An Expert's Tips for Summer Travel
From international destinations dreamt of for the past few tumultuous years to domestic destinations offering easy getaways, travel is back in a big way. Summer is the season, afterall. To help you navigate the details after the past years’ hiatus, we chatted with the jetsetting luxury travel designer, Alexandra Stockton. Owner of the eponymous luxury travel planning agency, Alexandra Stockton Travel, Alex is the local travel expert, offering years of experience and expertise to her clients.
Keep reading to get to know Alex and, of course, her expert tips for travel!
The Scout Guide Knoxville: How did you start your career in travel planning? What inspired you to take the entrepreneurial leap with travel design?
Alex Stockton: I started my career in the wedding industry, but I was forced to reevaluate after developing health issues. Planning travel felt like a natural transition after stepping away from weddings. I was used to coordinating heaps of details for clients, have always adored hotels, and was already the go-to travel planner for friends and family. Running a small business can be an uphill climb, but I am really proud of the company I have built.
The Scout Guide Knoxville: Who is your ideal client?
Alex Stockton: Someone who has a busy life and wants to lean on an expert to plan their travel, whether it’s for a weekend away in the states or an international vacation. The more I work with a client, the easier it is to plan their trips. I learn their allergies – and their kids’ allergies – preferences, interests, and expectations. I also love working with clients who are in a bit of a vacation rut and are looking for new destinations to explore.
The Scout Guide Knoxville: What should individuals consider before hiring a travel agent? What should individuals look for in travel agents?
Alex Stockton: Ideally, a relationship with a travel advisor will be long-term, so it’s important to find the right fit. Look for someone whose taste you trust and who takes the time to understand your specific needs and preferences. Find someone who will give you honest feedback about properties or destinations.
The Scout Guide Knoxville: What are this season’s top destinations?
Alex Stockton: Italy! Post-pandemic, people have been flocking back to Europe, and Italy has been our most requested destination. We also have lots of families traveling out west this Summer, visiting resorts, dude ranches, and national parks. St. Barts is typically a winter/spring escape, but we’ve seen a steady demand for Summer travel this year.
The Scout Guide Knoxville: What has been your favorite destination/experience?
Alex Stockton: It’s hard to choose! A pack trip on horseback through the Andes in Patagonia is hard to top! Seeing the Northern lights in Finnish Lapland is a close second. In the U.S., my favorite experience is staying at a dude ranch – it’s like an adult camp, but also makes the perfect family vacation!
The Scout Guide Knoxville: What are your top travel tips?
Alex Stockton: Hire a travel advisor! Not only will a travel advisor will save you tons of time, they can secure the best perks and upgrades! A travel advisor’s relationships with hotels and vendors secure personalized service, additional benefits (like daily breakfast for two or $100 resort credit), and top priority for upgrades that surpass those through Amex Platinum or Centurion concierge. Plus, they’re constantly traveling to gather intel to provide trusted feedback and, of course, the best of the best for your needs. Glowing “reviews” and beautiful Instagram pictures can be deceiving, so this first-hand knowledge of destinations and hotels is crucial.
Don’t try to pack too many experiences into your trip. When possible, I recommend staying at least 3 nights in each destination, so you don’t feel rushed and worn out by the end. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you need a vacation after your vacation! A slower pace is more relaxing and gives you time to really get to know a destination.
Have a positive attitude. Even meticulously planned trips will have some bumps in the road. A positive outlook will ensure the stresses of travel don’t derail your trip. Some of my best travel stories and memories are from when things didn’t go as planned!
The Scout Guide Knoxville: What do travelers need to know about travel this summer…
Alex Stockton: Be patient. The hospitality industry is still bouncing back after a tumultuous few years and is facing unprecedented demand. Expect some hiccups whether you are traveling in the U.S. or abroad. Unprecedented demand means airports are busier than ever, so give yourself extra time at the airport to ensure you don’t get stuck in a long security line.
Don’t forget to check when your passport expires! Generally, passports should have at least six months of validity when traveling internationally. Many countries won’t permit travelers etnry unless their passport expires at least six months after the final day of travel. If you need to renew your passport, give yourself a 3 month window to ensure it arrives in time for your trip.
The Scout Guide Knoxville: Do you have any travel essentials?
Alex Stockton: Compression stockings for flights!!
Ready to start planning your next vacation? With relationships with the world’s best hotels – think the Ritz, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, and more – Alex secures the best rates and unique perks for her clients. Alex is also an affiliate of SmartFlyer, a Virtuoso agency. From corporate trips to honeymoons, family vacations to group travel, Alexandra and her team handle every detail to exceed every expectation. Reach out here to start your planning!