Go farther, do good, and transform.

Who is Mockingbird Travel, anyway?


Let me sum up: Mockingbird Travel, LLC is a socially conscious, woman-owned, for-profit business based in Washington, DC. We offer guided tours for the discerning and engaged traveler. A portion of our proceeds goes to worthy global health projects around the world. 

We hope that after spending some time on this website, you've gotten a good sense of our values, our mission, and our passion - and what makes us different from other tour companies. In case your curiosity about us still isn't satiated, you can read on for the story of our beginnings, why we're named after a bird that once dive-bombed our founder, and a few final thoughts on our travel philosophy. We love what we do here, and we thank you for entrusting your precious vacation days to our care.   



My grandmother, Mildred Perlman (“Grandma Millie” to us), loved to travel. Beginning in the 1950s, at a time when few people ventured outside the United States, she circled the globe. As she neared the end of her life in the early ‘90s, she decided she wanted to take one last “big trip” with her extended family, and she wanted to go somewhere she had never been. And so, my first transatlantic flight would take me, at the age of 14, to Turkey, Greece, and Crimea. Two decades later, the sound of the muezzin call to prayer echoing over the harbor on our first morning in Istanbul is as fresh in my mind as if it happened last week. So is the dusty heat of the ruins at Olympus, Greece, and the disapproving stare of the Orthodox priest watching the tourists in his Odessa church from behind an ornately carved screen.   


Whether or not she realized it, Grandma Millie passed the family travel torch to me on that trip. I was entranced and besotted by the world. And although I certainly didn’t know it then, the trajectory of my life had been irrevocably bent. 


Flash forward to 2010. I was, by most measures, living the good life: a cushy corporate law job, a nice condo, a healthy 401k. I was also bored silly, jaded by the business world, and feeling all-around unfulfilled and fidgety. I decided it was time for a drastic change. So I quit my job, sold my car, packed up my belongings, and moved to Washington, DC. My immediate objective was to get a Masters of Law in global health law and international institutions (I know, I know, it’s a mouthful) from Georgetown Law, but my ultimate goal was to create a career and a life for myself with meaning and passion and adventure. I planned to apply that degree toward policy work in the field of global health.  But after a few years, I realized that while I was passionate about global health, I still wasn’t excited about the career path in front of me. I asked myself: What do I want to do more than anything else?  And the answer: Travel.


It was time for another drastic decision, this time to take my global health training in an entirely different direction. From there, Mockingbird Travel was born. It is the culmination of five itinerate years of career soul searching, but more than that, it’s the natural outcome of a process that began when I was 14, zooming down the hillside of a Greek island in the back of an open jeep. My 401k has long since been emptied, but I’ve never been more excited about my place in the world. Travel is what I love, it’s what I’m good at, and now, finally, it’s what I do. I haven’t seen all of the world yet; not by far. But I plan to. I hope to take many of you with me as I do. So thanks, in advance, for joining me on this journey.  


​I think Grandma Millie would be pleased. 

A word – 514 words, to be exact – from Vanessa Perlman, our Founder & CEO (also known as our Traveler-in-Chief).


Or, What's with the Name?

It’s tricky to find the perfect name for a budding business. Somewhere in the process, “mockingbird” suddenly popped up. How fortuitous that it did. 

Mockingbirds are curious and fearless. They listen to the songs of the birds around them and echo the notes back to the world, making them their own. Good travelers have much in common with the mockingbird: they push themselves beyond their fears, they explore and observe, and they incorporate pieces of other cultures and places into their own unique expression of life.  

We also learned that mockingbirds represent self-discovery, learning through experience, and finding one’s true purpose. Few things in life provide a more powerful avenue to accomplishing these goals than the act of travel. 

And as we were considering whether Mockingbird should be, well, Mockingbird, we noticed this little quote at the bottom of a painting that has hung on our office walls for (literally) a decade. Clearly, it was meant to be.

“Mockingbirds . . . don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

- Harper Lee 


(We recommend it.)

We expect a lot of ourselves here at Mockingbird. So it seems only fair that we expect a few things from our travelers, too. To travel well with Mockingbird, we ask our travelers to follow two simple principles: 

1. Be a health-responsible traveler. The health systems of many of our destinations are already strained, and we don’t want our visit to tax them further. We want to keep our travelers healthy, and we don’t want to spread illness to other populations. For these reasons, we require our travelers to receive all recommended vaccines and to purchase travel insurance. We also strongly encourage our travelers not to travel when they’re sick (for everyone’s sake) and to be mindful of their actions while traveling to keep themselves healthy for the duration of the trip. Travel insurance can protect you if you need to cancel a trip for illness or if you require medical attention or evacuation while abroad. 

2. Go farther. 
As much as we love Paris (and we really love Paris), Mockingbird focuses primarily on less-traveled parts of the world for a reason: We want our travelers to stretch themselves and go outside of their comfort zones. Our tours are therefore designed to make those off-the-beaten-path destinations more accessible and intriguing. We simply ask that you open yourself to a new kind of travel experience. And while you’re at it, there’s no reason to limit that open-mindedness to your vacation plans. Take the energy you gain from a Mockingbird experience and feed it back into other areas of your life. Follow the example of the fearless mockingbird: go farther, do good, and transform.