Our Q&A series with travel advisors serves up lessons learned from trip planning and inspiration for those future adventures, whenever they may be.
It’s never too late to reinvent yourself, says Limor Decter, a luxury travel advisor who got into the industry following a first career as a high school English teacher. She also abides by the credo: If you choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
Today, she is a travel advisor, concierge, and travel writer at Ovation Travel Group in New York City, specializing in luxury leisure trips and personalized itineraries for honeymoons, safaris, multigenerational groups, milestone celebrations, and wellness retreats.
“This career has been an exciting chapter for me, and I have met incredibly kind and positive people from around the world, whose friendships have truly enriched me,” Decter says.
She talked to AFAR about what, exactly, a dream job entails and how she pulls off “wow” moments that travelers still talk about, years on.
Why should travelers work with an advisor like you?
I’m a travel matchmaker—I listen carefully to clients and anticipate their needs, always thinking a few steps ahead. By creating personalized trips—and unforgettable memories for travelers—I capture the essence of a destination in a customized way. It is also essential to have logistical planning skills and attention to fine details.
You mentioned “wow” moments at the start of our conversation. What do those look like?
I am grateful to have planned many memorable trips with some major wow moments, like these:
- On a family trip I planned to the Galápagos, one member had limited walking mobility. Galápagos Safari Camp knew about the mobility issue and they built wood access ramps throughout the property for the client, just so her visit would be more comfortable. She was truly touched by this heartfelt gesture and was so appreciative.
- For a 60th birthday trip I planned, two couples traveled to Norway and stayed at a brand-new lodge called the Lyngen Experience Lodge. Working with my local partner on the ground, my clients had an amazing experience getting to know the Sami [indigenous Arctic nomads] culture by visiting them in their lavvu [tent] and learning about their heritage and traditions. Another highlight: They had already seen the Northern Lights, but on the last night, we arranged for a photographer to take them out at midnight. After driving through a remote wilderness area, the photographer stopped at an area where they could take truly incredible photos. Both of these experiences were so personalized and examples of things that you can’t find when you search online.
- For a honeymoon I planned, I included a wonderful day trip in the south of France. [The couple] loved fine food, so they started with breakfast at their hotel in Cannes, had a guide drive them for an alfresco lunch overlooking the marina in Monte Carlo, and finally, ended with a beautiful dinner on a yacht in Italian waters. They said it was the best day of their honeymoon.
- A family wanted to give back in a socially conscious way for a bar mitzvah celebration in Israel. I contacted an orphanage school and invited the boys of the class to participate in the family bar mitzvah celebrations. Instead of one boy having a bar mitzvah, more than 20 boys celebrated this rite of passage in a unique way. The family is still in touch with many of those students.
- During a family trip to Africa, I surprised the music-loving clients with a drum class with a local teen band. The family loved the class and had a blast drumming, dancing, and connecting through the universal language of music.
- On a multigenerational trip to South Africa, I arranged for three young boys to visit a village school, where they brought their American footballs and taught the children how to play. They were so moved by the local students, [these three boys] decided to give all their clothing, games, and books to them—they came back with empty suitcases. When they got home, they were inspired to raise money through a basketball tournament and sent the principal a check that was used for textbooks and notebooks. The boys are still in touch with the school and hope to visit again.
- For a client who loved flowers, I arranged a floral fantasy day by touring private gardens and mansions, followed by a meet-and-greet with a celebrity florist and then a tour of the flower studio. The client received a personalized signed book and floral bouquet, which truly touched her.
What destinations would you recommend for travelers in 2021 and beyond?
In Europe, countries like Spain, Greece, Ireland, and Norway are beautiful places to explore beyond [perennial favorites] Britain, France, and Italy. [And] Slovenia, Switzerland, Croatia, and Malta are filled with natural beauty and rich culture. I love the tiny towns and villages dotting the landscape of these countries. Beyond Europe, I strongly advise clients to visit Africa, which is transformative and empowering. Africa never leaves you. It is not a destination; it is an emotion. The spectacular beauty of the bush, the beaches, cities, and landscape pales in comparison to the beauty of its people, their resilience and grace.
What have you been doing to satisfy your wanderlust during COVID?
Although my wings have been clipped by COVID these past months, I remain optimistic that Mother Nature and governments will eventually unite. Travel will rebound because our industry is resilient and adaptable. As social beings, it is in our nature to travel, to explore, and to connect. Life is not meant to be lived in one place. For now, I suggest exploring local or domestic destinations and relishing the beauty of our own backyards. I recommend spending time in nature because it nurtures us and heals us. My wanderlust has grown greatly during this time, and I have been making lists of where to go once borders reopen. I urge others to do the same because now is a great time to dream about travel. When the time is right, I will be there to make the magic happen.
Contact Limor Decter at [email protected] or follow her journeys @limorbitz.
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