How Audrey Creates Your Custom Vacation

How Audrey Creates a Customized Itinerary for your Vacation

When you hire Audrey, and her team of in-country associates, for a customized itinerary for your vacation, Audrey follows a 5-step travel planning process in order to create a trip that is the best fit for you and your travel companions. Her process has been honed over more than a decade, creating once-in-a-lifetime personalized itineraries that get rave reviews from her guests.

How Audrey Creates Your Custom Vacation

Clients with our private guide on their private guided tour in Veneto/Photo Audrey De Monte

In order to create your custom vacation, I need to know about you! So before we can even start Step 1, I start with a few introductory questions:

  • How many people will be traveling, ages, interests, and anything else you think I should know in order to make the best recommendations.
  • How much time do you have, and whether you have a budget.
  • Describe a perfect day as you envision it on this trip.
  • Have you been to your destination before. (If so, when did you go and what did you see. If not, have you been abroad before).
  • Do you have any must-visit places or experiences that you want to include on this trip. These may be as specific as “visit the Colosseum in Rome” or as general as “we love wine and food”.

Step 1: The basic itinerary

Based on your feedback to the initial questions, I will send you recommendations for destinations and activities I think you’ll love. I can also help with questions such as “should I go to the Amalfi Coast or the Cinque Terre?” or “which would be a better fit for us, Lake Como or Lake Maggiore?” This is the most time-consuming part of the process, but it’s important to get it right. At this stage, you let me know what you definitely want to do, what you’d like to do if it fits, and what you’ll save for the next trip.

Based on your feedback, I will create an itinerary that:

  • includes all your “must-do’s” (although here, depending on the amount of time you have, you may need to decide what not to do)
  • is a realistic pace (I will advise if it is not)
  • works from a geographic standpoint, so you’re not zigzagging around the country
  • is a good balance (for example big city>countryside>small city>seaside is a great balance. Big city>big city>big city can be tiring; and
  • works for you logistically, using private drivers, train or renting a car
our charming accommodations on our cultural vacations in friuli venezia giulia

Property in wine country in Friuli Venezia Giulia/Photo Audrey De Monte

Step 2: Accommodations

After the itinerary is perfect, I move to the next step of creating your custom vacation quote and looking at accommodation availability. I like to recommend our preferred properties in each location. But, I cannot move to this part of the planning until you have specific dates, and flights booked.

Here too, I need to know your personal preferences. Do you like luxury hotels or boutique style hotels, B&Bs, castles, or farmhouses. Do you wish for the property to have amenities like an onsite restaurant or bar or gym or pool. Maybe you’d love views, a balcony, a sitting area, or a suite. I will do my best to find the best room combinations for your family or group.

Then, I send you specific recommendations for accommodations that:

  • meet your preferences
  • are within your budget
  • are in excellent central locations
  • have availability for your specific dates

You have the final say, but I book, check all details, and make sure everything gets done!

How Audrey Creates Your Custom Vacation

In Munich with Petra our guide enjoying local beer and food specialties/Photo Audrey De Monte

Step 3: Guides, Tours and Activities

After accommodations are booked, the next step in creating your custom vacation is activities! During Step 1, we identified the highlights of your trip so we know, for example, that you are going to visit the Vatican Museums in Rome and that you’d like to do a cooking class. But here’s where we delve into the details.

I need to know whether you’d like that Vatican tour to be with a private guide, or whether you’d prefer joining a small group tour. Maybe you just want us to buy you skip-the-line tickets and you’ll be fine renting a headset.

And for that cooking class: we want to know whether you’d like to participate in a serious class with a professional who is dressed in chef whites; or whether you’d prefer cooking with an Italian grandmother in her kitchen. Maybe you’d love a cooking class that begins with a trip to the market, or maybe you’re looking for less hands-on cooking, and more eating. Maybe you’re with kids who really just want to make pizza and gelato.

For each and every activity, I will work with you to recommend tours and activities that meet your preferences, budget, and travel pace. Then, with your approval, we’ll make the bookings for you.

High-speed train travel in Spain/Photo Audrey De Monte

Step 4: Logistics

Logistics can make or break a trip. For example trains are fantastic, but they don’t go everywhere. Renting a car is fabulous in the countryside but should be avoided at all costs in busy cities. Logistics of your trip are really important, but if everything flows smoothly you shouldn’t notice them at all.

When we ask you all those questions about your preferences, we discover whether you are okay to rent a car if it makes sense. We also ask about trains, boats, and private drivers. We find out how much walking you can do, and whether you’ll be traveling light. During this step in creating your custom vacation, we buy your train tickets, but do not book your car rental for insurance purposes. We also figure out ferry schedules and book airport transfers.

Note: When you book a custom tour with Audrey as your local host and cultural guide, she takes care of the logistics for you while on tour.

moroccan dinner in Granada

Moroccan dinner in Granada/Photo Audrey De Monte

Step 5: Food and Restaurants

The last step in creating your custom vacation is food! Most of my clients wish to discuss food throughout the entire planning process, because it’s an important part of the trip. But my recommendations are included in your final documents once I know where you’ll be. Here too, I would need to know whether you have preferences or allergies. Gluten-free? No problem.

Note: When you book a custom tour with Audrey as your local host and cultural guide, she takes care of your reservations at restaurants for your group.

And finally……

Before departure, we’ll send you our pre-trip checklist. This checklist has advice and travel tips on technology, packing, electric plugs, tipping, driving, laundry, and more.

You’ll depart for your vacation with a completely personalized itinerary. Information about all hotels, activities, logistics, and restaurants will be in your written itinerary, at your fingertips while you’re on the road. All you’ll need to do is relax and enjoy.

Contact Audrey to start the conversation today!


About Audrey De Monte

Born in New York City, to European native parents, and raised in Western Africa, I have studied, lived and worked on three continents (Africa, Europe and North America), and have traveled extensively throughout the world. Travel has shaped my life, who I am, and how I look at the world and travel continues to be my biggest teacher. Together with my native Italian husband, we speak 5 languages (French, Italian, German, Spanish and English of course). I have spent a lifetime in several countries in Western Europe, since early childhood, visiting family, friends, studying, living and working. I grew up with the local customs and traditions of these countries.