When Dena Espenscheid answered an advertisement on social media, her sister warned her that she could have problems.
The ad was a weekend vacation to an unknown destination.
The offer was not only real, but also a lot of fun. In fact, Espenscheid told The Associated Press that she “had a blast.”
The West Virginia Division of Tourism organized the free trip earlier this month. The goal was to advertise West Virginia as a perfect place to visit during the autumn months.
The social media ad said next to nothing about the destination. It suggested only that people wear layered clothes and strong footwear. It also recommended they have a sense of adventure.
Mystery trips becoming more popular
In parts of the United States, mystery trips have grown into their own industry. Whether traveling by bus, train or airplane, these vacations have different lengths, costs and destinations.
Often, organizers give people a general idea about where they are going. But sometimes they do not.
Denise Chaykun Weaver started Magical Mystery Tours nearly 10 years ago. Her company now helps to plan hundreds of trips every year.
“There’s this magical thing about a mystery trip in that you don’t have control. You don’t know where you’re going,” she said. “Surprises are really fun.”
Other companies offering mystery tours include Pink Bus Mystery Trips, Pack Up + Go and SurpriseMeTrips. Rustic Pathways specializes in summer group tour packages for students.
Mystery is part of the adventure
The group Dena Espenscheid went with enjoyed dinner, nature and horseback riding. They visited the former coal mining and timber towns of Davis and Thomas. They watched musical acts at a former general store and spent the night at Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center.
By sunset the following night, Espenscheid was back home, and her sister did not have to worry any longer.
“I would absolutely do it again,” Espenscheid said. “It got me out of my comfort zone. If I can sign up for another destination unknown where I’m not planning anything? It’s part of the adventure.”
I’m John Russell.
John Raby reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted the story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
destination – n. the place where someone is going or being sent
blast – n. informal a very enjoyable and exciting experience
adventure – n. an exciting or unusual activity
layer – v. a covering piece of material or a part that lies over or under another
package – n. collection; a set of terms or proposals offered as a whole
timber – n. trees that are grown in order to produce wood
comfort – adj. involving physical ease and freedom from pain
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