The Strong MD | Episode 3

Globetrotting with Erynn: Crafting Tailor-Made Adventures

Erynn Montgomery is a Top Travel Specialist for Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, founder of travel design firm LANDED Travel with husband John, and an expert world traveler. Before LANDED, she was CEO of an international humanitarian organization focused on health and microenterprises in South America. Today, Erynn has created and executed original vacations for some of the top names in business, music, film, and fashion. She and her family live in northern Utah, and when they’re not abroad, they enjoy road trips in their racing-striped, pop-up campervan.

Published on
January 08, 2024

Watch The Podcast

YouTube video


Dr. Jaime Seeman: Welcome to today’s podcast. I want to introduce you to our special guest. Erynn Montgomery is an expert traveler. For more than 20 years, she’s explored the world and helped others do the same. She and her husband, John, are the founders of Landed Travel, a travel design firm creating tailor made, privately guided adventures. Prior to founding Landed, Erynn was the CEO of an international humanitarian organization focused on health and micro enterprises in South America. Through that work, she grew to love the people and the landscapes of the Andes. With the arrival of their daughters, she and John continued their journeys, making friends and memories while traveling together throughout Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Today, Landed is a leader in customized travel. Erynn has created and executed original vacations for some of the top names in business, music, film, and fashion. But her joy is helping families find greater connection through travel, making the most of their scarcest and most precious resource free time with those they love. Erynn Montgomery is a top travel specialist for Nast Traveler magazine. Erynn and her family make their home in a wild canyon of northern Utah, and when they’re not abroad, Erynn enjoys road trips in the family’s racing, striped pop up camper van. Erynn, welcome to the podcast. If you could give our listeners a background of your story and a little bit about what you do for a.

Erynn Montgomery: Living, it would be my pleasure. Um, I am an expert traveler. I travel the world and I design and curate trips for others. And it’s such a privilege and joy that I sort of fell into. Um, my background was in nonprofit work. I was running, uh, an international humanitarian organization in Latin America. And, uh, I did that for several years before I had kids. And travel was always really important to me and my husband. We would sort of bulk all of our vacation time so that we could go off and explore a place for a few weeks at a time and really get to know a place. And then when we started to have kids, before we had kids, people would say, it’s so great that you do all this travel before you have kids, kind of implying that we wouldn’t once we had children, but, um, you maintain your priorities. And we figured out a way to continue the travel and to do it with our children and which really opened up the world to us in a whole new way that we didn’t fully expect until we experienced it ourselves. And we were just addicted and soon became travel experts, um, organizing trips for people, uh, starting in Latin America where we had such a rich knowledge and relationships and then spreading out beyond that. So it’s sort of something that I fell into by accident and through passion, and yet it’s something that we just enjoy so much. So I’m traveling probably four to five months out of the year sometimes, um, as a solo traveler, sometimes it’s just me and my husband, and sometimes, uh, or often it’s our entire family where we take all of our daughters as well.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Wow. Yeah. You’re uh, professional vacationers. I think if it’s four to five month mark, maybe when you pass six months, then it’s like full time. So where is home base for you then?

Erynn Montgomery: Home base is in a wild canyon in northern Utah. And uh, we love the outdoors, so it’s been a great place for us to live and call home base, but again, we just explore wherever we can and sometimes that’s close by. I think that’s important, uh, for everyone to have a place that they feel like they can disconnect and enjoy. That’s I would say 8 hours or less away from home, even if it’s for, ah, a weekend. I think it just gives people the opportunity to, um, open up to a different perspective and disconnect from the daily grind. And I think especially for your community of medical professionals, that’s going to be really important for them to be able to have moments where they can disconnect from the day to day and do the things that are, um, fulfilling to them on a restorative basis. And I think travel can certainly provide that.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I know as a medical professional I think about vacations a lot. I love my job, I love what I do. I mean, I do surgery and deliver babies and 03:00 a.m.. M can get really old sometimes. And sometimes you have to figure out how to unplug. So, um, tell me, you say you curate vacations for people. Give us an idea of, I mean, on this day and age, people, from their phone they can be booking vacations. It’s like everybody has just such ready access to these types of things. But what does somebody like you, a travel advisor who curates vacations, give me an idea of what you actually provide. To me as a physician at landed.

