Her bags were packed, her tickets were purchased and Emily Barbera was ready to leave for vacation – the only problem was, she had no clue where she was going. Luckily, she was up for anything.

“No matter where I am, if it’s a different place I’ve never been, I’m going to enjoy myself,” she says.

south jersey top secret adventures

Runnemede’s Emily Barbera (left) and a friend enjoyed a vacation in Germany that was planned by Top Secret Adventures

Barbera, a Runnemede resident, had not-planned her vacation using Top Secret Trip, a startup business based in Collingswood with a simple mission – don’t know, just go. It’s run by Katie Miller and Nick Walz, globetrotters with a passion for travel research.

“Nick and I met junior year at Montclair State Univesity,” Miller says. “We were both obsessed with traveling. In January 2015, he was just back from Iceland, and I came back from a cruise to Key West and Mexico. We met for happy hour to talk and had the urge to book another trip.”

The duo, who frequently travel together, couldn’t decide where to go, so Walz decided to plan a surprise trip. Miller, no idea where she would be heading for vacation, shared her excitement on social media. Soon, friends were buzzing that they wanted a surprise trip too.

“People were just as excited as I was to find out where I was going,” Miller says. “We thought, ‘This could be a great idea.’”

top secret trip south jersey collingswood

Top Secret Trip founders Nick Walz and Katie Miller

They registered Top Secret Trip as an LLC in April 2015 and spent the summer firming up plans for the business and creating the website. Both Miller and Walz blog and share travel tips and experiences from their own extensive travels (they and co-founder Shannon Burrini have been to a total of 26 countries, 27 states and five continents). They created a survey for travelers to fill out with their budget and interests. Barbera was one of their first customers.

“It’s stressful to plan a trip,” she admits. “Letting someone else take the reins was exhilarating, because you focus on the fun and let someone else handle the tedious, nitty-gritty stuff. You’re putting it in the hands of people who travel and want you to have a good time.”

But Miller understands those who are skeptical.

“We’ve come across people who say that’s a cool idea, but they would never do it. It’s not for everyone,” she says. “But if you want an adventure or can’t plan every second of your trip, it’s a fun option.”

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