TSG TIPS: Arbiter Travel on Where to Head This Summer

As it turns out, a healthy dose of wanderlust is best paired with a healthy plan. But for those of us who prefer to lose ourselves in heady daydreams of European experiences or East Asian adventures rather than the details of where to stay (and what our confirmation number is), Arbiter Travel Co. is a must. 

Helmed by the lovely Lauren Tulp Cichocki, Arbiter Travel Co. is a full-service travel consultancy specializing in bespoke experiences and delivering seamless travel arrangements for the discerning traveler. And whether you know where you’re going or need a bit of guidance to get there, Lauren and her fabulous team of three travel advisors Brooke BrackettCaitlin Johnson, and Grace Foley are California’s best. 

In anticipation of summer travel – which Arbiter Travel Co. reminds us is much closer than it currently feels – we chatted with Lauren about how the travel planning industry has evolved and why a travel planner is an essential for even the most seasoned travelers. 

TSG Newport Beach: Before we get sidetracked by the delicious details of your recent travels (Breakers at Palm Beach! Punta de Mita!) and upcoming travel plans for clients (The GalapagosNamibiaBhutan!) let’s talk about how you got into the travel planning industry.
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the self-appointed planner for friends and family. I love the details, research, and organization that go into planning a trip or event almost as much as I love the experience. You can imagine what a Bridezilla I was, which is why our honeymoon planning was (begrudgingly) relegated to my now-husband, who then outsourced it to a travel advisor. While on our honeymoon in the Maldives, he and I discussed how, previous to our planning experience, we didn’t know what a viable job travel planning was for someone of our generation. And we decided that I’d be good at it.

TSG Newport Beach: The best ideas always occur to us on vacation. What happened next?
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: My background is in brand marketing, specifically within the interior design and lifestyle industries, so I was really specific about how I wanted to build my company and brand. I wanted to flip the preconceived notions about travel agents – which were even worse six years ago when I started Arbiter Travel Co. – and create a really elevated, modern travel business.

TSG Newport Beach: How have you gone about that?
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: Travel agents of past generations often felt transactional. Our approach is relational. Our team works with discerning clients to provide a discerning level of detail, quality, and personalization. We’re not the travel company you seek for tips or deals. We’re the travel company that gets to know you, your tastes, preferences, and interests, so we can create the most exceptional, personalized experience – and then do it even better for your next trip. A good comparison for our approach is the relationship you have with an interior designer. Your home, like your travel experiences, are deeply personal and typically larger investments.

TSG Newport Beach: How do you and your team offer such detail-oriented experiences?
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: We have invested an immense amount of time (and money) in becoming experts in our field – including countless hours of research, interviewing local resources, and scouting trips – that allow us to handle the minutiae of our client’s trip. From matching the client to the perfect hotel, to making reservations at the best restaurants, to pairing them with ground partners we know and personally trust, we are exhaustive in our planning.

TSG Newport Beach: To help us drive the point home for our readers, can you explain why this is so important – and unique?
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: I’ll go back to the parallel with an interior designer. Sure, you can order a couch and arrange your living room by yourself, but if you want it to be done right, you work with a professional. The same goes for planning an extraordinary travel experience. Sure, you can get some of the same perks with Amex, but does their operator know how to inform the hotel of your daughter’s allergy to shellfish or your preference for white wine but dislike of Chardonnay? Did the operator have lunch with the general manager or sales team last month? We maintain these relationships so that when a hotel is looking at a list of client check-ins for the week and has one upgrade available, their choice of who to upgrade is easy: the client of a travel agent they know rather than the client of what is essentially a call center.

TSG Newport Beach: Who is the ideal Arbiter Travel Co. client?
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: We work with clients across different life stages – from solo trips to honeymoons, multi-generational travel to executive trips – but prioritize working with clients who appreciate the relationship aspect of our trade and how that will nurture even more astounding experiences with each trip.

TSG Newport Beach: What — beyond the expertise and relationships — should travelers look for in their travel agency?
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: The internet, in all its convenience, has changed how people book travel, but personal connections are still key in the luxury sphere. When looking for a travel advisor, do your research on Instagram – it’s relatively easy to tell if you align with someone’s style and get a glimpse into the level of service they will provide. And if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, I think it’s smart to treat it like an interview and ensure you are both on the same page.

