Where Female Travel Executives Are Vacationing for Summer 2021

For obvious reasons, the global tourism industry lost an estimated $1.3 trillion in 2020. But with vaccination rates on the rise, a growing number of Americans are feeling comfortable enough to once again board planes, trains, and automobiles. Now that we are finally (finally!) able to leave our homes with peace of mind, the question is… wait, how do we travel, again?

annie murphy

Read the full Summer Escape issue here

Lelanie Foster

To answer this all-important question, we tapped women helming some of the top travel companies to share their summer getaway plans. Besides offering up clutch packing tips and redeye-survival hacks, they are giving us a major dose of wanderlust. Here, where they’re traveling, how they’re packing, and what they’re planning to do when they arrive at their destination.

Ruzwana Bashir, the founder and CEO of Peek.com, is going to England, then Italy.

ruzwana bashir, the founder and ceo of peekcom

Ruzwana Bashir spent 20-plus hours trying to book activities for a birthday trip with friends to Istanbul before realizing there had to be a better way—and if there wasn’t, she would create one herself. So, 10 years ago, the avid traveler launched Peek.com, an online platform for booking travel experiences, like food tours and hot air balloon rides, in any given destination. The goal is to make travel planning easier so that vacationers can get out and experience the robust culture of a new place. “I grew up in the UK as the child of Pakistani immigrants, so that dual heritage meant I was always fascinated with other cultures,” she says. This August, the New York City–based founder is headed back to London (where she used to live) before jetting off to Italy: Modena and Florence, to be precise.

Why England and Italy?

It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen my friends and family in the UK, so London is definitely my first stop. Italy is only a short hop away, and it’s always magical; last time I was there I was filming for a TV show with chef Massimo Bottura in Modena, which meant I was eating his delicious dishes the whole time. I can’t wait to go back and get my fill again!

tate museum

Getty Images

modena, cityscape from a unique point of view, a public raised terrace above the city emilia romagna, italy cloudscape and colorful piazza roma, with ghirlandina tower in background

Francesco Riccardo IacominoGetty Images

Where she’s staying:

With friends in London and at Casa Maria Luigia in Modena.

What’s on her itinerary:

There are a few must-dos in London! A picnic with friends in Regent’s Park. I head to nearby Marylebone High street to pick up supplies (La Fromagerie is the best cheese shop) first, and the park has a beautiful rose garden that you can’t miss. I’m a history buff so I always squeeze in a trip to the British Museum if I can, and love the Royal Academy of Arts or the Tate for a dose of culture. Then, it’s afternoon tea at the Wolseley to feed my passion for scones. The UK also has incredible Indian and Pakistani food, so dinners at Darjeeling Express or Salloos can’t be missed. In Italy, I often just love wandering around without a plan; every corner is full of history! In Modena don’t miss the market in the main square for their famous parmesan and definitely visit a local balsamic vinegar maker.

What she wears to travel:

Maison Margiela silk trousers for comfort, a big cashmere sweater to stay warm on the plane, and definitely sneakers.

Items on her packing list:

  • Colorful print summer dresses from Dolce & Gabbana (I’ve never seen a flower print I didn’t like!), plus espadrilles
  • My Macbook Air so I can be productive on the plane
  • The book Everyday Vitality: Turning Stress Into Strength, by brilliant psychiatrist Samantha Boardman. It’s full of science-backed tips and wisdom for managing our mental health in our increasingly frenetic lives.
  • Silk Lunya eye mask and cashmere blanket for the plane
  • Josie Maran Argan oil
  • Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream

    Top travel hack:

    Taking redeyes to maximize vacation time. I drink chamomile tea and skip the in-flight movie to try to get some rest. Ask for an early check-in so you can take a quick power nap before heading out to explore!

    Secret to stress-free travel planning:

    Booking my experiences in advance! I always research what I’m doing and line up a few great activities and meals so that I don’t have to waste time queuing or doing admin while I’m enjoying my holiday.

    Best thing about getting away now?

    Getting outdoors after the past year spent mostly living and working at home. Hiking to a great viewpoint outside the city or strolling a beautiful park is a great way to clear the mind. I do some of my best thinking outdoors.

    What should we be mindful of traveling in a post-pandemic world?

    Enjoy amazing outdoor experiences, be respectful of those around you, and if the thought of something feels stressful, don’t do it! Vacations should make you feel refreshed and energized.

    Before you take off…

    Aisle or window?
    Cold or warm weather destination?
    Plan it out or be spontaneous?
    Plan it all out.

    Selena Kalvaria, chief marketing officer of Away, is going to Florence.

    travel tips

    New York City native Selena Kalvaria has always loved to get away, whether it’s within the fictional world of a book or through travel. “That sense of escapism has been core to fueling my sense of adventure,” she says. Her passion for exploring led her to work at modern (and millennial-approved) luggage company Away, where she is responsible for brand and growth marketing, PR and social impact, creative, and business development. “Away exists to create a more open world, and is on a mission to transform travel in the process,” she says. “I’m passionate about waking up every day and contributing to this inspiring vision.” This July, she’s escaping to Florence, Italy, where she’s eager to immerse herself in the laid-back European lifestyle.

    Why Florence?

    This summer is about the places you want to return to, your favorite places on Earth, the places you never thought you wouldn’t be able to go back to. Europe is that place for me—it’s filled with memories, inspiration, a spark that is hard to describe.

