I'm really excited about my 2nd traveler for my Inspired By interview series, Charlotte Barillier. Charlotte and I were sorority sisters at UC Santa Barbara, and she's constantly making me jealous with her amazing travels! She came to visit me while I studied abroad in Barcelona, which she'll talk a bit about during the interview below. She's an inspiration as not only a traveler, but an entrepreneur and general awesome human being, so I hope you enjoy hearing more about her and her travels as much as I do!
Charlotte launched Roam Travel Company in 2016, after working for a luxury tour operator and entertainment travel agency. She noticed that there was a gap in the industry -- that travel agents (now called travel designers) were not truly getting in touch with their clients and were booking more out of convenience than what was right for their clients. Roam Travel Company is a luxury travel planning service that focuses on unique experiences, intelligently designed hotels and above all, personalization. Charlotte explains her passion for creative side of the planning process: "I absolutely love the itineraries where I can be creative, from planning full wedding ceremonies in the African bush to a Harry Potter themed scavenger hunt through London to private honeymoon dinners in caves with thousands of tea candles in Bali to popping champagne with museum owners on opening day in Bolivia."
Q: How many countries have you been to? What’s been your favorite destination so far?
A: I have been to 32 countries but many of them multiple times. South Africa x 4, Botswana x 2, Mexico x 8, Italy x 3, Spain x 4 (once visiting Megan!), Israel x 2 and so on. Picking a favorite is like picking a child, but I think South Africa has so much to offer and Cape Town is definitely one of my favorite cities!
Q: How did you initially get bit with the travel bug, which ultimately led to you turning a passion into a career?
A: I initially got bit by the bug visiting YOU in Paris and Barcelona at 20 years old. That was my first trip to Europe and I was totally hooked. I continued to study abroad on Semester at Sea and then lived in Ireland for 9 months. When I came home, I told my mom, “ I want to plan trips for people” and I have been doing it ever since!
Q: How did you ultimately decide to leave your steady, corporate job and pursue your dreams with Roam Travel Company?
A: I knew that I wanted to work for myself for a couple years before I pulled the trigger -- I knew I wanted to find a way to make things more personalized and crafted. But honestly… I quit my job when I had enough money saved up and found a $400 flight to Ireland. The flight was really the decision maker.
Q: How do you go about matching experiences for your clients to their style, as it seems like travel preferences would be very unique to each individual you work with?
A: They definitely are, but that is the best part. I get to listen to and learn about my clients and then collaborate with my local contacts to make experiences happen. For example, we have a family traveling to Sicily this summer and the husband and wife don’t often get time together, so we are going to take them to a winery where the adults can do some tastings and the winery staff will take the kids off into the vineyard to stomp grapes. Just that 2 hour alone is nice for full time parents and I love to make that kind of stuff happen. It is all about listening to what your clients needs, wants and dreams are.
Q: How has your work for clients inspired or changed how you travel on your own?
A: I have definitely become a bit more of a “discerning” traveler working in the luxury travel world, but I feel like I have to be in the best interest of my clients. I absolutely appreciate exclusivity now - I think that is the ultimate luxury in travel. Feeling like you are the only one seeing or doing something. And my clients inspire me to travel as much as possible, learn as much as possible and continue to work from places all over the world, so I can be the best I can be at my job.
Q: Where are you traveling next and how did you decide that spot?
A: I am headed to South Africa in April, which will be my fourth trip to the country. I am visiting for two different travel industry trade shows to meet with hotels and tour companies in Africa (Indaba and We Are Africa). But also, I will be going on safari in Sabi Sands Game Reserve to see some amazing camps in the area (Singita, Londolozi, Sabi Sabi and Savanna) and BRINGING MOM! I am beyond words excited for her to see Africa!
Q: Where can we find you?
I'd love to hear your feedback on the Inspired By series in the comments below! Who is your favorite traveler to follow on social media?