"Falling in love with a city is just as exciting as falling in love with a person," says the founder of Love Travel Guides, Fiona Caulfield. In 2007, she fulfilled her dream of creating a new life in India and writing a series of travel books filled with authentic travel experiences and recommendations. Each Love Travel Guide is completely hand made in India, celebrating the countries heritage and rich legacy of craft. We recently caught up with Fiona and asked her to share the story behind these haute handbooks.
Can you tell us how Love Travel Guides began in India in 2007?
The idea for guides for luxury vagabonds began in 2004, between Everest and Dhaka ? when I was in Calcutta for a short period of time. I returned to New York after that trip, hung up the Manolo?s and the Consulting world, and moved to India. The full story is on my website.
What is the process like for curating all of the authentic experiences listed in Love Travel Guides?
A slow process ? each book takes at least a year of on the ground research. I love it and that?s why I keep doing it.
Your collection keeps growing. What creative endeavors are on the horizon?
The next new title will be fabulous ? Love to Shop India. It will be my first pan-Indian title and will detail the most fabulous artisans, ateliers, bazaars and craftsman across the length and breadth of India. We are hoping that the book will have indigo hand woven covers.
What place in India most inspires you?
Ganga Ma - the holy Ganges river.
What do you never leave home without (besides your passport, of course)?
Can you share any travel & fashion wisdom or packing tips with our readers?
Pack only things that you love wearing. Pack lightly ? advice I don?t always follow!
Tell us about a favorite item you have purchased or were given while you were away.
I have a black cashmere top that is made out of a fine shawl from Kashmir. It fits in a small hand bag, and is luxuriously warm and comforting.
What is your favorite city in India? Please name your top spots for eating, sleeping, and of course, shopping!
That is like asking me to choose a favorite child. I simply don?t have one. All of my favourite places are in the books ? that?s why I write them. They are like a personal address book for me!
What are your upcoming travel and/or vacation plans? Where do you most want to travel to next?
I leave for Australia in a few days time, and am heading to my favorite place in the world ? my 1920?s fishing cottage on the water a few hours north of Sydney. I plan to read, write, and walk.
I return to India early October and will back in Rajasthan finishing the research on the next edition of that book and then back to Calcutta to work on the Love to Shop book ? discovering more great Bengali artisans.
The place I most want to visit is Ethiopia for a hike in the Semien mountains. I am also quite keen on a short trip to MOFO in Tasmania. I also have a yearning for a few months on a remote Greek Island and I would love to go to Naoshima in Japan. This list is getting pretty long ? I should stop!
Souk or Department Store?
DIY or Concierge Service?
Both ? I believe in the abundance of the AND
Buy Everything or Buy Nothing?
Something ? buy something with a story
Camping or 5-Star Hotel?
Either but nothing in between ? I loathe the muddled middle
Drive or be Driven?
In India, be driven ? ideally in an Ambassador
Room service or Street Food?
Unless at the Ritz in Paris ? I avoid room service
Lots of Luggage or Carry-on Bag?
Ideally just carry on ? I achieve this about one in every four trips ? am working on it!