Alex Jimenez, owner of Luxe Itinerary, knows how important it is to have a niche as a travel advisor. That's why she emphasizes her two personal travel interests: eco-friendly trips and wellness vacations for women over age 40.
Though she's new to the game, Jimenez is on track to more than double her client base this year and is dedicated to growing as an independent travel advisor. And she's doing it all by diving deep into the specific types of travel that she is most passionate about.
Travel as a Second Career
The lifelong New York City resident started looking ahead to retirement from her government job when she turned 52 (she is now 56). Knowing that she wanted to be able to travel and live in other countries, Jimenez sought a remote job.
She enrolled in Dean Horvath's Selling Luxury Travel course and has been hooked on the new career ever since. She officially launched Luxe Itinerary in October 2019, but the business sat idle for about two years due to the pandemic.
During that time, however, Jimenez herself continued to travel, which made her a go-to for travel advice when others began jet-setting again as well.
"I did nothing but post, post, post on my social media about those trips, and I think that's probably what attracted people and built awareness about my brand," she explained.
Jimenez has booked more than a dozen trips for clients; she had six clients in 2022 and six in just the first four months of 2023. She operates under the host travel agency Coastline Travel Group, and she is also a member of Virtuoso.
As a child, Jimenez spent five summers at a sleepaway camp in Connecticut, where she found enjoyment and respite from the concrete jungle she calls home. When she began traveling as an adult, she naturally gravitated toward nature-filled destinations.
"I needed that environment to decompress from living in the city for 10 months a year, and I carried that with me my whole life," Jimenez says. "[We learned] we have to take care of the land, to treat the animals with kindness, keep the lake clean, don't litter. Those kinds of values were instilled in me from summer camp, and that stuck with me."
According to Jimenez, there are three components of eco-friendly travel: celebrating the local culture, supporting the local economy, and protecting the planet. Translated into experiences for her clients, that can mean taking cooking or crafting classes from natives or staying at a hotel that was built from recycled materials or that uses furniture crafted by local artisans.
"Something I really don't like is people who go to a resort in Mexico and they don't leave the resort, so they've never really visited Mexico," Jimenez said. "They’re just in a bubble someplace that happens to be geographically on top of Mexico. That to me is not sustainable."
For eco-friendly cruises, Jimenez recommends Virgin Voyages to her clients. The line offers local excursions at each of its stops for guests to experience the culture of the country they're visiting.
Wellness for Women
In November 2022, Jimenez established the Annual Women's Wellness Weekend in Rivera Maya, Mexico. A few women over 40 joined her over the Veteran's Day weekend for a chance to relax and unwind.
"My niche is women who are sandwiched in between the aging parents on one side and the teenagers on the other side getting ready for going to college," she said. "I personally never had children but I did have aging parents who I took care of a lot. It's exhausting so I think it's important for women to pause and just remember to take care of themselves which is something that we often don’t do."
This year, the retreat will be in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Jimenez added that, like herself, many women enjoy traveling alone. However some women don't feel comfortable traveling entirely by themselves, which is why she hopes to grow the annual retreat in the years to come.
"There's a huge market for solo-traveling women or women who want to travel solo but haven't quite jumped off the cliff yet because of legitimate fears, especially if they're coming out of a marriage or are recently widowed and have been with a partner for so long, and now traveling by themselves is kind of [scary]," Jimenez said. "Women who want to travel solo come together in a group to be solo in a group."
Eco-friendliness and wellness can go hand-in-hand, Jimenez added.
One of the travel lover-turned-advisor's personal favorite trips was a yoga yacht cruise on the Mediterranean Sea, which incorporated both physical fitness — including yoga, hiking, and swimming — and eco-friendly elements like being surrounded by nature.
Jimenez is currently helping to build an itinerary for a mother and daughter to take an eco-friendly wellness trip to India, which will include meditative, relaxing, and spiritual experiences, she said.