Erynn Montgomery: We have nearly 20 years of experience designing and curating trips for people. I don’t think in all of our years of experience we’ve ever repeated a trip, because what we do is we get to know the client, help understand what their needs are and what their interests are. And really we’re saving them about 40 hours worth of research depending upon the destination that they’re interested in going to by matching them with the accommodations and the guides and the services that are going to be a perfect fit for them. That’s the curation and design element, but, uh, really what it’s doing is it’s giving people access to relationships that we have really carefully curated, that we know is going to be a fit so that they can. It’s kind of like when you go to a place and you have a family friend that you’re visiting, the destination really comes alive because they’re introducing you to some of their favorite things and some of their favorite people. And so that’s what we’re able to do on a scale for our clients, and we really are ending up saving them a lot of time. What a lot of, uh, people don’t understand about travel advisors is by working with them, you’re not paying any more either. I charge the same for a hotel accommodation as someone might be able to find online, and yet I have the relationship with the owner or the general manager. And so we can make sure that the experience for our guests is exceptional. Whereas if you are booking online, um, you might not have that kind of relationship or that power. Now, we do also expose people to what we call signature experiences, and these are the kinds of things that aren’t available online. They would never have access to these kinds of experiences by a booking platform. And it’s only because of our relationships that we’ve developed in country and the partnerships that we have that make those things possible.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Give me an example of what a signature experience would be for somebody that’s really looking for something that’s not available and, uh, has the budget and capacity to afford something like that.

Erynn Montgomery: Sure. And sometimes it’s not even budget. A lot of these things aren’t even going to be expensive, although some of them can be. But a good example might be if I have someone who’s very interested in architecture or theater and they are traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Well, I’m going to want to show them theatro cologne. It’s one of the most famous opera houses in the world and just stunning. Well, at Tiatro Cologne, um, the only tours that are available are on shared basis with 20 plus other people. They’re on the hour, they rotate English, Spanish, you’ve got to wait in line for a big queue, and then you’re all herded together through the places that they’ve designated are okay to show visitors. Well, that’s not a great experience. This beautiful opera house, you want to be able to explore it. You want to be able to understand it a little bit better. Well, we have a relationship with one of the architects who was responsible for the renovations a few years ago, and because of, um, his work in the opera house, he has full access, um, to the entire structure. Uh, and so when you’re with him, then he’s taking you inside a recital hall where you hear a soprano practicing an aria with a full orchestra, and she’s wearing a t shirt and cutoff jeans, and you can’t believe how beautiful this is. Or you’re going through the costume closet and trying things on or looking at the props. He even let me dance on stage at Tiatro Cologne, which never in a million years would have happened otherwise. And that’s a good example of something that it costs about three times more than the standard, very basic, inexpensive tour that you do herded with several other people. But m it’s much longer, and it’s catered to what your interests are, and it’s something that you’re never going to forget. It’s going to be much more special than the standard experience that you could perhaps book through, uh, a booking platform.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. It’s creating those core memories, really, for you. Because I know, as a physician, one thing that you just said that really resonated with me is that time is money. When you say saving somebody 40 hours of work, I know when I have booked vacations before. I mean, I’ve researched and researched, and you’ve looked, and you’ve spent so much time, and you’re right. I particularly work in private practice. So taking time away from my family and my kids and my job, it truly, there is an expense to that. So I think that is something that’s so valuable. Um, when you think, um, about working with. If a client comes to you at landed, where do you even start? With vacation planning?

