‘WHAT about a surprise holiday to an unknown destination?’ The website promises.

‘Book your flight and hotel in just three clicks, travel to a mystery destination and discover it at the airport…’

More and more people are putting their holiday plans in the hands of strangers, allowing them to choose their destination as well as make their travel arrangements.

Companies like Blind Experiences and Mystery Break offer ‘surprise’ trips where you won’t find out where you’re going until you get to the airport.

I read this week of a woman who sampled the experience and ended up 5,600 miles away in South Africa. I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Holidays are stressful enough when you know where you are going. What to pack, how much of it, what to expect when you get there.

I like to thoroughly research a destination so that we make the most of our time there. I buy guide books and maps and plan walks in different areas. I look for markets and bookshops, art galleries and churches.

On short breaks to European cities, I plan day trips to attractions within travelling distance. From Barcelona we visited Montserrat and from Amsterdam we took a £10-each hop-on-hop-off bus trip to Waterland, a beautiful area I had never heard of before pouring over guide books.

It’s the same with breaks in the UK: if I didn’t prepare we would miss out.

As every member of my family will vouch, I don’t like surprises. Even small birthday gifts, carefully wrapped, unnerve me. “I’ve kept the receipt,” my husband and daughters will say, knowing that there is a high chance I will return the items.

Although my daughters still insist on surprises, with my husband I tend to buy my own presents, and he pays me back.

Surprise holidays are among the most popular presents men buy their partners for Christmas. Even if he was one for lavish gifts (which he is not), my husband knows not to venture into such territory.

On a recent trip to London we met a couple we knew on the train. “I didn’t know about this,” she said, “It was a surprise - I thought we were going to Scarborough.”

“How exciting!” I said, before my husband jumped in: “If I did that you would go crazy!” It’s true. For one thing he would not know what to pack and I’d want to get ready, wash my hair and put on suitable clothes. But at least with this type of surprise, one partner knows where you’re heading so can, to some extent, prepare. With a stranger booking things for you, you can’t.

Travellers are given a ‘cryptic packing list’ whatever that means, but it doesn’t allow for considered preparation.

Unknown destination holidays are nothing new - coach firms have been running them for years, with mystery tours taking in secret destinations across the UK.

Even here, there’s a downside - you may have visited the places before, been to university there, or have relatives in the area. Or it might be somewhere you really don’t want to go.

Mystery worldwide holiday firms send questionnaires out beforehand to discover your passions, to avoid booking a break that does not suit you.

But even then, it’s out of your control. Some companies even issue step-by-step instructions in sealed envelopes, to add to the mystery.

Some might love the element of surprise, and call me a control freak, but if I’m spending money on a holiday, it would have to be a place of my choosing and 100 per cent on my terms.