Travel + Leisure A-List Advisor

BETSY DONLEY

T+L Top Travel Advisor | Fly Fishing Specialist

Betsy developed a taste for adventure while growing up in Brazil and Costa Rica. She’s passionate about organizing fly-fishing trips, which she frequently leads; last year she took a group to Cuba for a private-yacht expedition in search of bonefish and tarpon. “I knew the owners of the yacht and guides and met with them to organize it,” she says. “I flew with the group to Cuba and monitored the guides, food, and yacht staff. I can speak Spanish, which made me a valuable leader.” Increasingly, she’s seeing fly-fishing appeal to more women clients. “They like the Zen of it and are good at the rhythm of casting.”

Betsy's work isn’t limited to planning fishing expeditions, however. She has helped a family of 16 navigate a trip to China that included hugging pandas and a picnic on the Great Wall, and organized a biking trip for a solo traveler headed to Sri Lanka. “I’ve been there, and from making her feel comfortable about going, to arranging special meet-and greets, to telling her what to pack, it was a great experience," Betsy recalls.

ADDITIONAL SPECIALTIES: Adventure Travel and Multigenerational Travel

Number of years on the A-List: 18

Languages Spoken: English & Spanish

 

Contact Info

betsyd@camelbacktravel.com | 602-889-5909 | Phoenix

What is the A-List?

The A-List is Travel + Leisure’s collection of the top travel advisors in the world. Each year T+L evaluates hundreds of luxury travel advisors, vetting each one and receiving input from their Travel Advisory Board (comprised of agency owners & operators) along with other experts to determine which ones will best serve their brands readers.

If I am a new fly fisherman where is the best place to start?

First, a must do is to communicate with your guide or the lodge or fly shop that you want to learn. All important is a patient guide who likes to teach. Montana lodges have just such guides, ponds on which to practice before going out on the river, and easy access rivers.  Remember always that the point is “to have fun!”

 

Do I have to rough it if I go fly fishing or are there places I can fish and stay in great hotels?

No roughing it, unless you want to.  Everywhere in the world there are wonderful lodges in which to stay and still be on the rivers fly fishing.  Whether it’s Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana, Alphonse Island in the Seychelles or Poronui in New Zealand, the lodges are top with great guides.

What are the best destinations for multigenerational family travel where you can maintain social distancing?

The Western ranches are not only fun and full of activities but appropriate for the whole family.  There are large individual homes or small cozy cabins.  Snowmobile in the winter, horseback ride in the snow or fish on their private waters.  Villas are another option.  Whether near the beach or in the mountains - we have partners who vet them to make sure all the amenities and activities are perfectly planned.  Bring in a chef for dinner and a masseuse to welcome you after a long flight.  My family rented one in Costa Rica; it was magical from the masseuse we had the first afternoon to a Sunset Catamaran chasing dolphins to the chef who produced everything from Sushi to Taco night!

Costa Rica is easy to get to and full of activity options such as surfing, biking, hiking in their many national parks and fishing.  It is currently open with no testing requirements upon arrival.  Africa is a favorite and Kenya and Tanzania are also open with almost private game viewing, pools, fun for the kids and rangers who know exactly what the family might like.

 

When is the right age to start traveling with kids for multigenerational travel?

In my mind, any age is the right age, but for kids to be able to understand, follow instructions and learn, 8 years old is perfect. A beach retreat would be perfect for the youngest but a safari, where safety and quiet attention might be required is more appropriate for 8 and older.  An example is the Galapagos where a 4 year old wants to touch the turtles and doesn’t understand why they can’t but an 8 year old gets it.  Some adventures have minimum age limits such as rafting the Grand Canyon, some safaris and family biking trips.   

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