Erynn Montgomery: Yeah. So often, let’s say it’s the first interaction I’ve ever had, uh, with the client or prospective client, they often come to us with an idea of what country they want to see and a few things on their bucket list of things that they want to do. Um, I’ll share an example of a doctor that we worked with recently, because I think, um, that will illustrate. Well, she came to us, and, you know, my husband and I are really interested in going to Peru. We want to be able to horseback ride in the sacred valley. We also want to, um, experience Machu Picchu at, you know, a couple of other things that were just on their checklist, and it’s no problem for us to fulfill those things. But for me, the more important question, and sometimes a question that I have to ask a few different ways before they’re willing to answer is, okay, you’ve told me the things that are of higher interest to you. Now tell me, what do you really need out of the trip? And sometimes that puts people off guard. Because they maybe haven’t considered. Or they’re talking to me as a stranger, and they’re like, I don’t know, um, or I don’t want to disclose. And so that’s why sometimes I might have to ask a couple of different ways. But when people are really willing to open up and share what it is that they really need out of a trip, maybe they need something where they can relax. Maybe they need something where they can, um, experience some high adventure that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Uh, in this case, after asking a couple of times, the couple said, honestly, we’re really busy professionals. We’re new in our career. We don’t get a lot of vacation time. Truly, we need this trip in order to, um, rekindle this relationship that we have. Because we’ve become a little disconnected through our priorities. With work and other demands on their time and attention. And for me, it was like, ah, now I know what to do and how to help you. Because they had this list of things that I knew that we could fulfill. But then they also had three additional nights. And they were trying to decide between going to Lake Titicaca, which is the highest navigable lake in the world, or if they were going to go to the peruvian Amazon. And when they told me that story and they were willing to open up and say that this was the thing that they were hoping to get out of the trip, then for me, I geared them not only for that reason, but others, to lake Titicaca, where we were able to take them to, um, these islands called the uros Islands. And these islands are fascinating because they are made from reed that grows all over, um, the shores of this lake. And the local people there will cut and collect the reed. And they build their homes so that they’re actually floating on this reed. They’re making the island out of reed. They’re making their home out of reed, the canoe out of breed. They’re even brushing their teeth with the reed. It’s amazing. But what was so fascinating about it for this couple was that they learned about the customs. Where if there is a couple who express interest in getting married, then the family of origin will actually cut off a piece of their island. And send the couple out on their own, living on their own island, making it work for nearly a year before they have permission to marry. And, uh, it gives them such an interesting opportunity to be dependent on each other, connect with each other, um, and really figure out if they’re compatible. But a beautiful thing about their culture, too, is that the men there are the knitters. And during this time away, the male is responsible for, um, knitting a fine hat. Um, that’s like, exquisite. So fine, in fact, that when he returns to the fiance’s parents, they will turn the hat upside down, they’ll pour water in it and see if it will leak, and then they get the permission to marry. But after the fact, after this couple experienced their trip to Peru and being in lake Teddy cocka, uh, they came back. And when we did a, uh, debrief from the call that ended up being the story that was so meaningful to them as a couple, because they know, it just reminded us that we are our own island. We need to rely on each other and depend on each other in a way that, um, we’d forgotten because of the demands of their time and attention. So that was their comment to each other, was, we need time on Uros island. When they felt like they were drifting apart, that’s what they would say to each other. Now, I can’t take any credit for them rekindling that relationship and having that great experience on Uros, but what I feel like I can take credit for was asking the questions, what do you need from this trip? Because what that does is it helps them, um, set the intention for, uh, what’s going to be important going into any trip. And that, I think, is something people should consider on any kind of trip they’re taking, whether it’s somewhere close or somewhere far away, is to really think about what are our intentions for this trip? Because that’s already going to improve the success rate of the trip, and it’s going to help you, um, curate the kinds of experiences that are going to fulfill that goal.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I know as a physician, we live such a high pace, very stressful job most days, and we know statistically that physicians are incredibly vulnerable to burnout. Um, they’re leaving medicine at accelerated rates. And I know one thing you kind of talk about with these vacations is that it’s like an energy bank. Can you give the listeners an idea of what that is and why this is so important?

