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Jevon’s magical mystery tour

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Roaring success: Jevon Dickinson at a tiger temple in Thailand. (Photograph supplied)

Jevon Dickinson’s trips come with a massive catch — you have no idea where you’re going until you get there.

Travellers get three pieces of information once they sign up for one of the 37-year-old’s mystery holidays: the dates, the cost and how to pay.

The part-time travel agent came up with the idea after he took clients on a trip to Alaska a few years ago.

“When that finished I decided, you know what, it’s time to do something different,” he said.

“I told people, ‘The way it’s going to work is I’m not going to tell you anything. I’m going to give you three things: the date and the price and my account number, but that’s it’. “

Mr Dickinson started planning group vacations while in college.

These days he devotes 30 hours a week to his part-time work; that’s in addition to his full-time job in reinsurance.

Thirteen people signed up for his first mystery trip in 2012.

Their first stop was the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, considered one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. They also took a camel ride through the Wadi Rum desert and slept under the stars at a Bedouin camp.

“Some people were really nervous about sleeping in tents out in the middle of nowhere in the Middle East, but to me I felt doing a mystery trip it should be about taking people to new places and giving them something they wouldn’t necessarily experience on their own,” he said.

“It took people outside their comfort zone, but at the end of the day it was the kind of experience you can look back on and say I wouldn’t have done it otherwise, but I’m glad I did.”

Their next stop was to be to Abu Dhabi, but an hour before the flight Mr Dickinson had a change of heart.

“I felt a little unsure about it, so while we were waiting for the flight I got out my laptop and cancelled all our hotel reservations and booked accommodations in Dubai instead. We stayed at the tallest hotel in the world [at that time], the Rose Rayhaan.

“In the end, the people on the trip didn’t even know Dubai wasn’t on our original itinerary.” From there they spent time in Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand. They rode elephants, visited a tiger sanctuary and saw temples and historical landmarks.

“Our next stop was Hong Kong. On our way there we flew on the largest plane in the world, with Emirates. It had two full floors and there was a bar at the back of the plane.

“It happened to be my mom’s birthday and the person I was working with at Emirates for the booking told me he had something planned for her.

“We ended up having drinks and desserts at the back of the plane.” Mr Dickinson wanted the trip to end on a high note so he took guests to see the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong. It included a 23-minute display featuring more than 31,000 fireworks for China’s National Day on October 1.

Mr Dickinson initially intended that the three-week holiday would be his last hurrah before retiring from his side gig.

“It’s a lot of work, so my plan was to go out with a bang,” he said. “But since the trip, people have come up to me and said I can’t stop. At first I said, ‘Ok, I’ll do one more’, but I’ve since come to the conclusion I have to keep doing it.”

One of the many challenges in planning a trip of that magnitude was sticking to a set budget.

“This same around-the-world trip would probably cost $10,000 or $11,000 and we did it for about half the price,” he said. “We flew in business class on flights and stayed at all four or five star hotels. I liked seeing people’s reactions, their excitement, and the fact that everyone loved it so much. For everyone on the trip they said that was their favourite trip ever.”

People don’t have to be particularly brave to join one of his trips, however they must be willing to let him run the show.

“So many people want to know where they are going and what they are doing, but if you can relinquish some control then you can do a mystery trip. People found they got so much out of it — they had the experience of a lifetime that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.”

Mr Dickinson’s next trip is in August. He’s also planning shorter options for those who can’t do the three weeks.

For more information e-mail jevonmystery@gmail.com

Once-in-a-lifetime experiences: Jevon Dickinson, pictured with a long-necked woman in Thailand, offers mystery trips. (Photograph supplied)
Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong
The mystery trip including a stop in Jordan where they rode on camels through the desert (Photo supplied)
The Ancient City of Petra - this was one of the first stops on Jevon Dickinson's 2012 mystery trip where he travelled with a group of 13 around the world. (Photo supplied)
The ancient Kingdom of Ayutthaya - north of Bangkok in Thailand. (Photo supplied)