view of the Amalfi Coast umbrella lined beaches and bright blue water

With travel opening up and wanderlust adventure planning at full speed, we asked influential luxury travel advisors to share their top tips. Unlike virtual booking services, these travel gurus come armed with insider intel, global connections, and firsthand experience, to bring your vacay vision to life and ensure it goes off without a hitch.

Let us ask the questions

Jack Ezon, Embark Beyond

“At EMBARK Beyond Embark Travel we take a very different approach to planning travel, rather than have our clients ask us questions, we ask them questions to better get to know them so that we can match the right experience and right place to stay with the right client.  We generally don’t like to ask about bucket lists that focus on destinations, we focus on aspirations and the ingredients our clients seek to best develop a plan to help create meaningful travel experiences that enhance and enrich our client’s lives furthering their life goals and passions.  Some top things you should be prepared to answer are; what are your favorite 5 hotels, do you like or dislike beach, adventure, culture, or shopping vacations, do you want action or serenity, do you like to stay in one place or move around, do you like exotic, familiar or close to home, is the purpose of your trip to see things to say you’ve seen them or do you want to explore somewhere in more depth, do you travel heavy or light, as this determines how much they can move around.” – @jackezon

Be an empowered traveler

David Prior, PRIOR

“The PRIOR audience is seasoned travelers with a creative spirit who are curious, seeking connection, and resonate with a certain aesthetic. The goal is to empower them with honest reviews of a hotel or destination, industry critiques, and by arming them with knowledge of global culture and traditions. I care so much more about a hotel reflecting the character of the place than the consistency of the thread count. Our clients come through referrals by people who have traveled with us or by something they have seen or read on our site or social media, so they trust us and our point of view.  Rather than ask what they liked in the past, we ask them to tell us how they want to feel. We all know what sensory deprivation and everyone wants to feel alive again so if they tell me they want to feel sweaty on the dance floor in Berlin, taste that restaurant in Stockholm, or dive into the ocean and taste the salt on their lips in Sydney we write the prescription.” – @davidprior

A travel advisor is like a financial planner

Lia Batkin, In The Know Experiences

“Consider your travel advisor like a financial planner, someone you know and trust who will help you plan out a running bucket list of trips for the future. Getting to know each other and giving them as much information as possible ensures exactly what kind of trip you want, want to get out of it, and also when something doesn’t fit the bill.  For example, if you’re going on a girl’s trip you might want to wake up to a beautiful relaxing view and have a great spa. If it’s a couples trip, you might want a super romantic room that you can spend time in, some activities, and somewhere with great food that your partner likes. My best advice is to narrow down your must-have list to 5 things, as you won’t always get everything in one destination. Working with a luxury travel advisor means you get more perks, personalized service, and intel as they take care of the little touches to make your experience special.  If you’re celebrating your honeymoon, they can organize a lovely bottle of champagne when you arrive and your wedding song playing.  Expedia can’t do that, nor can they let you know if the pool is closed, the service is lacking or the road to the hotel is terrible.” – @intheknowexperiences

Quiz your advisor on benefits and upgrades

Misty Belles, Virtuoso

“Don’t be afraid to interview your travel advisor, as you’ll discover the ‘where’ aspect becomes about the ‘how’ and ‘why’. Ask them how they travel, why a destination is a favorite and their first-hand experiences. Also share everything about your travel style, from your passion points, dislikes to what you want in the minibar. And always ask your advisor about any additional benefits they can secure. A Virtuoso advisor can get you complimentary room upgrades, daily breakfast, welcome amenities, and resort credits.  Our Advisor Catalog also does the investigative legwork, by showing advisors bios, areas of specialization, personal experiences, reviews, and recommendations.” – @Virtuosoltd

Customized service is key

Meg Nolan, Friend of a Friend Trip Design

“Making sure a trip is a dream one, comes down to personal travel preferences with Friend of a Friend Trip Design I have created a very customized bespoke service model. It’s an iterative process as like say interior design travel is not a one-stop-fits-all dynamic. During the initial phase, I work very closely with the client to cement a rapport and determine their likes, dislikes, and motivation by having them complete special preference forms and through phone conversations. If they say they want to go someplace they saw on Instagram or because a blogger went, I dial it back and ask what they are trying to accomplish. Do they want to unplug, check a box, go on a multi-generational vacation to create lasting family memories? Once I know their purpose, I customize the trip to reaffirm that theme and their goals.  It’s important to note that while every trip is different, you are not the same traveler for every trip, so knowing why they want to go is everything.” – @megnolanVR

Go where they have gone

Kim Hopkins, Kim Hopkins Travel

“The most important thing to ask your travel advisor is if they have been there. I always try to send clients to destinations and hotels that I know and love.  My local contacts are my biggest asset and if I’m sending someone to countries like Morocco or Italy, I always book my driver and my guide. That way I can text them to ensure everything is going to plan. Having a local perspective and contact is critical, it saves you time, money and means you are going to have the best possible experience.  Anyone can book a flight and hotel, but by engaging a travel advisor you are paying someone for their experience, expertise, and personal connections and that is the most valuable part of any trip.” – @kimhopkinstravel

Check the insurance and cancelation policy

Silvia Castellano, Founder Iamitalianissima

“In a post-Covid world, the first thing to ask is about the insurance and cancellation policy. It’s crucial all services on your itinerary are covered by insurance and to have a robust “cancel for no reason” policy so you can cancel 30 – 45 days before departure. It’s also crucial to talk with an advisor with experience of your destination. When I went to Asia my trips were planned by a travel advisor who is a real connoisseur of that part of the world and I still remember the tiny, remote places I went to on her advice, she described them vividly and it was a wonderful feeling experiencing them for real. Being honest about your expectations and goals is also the key to a successful itinerary.  Always follow your interests and passions, as it’s a recipe for disaster traveling on a friend’s advice or social trend.  Working with a travel advisor not only saves you time endlessly surfing the web in the event of a hiccup or more serious difficulty, they’ll know how to resolve it easily. –@i_am_italianissima