Virtuoso Life May 2019 Why We Travel: Judy and Scott Phares

Why We Travel: Judy and Scott Phares

Hiking near Minaret Station on New Zealand’s South Island.
Hiking near Minaret Station on New Zealand’s South Island.
Judy and Scott Phares commit to a life of never-ending adventure.

Judy Phares gets so enthusiastic when talking about travel, you sometimes need to slow her down. She and her husband, Paul Scott Phares, who split time between homes in Connecticut, Baltimore, and Manhattan, visited all seven continents in 2018, and there’s no letup in sight. We caught up with her just before a trip to Cuba – they’re also hitting Baja California, Montre虂al, Tahiti, Tonga, and Australia this year, before a Caribbean New Year’s cruise with SeaDream Yacht Club. Virtuoso travel advisor Rhona Wendler of Baltimore, Maryland, keeps the couple moving, moving, moving.

My number is 81 – a few more new countries this year, and I’ll be up to 90.

I didn’t grow up traveling.

I grew up in the Midwest and learned to speak French. I became fluent while studying abroad in Paris and Barcelona, where I learned Spanish. After college, I backpacked through Europe and then, after graduate school, through India, Thailand, and Indonesia, and that opened up the world for me.

When I first met Scott, through a mutual friend, we bonded over travel.

He was talking about taking his 13-year-old daughter to Disney World, and I had just taken my 12-year-old son. We were on the same plane: FastPasses, Space Mountain, and all that stuff.

Diving in Mozambique. 
Diving in Mozambique. 

We decided a few years ago that we would travel full-time.

Scott’s 67. I’m 57. We’ve been married seven years. He was in tech. I worked in advertising, banking, and marketing. Retiring to see the world, and learning as much as we can about people, animals, food, and geography – it’s the best decision we ever made.

My travel advisor laughs because I read Virtuoso Life and rip pages out.

I’ll text her immediately and say, “I was thinking about Russia. Or Lizard Island. Or going back to Antarctica.” She’s very good at staying calm.

Scott and I are both scuba divers and love to snorkel too.

We’re spending a few nights this spring in Bora-Bora at the Four Seasons. Then we’ll do National Geographic’s expedition cruise on the Orion from Tahiti to the Marquesas. It’s off the beaten path and photo-focused – my husband’s into nature photography – and absolutely gorgeous. Then we’ll go to The Brando for five days. In August, we’re going back to Laucala in Fiji, where we spent our honeymoon. We love everything about that place.
The Romance Museum on Trinidad, Cuba’s Plaza Mayor.
The Romance Museum on Trinidad, Cuba’s Plaza Mayor.

Our kids now are 22, 24, and 31.

One’s in Philly, one’s in Chicago, one’s in L.A. It’s hard to pin down three adults, especially with significant others in the mix. But we find that a cruise works really well for a family like ours. We love SeaDream – the suites, the personal attention – it’s paradise.

In early 2018, we spent 24 days on a National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica.

On board, we met an amazing couple, Sharon and Tom. Flash forward to September: We walked into a Wilderness Safaris camp in Botswana, and there they were! It can be a very small world.

Food tours are probably my favorite trip activity.

We’ve done them in London, Manila and Dubai. Rhona arranged one in Marrakech, and we were eating things like snails that I never thought I’d eat. Last spring, we went to the market in Hong Kong where they make snake soup. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t snake soup season!
Birding on South Georgia island.
Birding on South Georgia island.

On our first trip with Micato Safaris, my mother died after a short illness while we were away, which was a shock.

Micato helped us make a donation to AmericaShare, its charity, in my mother’s honor, and they had a condolence card in our room the next morning. When we got to Franschhoek in South Africa’s Western Cape, we stayed at La Residence, where Rhona and the hotel manager helped us coordinate a tree-planting ceremony at the local elementary school. My mom was a social worker, and I knew honoring her with a tree at a school would be really meaningful. We went back last fall, and the tree was starting to flower a little bit. It means so much to me.

Where Next?

We’re going to see polar bears in Churchill, Canada, this year. I’m obsessed with going to Papua New Guinea, both for the diving and the culture, and I also want to go to Brazil’s Pantanal to see jaguars. Oh, and I’ve never been to China, but my nephew is starting to work there in June, so we’ll definitely go.

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