Erynn Montgomery: Yeah, of course. Well, I think it’s first important to establish that your free time isn’t free. Right. It’s priceless. So it is your most precious, irreplaceable, non renewable resource. So you really have to be very intentional about the way that you spend it, because unlike other resources, we can usually make more money, but we can’t make more time. We all have the same amount of time. But what we found is there are moments where you can sort of expand time, right? And you probably, especially for medical professionals, have seen the expansion of time, um, in a way that is challenging, where you might be in a traumatic situation, you’re, um, addressing the needs of a client, and it might be life threatening. And so there’s moments where everything sort of slows down and your attention to all of the details is very acute. And, um, that can be sort of, I think, even traumatizing. Right. When you’re in those kinds of extreme environment where time has sort of stopped because it’s just so critical. But what I found is that travel can do the same thing, but in the reverse, where it’s actually healing and restorative. And I’ll share an example, because I had the privilege of just being in the galapagos a few days ago, and there was a moment where we were with a, uh, fisherman, uh, on a boat just right there between islands, and a pot of dolphins approached. And suddenly all around us is a pot of dolphins. And he just hands us our masks and our flippers, and he’s like, jump in. And as fast as we can, we get in the water. And because these are such curious animals, and we’re in the galapagos, they swam all around us. And I’ve got my mask in the water. I’m hearing them squeal and talk to each other and sing underwater. I’m smiling so big that I’m taking in, like, saltwater in my snorkel. And it didn’t matter at all. It was like, just, uh, an amazing experience. And when I think about it, uh, that experience maybe lasted 15 minutes. And yet I will always remember it as being a full day of complete magical bliss. It’s just time just sort of stopped, and we took it all in. And it’s something I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life. And I think there are lots of travel moments that are going to create that for people where something miraculous will happen. And then they have this memory stored in their body, in their, um, mind, in such a way where then when you are stepping into the next stressful environment, or you are between client appointments, um, or patient appointments that are 15 minutes long, and you don’t have a lot of time to recover in between. For me, it’s like I just close my eyes I picture myself with those dolphins. I take a deep breath, and suddenly all the recall, all of the memories, and the flood of positive emotion comes back, giving me the energy to go do the harder things.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, it’s like mind travel. I know when I have a vacation coming up, it’s always something I get to look forward to. And my husband and I always say, okay, we need something else, you know, that we can say, okay, let’s get to the finish line. Let’s get. Okay, it’s in three months, and I can just imagine whatever it is. The mountain, the beach. Um, but as you were describing this dolphin experience, we took our children, um, this last spring break to Maui for the first time, and we had a very unanticipated similar experience with the whales. You just don’t know when you go on a whale watching tour if you’re going to see anything. And we ran into something called a competition pod where there was just a ton of whales. And it is one memory that the family and I still talk about at the dinner table. Oh, my gosh. Do you remember when it came up next to the boat and it sprayed us and it was an amazing vacation? But you’re right. There always seems to be, like, that one little event that just kind of carries with you that you get to think about a lot. Um, so certainly as a medical professional, um, many people think that we have a lot of money and high budgets, but there was definitely a time in my career when I was straight out of medical school with a ton of debt. My husband and I were newly married, but we really relied on these vacations, just as you kind of said with this other couple, we needed the time to reconnect. He was a police officer working at night. I’m working 80 hours a week as a resident. Um, so for people that maybe don’t have a high budget, can you still create these curated experiences when you’re working with a variety of different budgets?

Erynn Montgomery: Yeah, that’s a really important question. And we can, to a degree, I’ll be really honest, um, because everything that we do is tailor made. It’s very creative and custom, then they do tend to be very time intensive, so they can be a little bit, um, more challenging for lower budget trips. But I’m someone who, I’ve traveled in every scope. Right. I travel doing humanitarian work. I’ve traveled as a backpacker. I’ve got four kids. So cost is always something that I’m considering when we’re doing these adventures. One thing that we’ve provided that are just free to download from our website. Are these travel guides where we’re condensing 20 years of information for someone to, uh, get the most current information? That’s straight to the point, and that’s been a really useful resource to a lot of people. And we tend to specialize, um, these guides toward destinations that are really complex or complicated. Um, they’re destinations where you can find a lot of information online, but it’s because of the oversaturation of information that they can be overwhelming. So we try to consolidate the most important details so that people can learn and save themselves a considerable amount of time by looking at those complimentary travel guides, which they could go to and just download. So that’s one resource, um, that could certainly help people get started when they maybe are considering a more budget friendly trip. But there’s always ways to consider, um, shifting things and priorities so that you determine, okay, what would be the right thing to splurge on and so that you can keep, um, the budget in check. And I do think that deciding what the budget is before you reach out to a travel advisor is probably going to be the best step, because, of course, I want to make sure that we’re meeting those expectations. And so having those, like a clear, defined, this is what we’re prepared to spend, um, on an adventure is going to really help meet the expectations there. And if it’s not something we can do, we’re pretty clear about saying this is not going to be a fit for us, but this is what I would recommend. So there’s still usually some options that we can pursue. But as someone, myself, who’s traveled the whole spectrum of different kinds of experiences, I’m very sensitive to those who, they’re climbing out of a considerable amount of debt because of the profession that you’ve chosen, and the debt is not going to be there forever. Right. And so sometimes it’s about developing that relationship so that when you can have the kinds of more higher end experiences that we tend to specialize in, then understanding the values and the interests of the travelers has already been set. So it makes it really easy and clear how they want to move forward. I will say, um, that I would encourage your community to move in that direction. Even though they may be having to consider budget trips initially to have on the horizon those higher end experiences, um, that they probably want, uh, but they just can’t. Yeah, exactly. And I’d say I want them to consider those things, um, to have those higher end, um, opportunities on the horizon for a number of different reasons. One is that it’s going to be a more comfortable experience for them. But also we found, um, over and over and over again that it’s usually working with these companies and these partners that actually provide, um, the kind of socioeconomic support to local communities. They encourage sustainability, they’re more environmentally friendly. So for lots of different reasons, um, beyond guest enjoyment, I would encourage people to consider those options for when they can moving forward as they advance in their careers.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. So, of course, as a medical professional, taking time out of our clinical practice is a really big deal. When people are thinking about travel, how many days is it a week? Is it more? How long should people anticipate a good quality vacation that’s going to fill their energy bank?

