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Nextpedition: Surprise Vacation Planning

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I've never made a travel itinerary for any trip I’ve taken. Why not? Partly because when I’m on vacation, I like to go with the flow. But it’s also because I don’t really like to spend a ton of time researching. Let’s not forget that half the fun in traveling to a new destination is the excitement that comes from the unexpected.

Knowing there are quite a few folks out there who think similarly, American Express, T+L’s parent company, developed a new booking service it's calling Nextpedition (tomorrow is its grand debut). Primarily targeting twentysomethings, Nextpedition creates trips based on your travel profile. But here’s the catch: you won’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing until the last minute.

You find out your “travel sign” via a short survey of some 15 multiple-choice questions. (Admittedly, when I filled it out, I found that there were a few for which none of the responses fully applied to me, so I had to pick the next best choice.)

Once that’s complete, three of the top travel signs that suit you are revealed, with descriptions, and you choose which one applies most to you. My sign is Zenturian, which says that I “bring order out of chaos with your organic approach and digital vibe. What we're saying, Zenturian, is your traveler's aura is au natural. Some say it's your healthy appetite for food, drink and life. Others are convinced you aren't from around this cosmic plane.”

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Sounds about right.

The next step is to request a consultation, but that’s about as far as I got, because well, I’m not looking to book right now, plus, doing so requires you to connect the Nextpedition Facebook app to your profile. I wonder, where does this leave travelers who aren't on FB?

That being said, I do find the concept in general to be pretty cool. Once you speak to a specialist, they will plan your trip, not telling you a thing about where you’re going or what you’re doing. Just before your travel dates, you’ll receive a package with all the documents you need, plus a digital handheld travel console, which reveals your itinerary. (But don’t think you’ll be able to see your entire schedule; the trip details are rolled out slowly, to keep the next step a surprise.)

So what do you think? Are you brave enough to let someone else plan your whole trip for you?

Domestic trips start at $1,000; Europe trips start at $2,500; 7-day minimum; booking must be done at least 30 days in advance; nextpedition.com.

2010-hs-josh-pramis.jpgJoshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis.

Photos courtesy of American Express Travel.

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