We had the good fortune of connecting with Debika Sen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Debika, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The idea of starting my own business was to create experiential travel experiences for an intimate group of people. I felt there was a dire need to help create a story where people are able to connect with a destination on a spiritual level.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Debika Sen believes creativity is key when it comes to developing unique international tour experiences. Driven by a need to curate immersive trips for a range of participants, Debika draws on her more-than-a-decade of experience to deliver just that. Currently, Debika is the Founder and President of A Classic Tours Collection, an immersive tour operator that takes tour participants across continents on unique tour experiences. After entering the travel industry as a receptionist, Debika discovered a fascination for designing trips. As she began to understand the mechanisms of what makes a trip great, Debika embarked on designing trips that today focus on – and fulfill – a spiritual and emotional need for travelers. It was her passion for unique tours that culminated in the launch of A Classic Tours in 2008, based in Redondo Beach, CA. Over the past decade, Debika has grown her tour offerings, team and business, and has offered over 30 experiences across 20 countries. Notably, Debika created the Women’s Empowerment Tour after being selected for – and participating in – The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. During this time, Debika developed the unique Women’s Empowerment Tour of India, which led to additional tours of historical importance, from Women Empowerment tours to Tahiti, Croatia and Japan, to her one-of-a-kind journey into Imperial Russia and The Occult. I have discovered over my 30 years being in the travel trade, people are governed by media which destination to visit and what hotels to stay at. Travel is not a one size fits all. One must understand the destination, would it be the right place for them to vacation? It is imperative people should do some research before signing up for a trip that could possibly turn out to be a bad investment. From my own personal experience, I find, after visiting a country, I need time to absorb what I have experienced. Travel changes one whether we like it or not. Designing trips is an art form coupled with passion. The artist or architect (travel agent or tour operator) creates a mesmerizing story telling trip, leaving an imprint on the traveler’s soul. I am most proud of having being a part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. It was rigorous but I learned so much about myself and my business. The importance of working on one’s business and reinventing the wheel when necessary. Change is never easy. One has to be open, flexible and positive to move forward in a world that is constantly changing. It is through prayers, affirmations and meditations, am I able to embrace a new way of conducting my travel business. The lessons i have learned along the way is the importance of being a visionary and not a follower in one’s line of work. Being humble and open to learning new ideas strengthens one’s capabilities in new experiences in their field of work. I wish the world to realize, when booking a trip with me, I will be working with them from start to finish, their travels will be immersive, understanding a culture, history, cuisine, the importance of migration – whether it is animals or humans, forging new friends along the way and really understanding what it takes behind the scenes to create a great wildlife safari or the story behind the birth of wines in South Africa. To me, there is always a story to be heard, whether it be a hotel, restaurant, a meal etc. No two trips are alike since each individual’s DNA are unique to them.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 01 Los Angeles Half a day visit to the Natural History of Museum. Go behind the scenes with a curator to see artifacts not shown to the public. Learn and understand the history and stories of each artifact and country it comes from. Lunch will be at Grand Central Market. Proceed to Heritage Square Museum, a living history museum for glimpse the settlement and development of Southern California in the first hundred years of statehood. Eight of the Victorian homes remain where one can learn about the daily lives of Southern Californians from the 19th century into the early 20th century. This evening, visit the County Museum of Art to attend a Jazz Concert performed by international and local artists. Day 02 Santa Barbara Excursion This morning, drive to Santa Barbara. Brunch will be at Scarlett Begonia. Hidden along a narrow, steep, and windy road is the Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park. Preserved within the cave are rock art created by the Chumash people. The colorful symbols etched on the sandstone surface, is believed to be linked to Chumash cosmology. Anthropologists estimate the paintings around the 1600s or even earlier. Enjoy a bike ride to Kunin for a wine tasting experience in Santa Barbara – Syrah and Grenache. Late this afternoon, bicycle to Stearns Wharf. Passing restaurants and souvenir shops, head upstairs to Deep Sea Tasting Room. Enjoy a glass of wine, with a magical sunset experience at a distant foothill, meeting the palm-lined beach. Dinner will be at The Lark. Day 03 Historical Downtown Los Angeles A great way to commence with a hectic walking tour is Cafecito Cubano con leche and a fresh baked pastry at Tierra Mia Coffee. Proceed to Grand Central Market, an indoor market established in 1917, where fresh and inexpensive groceries are sold. La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles (The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels) was established on August 18, 1814, by Franciscan Fray Luis Gil y Taboada. The first cornerstone for the new church in the adobe ruins of the original “sub-station mission” was placed here by Franciscan Fray Luis Gil y Taboada, the Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia (founded 1784), thirty years after it was established to serve the local community Los Angeles Pobladores (original settlers). In 1818, Francisco Avila built the Avila Adobe. It is the oldest home in the city of Los Angeles and was one of the first to share street frontage in the Pueblo de Los Angeles of Spanish colonial Alta California. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles), informally known as COLA or the Los Angeles Cathedral. Award winning Pritzker Prize architect was Jose Rafael Moneo. The church building is known for its modernist look and has practically no right angles. The lighting within the temple is natural due to the 33,500 square feet alabaster windows, the largest single window in the world. Within the church are a mausoleum, gift shop, café conference center, meditation room and residences for the clergy. Dinner will be at Broken Spanish. This evening, attend a philharmonic concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall. 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?
My late parents, Mihir and Bella Sen, are my role models. It is through their lives have I learned to be humble, kind, strong, brave and determined to make the impossible possible. It is my parents’ spiritual beliefs that have enabled me to face each obstacle with courage, faith and calm as I successfully pass life’s tests. My sister, Supriya Sen, who has always stood by me steadfastly, believing in me, my dreams, giving me strength when life seems to get the better of me, leading me on the path on being empowered and being true to myself. My soul sister/BFF, Michelle Moeller of Michelle’s Nails, who always has my back. She is there for me any time of the day or night to listen to my woes. My father once said “If you have one friend who is loyal to you, you are a millionaire. If you have two friends, you are a billionaire.” With Michelle, I have hit the Jackpot. Lianne La Reine, co-creator and publisher of Palos Verdes Pulse, whose love and support in my articles I write for her fabulous magazine, means so much to me. Lianne fuels my desire to want to write. Dr. Liz Musil, is co-creator and publisher of Palos Verdes Pulse, her undying support and love encourages me to want to write my articles. I wish to say, each soul mentioned above is a beautiful gift to me from God. I could not have asked for a better support system! I love and respect each of them for giving me the strength and courage to fly and achieve everything life has to offer me.

Website: www.aclassictour.com

Instagram: classictourscollection

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/debika-sen

Facebook: A Classic Tours Collection

Youtube: Travel Tales with Debika

Image Credits
Debika Sen, President, A Classic Tours Collection

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