Erynn Montgomery: Yeah, it totally depends on the destination and where they’re coming from. Right. So, like, for instance, um, if somebody only has a week and they explain what they need out of a trip, then we can cater that, um, to what’s going to fulfill their needs. Like, for instance, I’m always going to be more interested in maximizing experience time and reducing travel time. You’re not going to go to southern Chile when you only have five days, because it’s going to take so long just to get there. Uh, so we really just look at when do you have time? What do you need out of the trip? What’s the budget? And then we recommend some destinations that we think are going to be a fit based on that criteria and go from there.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, that makes sense. I know. Um, when you look at the data, just not particular to doctors or professionals, but people that vacation at least 21 days out of the year show about a 10% to 15% decreased, uh, risk of death in the next 30 years. So this is like, an important thing that you’re using your vacation. My husband worked in a job where it was kind of like, shunned. Like, every time people took time away, it was like, why aren’t you here? Why aren’t you working? And I think it’s so important to use that vacation time. You’re given it for a reason. But I think you’re exactly right. When you’re traveling across the world, um, there’s days on the front end and the back end. How do you help these clients manage jet lag? That is like, one of the things that I am fearful about with a really long flight is, uh, there advice you can give people?

Erynn Montgomery: Yeah, well, I think there’s lots of destinations that maybe that might not have a considerable time difference. Right. I travel a lot to Central and South America. And it’s a huge advantage to be looking at a two hour difference versus going to Europe and having an eight hour difference or going to Southeast Asia and not even knowing what month you’re in by the time you get back. Um, but for me, especially for those destinations where there is a considerable time difference, I tend to, upon arrival, push myself into a state where I kind of force myself and my kids to get on the schedule of the place where we are traveling so that we can, um, adapt as quickly as possible. I’m sure for you where you have plenty of, um, nights where you’re delivering babies, and so your circadian rhythm is off anyway. That can be a challenge to recover from, but the sooner you adapt to the time zone that you’re in, the better that will be. And then I create a buffer day for me. I tell people that I’m coming home a day later than I really am, so that I do have a day to recover and to just get things in order so that I can start fresh. And one of the best things about travel is that you’re learning. You’re growing, you’re learning things about yourself, you’re learning things about other people. That’s just, um, challenging your mind and your perception and your thoughts and ideas. But it usually leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to come home to the routine and feeling more committed, um, to do the things that make me feel more alive, make me feel more committed to the activities that are going to help me reach those higher goals, rather than the mundane that I tend to get stuck in when I’m just going through the motions day by day.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Absolutely. I know. I always need a buffer day as a mom, whether we’re taking the kids or not taking the kids, because if we’re not taking them, we got to get all the logistics ready for grandma and grandpa, whoever’s watching them. And same thing when you get back. It’s like you need that day to throw the laundry in and kind of get back into the pace of what you’re about to jump back into. Um, so for somebody listening, that’s like, gosh, this sounds amazing. I’m ready to start traveling, but maybe they’ve never even left the United States. Can you give us, you’ve traveled so much, you’re such an expert for somebody that just wants to maybe travel with a spouse or a partner. What’s, like, your top three places that people should start exploring? Obviously, you have a personal opinion, and it might be different for other people, but just maybe stoke people’s interest and ideas a little bit for us.

Erynn Montgomery: Okay. So as a couple and, uh, uh, maybe a fairly active couple, perhaps younger, is this. Would this be international travel?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, let’s leave the United States.

