Wondering where to wander next? Find inspiration in the bucket lists of one dozen of the top female founders of PR firms whose job is promote travel around the world.
Laura Davidson opened up her firm, LDPR, 28 years ago in New York City and cannot wait to take her family to see Sydney, Australia. She says, “I want to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge with my teenage boys.” On her personal bucket list is her final continent, Antarctica. She wants to sail on an A&K climate change cruise to really understand what is happening with our environment. “Living in the travel world as travel executives, we are always busy, and I want to go were time stands still. Standing on the end of the earth, just you and the penguins, I think the silence must be amazing.”
Thirty-two years ago, Florence Quinn decided to start Quinn PR. Her goal is “to travel with my 18-year-old son before he won’t travel with me anymore.” Two years ago, she rented an AirBnb with good friends — another mom and son — in London. Next month, the four of them are going to Rome. Quinn says, “I am also somebody who likes to go back to the places I love. Martha’s Vineyard is one of those places where I slip into that sweet feeling of being both at home and exhilarated.”
Born in Kenya, raised in Uganda, and schooled in Britain, Sarah Robarts raised her children in Southern California, where she has learned a new skill every year. Ocean swimming, marathoning, volleyball, surfing and led into a natural progression to triathlons. Sarah has run her own successful international firm, Ballantines PR, for the last 19 years, traveling around the world many times. The top of her list are Bali and Sri Lanka. Her brother designed and built a beautiful home in Sri Lanka recently and she is looking forward to visiting.
Mary Wagstaff founded Wagstaff Worldwide in 1999, in Los Angeles. Her goal is to hike this summer in the Azores. An autonomous region of Portugal, the Azores includes nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
Thirty-five years ago, Lou Hammond, a southerner and a fifth generation Texan, founded her firm, Lou Hammond Group, after she working 12 years at Pan American World Airways in public relations and public affairs. She says, “Pan Am was a pioneer in aviation, and I traveled the globe participating in many historic ‘firsts’ including the first press trip to China.” She now has “spread her wings” to Charleston (SC), Miami, Los Angeles and, most recently, to Houston. Her next trip will be back to Beirut: “my home away from home. The culture and history had an impact on my life.” Hammond lived in Lebanon for five years, which has allowed her to bring an international perspective to the travel business.
Karen Murphy O’Brien is celebrating 30 years of Murphy O’Brien, Inc. by opening a new office in New York City this summer. Karen is on the road about 100 days a year and also recently completed her second half-marathon. Karen’s big travel plans? “I am particularly excited to be visiting Japan and Korea in July, along with our youngest son, Christopher, who sings in the prestigious National Children’s Chorus.” He will be performing at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with children’s choruses from both countries.
Twenty-seven years ago, Vicky King started her firm, Vicky King PR, and recently traveled in Europe for a month to see clients with only a carry-on. For her birthday this year, she is taking herself to the Dolomites to ski from hut to hut. Later this year, she will trek in Rwanda, which is one of only three countries in Africa where you can visit Mountain Gorillas in the wild.
Jennifer Hawkins’s love and life in travel started when her dad took her out of 8th grade for a train trip across Europe. Hawkins has been to more than 50 countries. She now runs Hawkins International PR, which she started 17 years ago. Last year, she traveled to Mongolia for eagle hunting and camel trekking in the Gobi desert, to Peru for an Amazon cruise, to Italy for a secret tour of Rome, and to Paris during a snowstorm. “Whether in a city or a remote location, I always approach my travels with a bit of awe, and I’m always excited about my next trip.” her other to-do destinations include Egypt, Iceland, and gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
Jody Diamond shifted from working in the film industry to the world of travel and tourism 19 years ago, opening Diamond PR in 2007. Some of her favorite travel memories include The Galapagos Islands, a motorcycle trip through the Dolomites, a cross country trek with her husband on their Harley, and three weeks in Bhutan. Her travel wish is to see the land of Genghis Khan and explore Mongolia, including the Golden Eagle Festival and their caretakers the Kazakh nomads, one of the last nomadic tribes on the globe.
Susan Bejeckian has focused on the South Pacific during her nearly 30-year career with her own firm. She knew she had made it when she represented an entire country, Fiji. Her travel wish is to see the pink sand of Bermuda and explore the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard, the home of the oldest operating platform merry-go-round, Flying Horses Carousel, which was built in 1876.
Joanne Vero has been running J. Vero and Associates for 25 years. Family and relationships are the most important things to her and, while she travels to see clients, family, and friends, the most important place to be for her is home with her children and grandchild creating memories together.
Marian Gerlich found her passion for travel when she sailed for 100 days to 12 countries as the Public Information Officer for the Semester at Sea program. Twenty-nine years ago on April 1, she opened P & G Communications. While she has visited many special and sacred places like Machu Picchu, she says, “The place I have not been yet and is at the top of my bucket list is Antarctica.”
I hope these twelve woman with over 300 years’ experience in the travel industry have whet your appetite for a few destinations, and that wherever you wish to go, you take steps to make it come true this year.
Feature image: Machu Picchu. (Dana Rebmann)