Meet a Belle Boy (because Belle Man didn’t sound just right)
The Travel Belle often has many men in her life with whom she loves to share her love of vacations and travel; and in this, the first of our interviews with our list of guys, we are thrilled to introduce you to one of our favorites. Andy Hayes of Sharing Travel Experiences (STE) is a longtime (over a year – which is like 37 years in blog years) friend, supporter and tolerater of our efforts in this decidedly femimine neck of the travel inter-webs.
He’s releasing an exciting new project this week, which he hired me to co-author with him, STE’s new guide: Value Luxury: How to Find First Class Experiences on an Economy Budget. (Yes, you read that right, I co-authored it with him.) The guide is not just incredibly awesome, but free, just for subscribers of Sharing Travel Experience’s once a month newsletter.
To celebrate the guide’s release in high style, Andy is hosting a virtual book launch party on June 1st at 8PM EST. You can find out how to join us on the call and on Twitter by visiting Andy’s post. It’s BYOB, but you are free to bring all your friends! Hint: There are prizes. Good ones. And having the guide on hand ahead of time may just be advantageous, said Bonnie and Clyde.
First, to introduce you to Andy, and our shared belief in the value luxury travel concept, I recently asked him a few questions:
People often have preconceived ideas of where they “should” travel. How do you advise people seeking travel advice to focus in on what they really want from their vacation?
We all deserve a vacation that leaves us feeling satisfied. So who cares if it’s Australia, or wherever the “it” destination is this year – if you want to go somewhere that you can just lay on the beach all day and eat Michelin-starred cuisine each evening, then do it. Nobody has the right to judge where you go on vacation or what you do.
I think it’s best to start out with looking at how you want that vacation to unfold. Instead of thinking “Mexico or Caribbean,” ask yourself “food & nightlife versus hiking & peaceful.” The best vacations are about how you want to feel, not about where you are.
The travel planning process often gets stalled for various reasons. Let’s take planning a trip to a city like Paris, that hits the emotional buttons of many women – with the romance, the shopping and the new food – where sometimes their spouses or significant others may think of these same things as utter hell on earth. What kind of compromises would you recommend from the male perspective for Travel Belles planning this kind of trip? What are the kind of things you like to do in a city like Paris?
[pullquote]If the ladies wanna shop for shoes and the boys want to go sausage tasting, then why not do that and meet up at the end of the day over a glass of wine and discuss how your botched French ended up costing you?[/pullquote]My favorite thing to do in Paris is to sit in an café with a pain au chocolat and a coffee and just relax. Cliché, but true. (Best bakery to do this in? Angelina, near the Louvre). I also love walking in the park – Paris has some utterly beautiful public gardens.
As for the traveling discord, I say why does everybody have to do the same thing for the entire trip? If the ladies wanna shop for shoes and the boys want to go sausage tasting, then why not do that and meet up at the end of the day over a glass of wine and discuss how your botched French ended up costing you?
Personally, I don’t travel well in groups, but even the closest of pals could use some space on the road to individually explore. Instead of thinking of it as “not the right thing,” look at it for what it is: pretty darn practical.
What is one of your current favorite places to recommend to people that they may not have considered? Why?
New Zealand because although it is far away, you get so much when you arrive: unique accommodations across the island, the best scenery in the world, great food, warm hospitality, and options that work for singles, couples, or families. Just watch for good airfares and then book it!
I think that the down economy has made things better for many of us on a personal level; we have been forced to evaluate and prioritize what is really important to us. Have your personal definitions of “value” and “luxury” changed?
Well, when I launched my own business nearly four years ago, I started to become a lot more value-conscious. But that doesn’t mean I spend less – actually, I probably spend more now – but I am more conscious about where I spend my money. For me, usually, I don’t buy souvenirs and go for a mid-range hotel and then splash out on day trips, food, museums and tours. I wasn’t very mindful of the balance before, but now it’s the first thing I think of when I am planning a trip.
How do you see these definitions changing in the travel industry?
The Internet democratized the travel planning process – now anybody can use the web to piece together a simple or a complex itinerary. In the beginning, the effect of this shift was an emphasis on price – we all want a deal, so that really got to be the focus online.
Now, technology is getting more sophisticated to help you choose the RIGHT price, not just the lowest one. A whole industry of travel publishers (this site and mine also are included in that industry) are helping to guide people to better travel decisions. So I think we are drifting away from definitions like “5 star” and more towards “here’s how to decide if this is for you.” It’s a very, very good thing.
What would you say to a Travel Belle who thinks that traveling somewhere new on her next vacation is financially out of reach? (and/or out of reach for other reasons we are prone to tell ourselves)
I’d tell her to think about the dreaded C word…compromise. I’m here to tell you gals that anything is possible. But what about if you took a spa weekend to a town nearby, where you didn’t have to buy flights? What about shopping around for a package deal where food and a bottle of wine are included? Put pictures of some of your favorite travel experiences on your desk, on your refrigerator. Remind yourself: you deserve a break!
In the book we’ve got a fun little worksheet to help people cut to the essence in woo woo talk, of what they’re looking for in their travels. Do you have an early memory from your childhood that you can look back on and see how it shaped you as “that travel guy?”
I remember my first flight. The whoosh and roar as the plane lifted off the runway was incredible – I felt like a total rockstar, jetting off to a new destination, smug in satisfaction when the flight attendant came by with a drink and a snack. (The snacks were better in those days.) I try to remind myself of the novelty that is travel, and that even when things go wrong, that when the vacation becomes a bit exasperating – we’ve all been there – I say to myself that I’m lucky to have the privilege, so let’s enjoy it.
Travel Belles know that with a little effort traveling can be both pretty and practical. What do Belle Boys know?
Pack less. (Stop rolling your eyes – you know I am right.) Also – vacation is a convenient excuse to have ice cream every day. What’s your flavour?
Salted caramel gelato! Last question: Where are you off to next?
I normally tell people that I don’t travel as much as one would think, but actually this month and next are very hectic. Next week I am traveling right here in the Pacific Northwest and heading to Portland, Oregon – it is quickly becoming a creative, culinary, and cultural hotspot. Go, go hungry, and enjoy.
Thanks Andy! Now go over and get the guide: Value Luxury: How to Find First Class Experiences on an Economy Budget. Bonnie and Clyde said so 🙂