Virtuoso Life July 2017 How To: Travel Outside Your Comfort Zone

How To: Travel Outside Your Comfort Zone

The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt. 
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt. 
Photo by Nick Brundle Photography/Getty Images

The Pro: Geoffrey Kent, Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Abercrombie & Kent 

Inspiration: “I truly believe that if we were to travel more, there would be less conflict in this world. Whether it’s a country where you don’t speak the language or a place where you can’t drink the water, it opens your mind.” 

Action: “Of all the journeys I’ve arranged, I think an African safari is the most life changing. Consider Botswana, an unusual combination of desert and river delta that draws an immense concentration of wildlife. Last year the country celebrated its 50th year of independence, making it the longest continuous multiparty democracy on the African continent, with a progressive social outlook. Botswana is wild, pristine, and expansive, with a commitment to high-value, low-impact tourism in partner-ship with local communities. It’s a good option for someone who’s looking to get outside their comfort zone but is a bit nervous about where to go.”

Exploring Istanbul, Turkey. 
Exploring Istanbul, Turkey. 
Photo by Alpkhan/Getty Images

The Pro: Karen Fedorko Sefer, Owner, Sea Song Tours, Istanbul 

Inspiration: “Now is the perfect time to visit Turkey. Our clients are having a great time – seeing sites without the crowds and enjoying reduced rates in the most beautiful luxury hotels. You can really appreciate the beauty of Turkey.
Action: “One of my favorite journeys in Turkey is traveling along the western Aegean coast, sailing on the most beautiful turquoise sea. Families and friends enjoy a pristine experience on a traditional gulet sailing yacht. This is a great option for people who may be a bit nervous traveling to Turkey, as it’s so exclusive. In Istanbul, I recommend a private vehicle, driver, and guide to show you the most magnificent historical monuments in the world.” 

The Pro: Anne Scully, Travel Agency Executive, McLean, Virginia 

Inspiration: “With one life to live, I choose travel. The reality is that, after 9/11, our world changed. But I’ll get on any plane, any time. If not now, when? At our agency, European business is booming and we’re booking Paris like mad – we can’t hide under a rock even though we live in a new world. I’d pack my bags for Turkey tomorrow.”
Action: “When our clients have concerns, I suggest staying in properties with brand names they trust, and I recommend guides who can help their comfort level. For larger families, for instance, we book several smaller cars rather than a bus. I recommend traveling off-season and off the beaten track: Many of our clients are visiting small towns in England outside London or the beautiful areas outside Paris, such as Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Carcassonne. Also, travel on cruise ships – they’ll never put their passengers or ships in harm’s way.”

My Egypt Dream: From Uncertain to Overjoyed
By Annie Fitzsimmons

Visiting Egypt had been a long-held dream, but I delayed, due to safety concerns following the Arab Spring. This year felt like the right time, although friends still questioned my vacation choice. As my boyfriend and I were planning the trip, I turned to Virtuoso agency owner Malaka Hilton, an expert on the country, wondering if it was a good idea. “Of course you’re going,” she said. “I would tell anyone to go now. It’s perfectly safe.”
She passed along her insider list, and when we arrived at Cairo’s airport and saw the driver with the little yellow Abercrombie & Kent sign greeting us (the respected tour operator has six offices in Egypt), our nerves settled.
The country has experienced massive upheaval in recent years, but tourists have started to return. Those who go are rewarded with incredible value and light crowds. We felt completely safe, and I became an Egypt evangelist after returning home. I’d go again tomorrow for the Great Pyramid of Giza at sunset, a breezy felucca ride on the Nile, the butterflies of anticipation at the Valley of the Kings, the dazzling gold of King Tut’s treasures at the Egyptian Museum, and the welcoming locals. Accessing the right people – such as Hilton and the A&K team – allowed this mind-changing trip to happen.

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