Have you ever felt like your relationship is fine, but both you and your spouse need a break from real life, like yesterday? This year has been a hard one for my husband and me. Between house stuff (like a leaky water main), finances, family planning, my writing, his new career pursuits, everything was kind of wearing a little thin. It sucks when you feel like you’re both constantly tense and frustrated and going in circles when neither of you are actually the problem.
I have been planning a surprise trip to Estes Park, Colorado, for my husband since April. Roy (my husband) has wanted to go there since we moved to Colorado back in 2011. But the trick was to figure out when we could go. Back in April, I figured we would go once Roy had ‘graduated’ (basically once he passed his 90 days probationary period) from the company he started working for in February. I knew there would be a week break in there and was all set.
But then he left that company because it wasn’t the right fit (if he had stayed his clients would have been limited with inferior products and services) and went with a different company, one he was familiar with and knew was really at the top of their game. Between my birthday, a writer’s conference in San Francisco and his needing to be around for meetings, etc. there just wasn’t a time that worked. Until last week that is. I realized I had a week to lock down reservations, figure out everything we might want to do, including hiking trails, restaurants, etc. and most importantly figure out how to actually make sure all of this was a surprise.
1. Enlist Co-Conspirators
Planning a trip is work, but planning a trip to somewhere you have never been requires insight outside of yourself. Two really good friends go to Estes Park all the time, so I asked them for suggestions on trails, restaurants – the works. I did my own research too, but their input was invaluable and made everything incredibly easy. Co-Conspirators can also help with other things including providing distractions and caring for your pets. The same friends who gave me suggestions picked up our dog once I gave them the “all clear” to do so, and fed our cat while we were away. A third co-conspirator also helped me think of ruses to tell my husband to get him out of the house when I needed to, pack his things, etc. It is important to bounce ideas off someone else to make sure your stories are believable.
2. Make ‘Plans’
Making plans is not the easiest thing to do when you can’t hear on the telephone. I chose where we stayed and did everything by email with the exception of giving out my debit card information. I called to do this but only after warning the person, “I’m deaf. So if you have to repeat something eight times, I promise you are not being punked. It’s not you; it’s me.”
Depending on your spouse’s preferences plan it all out or keep everything up in the air. Roy is a ‘go with the flow’ kind of person. I am not. BUT this was a surprise for him, so I kept everything ‘easy breezy’ even when it felt like I might die because of it. (A 5-mile trail, without proper provisions, with steep ledges [I don’t do heights] while missing lunch because it took two more hours than your husband insisted it would, but still being totally ‘whatever’ about it would be a real-life example 😛 .) So with the exception of one dinner reservation, I just had all of the information on different trail options, eating options, coffee options and other entertainment options. There was no schedule and no need to worry about being late or what we did or did not do. It was very much, ‘go with the flow’.
3. Get Him Gone
When you go away for a few days (in our case three nights and four very full days) you have to pack anything you may need. This was kind of tricky. First, I had to come up with a ruse for Roy to do his laundry (I said I needed his laundry baskets). The next day I had to get him out of the house. I had a plan in place to get him out of the house for a few hours so I could pack, but most of the stories were pretty lame (one co-conspirator was going to be stranded, another story was needing help at the Apple store). Luckily, Roy had to run an errand that would take him out of play for a few hours. You have to get your significant other out of the house so you can pack. I mean most people notice a missing toothbrush!
4. Pack His Sh*t
Once Roy was gone I quickly packed all of our bathroom stuff and our clothes. I had already packed some of my bathroom stuff and hidden it under my sink. As for my clothes they were hanging up until Roy left, but I arranged the hangers so everything was together and all I had to do was grab them once he was gone. Time was a factor. For the most part I knew what to pack (and of course I had made a list) but it was still tricky with a few items like socks and shoes. My husband doesn’t believe in putting his socks away in pairs and I had no idea what kind of socks was best for hiking. Solution: I dumped all of his clean socks in the damn suitcase. The same went for his shoes – I brought a few pairs (the ones I knew he wore and looked ‘hiking friendly’).
I packed everything I was able to pack i.e. the things like clothes and shampoo that he wouldn’t miss as soon as he came home, which was 80% of it. I couldn’t pack his computer, phone charger, etc. until phase two.
5. Get Him Gone – Again!
If you get your spouse out of the house, but they have the only car between you two or the car you are taking, then you need to get them to come back and get them out of the house for twenty minutes or so while you load the car up. Once he comes in to change and gets whatever he needs for whatever story you have supplied him with, you have to get the rest of his stuff packed and load up the car. Here is what I texted Roy when he was on the way home: “Angel is being super needy. I think she needs to burn off some energy. Walk after you change?”
My husband was fine with this, and then I made an excuse why I couldn’t come along. Usually walks take about twenty minutes because we go around a lake near our house and then through a park. I said the word, “Walk” as my husband was changing which sent Angel (our dog) on a crazy excited kick.
If you don’t have pets then get creative. Yard work in the backyard or some outdoor chore he has promised to do could also work. But make sure the car is in the garage, the garage door is shut and he does not have his keys. Lock his ass out. You know I did, in case Roy finished with the walk early. I even locked the garage door so he could not manually open it. 😉
6. Pack Everything Else And Load ‘Em Up
When you get him out of the house you have to be FAST! Once you lock up and have his keys (seriously whether he doesn’t plan to take them or you have to use your feminine or masculine wiles to get them – don’t let him take those keys!) it is time to finish packing. Everything from his laptop, toothbrush and everything else you were too worried about packing earlier. Throw it in a suitcase, bag or loose in the trunk and load everything up.
This may take superhuman strength on your part. I packed everything into one suitcase (in terms of clothes, jackets, etc.) but in order to do this I had to use our large suitcase, which empty weighs about twenty pounds – that is one fifth of me! I don’t know how heavy it ended up being, but it seemed impossible to drag, let alone lift. But I did it and every step I took down the stairs (twenty in all) I thought, “This is how I am going to die,” as the suitcase seemed determined to push me down the stairs. I still can’t believe I was able to lift it into the car, but such is the power of love! 😉
7. Get Him To Take You Somewhere
Once everything is loaded up, your house is locked up (do not let him go inside after you pack up or he will notice something – his laptop, shoes, phone charger, whatever – missing) and you have done everything you need to do (I turned off our air, gathered Angel’s things since our friends would be picking her up and made sure I didn’t forget anything) tell him that you have a surprise for him and to wait for you in the car. The best lie is the simplest one. How else are you going to explain where you are going? After one last check you are on your way to his surprise.
But make sure the surprise is something small and totally believable. Roy loves barbecue food and we have exhausted all the good places near us. So, I told him that a friend recommended a place that I have wanted to take him to for awhile, but it is on the other side of Longmont. This meant he didn’t start questioning where we were going until we were about fifteen minutes away. And by then, the only thing he was questioning was whether I was sure I knew where we were going.
This is when you fake being lost and ask for directions at the office where you check-in at for your romantic getaway! 🙂
And that is how it’s done. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it. Roy was so surprised! When we headed toward the cabin we were staying in, he turned to me with this smile: hopeful, happy and shocked, and said, “What did you do?” He couldn’t wrap his head around it all until we were left alone in the cabin. Saying that we had a great time would be an understatement – it was downright magical!
So, would I ever abduct my husband again for a surprise getaway? Would I ever go through all of that again? Absolutely! I mean, you can get it done in just seven ‘easy’ steps! 😉