Jeralyn Gerba and Pavia Rosati constantly crisscross the globe in search of the new and the timeless, the celebrated and the undiscovered. They met as editors at DailyCandy and in 2011 launched Fathom to connect passionate travelers to the world’s best places, people, and experiences. What began as an editorial website is now an award-winning travel platform with digital guides, a consulting division, and a concierge service.
Earlier this month the friends and business partners launched their first book, Travel Anywhere (and Avoid Being a Tourist). We were curious about the book and about their travel concierge service, and we were lucky to catch up with them before their next flight.
Why do people need this book?
PR: Because while traveling is one of the best things you can do for yourself — enlightening, inspiring, enriching, memory making — figuring out where and how to travel can be overwhelming. This is not a typical travel guide with info like “go here, see this, eat that” but rather a framework to help you think about how to travel and what kind of traveler you are. Are you more get-there-first or give-me-what’s-great? Do you want to have an active vacation or do you want to chill and feel restored? Then we help you out with the go here, see this, eat that, but not in an overly directed way. Which is to say that the book guides you from the inspirational to the actionable.
We get a lot of email from women who have recently discovered the unique pleasures of traveling alone. Why do you love it?
Both: The joys of solo travel: You get to make the schedule. You get to abandon the schedule. You choose your pace and preferences. When you travel alone, you’re more inclined to have a long conversation with strangers, spend your downtime outside of your hotel room, operate slightly outside your comfort zone. Spontaneity is the key ingredient for turning a good trip into a fantastic one.
How has your perspective on travel shifted with age? Are there things you used to seek out that maybe you avoid now or vice versa?
PR: You know, it hasn’t. I’m still interested in the same things as ever: emerging neighborhoods, beautiful (and humbling) nature scenes, historic places (palaces and ruins), regional handicrafts, interesting and innovative design (shops, hotels, museums), and local cuisine. I can afford more expensive things in my 40s than I could in my 20s, but it wasn’t as though I didn’t appreciate them when I was younger. Maybe I would have a glass of wine at a restaurant where I now order the tasting menu. Though let me be clear: I wouldn’t sleep in a lot of the places today that I slept in in the ’90s. My appetite for travel — the thing that lures me away from home in the first place — is rooted in a curiosity about other places, so I can learn both the differences and, more often, the similarities that unite everyone wherever we are.
What’s a good location for a woman who wants to travel alone for the first time (or for the first time in a very long time) and why?
JG: The first places that come to mind are urban settings where strolling and people-watching are there own pastimes: New York City, Paris, London. Florence is beautiful, safe, and easy to navigate. Taking in tons of mind-blowing art, shopping, and eating pastries for breakfast make for thoroughly enjoyable solo acts. If you want to take baby steps as a solo traveler, consider joining a retreat or signing up to learn a skill (like a silent retreat in Bali or a surf camp in Costa Rica). You’ll have a little bit of structure, the opportunities to socialize if you feel like it, and plenty of autonomy.
PR: If you’re traveling alone for the first time and are nervous about navigating in a foreign language, pick an English-speaking destination like Dublin or Edinburgh or London. And don’t overlook the United States, which is filled with excellent cities ready for exploring, like Chicago, Portland, and Nashville.
Where are some top spots for women who are experienced at traveling by themselves?
PR: I’ve been to Australia several times alone and have loved it, especially the elaborate road trip I took by myself on from Sydney north through New South Wales. I had a collision with a kangaroo (don’t tell Avis) on my way to One&Only Wolgan Valley, where I rode horseback at dawn. I spent a day traipsing through national parks along the route Waterfall Way, and made my way to Byron Bay for a terrific food tour before ending the trip at gorgeous Halcyon House hotel in Cabarita Beach.
[Editor’s note: How incredible does that sound?]
How can Fathom Concierge make traveling easier and more special?
JG: We can do that in three ways: hotel reservations, travel advice, full trip planning.
Our hotel expertise is in boutique, unique, and design-forward accommodations, as well as luxury digs (more than $350 a night). We usually get great perks like room upgrades and free meals. And there’s no charge to clients for using this service.
If you want help making sense of a trip but want to DIY some of it (i.e., booking Airbnbs, using points, etc.), we can get on the phone and offer route and itinerary recommendations, hotels, transport, shops, sites, tours, and restaurant reservations.
Our full trip planning service is for travelers who want a custom-designed experience and don’t want to lift a finger. We take care of flights, airport transfers, daily activities, hotels, and very special extras. You’ll feel like you’re on vacation as soon as you sign on.