Before becoming a luxury travel advisor, Laura Bassett worked as a CPA in Big 4 accounting firm. She had long dreamed of a career in travel where she could combine her detail-oriented accounting side with her love of travel and discovering new places. When she realized was having more fun helping friends plan trips (keeping them organized in Excel, of course!), she decided it was time to make a career switch!
She found Brownell’s Mentoring Program and knew it would be a perfect way to start her travel career. “There were no firms locally [in Dallas] who had this business model that I desired: the ability to maintain my own independent business, branding, and clients, but also have the tremendous support that comes from partnering with one of best and most well-respected luxury travel firms in the industry,” says Laura. She started her business Haute Holidays Travel, and since graduating from Mentoring Class 8, Laura has well established herself in the travel industry. Get to know her a little better below:
1. What is the best travel advice you have ever received? “Pack your suitcase, then take half of it out.” It’s true…I try to travel light and refuse to check a bag unless absolutely necessary.
2. What was the best meal you’ve ever had while traveling? The meal I helped cook at Mamma Agata’s cooking class in Ravello, Italy – eggplant parmigiana, pappardelle with peppers and sausage, chicken with lemon, and Mamma Agata’s famous lemon cake.. all followed by an abundance of limoncello and other fruity homemade liqueurs. Close second: bugs from a street market outside of Chiang Mai!
3. What popular destination lives up to the hype? Bora Bora. Pictures don’t even do it justice. The water is really that clear, the overwater bungalows really are that romantic, and it really is just like the paradise you imagine it is!
4. What is your go-to getaway? Hawaii. It has something for everyone! Families, couples.. and you can be as adventurous or relaxed as you would like. Plus, no passport or currency exchange required!
5. What is your travel extravagance? A private guide on the first day to get oriented (at the very least). There is nothing like arriving to a new destination and meeting a local that you can learn from one-on-one, especially that first day.
6. What’s the up-and-coming destination right now? I’ve had a lot of interest in Colombia. It is just 4-5 hours from the US, safe to visit, and diverse. The people are so warm and welcoming, and you can visit historical sites, coffee plantations, or soak up the sun and nightlife in Cartagena!
7. What has been the most inspirational destination? Anywhere I can learn more about another culture, which in turn helps me to better understand my small place in this large world, is inspiring. That said, almost every place I’ve been inspires me in some way!
But most recently I visited the Project Morrinho in the Vila Pereira da Silva favela (slum) in Rio, which was so inspiring to learn the stories of the teenage boys who created this amazing model of the city from bricks and other items, mainly as a playground, and way to escape the violence and the reality of their daily life. This model is what is called the Project Morrinho, and the artists (who didn’t even think of themselves as artists) went on to replicate their art in cities across the world, opportunities they never would have otherwise had to travel! They took their situation living in the slums and turned it into something quite remarkable. You normally don’t think of touring slums when you visit a large city, but Rio’s favelas are part of the fabric of the city and make it what it is. I found it fascinating to visit this part of Rio, not just the glitzy famous beaches!
Learn more about Laura here: www.hauteholidaystravel.com.