We had the good fortune of connecting with Debbie Pham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Debbie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
At the age of 8, my journey in travel began as a curiosity and later passion to explore the world. The experience has shown me how travel could take me beyond my limited horizon. The realization of how travel could heal a soul came during my lowest point in the third year of my pharmacy school career when everything in my life seemed to be perfect. Seemed. My soon-to-be fiancé took a different life direction and forgot to tell me about it. Scholarship money was spent for escapes to the Caribbean Sea. I left broken and returned with a renewed spirit. Stronger each time.
After earning my doctorate in Pharmacy (PharmD), I realize I could go one step further in helping people to achieve a lifestyle of health by investing in travel. As a pharmacist, my role is to be at the forefront of my patients’ health from performing medication therapy management to educating patients on the medical conditions and drug usage. I role-play a counselor and an advocate for the longevity of my patients’ physical and mental health. I could apply the same concepts in travel. I believe travel experience liberates one’s soul as one explores and connects to the world at the same time discovering a part of oneself one did not know existed. The impact of travel on physical and mental health is unparalleled and long-lasting.
I always have favored preventative health. In curating travel experiences that deliver impactful results, I could help people to see how travel could serve as a worthwhile life investment just like a retirement plan or diabetic therapy management. Essential enough to integrate travel into their life and make it a lifestyle. Also, you come to have a very different perspective on life from traveling. Ultimately, travel transcends your life experiences transforming you into a version better than your previous self and delivers a proactive lifestyle in health.
And Live Travel was born.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Live Travel is a concierge travel agency customizing journeys to your unique values and needs at the same time managing your most valuable asset, your leisure time, with the highest care. We are most proud that we do not compromise quality when curating a client’s journey. We believe quality is pivotal for authentic and bespoke travel experiences. One distinctive element of Live Travel is the destinations that I design for my clients are often the places I already have visited in 2-3 weeks’ time. Believing in the true living of an experience, I travel to many of the most booked destinations along with other lesser-seen places for first-hand experience always seeking something that is exotic or unknown. Having traveled to 32 countries and counting, there isn’t one itinerary I couldn’t design.
I started the business while working as a pharmacist full-time. I was running high on inspiration and determination and low on sleep. At one point, energy bars were my main form of food! Having prior operational experience only in pharmacy, I decided to complete a specialized course to become a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC). It is similar to an MBA but for travel. In wanting to further my expertise to provide the best service to my clients and stay as the key point of contact to the public especially during the pandemic, I became a Certified Luxury Travel Specialist (CLTS) last year. Certification is one of the key factors to look for when researching for a travel advisor. We are held to the highest standards of the profession while providing expert advice to the consumers.
I create Live Travel to help people explore and connect to the world through curated experiences but most importantly to discover themselves and the health benefits of travel. I think the pandemic has shown how travel is an integral part of life that is just as important as food or fitness. Travel is one of the vehicles to your health, wealth, and happiness. Live Travel is here to help you achieve that goal!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first night in would be the first easy night out. Old town Pasadena is best for walking around and sample tasting from your favorite vendors. The Cellar is easily the first stop as it recreates an atmosphere of romance in a bygone era with vintage photos dressing the white fence and floral vines and white lights decorating the outdoor area. Heat lamps and a fire pit with music dancing to a jazzing tune almost make you feel you’re in a charming colonial city somewhere in the world. The extensive list of fine wine plus delectable samplers might linger you here longer than anticipated. A few doors down, sit in at Sushi Enya and sample the must-have black cod, halibut, and yellowtail. Throw in the snapper as well. Head to Cafe Santorini for an ambiance of Greece. Enjoy the grilled octopus for an appetizer and whatever else fancy you. Finish the night at Mi Piace with desserts and drinks in the lounge to the beats of the night. The first restaurant in Pasadena to maintain high society and keep its tune many decades after. Cars from Lamborghini and Rolls Royce to Bentley and Ferrari parked out front, often on the weekends, give a feel of a mini exotic cars showcase. The Langham is soothing and beautiful with its ground and landscape. Perfect for brunch and spa time. Be sure to visit the heated outdoor jacuzzi where you could drift away under the shade of the tree big enough to make the area seclusive before jumping into the outdoor pool after an order of drinks and snacks. Walk the ground and visit the gardens. Often with live music and a vibrant crowd in a sophisticated setting, enjoy an afternoon tea and later a cocktail or two in the lounge. Huntington Library for the next morning. It is an easy half a day here. Visit the Japanese garden and stop by the Chinese garden for lunch. Drive to Malibu for that fun winding road through the hills and tunnels catching golden rays of the sun about to set. Pacific Cove is best for sunset but also because it is the only restaurant in Malibu with a beachfront where you can enjoy alcoholic drinks. Keep in mind, portions are large. Alternatively, come to Moonlight for the amazing drinks and end the night with gastronomical sushi at Nobu.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The recognition is to the following people who have shaped me into who I am today and how much I have accomplished in life. My dad for the many adventures in the early years of my life where I felt safe to explore the unknown and kept a carefree spirit to carry on. My sister, Angela, for always loving me the best way she knows how. Christy Conner for being the friend who still sees the light in my darkest days constantly reminding me of how far I have come and how much further I will go, listening with love and kindness, and believing in me and my journey with Live Travel. Most importantly, my mother. She is the reason I am here today. Her perseverance to rise despite insurmountable challenges to bring my sister and me to the United States, to instill in me the spirit to fight for what I believe in, and the unwavering faith in me to achieve great things. She is my biggest fan and support in my journey with Live Travel. And myself, for fighting and believing in my why for Live Travel and not giving up.
All images are mine.