Q&A: Laura Burdett-Munns, Journeysmiths

Q&A: Laura Burdett-Munns, Journeysmiths

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For more than three decades, the UK-based Journeysmiths has been creating unique and unforgettable experiences in wildlife and wild places.

While they began with a focus on Africa, the company is expanding its unique approach across the globe, and they’re looking for families to join in on these adventures.

To get the details on what Journeysmiths has to offer, how they’re changing and their thoughts on navigating travel in 2023, the Family Travel Association talked with Managing Director Laura Burdett-Munns. Here’s what she had to say.

Please give us a brief history of Journeysmiths.
Over 30 years ago, my father, John Burdett and Warwick Hoffman—the original Journeysmiths—set out to provide completely customized African holidays for clients whose passion for immersive adventure was rivalled only by their own. Today, as the next generation of Journeysmiths, we have expanded our offering, discreetly handcrafting extraordinary private itineraries to Africa, Asia, Indian Ocean, Latin America, and the Polar Caps. The company was founded on a deep seated belief that travel should inspire personal growth, expand horizons, and support conservation as well as local communities. Therefore, our travel-obsessed team of Journeysmiths design each guest itinerary completely from scratch and always include an opportunity to create a positive impact on the destinations they explore.

Tell us all about what Journeysmiths does.
Journeysmiths arrange the finest, bespoke travel itineraries to the world’s wild places. We believe that when you travel you should savor and enjoy the entire experience, while simultaneously respecting and supporting the very fragile places you explore. Carefully hand crafting each itinerary, we partner with like-minded tourism and hospitality companies who share our core values while offering the highest quality travel experiences. It is our hope that by providing clients with exceptional travel experiences, we can inspire them to have a positive impact on the places they visit. In addition, each year, Journeysmiths donate a minimum of 5% net profit to charity, supporting conservation and community initiatives around the world.

Why is family travel something you’re passionate about?
Travel is literally a family affair at Journeysmiths. My love of wildlife and wild places began at the tender age of one. It blossomed during safaris with my parents, Journeysmiths co-founders, and throughout my career. Now, as a mother of two young children, I’m delighted to share unique experiences with my own family. We believe that travel is an integral part of a young person’s development, it nurtures family relationships through shared experiences, expands horizons and encourages curiosity and empathy as we encounter unique environments and cultures.

What’s new in your world?
Latin America is a growing market for Journeysmiths and to support that growth we have recently welcomed a new Head of Latin America to our team. She joins us having spent the last 15 years traveling and designing spectacular family itineraries across the continent. We are already seeing a high demand for Costa Rica, the Galapagos, Ecuador and Peru, both for wildlife encounters and family adventure vacations.

Are there any challenges you’ve faced in recent years related to marketing travel, and if so, how have you worked to overcome them?
Marketing travel was challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. We made a decision to continue our online marketing presence during that period and that proved to be a good one. Moving on from that time, we found that families were still a bit cautious about travel to new destinations and looked to us for reassurance regarding health and safety. We also offered flexibility on deposits as well as new bookings, working with the various camps and guides to move reservations until clients felt comfortable traveling again.


When it comes to family travel in 2023, do you have any advice/wisdom?
So many things come to mind. If I consider my own family situation, I feel like we have lost a few years of memory making when it comes to travel experiences with our children. So, my advice would be, don’t wait. We are seeing lots of families still trying to make plans for summer 2023, when space is extremely limited.  I would encourage your clients to start planning for 2024 now to get their first choice of experiences, countries, properties and dates.

Anything else you want the Family Travel Association to know?
I think our clients say it best…

“We booked a trip for my family of 9 to Kenya. We cannot express enough how truly luxurious all of the accommodations were (we stayed at 4 safari camps and then at the beach in Diani) and how everything was truly top of the line. The service was flawless and the entire family had a magical trip with memories of the warmth and love of Kenya through this perfect itinerary. We cannot recommend the team highly enough, they definitely go above and beyond in service to their customers, and they know the very best accommodations and experiences to recommend. They even arranged for a photographer to accompany us on our entire safari adventure and this was truly such a blessing to have someone capturing the pictures so that we could sit back, relax and truly experience all of the beauty of Kenya. Thank you, our family is forever grateful for your help arranging our trip of a lifetime.” — From the Hubbach and Tenace family, who traveled to Kenya.

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