WHEN SOMEONE TELLS A FRIEND ABOUT WHAT YOU DO, WHAT DO THEY SAY?
She’s that passionate Italian friend who will spill all her secrets to help you explore Italy’s unconventional side, pointing you to places where you can reconnect to yourself and the world.
HOW DO YOU FIND THESE “UNCONVENTIONAL” DESTINATIONS?
Every year, I take a couple of month-long solo journeys to Italy, where I follow locals’ word-of-mouth advice to discover the offbeat locations that I would have missed otherwise.
HOW DO YOU TRAVEL, ANDREA?
I have always been intrigued by “unconventional” destinations – places like Ladakh, Svalbard, Uganda, Mozambique, Galapagos, Borneo, Naoshima. All places to reconnect. “On trend” destinations have never appealed to me.
For me, establishing a connection with the local community is essential: I take public transport where possible and find a local guide to introduce me to my destination on the day I arrive. That way, I discover what it’s like living there and where the locals go. I love chatting with waiters, bartenders, drivers, hotel managers; I am very curious.
Before I leave, I always research small, family-run or independent hotels in the area, keeping an eye out for those that serve farm-to-table breakfasts, furnish their spaces with decor by local independent brands, and are attentive to the environment. (People who care about nature tend to make great hosts.)
I try to stay at every destination for at least three or four nights (and if I visit a city, five or six). I need enough time to sample all the local specialities!
I always take notes, dress in a style that feels well-matched to the country I’m in, and love returning to places – I’ve visited more than 60 countries, many of them twice or more.
WHY DID YOU START BEMYJOURNEY?
Every time I plan a holiday, I’ll wish I knew a friend local to that destination. Someone like-minded to fill me in on the best secret spots to visit, on the tourist traps to avoid, and to answer those burning questions that the internet provides unreliable answers to.
I’ve always loved planning my own journeys so have never liked the idea of hiring a travel agent. Instead, I want advice that’s more informal, genuine and fresh. That’s how the idea for BeMyJourney came about. I simply created the thing I’ve been searching for for years: a company that doubles as your local friend, spilling my secrets so that travellers like me can enjoy my home country authentically.
IS SUSTAINABILITY SOMETHING YOU CONSIDER WHEN YOU TRAVEL?
I started BeMyJourney for savvy, mindful travellers – people like me. My research centres around experiences that have a minimal impact on the environment while supporting local communities in lesser-known destinations. For the first stop on my explorative journeys, for example, I always pick somewhere remote, seeking out family-run hotels whose ethos is rooted in caring for nature. After they see the kind of travel experiences I’m looking for, they then point me in the right direction, sharing their favourite secret destinations and connecting me with other like-minded hotels.
YOU OFTEN MENTION THAT YOUR AIM IS TO HELP PEOPLE BECOME TRAVELLERS RATHER THAN TOURISTS. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
I guess the difference lies in the approach to travel. I see travellers as being more like explorers, looking for hidden gems and lesser-known spots, connecting with locals and immersing themselves in their destination. Tourists, on the other hand, might stay in a resort, visiting only what mainstream travel guides suggest. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, they just result in two different travel experiences.
“A unique and immersive experience. We lived the pure essence of Sicily thanks to andrea who gave us the opportunity to get to know this beautiful land in all its peculiarities. We felt thrilled, gratified, reborn, free… but above all we felt at home!” Maria Vittoria, July 2022
“I didn’t want to constantly be in my phone or laptop trying to decide details about our trip. Fortunately Andrea’s helpful tips gave us a way to enjoy the best of Italy from north to south without and guessing about where to eat, where to stay, which sites to see, and created an overall chic experience.” Chuck, June 2022