Travel is Tara Cappel’s passion, dating back to her teenage years growing up in the Wood River Valley.
Now 30 and an enterprising businesswoman, Cappel has turned her passion into a Los Angeles-based business called For the Love of Travel (FTLO) that caters to young professionals from ages 25 to 39.
Cappel said, “My goal was to create an option that eliminated any excuse someone could have for not venturing abroad and expanding their horizons. And so FTLO was born!”
She started expanding her own horizons back in the days when Cappel’s main goal was stashing the ball in the back of the net for the Wood River High School girls’ soccer team.
Entering her sophomore year at Wood River, Cappel was one of 20 local girls who traveled to Holland for 11 days with the inaugural Sawtooth United U-17 Premier soccer team coached by Wolverine soccer coach Greg Gvozdas.
Sawtooth United Premier won the U-17 Fair Play award in the 2004 Holland Cup competition at Almere that summer, and the girls returned to the Wood River Valley with a head of steam heading into the fall season.
Gvozdas’ first Wood River girls’ team in the fall of 2004 that included Cappel went 17-1-1 in the school’s first season at the more competitive 4A level, and earned the State 4A tournament consolation title.
Cappel has fond memories from that sequence of the Holland trip followed by a very successful fall soccer season.
She said, “I did the first Premier trip to Holland and it was such a blast. At that point, I had already been to Europe several times so my love for travel had already been established but it definitely deepened it even further.
“Meeting teams from all over the world was an amazing experience. The camaraderie developed on that trip was an early example of how group travel can bring people together and create a strong sense of community.”
Cappel’s younger sister Makayla Cappel, 28, took part in the Sawtooth United Premier team’s 11-day trip to Italy in 2008 for the Italy Cup tourney. It was the third Sawtooth United Premier trip to Europe in five years led by Gvozdas.
And now, University of Denver graduate Makayla Cappel is employed by For the Love of Travel as the company’s partnership and group curator.
Tara Cappel, FTLO founder and trip curator, said, “We have a team of eight people, which as of last year includes Makayla. 2019 is only our third year running trips. We’ll take over 600 travelers around the world by the end of 2019.
“We run curated five- to 10-day trips that young professionals join to see the world while making new friends. We have trips to over 12 countries, including Italy, Greece, South Africa, Morocco, Colombia and Vietnam.”
FTLO’s web site claims the company is “not your grandfather’s group travel.” The average age of its users is 28, and 80% are solo travelers. Groups range in size from six to 14.
She said, “Our mission is to facilitate cross-cultural understanding through meaningful experiences and connections with local people and fellow travelers.”
Cappel graduated from Wood River High School in 2007. She studied abroad in Italy during her junior year at Wood River and founded the Model UN Club at Wood River during her senior year there.
She attended Tufts University in Medford, Mass. near Boston to study international relations.
After two years she withdrew from college and moved to Europe to practice languages. She ended up working in tourism—selling and eventually managing walking tours of the Colosseum in Rome.
Her favorite travel destination remains Rome, Italy.
Cappel returned to the U.S. and transferred to the University of Denver, where she graduated with a degree in Economics, Magna Cum Laude.
She said, “I love fashion so after graduating, I moved to Dallas to work for Neiman Marcus corporate in their buying offices. I loved Dallas but after two years, I was offered the opportunity to join the founding team for a super-cool eco-fashion start up as their Head of Operations.
“So I moved, again, to Washington D.C. to help build that. It was an amazing education in starting a company. I realized I had the skillset to do it on my own.
“My passion has always been in the realm of cross-cultural connection and travel is a great way to facilitate that. From my time in Dallas, I realized how many young people wanted to travel abroad but hadn’t yet for one reason or another.”