What It’s Really Like to Let Someone Else Plan Your Trip

What It’s Really Like to Let Someone Else Plan Your Trip

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For most of us, the travel-planning process goes something like this: pick a destination, buy a ticket, book a hotel or Airbnb, then plan, obsess, and count the minutes till you’re out the door.

But people who hire Brown + Hudson to plan their trips forgo all of that and, instead, enter into a therapy-like situation where Philippe Brown gets to know you almost better than you know yourself, then picks a destination that most closely matches where you’re at in life and what you’re looking for. It’s almost a Zen exercise in relinquishing control. And the trips are of the peak-experience type—Brown taps his network of tastemakers, locals, and even diplomats to dazzle travelers with experiences and encounters. Here are some highlights of how it played out for one traveler.

The challenge: Leslie*, a newly divorced politician from the South, wanted a solo escape to a pulsating, vibrant city. (*Names changed to protect the political)

The destination: Bangkok

The annotated itinerary:
Day 1:

Leslie arrived at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok.

“During the pre-interview, Leslie said she wanted to explore the vibrancy and diversity of a big city. And what city is more vibrant and energetic than Bangkok? We then started our research: We read the Bangkok Post for stories about personalities we could involve and reached out to expat communities. We also tapped Pongsuang Kunprasop, Bangkok’s most influential party planner and visited the Muay Thai gym in London.”

She then took a short drive to Lumphini Park for a morning Thai Chi lesson with Bangkok’s residents.

“Metropolitan megaliths can be daunting. We like to introduce people to their many sides—sophisticated, gritty, historic, and spiritual. Tai Chi in a residential neighborhood seemed an appropriate start.”

Followed by a meeting with the Governor of Bangkok, Sukhumbhand Paripatra.

“During our initial chat, we discovered Leslie was running for mayor of her city and politics were extremely important to her, so we wanted to introduce her to the Bangkok political scene.”

In the afternoon, she paid a visit to Bangkok’s oldest temple, Wat Pho, and its spa.

“We knew she was dealing with a range of emotions, so we arranged a private blessing from a high-ranking monk. Spiritual work should most definitely be followed by a spa visit, which is why we booked a massage at Wat Pho School, the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, as a contrast to the luxury of Mandarin Oriental Spa.”

Leslie ate dinner with writer Greg Jorgensen at Face restaurant, then spent the remainder of the evening with Nima Chandler, a Bangkok socialite, who took her on a tour of Bangkok nightlife, including a legendary expat den.

“Leslie was recently divorced and wanted to escape and just have some fun. But we didn’t want to her to be solo all the time, so we created an instant social circle for her, using friends and friends of friends.”

Day 2:

Leslie toured shops, and interesting neighborhoods with writer Philip Cornwel-Smith.

“Philip is a longtime resident, a former magazine editor, the author of Very Thai, and an expert on Thai culture, design and style. We knew he could shed light on what makes Bangkok tick, and introduce her to interesting characters.”

Day 10

Arrived at the Peninsula Hong Kong. Met professional shopper, Sofia Suarez.

“Leslie loves to shop and Sofia writes a weekly style column for South China Morning Post and is the author of Hong Kong Chic so we connected the two. Sofia happily shared her “black book” of style.”

Aislyn Greene is the associate director of podacsts at Afar, where she produces the Unpacked by Afar podcast and hosts Afar’s Travel Tales podcast. She lives on a houseboat in Sausalito.
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