Meet the Expert: Q&A with Melissa Biggs Bradley

A few weeks ago I received in the post a package from Indagare. The package contained a set of precious maps put together by the Indagare team. Why are the maps so precious? Because they are packed with tips about restaurants to try, museums to visit, shops and all sorts of useful information. They come in a sleek black case, making them the perfect travel accessory. Intrigued by the idea, I decided to interview Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder of Indagare and brain behind the maps.

Context Travel: Melissa, you come from the publishing world where you were one of the Founding editors of Town &Country Travel Magazine. What made you move from this role to that of Founder of Indagare travel?
Melissa Biggs Bradley: I was the travel editor at Town & Country for twelve years and founded their Travel magazine but as I used the internet to do research and to communicate, I became intrigued with the idea of creating a network of sophisticated travelers who could trade tips and pool their experience expertise. I founded Indagare to create that community and the company has grown with the community to do more than just deliver content. Our team now designs and plans individual and group trips; produces live and online markets for products that we have found from around the world (our souks) and publishes travel maps/guides.

CT: Indagare means to investigate-you and your team are always on the lookout for unique destinations and exclusive experiences. What are the skills one requires to do this kind of “investigation”?
MBB: Members of our team are avid travelers and always have been. They are natural explorers who love tracking down special restaurants, hotels, shops and experiences whether they involve food, art, music or fashion. I guess the most important skills to have are passion and discrimination. We scout things out so those who follow our advice can make the most of the precious travel time that they have.

CT: What is you favorite destination?
MBB: I love exploring new places but have lived in Paris and will always feel a special love for Paris. I also adore places that are going through growth spurts like Istanbul, Barcelona and Berlin.

CT: What do you always pack when traveling?
MBB: A camera, my BlackBerry (which I now take notes in) and comfortable walking shoes so I can see as much as possible on foot.

CT: I love browsing through the Souk page of the Indagare page, how did you come up with this idea? And how do you pick the pieces you are going to sell?
MBB: We love finding unusual artisans when we travel, especially those who are supporting indigenous crafts and communities. Many of them only sell from their workshops so we thought it would be fun to bring their beautiful, hand-made products to our community. Since we launched, many artisans and members have introduced us to other artisans that we now feature. Again, it goes back to the excitement of discovery, which is what the word indagare means, to discover or seek out.

CT: The idea of the Indagare maps is brilliant. What made you decide for a tangible gadget like this, in a time when everyone is going digital?

MBB: We launched the maps for the same reason that we launched the web site, it was something that we, as travelers, wished existed. For my own urban exploration, I have been making versions of these maps for years, by pin-pointing top picks for restaurants, shops, cafes, sights, etc on a map and thereby creating city itineraries that come together logically and naturally. We realized that if our team found them useful, other people probably would to. So far, the feedback has been tremendous, with people especially appreciating how the Mapped Out guides seamlessly merge exploration tips and city maps. You can buy them here.

CT: What’s your next destination?
MBB: I am headed to Barcelona this week and cannot wait to re-explore it.

Thank you Melissa!


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