- Susan Cegavske is an expedition leader for luxury travel company, TCS World Travel.
- She guides private jet excursions that start at $69,950 per person for nine nights.
- Here’s what her job is like, as told to writer Molly O’Brien.
I’ve been working on TCS World Travel jet expeditions for 15 years now and have loved every minute of it. As a travel expedition guide, it helps to be extremely curious about the world and want to be entirely “in service” to our travelers.
Before this job, I lived for 20 years in San Francisco and worked in the insurance business selling employee benefit programs. But I knew I wanted to do something that involved travel, so I ended up quitting my insurance job, selling my house, and using the proceeds to roam around for about six years.
I did everything from working in bush lodges in Alaska and getting my yoga teaching credentials at an ashram in India, to trekking in Nepal and traveling all over Mongolia, to studying artistry in Florence and road-tripping through Australia.
In 2007 after six years of exploring, I was ready to return to the working world and decided to look into the tourism industry
I saw an ad for TCS World Travel’s “Around the World by Private Jet” expedition and thought, “Wow — focusing on vanishing languages and vanishing cultures is definitely my thing.”
So, I gave them a cold call and got hired as an assistant expedition leader. After five years, I was one of TCS’ five expedition leaders in 2012. As expedition leader, it’s my responsibility to make sure all of our clients have the best time of their lives while traveling with us.
At TCS, we take guests to out-of-the-way places around the globe on private jets
Our group jet expeditions circle the globe or explore a continent aboard a customized private aircraft customized with 48 to 52 first-class flatbed seats.
Guests visit eight to 12 destinations on a single seamless journey and save time by flying directly between stops. It’s an efficient and luxurious way to see many amazing places in a single trip. We also specialize in curating unique experiences at each destination, including special events and private access that guests couldn’t create on their own.
We offer two types of travel: group jet expeditions and private jet expeditions
The group expeditions have set itineraries led by TCS travel experts that explore diverse destinations with like-minded travelers onboard private jets. These trips are customizable in terms of what you do at the destination, but the destinations are fixed.
We also offer private travel which can be completely customized. We create personalized trips for you and your family or friends for anywhere you want to go using either private or commercial flights.
Our trips start at $69,950 per person for an eight-person, nine-day group expedition to the US National Parks and go all the way up to $130,000 per person for a 24-night, 52-person group jet expedition that goes around the world.
For the larger, big jet trips, the price depends on whether it’s a five-stop or eight-stop itinerary. These start at about $85,000 per person and go up from there. One of my favorite itineraries is called “World Less Traveled.” It’s a trip to Ghana, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil that’s made for people who think they’ve “been everywhere” already. I also love our “Around the World” journey which covers 28,000 miles across the globe.
At the end of the day, I think these multi-country journeys are the best of what we offer
It’s thrilling to go from country to country and see the world change around you.
The expedition team on these trips consists of the expedition leader, the assistant expedition leaders, a physician, and an ‘advance person’ who travels ahead of the jet to make sure all the details are perfect for our guests’ arrival.
As the trip leader, I’m in charge of overseeing everything, down to the smallest requests, and making sure we deliver on what we promise. It takes a village because our trips are planned so intricately.
Still, you can’t fly 28,000 miles and visit eight different countries and not have something go wrong sometimes, at least slightly
The most challenging situations I’ve had to deal with involve the health of our guests, from strokes to people having accidents or getting sick on the road.
Other times, something happens like the government deciding to pull our landing privileges out of that country. Even if all of our plans go out the window, we do whatever it takes to find a solution.
I used to get really stressed out when the trips would start. Knowing that I was responsible for 50 to 78 travelers, I’d worry about what would happen if something went wrong. But when I realized something will most likely go wrong, I was able to relax into my role. Plus, if everything went perfectly like it was planned, then we wouldn’t need an expedition leader.
Given the intensity and length of trips, my love of travel and pure adrenaline is what keeps me happily going
We had one experience where we were getting ready to land in Agra, India, and the captain came on and said a bird had hit and cracked the airplane’s windshield. We had to land in Jaipur instead and were worried about having to skip visiting the Taj Mahal, which is mainly what we were advertising for this trip.
But instead of accepting defeat, we ended up chartering small, private jets to fly to the Taj Mahal during the day. As the original jet was waiting on a special windshield shipped from the UK that had to go through Indian customs, we hired a different jet to pick us up in Jaipur and take us onward to Jordan to continue the trip’s itinerary.
My favorite part of my job is when we’re at the end of the trip and the guests are super grateful for the life-changing experience they’ve had. We take our guests as close to the culture of a country as possible, and they leave the expeditions saying they’ve learned so much and broadened their mindset. I love seeing people moved by their experiences. Travel truly makes the world a better place.