travel planning

from destination selection to itinerary routing, we have you covered

Every travel professional has a different approach to helping clients with destination selection and with itinerary routing. Rick shares this anecdote to help clients understand our travel planning philosophy:

I remember the first time my wife and I worked with a travel professional to help plan a self-drive trip around Costa Rica in 1995. The Chicago-based agent was a Costa Rica Specialist, certified by the Tourist Board. She had sent dozens of clients to Costa Rica, so I was confident we were in good hands. After assessing our interests and our budget, she recommended an itinerary that would take us to rainforest, cloud forest, volcano, and beach. Everything sounded great, and since we were long before the time of GPS and cell phones, she armed us with a giant fold out map and a turn-by-turn road guide for our destination. What could go wrong?

The trip was lovely and she selected the right locations and hotels for our needs. But she routed our trip in the wrong sequence. After leaving the cloud forest, we discovered that had we visited the volcano first, we would have saved 6-7 hours of driving time. And as we soon learned, her directions routed us in the wrong direction around Lake Arenal. Though her route was slightly shorter in kilometers, it took us on unmarked roads and included some mountainous sections that had been washed away by recent storms.

Within 5 years of that trip, I started my travel company and found myself planning client itineraries, initially to “new” destinations for me. Many of the things I learned from that Costa Rica trip helped me in planning client trips. These are the principles which form the bedrock of Journey Softly:

  • Find trusted travel partners in each and every country. These are our eyes and ears on the ground. They know about road closures and other local issues that wouldn’t hit the radar of Americans.
  • Ask tons of questions, both of clients and of the travel partners. Treat client trips with the same importance as if they were our own.
  • Trust our instincts, both in terms of destinations and risk management. Everyone has different innate skills, talents, and passions. We take great pride in creating logical and well-thought out travel programs to help journeyers experience the world

As my business grew, I ended up planning travel itineraries to more than 100 countries on 6 continents. I have personally traveled to more than half of the countries we support, and consider my travel partners in each country to be among my closest friends.

Since our launch during the pandemic, Journey Softly clients have traveled to more than 65 of these countries. We have been overjoyed to reestablish connections with so many of our partners and look forward to expanding the number of countries with each passing year.


Photos: Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica; Coastline, Croatia


“Rick became my most trusted adviser in terms of international travel.”

Bertrand G.

“Laura always incorporates authentic experiences to match the interests of our group.”

Thomas W.

“Rick’s depth of knowledge of destinations is immense.”

Kristen H.

“Alex has an eye for details, personalized experiences, and day to day coordination.”

Natalie J.

“Laura brings a personal and thoughtful touch to all of our engagements.”

Deirdre O.