Q: For someone who does not use a travel agent, how would you suggest they begin looking for a travel agent?
A: For starters, think about what your needs are, and what type of travel agent will be most helpful. Also, ask your friends who travel a lot who they use! Choose someone who’s not only knowledgeable about the destination for your upcoming trip, but also someone who is well versed in the style of travel you are envisioning. For example, choose someone who knows a lot about luxury travel if that is your style…or has a background in adventure or family travel if your future trips will call for that. Also, ask for a phone consultation so you can ask questions and vice versa, to determine if it’s a good match. The goal is for this to be a long-term relationship, similar to one you might have with your financial advisor, so you want to find someone you hit it off with from the start. Ask as many questions as possible and also be clear about the type of travel you are hoping to do in the future so the agent can give you an honest assessment if they think that they are the best match for you. If you prefer to work with an agent who relies heavily on email/text verses talking on the phone or meeting in person, be sure to mention this. Some agents will make themselves available seven days/week whenever needed, others keep strict hours… so be sure to also take that into consideration when making your choice. Inquire up front about fees so there are no surprises, and don’t be afraid to ask a potential agent for client references!
Q: What unique travel experience would you suggest for travelers looking for something out of the ordinary this fall?
A: A unique travel experience could be the combination of a few days in Thailand or India with Bhutan, as it’s best to fly via Delhi or Bangkok. Speaking from personal experience, I enjoyed spending time in Thailand (in Bangkok at The Siam hotel and possibly a few days at the beach in Koh Samui or Phuket) before heading to Bhutan for a totally unique experience (there are a limited number of tourists allowed at any one time, and also a limited number of hotel rooms…the best options include the Aman and the Como properties). Hiking to Eagle’s Nest, visiting the monasteries, meeting the locals, tasting Bhutanese cuisine and just relaxing in a country where everyone seems to smile is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Another unique experience would be a trip to South Africa—with it being a combination of safari, winelands + city (Capetown) rather than just focusing on the safari as many tend to do. South Africa’s Stellenbosch is not to be missed (a stay at La Residence is a must) and a few days in Capetown is often not enough… flying through London and staying a few nights at Coworth Park for a UK countryside experience before journeying home is also an experience we’ve planned for clients who have really enjoyed this type of itinerary!
Q: What destination/experience would you suggest to the traveler wanting something truly unique while on a budget?
A: For a traveler wanting something on a budget, I would suggest looking at a cruise considering they are (mostly) all-inclusive in the pricing, and provide the opportunity to visit multiple destinations that might be too costly to do a la carte. Celebrity Cruises offers wonderful itineraries in Alaska and Europe, as does Windstar… and the pricing typically works out to be less than when planned as an independent itinerary. I suggest choosing a port-heavy itinerary (rather than too many days at sea) in order to get the most out of the experience, and the budget.
Q: What destination/experience would you suggest for family travel?
A: It’s so hard to choose just one as we create itineraries for so many families based on the kids’ ages and interests. Italy is always a crowd pleaser… as there are multiple cities to explore, and we always try to include time on the Amalfi coast at a family friendly hotel on the water. Other destinations I find to be extremely fun for families — due to the variety of experiences we can set up — include a combo London/Paris trip, Australia, Iceland and more recently, Japan.
Q: What destination/experience would you suggest for a romantic getaway?
A: I love to suggest the Hawaiian Islands, as there is a mix of beautiful beach resorts, wonderful people/culture, multiple islands (each with their own personality) and easy flights between them. Maui + the Big Island, or Maui + Lanai are the combos I recommend, and book most often.
Photo by TAIT Photography Bio:
A former luxury travel magazine editor and jet-setting journalist, Stacy founded Elite Travel International in 2005 with the goal of changing the landscape of offerings for the new generation of affluent luxury travelers. Ten years later, she is one of the go-to luxury travel advisors for a mixed portfolio of Silicon Valley executives, celebrities and entrepreneurs seeking a global-minded approach and efficient, fast, knowledgeable response time to any level of luxury travel request. Along with her dynamic team spanning the globe from London to LA and Mexico to Maui, Stacy specializes in taking the hassle out of high-level travel.
It’s never a bad idea to buy travel insurance, as you never know what can happen… and always make sure your passport is up-to-date!