Isabella Garofanelli: Luxury Travel on the Go

Travel Begins at 40 chats with Isabella Garofanelli who gave up a corporate job with a blue-chip multinational media company to travel the world full-time.

Luxury Travel, Opinion / Profiles, Solo Travel

Travel Begins at 40 chats with Isabella Garofanelli who gave up a corporate job with a blue-chip multinational media company to travel the world full-time.

The founder and CEO of Your Luxe Lifestyle, Your Luxe Travel and Brand Builder Factory, Isabell shares her experiences with Travel Begins at 40.

Why did you decide to devote yourself to the world of travel full-time?

Isabella Garofanelli : Wow, where do I start? It really was part of my upbringing. My family has always been in travel and hospitality, so I was drawn to it. And I just knew I wasn’t cut out for corporate life. I worked at a multinational media company and while I had fun, the routine just wasn’t for me. Travel has unlimited possibilities and no two trips, even to the same location, are ever the same. For me there’s a thrill in the unknown and the discovery aspect of a trip. As an example, I’ve travelled to and worked with many properties in the Maldives. Each trip has been different and has its own challenges and rewards. How could you not get up every day excited to face the day when every day is new and full of the unexpected?

Faena - Miami Beach - Isabella Garofanelli
Faena, Miami Beach

What were the challenges of making such a move?

Isabella Garofanelli : Making the move to work in travel full time has many of the same challenges as any other job has but it also has its own set of challenges. One of the biggest though was leaving the comfort of a known situation (i.e. home, access to your stuff, routine, etc.) and living thousands of miles away with only what you carried with you. This means I have to really plan well and even more importantly, be flexible to work with what I have at that moment. There have been more than a few situations where I had to MacGyver something to make it work. Another big challenge is that travel, as we’ve all learned can be susceptible to external forces over which you have no control. Things like weather, and very clearly now a pandemic! This isn’t the kind of job where you can “work from home”. I’ve learned that now and it’s made me understand the importance of growing my business in different directions still based on travel but expanding to other areas.

What advice would you offer to another woman thinking of following in your footsteps?

Isabella Garofanelli : First, have a plan. I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way because I just wanted to travel and knew I wanted that to be a career. There wasn’t a lot of resources then to guide me. That’s definitely one of the things I want to do going forward. I want to share what I’ve learned the hard way with others, so they can avoid the pitfalls I’ve found on this career path. Second, be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight and requires a lot of time and dedication to create a business out of travel. As I expand my business, I see just how complex travel as a career is and I look back and I now see how I could have done things differently that would have saved me so much time and money.

What are your most memorable travelling experience and favourite places?

Isabella Garofanelli : That’s a really tough one. I’ve been blessed to have gone to so many wonderful places and seen some amazing things both good and bad. They say travel broadens the mind and for me, it’s made me understand just how interconnected this world really is. I remember one trip to Indonesia where I was doing some volunteer work visiting a local school and it really helped me understand the challenges other people in this world have. Despite poverty, and the lack of what we consider necessities, there is joy and a sense of community that transcends those things. Yes, my travel work centres on luxury, but travels include everything I can experience no matter where I go.

Four Seasons - Langkawi - Malaysia - Isabella Garofanelli
Four Seasons, Langkawi Malaysia

What are the challenges of being a solo female travelling?

Isabella Garofanelli : There are obvious challenges. Especially in some areas of the world where women are still seen as inferior or as objects. See? Now you’re going to get me started on empowerment. I am strong and independent but even still I keep my eyes open and do research before I go somewhere new. If it’s a new locale and I feel that as a woman I’m at a disadvantage, I do my research, understand the dos and don’ts and follow a plan. I look for trusted guides and vendors for activities and then do more research on them. I think that’s pretty much common sense. To be fair though, this doesn’t happen often. I’m fortunate to work with amazing properties that really help me and set things up their vendors.

Many people feel the world of travel has changed irrevocably due to COVID-19. Do you agree with them?

Isabella Garofanelli : Without a doubt, this world and even more so, travel has changed forever. As an example, I think for me, even after we have a vaccine, it might be a good idea to wear a mask, bring hand sanitiser, avoid touching my face, and wash my hands often. COVID-19 is what we’re dealing with now but a different COVID-19 or some other disease could be just around the corner. In the past I’ve seen people wear masks and now I get it. It just makes sense. All that to say, yes, I’ll be traveling, but I’ll do it more carefully going forward.

How have your travel plans been affected by COVID-19?

Isabella Garofanelli : I think everyone’s plans travel and otherwise have been affected by COVID-19. For me personally, every one of my travel plans, which is my business, were either cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Where I have travelled, everything has a new rhythm and method and even the things I enjoy, such as travel lounges, have changed or are closed altogether. I know that can sound petty, but when travel is your business, these are the things that make your job easier and not having them makes that obvious.

The Surin - Phuket Thailand - Isabella Garofanelli
The Surin, Phuket Thailand

How are you helping create future travel champions?

Isabella Garofanelli : I’m so glad you asked. Remember when I said I was expanding my business? Well I’m offering new services including coaching and developing courses for people who want to do what I do and teach them how to avoid the mistakes I made. I’m also starting tours next year where people can join me and see how I travel and learn directly from me on these trips where we can explore places, and grow as professional travellers and entrepreneurs.

If you have found Isabella’s travel experiences inspiring, why not read another of our chats with Dawn Simone: Solo Female Traveller.

What are your plans for the future?

Isabella Garofanelli : My plans always include how I can visit a new country. I want to visit as many as possible and learn and experience the sights, people, food (of course), and be part of this global community and find ways to tie people together through travel. For the immediate future, I’m creating that educational aspect to my business and I’m really excited about that. Next year, I’ll be having my first “Entrepretour” where people will join me for amazing adventures that include workshops and more where they can learn about business, travel, and so much more.

Discover more about Isabella Garofanelli

Click here for her website. Photos selected by Isabella Garofanelli.

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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