Luis Cabrera is one man who has mastered the art of bleisure. The President & CEO of travel guide giant Lonely Planet talks to Claire Turrell about his life of travel
What was your favourite childhood holiday?

It was always going to Acapulco. We did that road trip many, many times. At some point on the journey my mum used to say: ‘Lick your lips, if they taste salty we are close to the sea’. It was a time when seat belts were not an issue so my sister and I would be bouncing all over the place in this big car.

What was your biggest holiday disaster?

When I relocated from Los Angeles to Nashville. The removal trucks had gone, the house was closed… everything was perfect. I had called the airline ahead of time because I was bringing my dog. Our dog has travelled with us everywhere apart from Australia, because it is impossible to take him there. So he’s really good at travelling. It was 10pm when we got to the airport and the minute we turned up at the airport, the lady at the airport told us that the dog couldn’t travel with us because that specific crate wouldn't fit on the plane. So it was 10pm at night and I had to find another crate. I couldn’t do it. I had to book my dog an Uber and send him back to my neighbour. It took me an entire week to sort it out. I had to go back to LA twice to get him to Nashville.

Tell us about country you’re not in a rush to go back to?

When I was younger I did my backpacking trip to Europe and I had so much expectation around Greece and going to the birth of civilisation. And I got there and it wasn’t fantastic. The taxi driver robbed us and left us in the middle of nowhere. Then we got to the Parthenon and everything was behind scaffolding. And then it took us three days to get to where we needed to go in a boat like… [mimes being thrown about in a boat]. I’m not in a hurry to go back (laughs).

Temple of Poseidon Greece

Which souvenir do you always come home with?

For my kids I always bring home a stuffed toy of animal from that region. So if I go to Lima I will bring them home a toy llama, if I go to New Zealand I will bring them home a kiwi cuddly toy. Most of the time the souvenirs I buy are for my kids.

What’s the most glamorous hotel that you’ve stayed in?

Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun. It’s just the perfect place. Because of that hotel I bought an apartment in Tulum. Just to be close to that hotel.

Which city do you fly to the most?

Mexico City. I grew up there - that’s where my family is and I still do business there. There is always an excuse to go there. I could go there right now and I have something to do.

Mexico City

Which country has had the most impact on your life?

New Zealand. Such friendly people. Mostly because they are alone (laughs). I like how they keep life in perspective. While there can be so much excess in the States, the people in New Zealand keep it simple. One day when I was working there I remember one of the guys saying "I'm going for lunch". He then went to the beach and speared a fish, which he cooked for lunch. I was like: "Oh my God". I was eating a salad at my desk while he was having this adventure.

What’s your best tip for travelling?

Stay hydrated – and talk. Don’t worry about your accent – just talk to people.

What’s the first thing that you do in a new city?

Turn on the TV. You get a sense of place. Each TV screen has different colours, textures, tones. You can get a lot of information just from just flipping through the regular channels and – you go to Japan it’s crazy, you go to Italy, it’s sophisticated. You get a sense. That’s the first thing that I do. I kick off my shoes then start flipping through the channels. It gives me a sense of the people and you get your ear a little bit tuned into the accent and how they speak.

What are your travel plans for the rest of 2019?

I need to be home. I want to be home. We just moved from LA to Nashville three months ago and we have been remodelling our house and it has been taking forever. So the house will be ready by the end of this month. Once they give me the keys, I want to lock myself in and don’t go anywhere.

USA_California_Santa Monica Beach
What would you say is the hottest destination for 2020?

Ooh, I can’t disclose the Lonely Planet Best Destinations List for 2020, as it comes out on Monday. But I can say that the theme of our 2020 list is around sustainability. People are getting more aware of sustainable travel and getting conscious about places and how to leave less of an impact. I believe that we are going to see an increasing attention to sustainability, ecology and climate.

What is the next frontier for travel?

A few years ago, travel was all about destinations. Today it’s tilting more towards experiences and finding authentic experiences. I think the next frontier will be solo discovery. People are taking trips to self-discover, rebalance, recalibrate. That’s my personal opinion – that will be the trend.

Suggested Itineraries
Taiwan_Taipei_Evening View

From £9,660 pp

Classic Taiwan


  • Hiking in Taroko National Park
  • Taking a dip in Taiwan’s famed hot springs
  • Experiencing a handful of Taiwan’s iconic night markets – you will not go hungry on this trip!
  • Spending a few days in the capital Taipei getting a sense of the island’s unique history

When to go:

ideal length 11 nights

From £3,590 pp

Journey Through History in Berlin


  • Learn about the stories of Berlin during different periods
  • Admire one of the most beautiful palaces is the world – Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam
  • Walk the footsteps of Hitler and examine the rise of the Third Reich
  • Visit the Memorial & Museum Sachsenhausen – a former concentration camp
  • Travel back to the Cold War era and experience living behind the Iron Curtain

When to go:

ideal length 5 nights

From £6,810 pp

Ireland Highlight Tour


  • Visit the highlights and pubs in Dublin
  • Admire Powerscourt – one of the finest gardens in Europe
  • Learn about the crystal producing in Waterford
  • Driving through Ireland’s best scenery – Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Cliff of Moher

When to go:

ideal length 10 nights
Destinations Featured in the Article
Merlion by marina bay in singapore, Marina Bay Sands background, Art Science museum


One of the fastest growing cities in the Asia Pacific, Singapore offers dazzling diversity, laidback beaches, shopping, green spaces and incredible cuisine.

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