Erynn Montgomery: Okay. It’s so hard to narrow it down, but destinations that I think that can be really, um, special are especially for people who love the outdoors. I’ve got to put patagonia on the list. I just absolutely love patagonia. Chilean and Argentina patagonia. I would say, um, for. If they don’t have a lot of experience traveling. Right. They haven’t been out of the United States before. Then going to places like Italy or southern France, um, especially if they need just some downtime and some real cultural immersion and amazing food and wine, then that’s going to provide a great experience for them. And let’s see. You asked the impossible question. And this illustrates, too, why it’s so important for us to have the conversation, um, with clients, because everyone has different values and interests. This is why we’ve never repeated an itinerary, because some people are going to identify different needs. Maybe they want, um, a sense of local culture. Maybe they want wildlife and outdoor adventure. Maybe they’re very interested in history and architecture. So it really depends on the person, um, or the people involved. But I’ve got to say, traveling through Southeast Asia, too, it’s, like, so mind bending different, um, from living in the United States, that I would probably put that on people’s radar as well.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Is there a continent you have not been to yet?

Erynn Montgomery: I have not been to Australia or New Zealand. My husband and my daughter went without me, and I’m still a little bit upset about.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, yeah, that’s definitely on my list. That’s on my list. Okay, so how about for families? Is there anywhere in particular if somebody wants to travel with their kids, someplace they are not thinking about right now? Anything that comes to mind to me.

Erynn Montgomery: M the number one destination that families should consider are the Galapagos Islands.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Okay.

Erynn Montgomery: Your proximity to wildlife on these islands is unlike anywhere in the world. You have rules from staying a certain distance from the animals, but they do not have those same rules. So it’s not uncommon to be snorkeling and have sea lions swimming right around your body like a puppy would.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Um, yeah.

Erynn Montgomery: Um, or standing right next to galapagos hawks being right among these giant tortoises that really look like dinosaurs. They’re incredible. But then you also get this really immersive geological experience where you understand how these islands were formed and see this interesting rock, uh, formations and volcanic movement. But then you get in certain places in the Galapagos, this incredible local community with the people who live there. So to me, that’s the number one destination that families should consider, but it’s also, um, an expensive destination. So it’s one of those things that you want to and do it well. So when I think about other places for families, uh, there’s so many amazing national parks in the United States, and I’m doing this podcast from our campervan that we will just go and explore national parks. And especially when you need to be budget conscious, then that is a great way to experience so many beautiful places, uh, around the United States, especially where every few days we might go to a koa and spend $15 to do our laundry and take hot showers, but otherwise we might be on BLM land and, um, have had some really amazing experiences as a family doing that. It’s simple and it’s inexpensive, and yet it’s just as impactful as some of those bigger, broader, more international trips as well.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, it’s kind of like back to that idea of maybe you don’t have a large budget to travel. I think we forget sometimes that there are incredible places very near to us. I mean, you’re in Utah, and I was just telling you, before we got on, I had the most incredible experience at Lake Powell. It was my first time. I honestly didn’t even know Lake Powell existed, um, until I was exposed to it. And it’s 100% I would go back. I’d recommend it to anyone. It was so amazing. So I think you’re right. Sometimes exploring things that are even within driving distance to where you might live is something to consider. I know one thing I’ve thought about traveling abroad, um, before you’ve ever left the country is it could seem scary. Is it unsafe? Is this country even, like, a good place to go to? What advice do you have for people who are concerned about safety traveling abroad?

Erynn Montgomery: Well, that’s an important question, and safety is always our top priority. So I’m not going to make recommendations for places that just are not safe for one reason or another. And there is some inherent risk in travel, um, just like risk to living life every day. So you have to kind of judge what your risk factors are. But I generally say if people are healthy and happy in the country that you’re traveling to or the destination that you’re traveling to, then it’s definitely some place that you should consider. And I kind of feel like, um, a trip should make you, uh, really excited, but it should also push yourself a little so that you feel a little bit nervous about where you’re going out of the box. Uh, getting you out of your comfort zone is part of the reason why you’re traveling, because it is going to open your mind and your senses and bring out that feeling of being so joyful and alive. Uh, because it’s going to just expose you to things that will trigger what’s most important. When we look at what really, truly makes people happy, it’s connection to others. It’s learning, growth, and higher ideals. Right. And travel has been a great way to experience all of those things at once.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, absolutely. Um, talk to me about when you curate these vacations. Food and drink. I know one thing I don’t want to do is make any decisions. I call it decision fatigue. Once I go, I’m real into the all inclusive experience. So when you curate these vacations, how much are people involved in kind of figuring out where they’re going to eat, when they’re going to eat that kind of stuff?

