The post-pandemic travel boom is in full swing as people scramble to make up for lost time. For luxury travelers, the demand for customized, seamless travel experiences is higher than ever. But even for the savviest travelers, putting together a dream vacation can be overwhelming. Sorting through the vast amount of information on the Internet can feel daunting, not to mention the time and patience needed to manage airlines, hotels, and other logistics. This is precisely why travelers rely on luxury travel experts to do the heavy lifting.
Recently, I sat down with luxury travel advisor Jessica Anfang, principal of Take Me Away Travel, an independent affiliate of Elli Travel, to find out more about what today’s travelers are looking for and how she makes travel dreams come true. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
Q: How did you get into the luxury travel business?
A: I’ve lived all over the United States, and I caught the travel bug at an early age. For me, there’s nothing better than exploring new places and experiencing new cultures. Whether it’s learning a city’s history or sampling local cuisine, I’ve gained a much greater appreciation of the world.
I found that whenever my friends were planning trips, they would come to me for advice. Where should I go? Where should I stay? Where should I eat? What should I do? After many years of freely offering my travel expertise started Take Me Away Travel to bring bespoke luxury travel experiences to as many wanderlusts as possible.
Q: What is your approach to planning a luxury travel experience?
A: As a luxury travel advisor, I design fully customized trips for my clients. This starts with getting to know clients and progresses to creating an experience that best meets their unique needs. I like to dive deep into people’s travel goals and preferences – how they like to travel, what types of hotels are they looking for, how adventurous they are, and how scheduled they would like to be.
The process spans far beyond booking accommodations. What differentiates luxury travel planning is the addition of special experiences that makes trips even more memorable. For one family it might be truffle hunting in Tuscany, for another it might be a cooking class in Italy. It really depends on the wants of each client.
My goal is to make the process as seamless and stress free as possible. Every detail is carefully planned so that clients can focus on what’s most important: enjoying their overall travel experience.
Q: What are the biggest benefits of working with a luxury travel advisor?
A: There are so many benefits and hidden perks that luxury travel advisors can provide. In my case, these come in the form of insider knowledge, access to amenities, and an extensive network of global partners. I’ve traveled extensively, and I’ve been lucky enough to stay at some of the best hotels in the world. I know first-hand how the industry works and I have worked hard to cultivate strong relationships with hoteliers and local contacts all over the world. These relationships allow me to access upgrades, perks and local experts for my clients that are unavailable to regular travelers.
I pride myself on providing stellar customer service and my clients lean on me every step of the way. Unfortunately, travel delays and disruptions are commonplace these days. It’s my job to handle every change, addition, or unexpected disruption for my clients, using my contacts on the ground to navigate any challenge. This past summer I had a couple traveling to Italy and their flight was extremely delayed. I stayed in communication with my team on the ground in Italy moving around tours and transportation so that they didn’t miss out on anything we had originally planned.
Q: How long does it take to plan a dream vacation?
A: It depends. If it’s a summer trip to Europe it can take many months of planning. The same goes for travel over holiday breaks and school vacations. I always say that it is never too early to start, although I definitely can work magic last minute.
Q: What do you like most about what you do?
A: I love meeting new people and making their travel fantasies come true. I moved around a lot when I was growing up and I think this makes it easier for me to connect with people and find common ground. I especially enjoy working with multi-generational families, creating special experiences which all ages can enjoy.
Q: What are your all-time favorite trips?
A: Wow, that’s a tough question. I’ve been fortunate to have traveled extensively throughout my life. If I had to narrow down to my top three, I’d say Italy, the English countryside (people don’t usually think about this as a destination) and a ranch experience in Montana (and not just because of the show Yellowstone).