Plan a surprise getaway

Can’t find the perfect present for a loved one? Struggling with ideas for the person who has everything? There is one gift that’s a fail-safe option for anyone – time away. A surprise getaway is a fantastic treat; being whisked away at the spur of the moment without having to organise a thing is a real dream. Your job is to ensure the trip runs smoothly, without your loved one suspecting a thing, so it’s important to be organised. Once you’ve chosen the destination, you’ll need to book flights and hotels, arrange activities and do any necessary paperwork, such as securing visas. Here are a few suggestions for extravagant surprise breaks…

A romantic visit to Venice

It’s impossible not to fall in love with the Italian city of Venice. Throughout history, countless couples have enjoyed romantic trysts in secret passageways that criss-cross this floating city, and it continues to charm and captivate even today.

Gondola rides are an obvious choice for a romantic break, but why not go one step further by booking a lesson to train as a gondolier? offers several packages.

To escape the crowds, it’s worth booking accommodation on the peaceful island of Giudecca. Here, you’ll find five-star hotel Molino Stucky, which has a private boat to ferry guests to St Mark’s Square.

Venice is famous for its food and there’s even a wine-producing island on the lagoon; book an evening meal at Venissa on Mazzorbo (linked by a wooden bridge to Burano).

A friendly meet-up in Machu Picchu

There’s nothing like a shared adventure to create memories that will last forever. If you’re planning a reunion with friends, a trekking trip is the perfect escape from modern living, and a novel way to catch up. One of the most famous routes is the four-day journey to Peru’s famous lost city in the jungle, Machu Picchu.

You’ll need to book passes for the classic Inca Trail quite far in advance, so this is a trip that’s worth planning early. Various tour companies can arrange these, with camping equipment and porters (to carry kit) included.

A far more relaxing option is to take the train through the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes and stay at the Casa del Sol Machu Picchu hotel. From here you can take a bus to the ancient citadel.

Visas for Peru can be collected on arrival (if required), but if you intend to do the Inca Trail, you’ll need to make sure suitcases are packed with appropriate trekking gear. Realistically, you’ll need to tell friends that your chosen meeting place is Peru. But the surprise element is the journey to Machu Picchu – whether by foot or train.

Just advise them to do a few extra training sessions in the gym before the trip, as there are some seriously high altitudes to contend with in the Andes.

A family trip to see Santa in Lapland

It’s every child’s dream to meet Santa, and seeing him in his snowy home is certainly much more exciting than a dreary shopping mall.

A number of tour companies offer packages to Kittilä in Finnish Lapland, which is traditionally regarded as being the best place to see Santa. Visits are available throughout December, and if you shop around you can get some great last minute deals. Break Sokos Hotel Levi and Hotel K5 Levi, are both close to Kittilä making them good places to stay.

You will need to pack lots of warm clothes, as temperatures can dip to minus 20 degrees Celsius!

Start the surprise by sending the kids a special postcard from the man in red, inviting them to prepare Christmas wish lists. Then bundle them into the car, and tell them you’re going to visit Santa at the local department store. Divert course to the airport, where you’ll be jumping onboard a 21st century sleigh, and once they’re on the plane, play them a DVD of Miracle on 34th Street to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.

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