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Estee Gubbay of Luxurist Travel: “Not really one person but the collaborative support of a mastermind group”

I think everyone has a bigger appreciation of their lives and want to live to the fullest. That often means not waiting on your dreams but planning and experiencing them now. What these travelers were missing ﹘ beyond a good travel advisor! — was a Travel Bucket List: a simple but effective long-term plan that motivates and […]

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I think everyone has a bigger appreciation of their lives and want to live to the fullest. That often means not waiting on your dreams but planning and experiencing them now. What these travelers were missing ﹘ beyond a good travel advisor! — was a Travel Bucket List: a simple but effective long-term plan that motivates and guides them through one amazing journey to the next. With purposeful planning, they can create meaningful experiences and memories — the stuff that dreams are made of! Our leisure time is precious — on this I’m sure we all agree — so we need to have a solid plan to make the most of it


As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Estee Gubbay.

Estee Gubbay is an experienced travel advisor who has traveled the world and curated enthralling trips with her family and for many others. With more than twenty years of facilitating workshops on goal setting and pursuing a life of balance and fulfillment, she uses her expertise to guide you through the step-by-step process she uses with her clients to travel with purpose. She recently launched the bestselling guide, Your Travel Bucket List — The Ultimate Guide to Enrich Your Life with Great Adventures and Unforgettable Memories. More information about her book is available at: https://www.luxuristtravel.com/book.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have had a travel bucket list since college. I put it in a picture frame on my desk so I could see it every day. It’s helped me be successful in many ways. The first item on my list was to plan a spring break trip with my friends to Cancún. One day, I came across a flyer from a travel company that was looking for college students to sell and host this exact trip! I posted flyers all around NYU for an informational meeting and invited all my friends. I took 12 students with me on that trip ﹘ and my roommate and I went for free! That was the beginning of my travel career!

When my husband and I married, we wanted to live in a beautiful city by the beach and have a “permanent vacation lifestyle,” so we moved from New York City to San Diego CA. I went on to facilitate many workshops and retreats over the years and became particularly interested in self development. Planning retreats in beautiful places fueled my love of travel and as my family grew, I was becoming an expert at family travel and helping others have memorable trips just as my family had.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

A lot of people are surprised to hear that as a travel advisor, I’ve authored a book. To me, it was a natural thing to teach others how to write their travel bucket list. After hosting workshops, retreats, and mastermind groups for many years, I combined my love of self development and goal setting and put those skills into my work with my leisure clients, helping them plan purposeful trips and achieve their travel dreams.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I once took a call from an upset client while riding an elephant in Thailand. Now let me first say that I care deeply about animals and that these elephants were living in a sanctuary at the Four Seasons Tented Camp in Chiang Rai. These were happy elephants, living a luxury life for sure! We had spent the day feeding them, washing them and then “taking them for a walk” to the river to play. They were like happy horses escorting us on their backs, rumbling and trumpeting with glee as they splashed water on us with their trucks. My mother was my assistant at the time, and I knew these clients were just checking in, so I thought I’d pick up my cell real quick. They weren’t happy with the location of their room and my mom just passed the challenge back to me, so I spent the next mile talking to the hotel manager. What did I learn? Have a good back up for you when you travel and maybe don’t hire your mom!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

I think it’s very important in the travel industry to take the time to do your own traveling. I don’t mean the familiarization trips we take to learn about vendors and destinations, but the trips we take purely for our own enjoyment. Our love of travel is why we are in this business. The more we travel, the more we learn and fall in love with what we do.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Not really one person but the collaborative support of a mastermind group. I’ve facilitated these for many years and been a member for just as many. A mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring group used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members. The concept was coined in 1925 by author Napoleon Hill in his book The Law of Success, and described in more detail in his 1937 book Think and Grow Rich. I suggest everyone put these books on their reading list.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

I think more and more people want to have experiential travel. Sure it is great to take a vacation and relax, but other times they want to have adventure, learn a new skill, or broaden their outlook on life. This is where I come in. My background in personal development and goal setting make me uniquely qualified to do this. I teach travelers to dig deep into what they want out of their trips. Not one trip at a time, but in a whole lifetime of journeys. And more families are traveling in large groups. Since the pandemic we started calling them “travel pods,” which are groups of people who have been living together or all tested for Covid19 before their trips. I love planning multi-generational trips around a milestone birthday of one of the grandparents. It’s a wonderful time for the whole family to have unique experiences together and build cherished memories.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