Erynn Montgomery: Yeah. So we have a recommended restaurant list for every single destination down to here are the gelato shops that you should be visiting as well. I consider part of my job to try all of the ice cream vendors in whatever destination I’m going to. I take that job very seriously so that I can recommend, hey, this is the one where you want to go. And then we have to revisit often to make sure that those places that we have on the list are still the ones that we would recommend. And this is especially true since the pandemic, because so many things have shifted during that time. So what we will do is, um, provide the restaurant list. But we’ve already, in our intake call, we know what your dietary restrictions are, we know what your preferences are, and we’re going to help choose places according to any of those restrictions or preferences. And so we’re making all the restaurant reservations, um, or recommending places that, uh, some of my favorite meals are just really casual shops or dives that I found along the way. And those are all on our list, too. So you can get your Michelin stars, but you can also get your mom and pop little cafe, where it takes some of the guessing out of it. And that is actually a really important question, because you’ve got these booking platforms, which might show very high ratings for restaurants or for accommodations. And what most consumers don’t know is that it’s kind of a pay to play. So, um, these vendors are actually paying, um, booking platforms in order to get higher rankings or getting work in the algorithm in order to show that they are an excellent, um, restaurant where that’s not necessarily the case. And talking to locals, you’ll quickly find out, actually, none of them might eat there. We take that curated list pretty seriously because to me, um, having different kind of food and, um, beverages in a country or destination really help it come alive. To me, those are sometimes the things that I remember best. I can’t remember what I ate a week ago, but I’ll never forget what I had in Italy ten years ago.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so take me through the experience. I go to I want to start thinking about something. What does the process look like working with you? And how far out should somebody start thinking about this?

Erynn Montgomery: Great question. Okay, so a lot of people will be on our website, and they’ll fill out, uh, a contact form that just gives some very basic information of what they’re interested in within 24 business hours. Then one of our specialists returns that email. Sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s John. Sometimes it’s another member on our team who specializes in the area that they’ve expressed some interest in. And we’ll usually jump on a call and kind of, um, go through what is going to be a fit for them. And then we’ll provide a sketch that links to the properties. It shows the estimated cost of the things that we’re recommending. And to me, I consider that, um, the first of several iterations. Right. Because I anticipate that the people we’re planning trips for are not going to revisit the destination that they are considering. The way that we go back and forth often to check on product. So I want to make sure that we’re recommending something that is going to be a perfect fit for them. I’m much more interested in the relationship than I am, um, making the sell because it is so meaningful to have these great experiences. And, um, because I want to be able to plan several trips, um, for these clients, whether it’s as a person, as a couple, or as the family, as they evolve and grow over time. And so we make our recommendations based on what we know is available, and we work from that point. Now, after we’ve done, like, one or two trips with a client and we’ve really determined what works and what their travel preferences and styles are, for those who are very interested, we will actually do an extensive intake process where we go through something that we designed that is a whole matrix of questions, um, and values identifying what their values are and ranking those and looking at the destinations that are on their radar. We actually do something that’s pretty unique to the industry where we manage people’s time in a similar way that maybe their financial advisor would manage their financial portfolio. Interesting. After this extensive intake process, then what we’re doing is actually designing a five year travel plan for them to take advantage of. Okay. These are the destinations of interest. And if we try to identify when it works for them to travel, um, maybe they’re working around, um, school vacations or for medical professionals, oftentimes you guys have to graduation. Yeah. And you’ve got to block out your time well in advance so that you’re working with your partners and you’re not going to. So we look at that map of when is a good time for you to travel. If there are children involved, what are their ages, what trips do they want to do as a couple versus as a family? And we really map out a five year plan based on all of those variables to take advantage of their time, because these are busy professionals and oftentimes what’s happening is they want to take the vacation, but they can’t make it a priority until it’s, uh, like, wait, we really need to go, and we need to go now. And, uh, what we found is that oftentimes they lost an opportunity to get the availability or the right combination that was going to be a really powerful trip for them. And so what we’re doing is managing that time and those priorities and preferences ahead of time so that they can not, um, have to worry about it and that they can make sure that they’re going to have the best experience. And it’s not that they’re just doing whatever is available because they were booking last minute. Now, last minute trips can also be great, and sometimes something really, a, uh, perfect fit can become available. But again, I’d much rather propose something that I know is going to be really meaningful to them than just base it off of what I can get. And this is not only with hotel accommodations, but the kinds of guides. Like a good guide can really make your trip, uh, or your experiences. And sometimes some of the best guides are going to get booked well in advance. So that’s why I really like working on that kind of five year plan. And we always do a wrap up call after every trip, and then we do an annual review where we reevaluate what we have on the radar. For example, we’ve got trips that are scheduled in 2024 to Israel, or we’d had Russia on the radar and I don’t know that those are places that we can safely recommend right now. So we’re just shifting some of those.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. Wow.