    Where she’s staying:

    I don’t have a place booked yet but something classic and traditional, the embodiment of the city and its expression.

    Her itinerary:

    I’m all about everywhere you can go by foot—visiting museums, shopping among cobblestone streets, enjoying authentic dinners tucked away in small areas of town, and intentionally wandering aimlessly to stumble upon a new favorite place.

    santa maria del fiore cathedral duomo, the lateral southern side with porta del campanile the exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white gothic style

    Massimo Borchi/Atlantide PhototravelGetty Images

    What she wears to travel:

    I’m a creature of comfort and versatility—dressing so that you can seamlessly go from day to night and spontaneously enjoy where the night takes you. I’ll wear dresses from Acne, Ganni, and Zara, and my favorite Superga sneakers to keep me light on my feet!

    Items on her packing list:

    • 4–5 dresses (I’m a dress gal!)
    • One pair of all the shoe options (heels, sandals, sneakers)
    • Skin and beauty essentials (including Supergoop Glow Screen I can’t go anywhere without it)
    • The Away Neck Pillow and Sleep Mask (truly the best, I’ve tried them all!)
    • My trusty old-school headphones that are plugged in at all times

        Top favorite travel hack:

        I like to use all my real estate to pack more in—clothing or toiletries stuffed in my shoes, hats, purses! Never waste any space.

        Secret to stress-free travel planning:

        Plan 80 percent of the trip, but leave 20 precent unplanned for spontaneity. If you’re going on a beach vacation, plan for that, but put aside 1–2 items that allow for an adventure like a hike or bike ride you may decide to do once you are there.

        Best thing about getting away now?

        EVERYTHING! But seriously, we can never take the ability to move through the world safely for granted—and now we can get away and take that deep breath of fresh air to be able to mentally and physically move to the next chapter.

        What should we be mindful of traveling in a post-pandemic world?

        My advice would be to do what’s most comfortable to you (whether that’s wearing a mask, distancing yourself, staying outside, and other measures), even if the norm looks different than what you are experiencing back at home. Being able to enjoy yourself is closely linked to being comfortable, so there is no need to compromise to enjoy the experience.

        Before you take off…

        Cold or warm weather destination?
        Cold. (Not this summer, though!)
        Relaxation or adventure?
        Luxury or low-key?
        Carry on or checked bag?
        Solo or with friends/family?
        Friends and family.

        Catherine Powell, global head of hosting at Airbnb, is going to Somerset, England.

        airbnb travel tips

        Catherine Powell knows a thing or two about being a good host—and house guest. As Airbnb’s global head of hosting, Powell oversees 4 million hosts across Airbnb stays and experiences (the company’s activities branch). For her, much of the joy in the job is facilitating connections between people of different backgrounds and cultures. “Through our community, we are able to facilitate thousands of human connections every single day around the world,” she says. Powell is no stranger to travel herself: She grew up in Hong Kong, and traveled extensively in Southeast Asia with her family. She’s committed to helping her kids becoming citizens of the world, too. This summer, she’s leaving her hometown of Los Angeles and heading to Somerset, England, to visit her parents. It will be the first time they’ve seen each other in 19 months.

        Why Somerset?

        My number one priority is to go back to the UK to see my parents in Somerset, England. Reuniting [with my parents] is at the top of my list.

        taken near the a39, a coastal road that runs from the small town of porlock to the popular village of lynton, situated on the north coast of exmoor national park, located in south west england this summer image captures the heather in full bloom along with the rolling landscape sectioned into fields, as the early evening sunlight bathes the scenery in a warm glow

        Martyn FerryGetty Images

        Where she’s staying:

        When I land, I’ll be quarantining at an Airbnb and then staying at my parents’ home.

        Her itinerary:

        As I’m writing this, the quarantine rules in the UK are still uncertain, but my priority is to see my parents and (if possible) friends that I haven’t been able to see for ages.

        What she wears to travel:

        I dress for comfort because I am usually on long haul flights, but I always travel with a cozy cashmere cardigan. And compression socks!

        Items on her packing list:

        • Yoga gear
        • A pair of Ugg boots, a habit I picked up while living in Australia
        • Flights are so drying, so I always use Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream on my face to make sure my skin stays hydrated

          Top travel hack:

          SK-II masks are a life saver, especially their jet lag face mask.

          Best thing about getting away now?

          Connecting with friends and family after being apart for so long.

          What should we be mindful of traveling in a post-pandemic world?

          People should continue to look to public health experts and local authorities for guidance as we go forward. That’s what we’ll continue to do at Airbnb.

          Before you take off…

          International or domestic?
          One of the silver linings, if I can put it that way, of the pandemic, has been exploring the U.S. and discovering areas like Joshua Tree and Lake Powell.
          City or country?
          Love them both. Sydney and the Colorado mountains are two of my favorite places.
          Plan it out or be spontaneous?
          If traveling with my husband, it’s totally planned. If I’m on my own, I’m a little bit more spontaneous.
          Relaxation or adventure?
          If I’m on my own, relax! If it’s with my family (I have 3 sons) we are always on an adventure.
          Carry on or checked bag?
          I’m always amazed that we could go for a two week holiday and my husband can manage a carry on only.

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