You walk into departures. Families in flip-flops; business travellers; stag parties; honeymooners; and you. You’re wide-eyed, your pulse racing a little high as you mop a touch of sweat from your brow. You look down at your hands, they’re gripping an envelope.
Spain; Italy; South Africa; Brazil. Barcelona; Rome; Cape Town; São Paulo. Airports both familiar and not are flicking through the departures board, while you scan that motley assemblage of tourists and travellers. You’re mentally assigning each of them a destination — but where will you land?
You don’t know. The envelope in your hands does. Another glance at the departures board. Shaky hands tear into the paper. Oaxaca City. Your heart skips a beat. Your brain does funny medically-confirmed things; releasing additional dopamine as a response to surprise. Back to the departures: two hours till boarding. Just enough time to drag yourself through security, order a stiff drink, and think about what you’ve gotten yourself into. Oaxaca City.
You pause to contemplate the adventure lying ahead of you. Travellers are dreamers, romantic window gazers … travellers know why the words wander and wonder are just a vowel apart. The bartender pours out a large bourbon, you go back into the envelope — a curated list of activities and tours with local guides, tailored to you with tips, maps, contacts. The best thing? There are three more. Destination: unknown.
Are you ready to swap your bourbon for a smoky mezcal, the lifeblood of Oaxaca — made from the sacred agave plant? To smash the night away à la Jack Kerouac or William S. Burroughs? Explore waterfalls, caves, and ancient ruins in the morning? Horseback. A barely developed coastline whisks you to a time when to travel was to pioneer. And then: another envelope. Your pulse that little higher. We begin again.
Welcome to surprise travel. Some months ago, you’d filled out an online questionnaire, submitting (or omitting) as much as you cared. Are you a ‘culturist’, a ‘party purist’? Both, and more?. Do you want to go somewhere, or anywhere? Where, if anywhere, do you want to avoid ending up? Desert, jungle, snow? Do you drive, do you hike, do you just want to prop up a bar and test your language skills? Most importantly: when do you want to do this?
California- and Mexico City-based surprise travel specialists Jubel are the fantasists behind you on this journey; a startup dedicated to (literally) pushing the envelope of alternative travel; shifting your internal compass and fragmenting perspective.
You have some, or no, control over the envelopes — you might have asked for hints … Latin America, or Mexico itself …. but, in the end, the amount of control is in your hands; and stays that way throughout the experience. You might find yourself hopping on to three or four more destinations, for a few nights a piece, each new destination bringing more envelopes, and more surprises.
In an age where the rawest and most intoxicating of travel experiences have been packaged, homogenised, and turned into glossy iPhone adverts; an age where technology rolls out once-untouched beaches into neat hashtag-heavy Instagrams, the very definition of ‘remote’ disintegrating, Jubel’s singular service realigns travel with the sense of exhilaration it once held — where Kerouac’s narrative weaved with diversion and inspiration, where the unknown was exactly that. Mystery and uncertainty, and chasing the dream. Wander. Wonder. The uncharted romance of travel is back, and Jubel are its new wave pioneers.