Travel On Again: Meet The Newest agebuzz Blogger, Andrea Schubiner, Founder Of Wanderful Journeys
Travel On Again: Meet The Newest agebuzz Blogger, Andrea Schubiner, Founder Of Wanderful Journeys
June 2, 2021
For many of us, travel is once again foremost in our minds, as some of the world opens back up and the risks of travel are beginning to recede. Just in time, agebuzz welcomes our newest Guest Blogger, Andrea Schubiner, the Founder of Wanderful Journeys, a boutique travel advisory service that specializes in designing unique itineraries filled with enriching, off-the-beaten-path experiences, coupled with luxury service. Recently, agebuzz Managing Editor Connie Zuckerman had the chance to interview Andrea about her travel background, thoughts about travel post-pandemic, and her best advice as we all begin to get back out there. Below is an edited version of their conversation:
CZ: Andrea, We’re so excited to welcome you as the latest agebuzz Guest Blogger! Thank you for sharing your words of travel wisdom with agebuzz readers! First, can you tell us how you came to work in the world of travel? Did you grow up in a household where travel was important? Have you always wanted to set out and explore the world?
AS: Thank you so much for having me, Connie. I am thrilled to be able to share my travel experiences and expertise with your readers.
Travel has always been important to my family and I was fortunate to grow up in a household that encouraged traveling and being a citizen of the world. As a child, learning about history and different cultures always fascinated me – travel became a natural extension of the classroom to be able to see and experience what I had learned about in school firsthand.
Whether we were driving down the California coast or visiting far-off destinations from Thailand to Argentina, each family trip left me wanting to see more of the world. I loved seeing the diverse natural beauty of our planet and meeting extraordinary people from different cultures. As I got older and entered the ‘working world’, I quickly became dismayed at my mere 10 vacation days a year and began scheming a way to make sure I could prioritize travel alongside my career.
Looking for a good excuse for a long trip, I decided to return to school and earn my MBA. As soon as I was accepted into the University of Chicago Booth, I quit my job and began a six-month around-the-world adventure. It was on that trip that I officially became addicted to travel.
Upon my return, I chose to apply to jobs abroad so I would be able to easily explore new regions while working in a foreign country. I completed a summer internship in Johannesburg, South Africa, and then moved to London full-time post-graduation to work for a management consulting firm. While I loved being able to spend my weekends traveling, after a few years I burnt out from the job, but my passion for travel remained as strong as ever.
Sharing my travel experiences and tips with others always brought me joy, so after a few soul-searching trips, I decided to dive in and officially make travel my profession – and haven’t looked back since!
CZ: Tell us about your business, Wanderful Journeys. When did you launch and what have been your goals with the company?
AS: I launched Wanderful Journeys in the Fall of 2018 as a vehicle to facilitate transformative journeys that promote a broader perspective of the world.
My goal has always been to provide aspiring travelers with the tools to confidently explore the world without compromising on luxury or authenticity.
All too often after I returned from an incredible trip, my friends and family would say, “I wish I could travel like you” followed by some excuse as to why they were hesitant to put together the same type of trip. Travel can often be daunting, there is no denying that. Lack of time to plan a trip or lack of confidence to execute travel plans should never hold people back from exploring our beautiful world and experiencing the life-changing moments travel can provide – which is why I created Wanderful Journeys.
CZ: What kinds of services do you provide for your clients? Who is a typical client and what are they seeking?
AS: I consider myself a ‘travel matchmaker’ connecting clients with the best destinations, accommodations, and experiences that are right for them. I specialize in designing comprehensive personalized itineraries filled with immersive, authentic experiences – with a splash of style!
My ‘typical’ clients are curious, discerning travelers who are looking to broaden their horizons, connect with local cultures, and indulge in a worry-free vacation. From multi-generational family vacations to honeymoons, I help these clients with ALL aspects of the trip from advising on general trip flow, managing hotel reservations, booking ‘ungoogleable’ experiences, and can even help with securing visas and COVID test appointments.
I also have a segment of loyal, travel-savvy clients who understand the value of an advisor and leverage my industry connections. These are clients who are avid travelers, and enjoy the planning process but know that booking through me will help make even a simple hotel stay extra special. Through my affiliation with Virtuoso, I can get these clients great value in the form of complimentary perks for luxury hotel bookings (such as room upgrades, exclusive promotions, free breakfast, resort credits, and more). Additionally, I help their reservation become more than just a confirmation number, and am a live voice to talk with before, during, and after travel and a dedicated advocate for any bumps in the road.
CZ: Tell us about your own life in travel. Where have you gone? What’s been the most memorable trip you’ve taken?
