Q&A with Camille of Stonebridge Travel Consulting
Written by Alexandra Lee & Catherine Esrey
Are you dreaming of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences, but dreading the hassle of planning? Leave it to Camille Porta of San Francisco-based Stonebridge Travel Consulting–a travel advisor and dream destinations designer who is with you every step of the way on your journey. Her expertise stems from her own vast personal experience in travel and is augmented by her curated selection of highly-vetted industry partners, through which she designs and delivers bespoke travel experiences to her clients. Her process begins with a complimentary consultation, yielding intimate knowledge of the client’s personal interests, travel history, and what they seek to gain from the experience. “Only a long, deep conversation can even begin to grasp at the underlying unexpressed motivating factors that drive the emotions behind this wish for travel.” Simply put, Camille cares: she strives to ensure her clients “a seamless experience” and promises to be their advocate should issues arise. From Australia’s rugged wilderness to the crystal waters of the Maldives, Stonebridge offers in-depth insight into the can’t miss showstoppers, the unique experiences, and the best of authentic cuisine for every destination on your list. Read along to get to know this travel industry maven.
What services do you provide for your clients?
I design personalized travel experiences tailored around my clients’ travel styles, passions, dreams, and what fill their hearts with wonder. I see my role as more than just a person who gets you there. I am your foremost advocate, on the ground, in a foreign country when things go wrong. I handle every single detail of the trip, including but not limited to flights, accommodation (hotels, resorts, villas, etc.), transportation logistics, unique experiences, travel insurance, advice on passport renewals and visas, Covid-19 protocols, and concierge services such as dining and spa reservations. Most of all, I provide peace of mind to my clients.
What do you hope your client will take away from their experience working with you?
A feeling of being truly understood, taken care of, and safeguarded. There is nothing more important to me, as a businesswoman, than finding and nurturing clients who share my values. I want to be present in all their life’s milestones. I want to plan their children’s weddings and design their honeymoons. I want a multi-generational transmission of shared values with my clients and their families.
How did you get into Travel Consulting?
In 2014, my partner’s father gifted us a two-month Europe trip. He worked with a travel agency and to put it mildly, the trip was a disaster. The agent never bothered to ask about our preferences, interests, or travel needs. It was a trip designed for another person. To add insult to injury, she could never be contacted whenever problems arose. We were on the verge of canceling the trip and going home. To save the vacation and our sanity, I stepped up and rearranged every component of the trip. This event spurred me to start my own luxury travel consulting business. My goal is to build lasting relationships. The moment you arrive at your destination, the second phase of my work begins: making sure you’re supported and safeguarded throughout your travel experience. This is the part of the work that nobody sees, but it is what gives my clients that priceless peace of mind, knowing that I’m right there with them in spirit.
How do you personally prepare yourself for a big, upcoming vacation?
I am very laid back when it comes to my own travels. I plan the trip with the help of my industry partners; I book the trip and make sure that I have all the necessary entry requirements. I write down the outfits I want to wear each day to make packing easier, but I usually procrastinate until the end and pack last-minute. I go on the trip and open myself up to the experience by living in the moment. And life somehow conspires to always make it memorable.
Which European city would you most highly recommend?
In my opinion, Rome is the most important city to visit in Europe. It is the apex of a forgotten era. Walking in Rome is to have humility in life, knowing that the work of the world’s most remarkable people in history during the Roman empire still resulted in destruction. It is a place steeped in history, magnificent art and architecture, and excellent food. It is also a great jumping point to other areas in Italy such as Florence, Pompeii, Tivoli, Naples, Amalfi Coast, and more.
What essentials do you pack in your carry-on for a long flight?
I recommend always packing at least two days worth of clothes, toiletries, an oversized scarf, antibacterial wipes/hand sanitizer, noise-canceling headphones, a reusable water bottle, snacks, and a pen. Also, any necessary travel documents, i.e., passports, should be stored safely in your personal or carry-on bag.
What are your travel tips for people visiting Europe?
With the current travel climate, my best tip is to plan early. Limited availability is a constant theme when looking at popular destinations. There aren’t enough guides, hotel rooms, drivers, etc. to accommodate the demand we’re seeing. Travel is in full swing, and yet the industry is still understaffed and overworked.
What destination is number one on your bucket list?
Antarctica! I enjoy seeing wildlife, being active, and having majestic scenery. That would be the ultimate adventure.
What do you like most about traveling?
Travel connects you to the world and reconnects you to yourself and the people important to you. It changes you in unanticipated ways when you're present in the moment and open to discovery.