Erynn Montgomery: Exactly.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I love that idea of thinking of it like a financial advisor. Things that are really important to you. Sometimes having somebody that has expertise and coaching and can, uh, not worth my time. Like, I’m an expert in delivering babies and doing surgery, know it’s good to lean on somebody that has that area of expertise. And I love that idea of the five year plan because there have definitely been places that I’m like, uh, you said Australia and New Zealand. It’s been on my list for a long time, but until you really kind of put pen to paper, okay, this is happening. It’s going to happen in three years because my daughter’s graduating, or we’ll be able to. Yeah, you’re right. It really forces people to really kind of put it at the forefront of their priority list instead of just.

Erynn Montgomery: And it takes advantage of peak times where, especially if you’ve got children involved, destinations that are really going to be a good fit for the ages that you’re working with.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: M mhm. That’s so true. It’s so true. Um, when people book a curated experience with you, are you booking flights and transportation? Like everything from start to finish? And when they get there, is there a contact person, a contact point? What if something comes up?

Erynn Montgomery: Yeah, we do as much as they want us to. So some people, they want us to take care of absolutely every bit of the logistics, flights, all the transfers, all the touring, all the signature experiences. Um, and so we can do that. We can also scale it back a little bit if they want a little bit more independent time, which is no problem. So it really is designed around what their preferences are. But what we do for every client is we have an app where they have their full itinerary with all the departure times, they have a record of all their flights, they have gratuity guidelines, they have restaurant recommendations, they have basic travel information for the destination that they’re going to to help prepare them. We’ve got currency conversions, weather reports, maps that show where they’re m moving one place to another. So we try to make it as easy as possible. And basically, uh, it’s just an app on their phone so they can constantly follow. It will even alert, oh, your flight is 20 minutes, your flight is going to be 20 minutes delayed. And that notifies our guides. It’s pretty slick process because we want people to just be able to enjoy right you don’t want to have to spend your precious vacation time on logistics. Um, and the nature of travel, too, is no matter how well we’ve planned and executed the trip, some things will come up. There are flight delays, there are occasionally lost baggage. And it’s interesting because with me and my team, we do everything we can to avoid those issues. And yet those are the times where they can see how good we are, right. Because oftentimes we know even before they do, and we’ve already got a, b and c in motion, so that it’s not going to inconvenience them because the time is so precious that to spend it on any kind of logistical hiccups, it’s too much stress that’s going to defeat, uh, the whole purpose for taking the trip in the first place.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: That’s so true. My family and I got stuck one time on a Disney cruise in the middle of a hurricane, hurricane ian. And, um, it was like flights canceled, transportation canceled, and oh, my gosh, this woman was sitting in the background just like rebooking our whole family of five. And I remember coming home thinking, well, that wasn’t so bad. Been like the biggest disaster, being stuck out in the middle of the ocean with these kids and no Internet and oh, my gosh, I loved having this external person that could just, I could just enjoy my vacation. She was going to figure it out. It was incredible. So I can’t acknowledge that enough that most of times.

Erynn Montgomery: I’m sure you would have been able to figure it out and you would have gotten home and everything would have been fine, but at what cost, right?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Exactly.

Erynn Montgomery: And that’s just part of our service. So it’s not like someone’s paying us anymore to handle these logistical issues, and yet we have an army of partners and suppliers where all I have to do is make a phone call and it’s taken care of. Whereas I think for guests, especially guests who are new to the destination, have never traveled there before and probably don’t intend to ever repeat, it’s going to become a lot more stressful.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Wow. Well, I felt like I’ve taken a vacation just during this podcast. My mind is like spinning about all these things and I’m going to make my five year plan. I know I am. So, Erynn, one more time for people listening. How can they work with you and start dreaming and planning and, uh, implementing this into their life?

Erynn Montgomery: I’d love for them to just send an email to hello at Landed travel. That’s landed Or give us a call at 815822 100 and let’s talk and start dreaming about the next destination.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I love it, you guys. Go check it out. You absolutely deserve it. Thank you, Erynn.

Erynn Montgomery: My pleasure.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I hope you all enjoyed today’s episode and took a little mind travel. Make sure you guys remember to go to And you can start working with Erynn on planning your five year plan for your vacations. If you enjoyed today’s podcast, please make sure you like and subscribe and share this with all your friends and family