Melissa Biggs Bradley founder and CEO of Indagare
Founder and CEO of Indagare.
For starting Indagare
I created something that I wanted: a community for passionate travelers to share tips so everyone could have better travel experiences. Trips that could actually change your perspective on life. Then I listened as our members asked for adaptations such as boutique travel agencies, small group trips, and member events. In an age of information overload, Indagare has become a one-stop, trusted travel resource for our members, and I am always humbled when I hear that we have changed their lives through the trips that we planned.
How to be an effective leader
Hire really smart and inspiring people, and collaborate with them. I don’t believe in micromanaging. I would rather hire capable people who take initiative to then come up with big plans together. I have also learned that it is essential to protect your culture; one toxic person can pollute an ecosystem, but if you fill your office with positive A players who support each other, magic happens.
How you create memorable experiences for your clients
By collaborating with our members, our partners, and our team, we have built up an incredible archive of experiences that we are constantly tweaking, growing, and customizing. No trip is the same, but all benefit from the wisdom of our crowd of passionate travelers.
What you love most
The constant innovation layered over many years of tradition is what I love most about New York. I was born in New York, so I have memories of every stage of my life here, but I am always pleasantly surprised by the new restaurants, shops, exhibits and rituals that emerge. I also love that it is a true melting pot where people from all over the country and the rest of the world come together.
Where to buy your travel essentials
I love packing cubes from Muji, monogramed travel pouches from Alexandra Knight for Parker Thatch, my SkyRoam mobile hotspot, the Oanda currency converter on my iPhone, my pocket Canon camera, Tumi’s multi-country adapter, and suede plane slippers from Charvet in Paris.
Where you find calm and quiet during long days at work
In a moment of meditation
YOUR BEST TRAVEL ADVICE
Best in-flight tips
Dress in something that looks good but is as comfortable as pajamas. I have black pants and three-quarter length wool jackets that I wear with a cashmere scarf where I can go from sleeping to a dinner party. Hydrate, but don’t eat. I drink tons of water but eat nothing on the plane as the altitude slows down digestion, leaving you more tired when you arrive. Adjust to the time zone in advance. I start to shift to the time zone of where I am going a few days in advance, even if only going to bed an hour earlier and getting up earlier.
Best post-flight tips for jet lag
Spend time outside in the daylight so the sunlight can help to readjust your circadian rhythms. Long walks in fresh air followed by a massage the day you arrive. You want to get on to the new time zone as quickly as possible, so no more than a really short nap as well.
Best spas around the world that you’ve recently visited
I go to Mii Amo in Sedona every year, and this January we are taking it over for an Indagare retreat with Elizabeth Lesser, cofounder of the Omega Institute. Lanserfhof Tegernsee is top of my list for new spas, as is the Napa version of the Ranch at Live Oak which will open next year.
Favorite beauty brands
Tata Harper is all organic and has good travel sizes. I also love Natura Bisse which has a great tinted moisturizer in a travel size, as well as MAC makeup wipes, and Eminence Organics SPF mineral makeup powder. My favorite dry shampoo is Osis Dust It.
What are your in-flight beauty essentials?
As soon as I get on a flight, I remove my contacts and all my makeup. I then apply a hydrating oil and serum to my face and neck, and then a heavy moisturizer which I also use on my hands.
Any specific routine that works to stay and look energized?
Exercise, hydration, and forcing yourself into a good sleeping pattern.
Where was your last trip and what would you recommend there?
My most recent trip was to Marrakech, which I adore. The new Yves Saint Laurent museum had not opened yet, but we were able to arrange a visit to his former villa, which was very special.
Where will your next trip be? And where are you planning on visiting?
I am on my way to Rwanda to lead one of our signature trips, Indagare Journeys. I will take a small group of Indagare members to see the endangered mountain gorillas, whose population is increasing, and to visit the Genocide Memorial. We will also meet with conservationists, entrepreneurs, and educators—who are helping rebuild the country—for intimate conversations and visits to some of their favorite spots. It is a country with a lot of good news and I am thrilled to give our members insider access to all it has to offer.
From India to Australia, can you share some of your most unforgettable experiences?
My mother is Australian and one of my earliest travel memories was of flying in a seaplane over Sydney Harbour and being introduced to her childhood world and friends. It is still one of my favorite cities for its mix of beauty and daily embrace of good fun.
I went on my first safari at 12, when we spent a month in Kenya. I can remember it vividly; from elephants coming into camp, to walking safaris with Masai Askari who carried only spears. A few years ago my husband and I brought our children to India where we attended a friends’ Indian wedding. We then traveled around Rajasthan and met some fascinating people, from runaway street children who were studying in Delhi, to textile collectors, weavers, mystics, and astrologers.
These experiences were all moments that were informed as much by the people who I met or traveled with, as they were by the destinations we explored. I have said before that I think travel broadens the mind and enriches the soul. I believe in the power of travel because it defines you. Not by where you have been, but by how it has made you and how it helps you see and understand your impact on the world, one encounter at a time.
Every day that I travel, I learn about the complexity of the world through its varied and beautiful sights, both the works of man and the works of God, and through meeting people whose different beliefs and customs inform my understanding of humanity and all the glorious forms that it takes. To be able to share this with others, and help them make meaningful journeys, is something that I feel extremely fortunate in being able to do.
portrait photography by Julie Skarratt