Foreign holidays back on

Government relaxes travel restrictions

Travel is back on. From 10 July 2020, the Government has relaxed its 14 day quarantine restrictions for 75 countries and territories, so you can go and come back without having to self- isolate on return. But is it safe? Do you want the extra headache of working out how to safeguard yourself from catching Covid-19 at every stage or your travel? Is it worth the risk?

More than two-thirds of Britons are not planning international travel for the rest of the year, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by Sky News. But 16% are still intending to travel and the remaining 16% are unsure.

Erika O’Connor has many years of experience in the travel trade and argues that now more than ever, if you are tempted to go ahead and book a special trip, this is the time to take specialist advice. Erika is the founder and travel curator of luxury travel company ‘Curated Wanderlust’, which has just joined The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme.

Image above: Travel lodge in the Serengeti, Tanzania

Curated Wanderlust – ‘There is an art to curating luxury travel’

By Erika O’Connor

What the heck is Curated Wanderlust and a travel curator? I get asked this question a lot and, thankfully, I love to answer it! I begin by breaking it down literally. ‘Curated’: to select, organize and present professional or expert knowledge; ‘Wanderlust’: the wish to travel far away and to many different places. So, Curated Wanderlust is a luxury travel company and I am the travel curator because I work with my clients to completely understand their preferences and desires and then I curate that vision from inception to conclusion into a unique experiential journey.

I believe in the transformative power of travel, even when travel right now can be a daunting prospect. Just as you might use a financial planner, an interior designer, or personal shopper, it makes sense to entrust your most valuable asset – your time – to an experienced travel advisor/curator. This is my belief because I know what value I bring to my clients. This statement is truer now more than ever and that value has risen threefold in this strange and daunting new world.

Images above: Travel lodge in the Serengeti, Tanzania

Working with me means that if something goes wrong – a hotel shuts down, a flight gets cancelled, a trip is suddenly cut short – it’s handled. That peace of mind can be priceless. If we have learned nothing, I think we have learned that the world can shut down in days. It’s best to trust an expert who knows the latest developments and rules – and will answer the phone when you call.

I was able to get all of my clients that were traveling during the COVID outbreak, safely back home with minimal stress. This was due to the fact that I receive daily global travel and government updates to track what is happening around the world. I am also always behind the scenes working on my clients’ behalf during their travels and connecting with my colleagues who are taking care of them on site. This was profoundly important during the global shutdowns, as I had my vendors communicating with me directly and assisting me in making my clients a priority to get them home safely.

However, outside of travel in the time of COVID, there are numerous other reasons to work with Curated Wanderlust. I delight in offering my clients peace of mind by dealing with the minutiae of the travel planning process. I also see the nuances in every trip. From big-picture aspects (where to go – and when) to the little details that matter – booking the hotel rooms with the best views or where to get the most authentic pizza on the Amalfi Coast. I will help you think creatively about where to go and what to do. Italy, France, and the Caribbean will always be popular, but I also know the best ways to see Chile, Portugal or New Zealand. I use my creativity to spark your imagination.

Images above: Bora Bora in French Polynesia; Capella Ubud, Bali

We will collaborate together to discover what’s most important to you. You may want to take a cooking class or a private tour, or you may not want to leave the resort pool! Perhaps you want to use travel to educate your kids, plan an unforgettable anniversary trip, or celebrate a milestone birthday with friends and family.

I understand that luxury means something different to everyone. It is vital to my process to completely understand your version of luxury. For some, it means a 5-star hotel with a private butler to cater to your every need; for others it’s a tent with a breath-taking view and no internet connection. I believe every journey should have an element of luxury.

I am also a certified member of Virtuoso, the leading global network specializing in luxury and experiential travel. This by-invitation-only organization has relationships with 1,700 of the world’s best hotels and resorts, cruise lines, airlines, tour companies and premier destinations. Virtuoso provides my clientele with exclusive amenities, rare experiences and privileged access that you can’t attain on your own, such as complimentary breakfast, food and beverage or spa credits, and upgrades at hotels.

I can maximize the value of any trip through my connections, relationships, knowledge, advice, creativity, and advocacy. I often save you money. I can work within your budget, and I always focus on making sure that you get a solid value in return for my curation fees.

Images above: Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo, Ireland; travel South America’s highest train route in Peru

My five-step approach to travel planning is one that I have crafted with care and mindfulness to ensure a seamless process. The first step is discovery, where we get to know each other; and it’s FREE!! The end goal of this meeting is to have a deep understanding of how we will work together and what you are looking for in your trip. The second and third steps are all about collaboration, which is my favorite part!!! This is where the magic comes into play. I work closely with you and my global partners to curate your vision into a reality. The fourth step is you off enjoying your vacation. I will be behind the scenes connecting with my vendors making sure everything is going smoothly. Lastly is what I refer to as the “reality check.” This is a welcome back discussion about your experience.

I personally travel to numerous destinations to gain “on the ground” expertise and strengthen my vendor relationships, so my clients are truly treated as VIPs when they arrive. I keep on trend with the latest influences in the travel market by annually attending the by-invitation-only ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) in Cannes, other global travel forums and continuing to educate myself via workshops and conferences.

Image above: Paris Plaza

I spent a majority of my career in the high-end fashion industry, then moved into sales and event planning. With a passion for traveling coupled with my own wanderlust, it was a natural progression to transition into the luxury travel market four years ago. Over the last twelve years, I have lived in five countries with London being my new home since December. Luckily I have a wonderful husband, two daughters, one Labrador dog and two cats that encourage my wanderlust.

Contact me today via email or on our website and I will send you my “Travel Tips” page.

Erika O’Connor is founder and travel curator with Curated Wanderlust, a luxury travel company based in London.
Instagram: curatedwanderlust_eu
Facebook: @curatedwanderlust
Twitter: @curated_wander

This page is paid for by Curated Wanderlust.

Club Card offer

Curated Wanderlust is a member of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme.

See their Club Card offer here.

Images above: Girafffe Manor

Image above: Paris Plaza

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