Meeting Mary Cecchini, owner and travel designer of Living Big, was almost like going on vacation. We talked travel and travel planning, two of my favorite things. Living Big is not your typical tour company or travel agency. Instead, it offers something very special and unique. Living Big offers small group hosted adventures for women to destinations in the US and abroad. Mary Cecchini also helps busy women get away with their families or partners with her travel design services. I personally can’t wait to take one of her trips.
Empowering Adventures For Women
I know when I think of taking a tour, I immediately think of tour buses, tour guides, and visiting many destinations. However, sometimes I want a little more freedom to explore on my own, but as a woman I still crave the security of being with a group and having the details worked out. Often, I feel intimidated by adventure tours and treks. Living Big offers the perfect solution!
Living Big empowers women to explore. Its adventures for women are hosted tours for groups of 10 – 12 women. Mary says she, or one of her other hosts, is not really a tour guide. The hosts are more facilitators and producers. They are there to make sure every detail of the trip goes smoothly, while also helping to create cohesion in the group traveling together. I imagine the role akin to your friend who is always the trip leader. The person who just makes it all happen.
Learning to Live Big
Living Big started as an adventure. Mary, who had been working in corporate event marketing, wanted a change of pace. She says her perspective about life changed when her mother was seriously injured. While Mary realized that she was climbing the corporate ladder, she wasn’t quite sure that’s what she wanted when she looked down. So, she started to think about what she wanted to do and how she wanted to live.
Inspired by a life coach, Mary says she embarked on a “swirl of discovery.” She began to think about who she really was. She always loved traveling, but never felt short vacations were enough. So, she made a plan. She would quit her job and then just travel – travel in a way she had never traveled before. Determined to make it happen, Mary moved in with her parents to save money. Soon, she was departing on a trip that changed her life.
Mary’s adventure started in Turkey, from where she would slowly head west. Mary eventually explored much of Europe, setting up base in a town or city for several days. Mary was able to immerse herself in the places and cultures she visited. Most importantly, Mary had given herself the time and space to think about life. I think Mary had also given herself the opportunity to experience life.
After blogging about her adventures and soaking up the comments from her readers, Mary realized travel was just part of who she is and how she wanted to experience her life. Also, Mary felt drawn to serving the women in her community. She also wanted a profession that provided her flexibility and yes, the ability to travel. Starting Living Big just seemed like the natural thing for her to do.
If Mary’s enthusiasm and joyful demeanor are good indicators, Mary was right. Owning and operating Living Big is in fact what she is meant to do. I felt her affection and compassion for her travel companions on the trips she hosts. Mary says she loves watching the women overcome fears, bond with each other to form lasting friendships, and help and share with each other. Smiling, Mary shares she sees women at their best while connecting with each other.
In fact, Mary’s tours have become so popular, she can no longer host them all herself. Now, Mary has hired other hosts for some of the adventures she puts together. To make sure the quality of the experience remains the same, Mary heads out on a few training tours with the hosts. Somehow, I don’t think she’ll ever give up hosting tours herself to run the business. Mary’s personal knowledge and experience with hotels, restaurants and places is central to her success. Even more so, I think it’s really the traveling and empowering the women that makes her happy.
Travel By Design
Recently, Living Big started offering travel design services. Mary saw a need to help women plan adventures for their families. Planning a trip is time consuming, and many of us just don’t have that kind of time. Also, planning a trip is a huge responsibility. But, the responsibility doesn’t end once you take off. Often, the trip planner spends more time holding the trip together than relaxing and enjoying the trip.
Living Big’s travel design services take the load off and make it easier for everyone to plan their next adventure. Mary consults with her clients about what they’d like to do and where they’d like to go. Then, she gets to work, mapping out the perfect itinerary. She’ll research air fares, book hotels, and recommend good places to eat. Once she’s got it all figured out, she bundles it all up in an easy-to-use document for her clients to take along on their trip.
Travel for Life
As we chatted, Mary started talking about her next research trip. I couldn’t help but feel a little envious. Mary says she’s working on expanding the destinations for Living Big’s tours. So, she’s off to Canada to explore. I wanted to go with her on her next adventure to explore a new place and meet new people. Then, I realized this is her gift to women. She is offering us more than the opportunity to only explore the world in a safe environment. She is also empowering us to explore who we are and to move beyond our own limitations.
Learn more about Living Big and its hosted adventures for women and travel design services at its website. Follow Mary on Instagram (@LivingBigTravel) and Facebook. For more fun, check out this post about Living Big at Huffington Post.
Then, do yourself a favor and find a trip you’d like to take. Even dreaming about it will help you live big.
All photos from Living Big