While studying in Sweden during college, Katie Cadar explored as much of Europe as possible, traveling to Russia, England, France, Holland, and Romania. Now, as the L.A.-based director of leisure sales for TravelStore, she counts Europe along her specialties—along with African safaris, the Islands of Tahiti, and luxury hotel stays. After more than 30 years in the business, she still gets excited about the opportunity to plan a client’s new trip; she says she treats it like her own and enjoys the challenge of putting together all the puzzle pieces just right. Read on for more about Katie’s travel style and expertise.
Describe your travel personality in three words.
Open-minded, curious, enthusiastic.
What’s an early influential travel memory?
Camping trips to the national parks every summer of my childhood. My father was an educator and had been a forest ranger. His enthusiasm and love of discovery taught us to explore and to appreciate what we saw around us. He taught us how to learn from our travel experiences.
Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
I still haven’t made it to Easter Island, a place I’ve wanted to go since I read Aku Aku in high school—that story fascinated me.
What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
Long lunches with wine followed by an afternoon siesta. So civilized!
What destinations and types of trips have become your specialties?
Customized itineraries tailored to the personality of each traveler and adventure travel all over the world, in particular, African safaris. I’ve been on safari more times than I can remember and always, it is the place I am happiest and feel most alive.
French Polynesia is another specialty; I studied marine biology on my first trip, as well as the sociology and geology of the islands, and every time I go back to Tahiti I feel that I am home.
Europe is one of my most popular requests and one I know well. I lived in Europe, was married for a time to a European, and go back each year to try to visit a different city each time.
With my hotel connections, I have valuable access to the best luxury hotels worldwide. I love hotels; they often make or break the experience and the feelings that travelers get from visiting a city. I work with my hotel contacts and my connections ot the best destination management companies to create amazing immersive experiences for my clients.
Firsthand knowledge of destinations, insider information, and access, including personal contacts with hoteliers and destination management experts. There are also special perks available through my affiliation with Signature Travel Network, plus our own TravelStore affiliations with hotels and suppliers.
Plus, having a travel advocate is invaluable and helps you maximize your experience. I spend time interviewing my clients in order to understand their likes/dislikes and travel profile, then I design their trip to match their wishes.
What are some of the most unique experiences you’ve arranged?
I try to include at least one extraordinary memory-making experience on each trip. One of my favorites was a family trip I planned throughout Scandinavia, which included hiking on a glacier in Norway, kayaking in a fjord, a rooftop tour in Stockholm where they walked across roofs while hooked up to each other and their guide by ropes; and a culinary experience in Copenhagen, shopping and cooking with a well known chef.
How have you come through if a client’s travel has gone wrong?During the 2010 volcano eruption in Iceland, which stopped all flights from Europe, I had quite a few clients stuck in several cities. I kept in touch with them daily, arranged for them to stay the days needed at the various hotels at either no cost or a negotiated rate, and got them home on the first possible flights. I’ve had clients call me from various parts of the world with an emergency or illness—we step in to assist, get them the help they need, and get them home as quickly as possible.
What are the biggest concerns or misconceptions you hear from travelers?
Travelers are concerned about safety, sometimes overly so. They hear such exaggerated news and become afraid to travel to certain destinations. Some travelers have no idea what a travel advisor can do for them and others don’t have a good sense of geography, so our trip planning begins with education.
What trends are shaping how (and where) we’ll be traveling next?
There’s a desire for longer stays and more immersive experiences in destinations as well as active travel (biking, hiking). Countries such as Japan and Iceland are still on the rise, as are Vietnam and Cambodia. The Puglia region in Italy is more “on the map,” and Croatia and Montenegro are continuing to increase in popularity. Also in Europe, Switzerland and Portugal are more requested by my clients.
Contact Katie here to inquire about an itinerary tailored to your travel interests and budget.