Meet Kate Doty of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council

Talking travel with one of our well-connected specialists.

Meet Kate Doty of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council

At the top of Mt. Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kate Doty is deeply familiar with some of the world’s most remote places and excels at logistics, from arranging private meetings with notable locals to private jet landings. Since joining Geographic Expeditions in 1989, she spearheaded its Africa and Southeast Asia programming and has coordinated research expeditions for Disney and Pixar. In other words, if you’ve got the urge to helicopter to little-visited Cambodian ruins, Kate is up to the challenge. Read on for more about Kate’s travel style, her cardinal rule for when things go wrong, and some misconceptions about working with an advisor.

Describe your travel personality in three words.
Bold, curious, and passionate.

What’s an early, influential travel memory?
Sleeping outside at the rock pool in Vermont at my grandparents’ horse farm, with just a blanket, and waking up to the sound of rushing water, morning dew, and the warmth of the early morning sun—sight, sounds, and wonderment.

Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
Sudan to learn about the Nubian culture and view the Meroe pyramids.

What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
Be kind to your neighbor and community.

What destinations and types of trips have become your specialties?
Destinations: Africa, Asia, South America.

Types of trips: Anything needing a logistical magician. From navigating the teeming metropolis of Delhi to the remote and vast wilderness of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), my sweet spot is helping guests experience places that are difficult to access and understand.

What are the benefits of booking through a travel advisor like yourself?
I create journeys that include both once-in-a-lifetime moments and quiet, transformative rejuvenation. I specialize in connecting the traveler to the right experiences and people for them, including the right guide, food, cultural activities, and even transportation. I always ask myself, “What is the optimal experience for this guest, and how can I make it happen so this is the trip of a lifetime?”

What are some of the most unique experiences you’ve arranged?
I’ve arranged a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama; a personal meeting with renowned artist Ai Wei Wei; private dining under the stars at the Giza pyramids on New Year’s Eve; and sleeping on top of Mt. Nyiragongo (largest active lava lake in the world) in Virunga National Park in the DRC.


How have you come through if a client’s travel has gone wrong?
If something goes wrong, my cardinal rule is: You show up, be present and available. Listen and take decisive action to fix whatever’s wrong if they are still in the field, and make sure that whatever’s next for them is amazing. If it’s after the fact, you listen and figure out how you can improve for next time.
What are the biggest concerns or misconceptions you hear from travelers?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s easy to design your own trip because you can book hotels online and read reviews of attractions. But what lots of people online might have reviewed positively may not be the perfect fit for you. The “right” hotel or town may be just down the road, and a more rewarding experience, but alas you won’t find out. That is why working with a professional travel consultant or destination/trip planning expert offers the greatest opportunity for your best trip. There’s also the misunderstanding that hotels have the same capabilities as a travel advisor does to help travelers arrange tours and special access.

What trends are shaping how (and where) we’ll be traveling next?
For the past decade or so, family travel has continued to grow faster than any other sector, including the multigenerational travel. The trend is also towards a shorter booking window; people are planning their trips closer to their departure date than I’ve seen in the past. Also some extremes and an interesting schism: travelers wanting either destinations they perceive as safe, like Australia and New Zealand, or something super edgy, like glacier camping in Iceland in the winter, or helicoptering in Ethiopia and the DRC.

Contact Kate here to inquire about an itinerary tailored to your travel interests and budget.

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