Global Perspectives & Travel After COVID-19

Interview by
Diane Danvers Simmons
Natalie Simmons
Published on
May 6, 2020

In this episode...

This episode balances the longing to travel again with the realities and potential silver linings in the global tragedy at hand. Featuring “wellness tourism” pioneer and co-creator of Escape to Shape, Erica Gragg, Episode 11 of Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered unpacks what the pandemic will mean for the travel industry and explores the opportunities some of us may have to unleash our personal superpowers in this trying time.


Erica Gragg

Erica Gragg is the co-creator of the acclaimed travel, fitness, and lifestyle program Escape to Shape, expertly curated, experience-based vacations that combine travel and exploration around the world with nutrition, wellness, fitness, and local flavor for a uniquely balanced experience.


1:30 Diane & Natalie introduce the episode prefacing why they’ve decided to talk about travel in the midst of COVID-19 and give a brief introduction to their guest, “gypsysetter” Erica Gragg who curates trips for the “traveler not the tourist” to explore the world and its cultures as they are.

4:30 Erica Gragg, co-creator of Escape to Shape is welcomed to the podcast and she introduces herself and her company’s mission to develop experience-based vacations that combine travel and exploration around the world with nutrition, wellness, fitness, and local flavor for a uniquely balanced experience.  

5:45 The group talks about how they first met Erica of Escape to Shape when Natalie was just 18. And Natalie pokes fun at Diane for the number of Escapes she has been on with Erica. . 

6:45 Erica describes how she developed the company to encourage travelers to expand beyond their comfort zone and how she and her partner pioneered the “wellness tourism” space starting in Cape Town, South Africa and then Cartagena, Columbia.

10:15 Diane reminisces on the importance of what the Escape to Shape trips have meant for her mother-daughter relationship with Natalie.

12:30 Erica describes how her trips are designed to allow her guests to surrender the need for control and truly experience what is around them. 

13:00 Natalie describes what she believes set Escape to Shape apart as localization. Erica continues this thought as she describes the company as, “we’re not for the tourist we’re for the traveler.”

15:00 Erica recounts her the range of emotions she experienced in reaction to COVID-19 and her experience of grief including denial at the onset through acceptance of what this means for her business, clientele and the travel industry and ultimate realization of how this affects humanity as a whole and the needed to find her voice and purpose in all of it.

19:45 Erica talks about what she has been doing today including teaching yoga herself to provide a reunion for her Escapees and amplifying the teachers, trainers and small businesses who work with her through Escape to Shape. 

21:45 Natalie introduces the concept of “superpowers” and describes Erica’s superpower as “expanding people’s boundaries” and being a “community builder.” Natalie posits that “once I’ve taken care of me, what can I do to help other people” or be of service.

24:15 Erica shares her experience of living at a friend's hotel in Tulum, Mexico during this time.

25:30 Erica laughs and shares about the “commune” or communal living that has organically grown between the 12 people she is in lock down with and how each person is using their superpower to trade their service for others whether it be cooking, teaching yoga or anything else. 

27:45 Prefacing the privilege that she has in this situation, Erica outlines the silver linings in COVID-19 for her including moving away from materialism and “back to basics” as well as the collective empathy that we are all experiencing. 

29:00 Erica shares the importance for each of us to be intentional with what we are bringing out of our time in self-isolation, back into the “new normal.” 

29:30 Erica posits that a potential travel trend may be that those countries which have been advanced in their conservation efforts like Slovenia, Bhutan, Patagonia and others will be leaders in how we should be traveling with more respect to nature and mindfulness for the places we go. 

31:00 Natalie transitions to the second installment of listener experiences around the world during COVID-19 featuring an in-depth look at what life has been like in Cape Town, South Africa for friend, Amy Grant.

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Visit the Escape to Shape website (www.escapetoshape.com)

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Visit the Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered website (www.mothersanddaughtersunfiltered.com)

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