“What do you do with your disposable income?” My career began with that question, posed by a travel agency owner I met at a party 30 years ago. My reply was quick and clear: “Travel every chance I get.” I came by an affinity for exploration organically. I was born while my dad was posted to Indonesia as a U.S. Foreign Service officer. My early memories are of exotic people, food and furnishings.
When I work with clients, I never regard their trips casually. Time is a most precious commodity, so every journey is important, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a multi-generational cruise. I love doing everything I can to design the best trip possible within the targeted budget, preferred style
and goals we’ve discussed. My own tastes are broad. We’ve recently celebrated one of my daughters’ 18th birthday with what some might view as a cliched Rome-Florence-Venice itinerary. I consider it a timeless classic. It’s beautiful to see the statue of David through your child’s eyes as an art historian brings him and his creator to life. No matter what age they are, I think travel is the best education you can offer your children.
On the adventurous side, I love safaris, especially in Botswana, where the camps are intimate, the people are warm, the game is plentiful and the topography is varied. Taking wildlife experiences a step further, one of the highlights of my life was gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Walking, hiking, scrambling through mud into the forest to a gorilla family habitat took more than two hours. Humans are allowed to observe the endangered species for just one hour, but what a thrilling privilege that hour was. We were instructed to speak very quietly. Most of our small group — seven is the maximum, plus a guide — was speechless watching the patriarch, a silverback mountain gorilla, watching over his family. Mothers nurse their babies. Toddlers run in circles. Adolescents swing in the trees and pick on each other. We kept a low profile but could snap as many photos as our equipment allowed. Although these gorillas allow people to get close, contact is obviously discouraged. Shortly before we had to head out, though, one of the youngsters ran after me and pulled on the hood of my jacket. I will never forget that experience or that moment.
After 30 years, I’ve been many places, but not every place. People often ask me to share my favorite destination. Honestly, my favorite trip is always the most recent one. My appetite for travel is still fully engaged, and I always enjoy myself because I make sure I do my research, plan what I want to do and hire a guide to get acclimated to any new city. Future plans include Antarctica, Berlin and Tibet. For Tibet, I have to prepare for the very high altitude: 14,000 feet. Some people fear the effects. Not me. I will do what I can do to get ready and plunge ahead.