Mary Cecchini empowers women to see the world with Living Big Travel
written by Mackenzie Wilson
It’s a story out of a Hollywood blockbuster, but it rarely plays out in real life—person wants to leave a job for something more, person follows through, person’s life is changed. Mary Cecchini followed through. In 2013, at 27 years old, she le a job in corporate marketing and hopped on a plane from Portland to Turkey for a ve-month adventure. When she got back to the states, she turned her love for traveling into a full-time business. Now 32, Cecchini and her three employees guide women on trips around the world through her business, Living Big Travel.
The guided vacations are for women who want to travel solo, but not necessarily alone. “ The reality is a lot of women say they want to travel,” Cecchini said. “But it does require sacrifice. No matter your age, no matter how complex your family unit is, it requires sacrifice.” Once a woman has committed to making her life at home function so she can take a trip, Cecchini and her team tackle the logistics. e vacations take groups of eight to twelve women on seven-to nine-day trips to destinations like Italy, Iceland and Thailand. Activities during the trip are expertly structured, but Cecchini likes to leave room for the unexpected. “My hope, and what I hear from clients, is that they feel like they’re just kind of effortlessly on this ride because of the way I’ve organized the day,” Cecchini said. “Things flow seamlessly.”
On a recent trip to Vietnam, Cecchini’s boyfriend proposed. Her engagement made her think about how her business will evolve as her life does. She currently creates custom travel itineraries for couples and families, but for now, the guided trips through Living Big Travel are reserved for women only. Cecchini’s clients vary in age between 30 and 65 years old. “Everybody comes on this trip with a lens that they view the world through, but because this is a shared experience, everyone gets to see the world through another woman’s lens and that’s where I think there’s a lot of growth, a lot of stretch,” she said. Like many of the women who sign up for her trips,
Everybody comes on this trip with a lens that they view the world through, but because this is a shared experience, everyone gets to see the world through another woman’s lens and that’s where I think there’s a lot of growth, a lot of stretch.
Cecchini didn’t travel much internationally until she was an adult. Growing up, travel wasn’t a huge part of her family’s culture—her passion for visiting new places came later in life. “At the heart of it though, it isn’t so much the travel,” Cecchini said. “I have this insatiable curiosity, and I see it come to life when I’m traveling.”
In the past two years, Cecchini has broadened Living Big Travel to offer trips domestically. In the fall, Cecchini is hosting two trips to Portland, where she grew up and is now based. She also guides camping trips to national parks, recently taking women to Crater Lake National Park. Her father is part of the park trips, playing the key role of “camp director.” “He’s in charge of all the meals, organization of the camp, supplies and gear,” Cecchini said. “Being able to share the experience with him brings back so many wonderful memories, and we create a lot of new ones.”
In the next year, Cecchini is expanding her lineup of international and domestic destinations while cultivating a new program she’s testing in Oregon called “Adventure Club.” “It’s a group women can tap into in their own backyard for single-day adventures,” she said. Cecchini took a group of women snowshoeing on Mount Hood for a day, and in May, her clients are going to a private cooking class at a Chinese restaurant in Portland. “I’ve observed the last few years that women are instantly connected, and I think women are drawn to kinship but, because so many of my clients live in different states, they don’t get to hang out with each other,” Cecchini said. Adventure Club is a way for her to capture the same spirit of a big trip without requiring clients to book a plane ticket.
As for Cecchini, her frequent-flyer days are far from over. Her passport has stamps from twenty-five countries, but there’s still a whole world to experience. “Not a day goes by that I’m not damn grateful and pinch myself and go, ‘holy heck, how did this happen?’” Cecchini said. “I think I’ll slow down in about forty years, but it will be a fun forty years.”
Learn more at: livingbigtravel.com