or learn more about Whisked Away. You can also follow Whisked Away’s Facebook and Instagram accounts at @explorewhiskedaway.

Lara Dalinsky

Lara DalinskyLara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of discovering the world. She recently relocated to Seoul, South Korea, where she hopes to explore much of Asia for the next few years. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as a freelance graphic designer. In her spare time, she contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, is an ambassador for FIG Clothing, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, instructs Zumba, practices yoga, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.

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