Shortening the distance between home and traveling abroad

Tara Cappel has a passion for travel.

So much so that she started her own travel company called For The Love Of Travel to make it easier for busy, career-oriented young people to experience the mind-opening benefits of travel while still having a full-time job.

Where it all began – Tara’s first job in tourism was selling tours of the Coliseum in Rome, ItalyWhere it all began – Tara’s first job in tourism was selling tours of the Coliseum in Rome, Italy

“Travel and the breadth of experiences that come with it have had a major impact on me and how I see the world. You realize a lot about the world and about yourself when you leave your comfort zone and I think it’s really important for young people to observe different cultures to be able to participate in a broader global dialogue.”

“I also loved the idea of group trips because I think in this digital age, we often hide behind our computer or phone screens and miss out on many opportunities to meet new people. But from travel, I know that your world opens up exponentially with each person you meet. It’s, in my opinion, the most important aspect of travel, which is why connection is so important to us as a company.”

She first began using Skype to keep in contact with friends and family from home while she was traveling, and with friends she’d met abroad.

“It doesn’t seem SO far away when loved ones can picture where you are. When I lived in Italy, I used Skype to show my mom around my apartment and I know it really helped her with the distance. It’s also super fun to use Skype to reconnect with international friends I haven’t seen for a while. Obviously you can keep in touch with other social media but there’s something special about being able to talk face-to-face in real time.”

Tara Cappel on Skype with her MomTara Cappel on Skype with her Mom

Her personal experience with Skype led her to consider it as a great tool for her company and the travel industry. She uses Skype with a lot of her international vendors, and finds it very personal. In fact, she almost always suggests a Skype call when meeting a vendor for the first time, since she believes it’s much easier to speak via video than over email.

“I find Skype video calling to be super important for the first meeting, regardless of the language barrier because it helps establish a more personal relationship. Also, in the tourism industry, at least where we are currently operating, English is pretty universal so most people we work with speak it well. It’s so easy to connect, and lots of people use it so it’s just easier than dealing with country codes and uncertain roaming fees. Skype Credit comes in really handy in this case too. And I love that it automatically adds $10 worth of credit when I’m running low so I don’t have to go through the process of adding credit manually every time.”

Tara Cappel trip scouting in Zurich, SwitzerlandTrip scouting in Zurich, Switzerland

Her team also uses Skype when designing their unique, well-rounded itineraries that include major attractions, but focus more on authentic cultural experiences. To accomplish that, they put hours and hours of time into planning each trip and work closely with local suppliers.

“I use Skype in the planning phase to “see” places like hotels or restaurants I can’t go to in person because it is more accurate than pictures that can be staged and edited,” says Tara.

In addition to video calls, Tara also uses instant messaging to communicate with colleagues and vendors and to set up meetings.

“It’s a nice way to communicate because you can see when they’re typing as if you’re texting each other, which feels more personal than email. And you can use emoticons! I LOVE the Skype emoticons. They’re so full of personality. If I had to pick a favorite, I would say the nodding guy (nod). And then the wait! one… (wait)”

Tara Capell learning to make macarons in Paris, FranceLearning to make macarons in Paris, France

Tara has two other favorite Skype features: Skype WiFi on which she relies heavily—and for her, it’s been a life-saver, since there are more than 2 million hotspot locations across the globe–and screen sharing. She finds the screen share feature especially helpful because the company’s graphic designer is in Denver but For The Love Of Travel is based out of Los Angeles.

“I’m annoyingly particular when it comes to design so we use Skype screen share to work on editing together instead of sending 100 versions back and forth,” she explains. “It saves a lot of time and email storage space. There is literally no other effective way I know of to look at someone else’s computer if you’re not right next to them!”

While Tara already speaks Italian and French (and basic German), she’s intrigued by Skype Translator which she hasn’t had need to use yet, but is considering for future ventures.

“It sounds amazing! I can’t wait to try it out.”

For Tara, it remains incredibly important for young people to observe different cultures to be able to participate in a broader global dialogue.

“It’s super hard to plan international travel with friends and not everyone is comfortable going abroad solo. At the same time, group tours are notorious for having a very scripted, touristy feel and that just doesn’t appeal to my generation,” says Tara. “So I set out to design trips that introduce people to a culture rather than just sprinting down a tourist track. I want people to feel like they’re really absorbing a culture even if they only have a week to explore it.”

We’re so glad Skype is helping her company do just that!

Pictures courtesy of FTLO Travel

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To learn more about the Skype features mentioned in Tara’s story, check out the links below:

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