TSG Newport Beach: Speaking of Instagram, we love following along with your personal and business accounts. Even with a little one, you’re frequently on the go. As a seasoned traveler, what are your travel essentials?
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: Well, if you follow me on Instagram you already know Paravel packing cubes are my travel must-have. And when traveling with family, monogramming comes in handy, making packing (and unpacking, then repacking) efficient! I also love the Away Bigger Carry-On, a portable charger, comfortable walking shoes… and being #bookedbyarbiter.

TSG Newport Beach: Any other tips you can share? Let’s start with your top three…
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: 1) For international travel, an airport greeter is a must. It’s a luxury you’ll never regret and a habit that will be hard to kick. I’ve had greeters save my clients hours in custom lines… 2) Build a custom Google Map for each trip. This is actually a service we started providing to clients last year, as it’s so convenient to have all of your reservations and recommendations saved on your phone. No need to scroll through notes to figure out where we recommended you grab a drink or shop whenever you’re strolling through a new neighborhood. 3) And book with Arbiter!

TSG Newport Beach: Consider yourself hired. Where are we heading this summer?
Lauren Tulp Cichocki: Great questions. Summer travel is best planned during the winter months. Here are our top destinations…



Italy is always a top spot come summer months. But, because of the popularity (and pricing) of the Amalfi Coast, we’re a shift in interest towards alternate locales like Sicily, Puglia, and Sardinia. Of course, we’ve also seen more demand for Lake Como, which offers something a little different from your typical coastal vacation and is perfect for couples and families.

Where to Stay // Grand Hotel Tremezzo is always a favorite, and their sister property, Passalacqua, is truly stunning. Valentina, the owner and CEO, is truly amazing and her team is wonderful with guests. They just get it with design and service.

What to Pack // Italians are known for dressing well, so think sophisticated, relaxed, with a touch of glamor. Chic patterns, flowy fabrics, and luxe sandals (that you can walk on cobblestones and board Riva boats in) will have you fit in with the stylish summer set. A two-piece set from La DoubleJ feels on-point for this summer. And don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase to shop, the Euro continues to be in our favor.


St. Barth’s has evolved into a three-season destination. And with European vibes sans peak-season pricing, June and July are a lovely time to visit. We do have clients that shy away from the Caribbean in the summer because of the heat, but you’re there to be on the beach and in the ocean, no?

Where to Stay // Eden Rock – St Barth’s is a favorite for sure. Their vibe is sophisticated but fun and not stuffy. It’s ideal for honeymooners or groups. The rooms are perfection, the food and beverage program is unparalleled, and the beach is paradise. Pro Tip: We can also book you in an Eden Rock villa and you will have full access to the hotel’s amenities.

What to Pack // This isn’t your typical beach vacation (leave the Havaianas at home). Designer labels will be ubiquitous, and pack plenty of chic cover-ups to take you from the sand to the beach clubs. We can’t resist a stripe, and this Saint Laurent tote will fit in perfectly with both the French-inspired setting and the bougie clientele.


African Safaris are always a favorite destination and summer is an ideal time to visit the vast, stunning continent. Almost everyone leaves vowing to return. For “first-timers,” we typically book South Africa. Then, clients “graduate” to Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Namibia… The list could go on. Pro tip: We love a safari for honeymoons, as it can easily be combined with city and beach experiences. Of course, a safari also makes for the perfect bucket-list or celebration trip for families. 

Where to Stay // There are so many exceptional lodges to choose from across the continent, it would be impossible to narrow down just a few favorites! We love to work with clients to find the perfect fit for them and their style. The lodges that we work with are super intimate (often 10 or fewer rooms), have incredible design, wonderful service, and typically do phenomenal conservation work and can give you a true insight into the local culture.

What to Pack // For safari, you will most likely be limited to one soft-sided duffel bag – but most of the lodges include daily laundry service for this reason. Even very high-end camps are casual, so there’s no need to pack anything fancy. Stick to a neutral color palette (beige, brown, green) in comfortable materials, plan for layers, and bring a baseball hat or sunhat with chin strap (to stay on in those open-air drives). Layers are key (morning drives often start before sunrise and evening drives can start when the sun is its warmest), and a classic field jacket is perfect for day or night. Doen’s puff-sleeved Carmel Jacket will add a stylish and feminine touch to your safari uniform.

Not in need of a full-service travel consultancy for your next trip? You can still take advantage of Arbiter Travel Co.’s perks by self-booking through their Hotel Desk. And for those ready to plan, start here. Don’t forget to tell them Scout sent you!


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