AS: I have been lucky enough to travel to 96 countries across 6 continents. This spring I was able to take an exciting trip to Guatemala and tour some partner hotels around San Diego. For my next trip, I will be heading to Turks & Caicos in July!
My most memorable trip was a big adventure where I traveled overland all the way from Liverpool, England to Busan, South Korea.
The majority of the trip was part of an infamous road trip called the Mongol Rally where I drove in a small Nissan Micra from London to Mongolia – crossing over 10,000 miles in 6 weeks. Getting to explore much of Central Asia and western Mongolia was a true highlight. I then hopped on the Trans Siberian Railroad taking it all the way East across Russia to Vladivostok and caught a ferry to South Korea where I traveled for two weeks before ending my journey. An unforgettable experience!
CZ: How have you been doing during the pandemic? How have you fulfilled your own”wanderlust” and the desires of your clients, while travel has been so restricted?
AS: The start of the pandemic was extremely difficult for me and my business. It was heartbreaking to have to cancel so many family reunions, honeymoons, bucket list trips, etc. Like many, I turned to my own backyard when travel was so restricted, wandering around neighborhoods I never explored before and nearby sites I had always taken for granted.
I also worked hard to create fun ‘Armchair Wanders’ Guides to give my clients a taste of travel from the comfort of home. The guides were filled with country-themed books, movies, recipes, and virtual experiences. While not the same as travel, these definitely helped give a little taste of faraway places and fulfill a bit of the wanderlust cravings.
CZ: I would guess now that so many have been fully vaccinated, travel plans must be growing and ambitious. What words of advice do you have for those of us who want to get back out there but also remain safe?
AS: My biggest advice for people who want to get back out traveling in a safe manner is to start planning NOW. With social distancing still a priority to many, hotels with standalone units or outdoor room entrances have become extremely popular – and with growing demand, availability is tight and prices are climbing.
Outside of the US (or even in Hawaii!), entry requirements are still constantly evolving, and many countries recently have re-closed their borders at the last minute due to COVID outbreaks. It is extremely important to stay up to date on all these changing protocols in order to not find yourself at risk of not being able to go on your trip. Flight schedules are also constantly changing, so don’t be surprised if your flight times change or are canceled a few times between booking and flying. For all these reasons, I highly suggest working with a travel advisor whose job is to stay up to date and ahead of all the changes.
CZ: What are your top three recommended destinations for those of us who want to explore the “hidden” gems of the world, perhaps places that are not usual tourist destinations?
AS: It is so hard to pick a top three, especially since every traveler is different and each trip can serve a different purpose! If I must choose, some of my favorite “hidden” gems include:
Montenegro – the Balkans can often be overlooked in Europe, but Montenegro has gorgeous coastline, fjords, mountains and the most welcoming locals!
Sri Lanka – for such a small country Sri Lanka can offer something for everybody! Safari, pristine beaches, beautiful temples, lush mountains, wellness retreats, charming colonial cities, scenic train rides, rich culture, and the food is some of my favorite!
English Countryside – one of my favorite parts about living in London was being able to explore the charm of the English Countryside! The Cotswolds is one of my favorite regions. I always have this remarkable feeling of being transported back in time each time I visit. Throughout England though, there is no shortage of quaint cottages and grand castles to explore, with beautiful rolling hills all around.
CZ: Regarding the specific needs of older travelers- ranging from mobility issues, budget constraints, safety concerns, yet desire to travel. What words of encouragement do you have for those of us who want to travel but may have some limitations?
AS: The world is your oyster! If you have the desire to travel there should be nothing that stops you! While some specific needs may require advance planning, there is always a way to design a trip that meets your health, safety and budget needs while taking you to the places you want to visit!
For further inspiration on this topic, I highly suggest listening to Travel + Leisure’s podcast “Let’s Go Together” which features inspiring stories of travelers facing many different obstacles (mobility restraints, hearing impairments, obesity, diabetes, etc.) and how they will not let anything stop them from experiencing the world!
CZ: Any last words of advice? Final thoughts about what we all need to know in this new world, post-pandemic and post-vaccination for some but not all?
AS: My biggest advice for aspiring travelers in this new world is to remain patient and gracious at all times. The hospitality world was hit very hard during the pandemic, and although travel demand is back and surging, the same level of staffing and training that was in place pre-pandemic has not been fully restored. Everyone across the world is still trying to get their grips around this new normal while still dealing with ever-changing restrictions, so patience and understanding are crucial to go with the flow while traveling and anticipating that there may be some changes to the way you are used to traveling.
CZ: Thank you so much, Andrea! We’re so looking forward to your continued words of wisdom and advice in the months to come!
AS: Thank YOU!