Everyone wants to look back on a life filled with cherished moments they’ve shared with family and friends. But for many people, planning a lifetime of travel with such a high bar can be overwhelming. Maybe they have traveled quite a bit already and feel less inspired to try something new, or are looking for motivation to try something different. Often people vacation in the same place several times because they enjoy it but they can’t recall one vacation memory from the others. From now on, I want to be sure they create the greatest adventures of their life from their travels.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Imagine extraordinary travel experiences that enrich your life. Journeys that are authentic, exciting, experiential, delightfully immersive… and most of all FUN! That’s my vision for travelers everywhere.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

This is actually a very exciting topic right now. Even before Covid19, wellness travel and family travel were segments that were growing rapidly. Now more than ever, people want to stay healthy, avoid stress, and do something different. Staying well of course now includes even greater sanitary guidelines on airplanes, cruises, and in hotels. New products are coming out which send a mist into the air to disinfect every surface. Large buffet tables will probably be a thing of the past, but better individual service will replace it. Private charter planes and smaller cruise ships or chartered boats are more popular and vacation homes at all price points are now available through properties which can manage them better than a private owner.

People will also prefer to stay in one place longer. One example that is totally new is the willingness of hotels and resorts to offer extended stay programs. These often include childcare and tutoring so kids can continue school online while their parents work from a beach chair with their laptop. I’ve seen incredible offers for this type of trip with all inclusive resorts, villas on resorts and even in over water bungalows in the Maldives. You could pay rent for an apartment in the city for a year or take a $30k package and stay a year in paradise!

Of course travelers also want to avoid crowds and have more open space around them. I think museums and other attractions will continue to offer scattered entry times and viewings by appointment. Glamping (glamorous camping) in national parks and unique, boutique accommodations are sure to grow in popularity. And this was already a trend but private, custom tours will continue to be a great option over large group tours.

Also, I think everyone has a bigger appreciation of their lives and want to live to the fullest. That often means not waiting on your dreams but planning and experiencing them now. What these travelers were missing ﹘ beyond a good travel advisor! — was a Travel Bucket List: a simple but effective long-term plan that motivates and guides them through one amazing journey to the next. With purposeful planning, they can create meaningful experiences and memories — the stuff that dreams are made of! Our leisure time is precious — on this I’m sure we all agree — so we need to have a solid plan to make the most of it!

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

I think the perfect vacation experience will be different for everyone and depend on where they are in life and what they want most out of their trip. For me, it’s quality time with my family, experiencing a new adventure. One of our favorite activities was scuba diving with manta rays in Hawaii. We took a boat to an area called The Campground. It was a particular spot where several boats would anchor at sundown and divers would go down about thirty feet with flashlights. We stacked them up in a pile on the ocean floor to light up and attract the plankton, and the giant twelve feet wide manta rays swirled around with their mouths open. They are basically hollow inside and have no teeth and are the size of a beach umbrella. It was an out of this world experience we will never forget!

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I think helping people realize their dreams is a special way to bring goodness to the world, but in addition to that, I encourage my clients to give back when they travel. This can happen in many ways besides taking a volunteer trip. I’m a member and donate 10% of my book’s profits to SustainableTravel.org and I’m a supporter of PackforaPurpose.org. I give all my clients a little card that suggests they go to the PackforaPurpose.org site and see if they can pack a few things for those in need in the destinations they visit. I’m also designing a set of lovely travel bags made of recycled nylon that will each have these cards on their tag.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want everyone to feel like a world citizen. Traveling and experiencing different cultures has done that for my children, who are now young adults involved in social justice and environmental issues. They know they live in an interconnected world where many of the decisions they make affect not only the people in their community but people in other communities and generations to come. Access to the internet has done that for this generation and given them the information they need, but travel will make that knowledge real life experience.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I have a blog on my website with lots of travel tips at www.luxuristtravel.com, they can order my book Your Travel Bucket List: The Ultimate Guide to Enrich Your Life with Great Adventures and Unforgettable Memories on Amazon at mybook.to/TravelBucketList or on my website. They can follow me on Instagram at Luxurist Travel https://www.instagram.com/luxuristtravel , join my Luxurist Travel Agency Facebook Page or connect with me, Estee Gubbay on Linkedin.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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