When people ask why I started a travel business, I really have to think about the answer. It’s complicated. When my “baby” boy graduated from college, it was time to start thinking about this next chapter of my life. I had already experienced the “empty nest” because my kids went to schools far from home. But as some of you know, the rhythm of college is so similar to that of the public school years, that it goes by without you realizing that you really aren’t a full-time mom anymore. I talked to friends and family about what I should or could do next. I knew I didn’t want to go back to my career in the garment industry. I had to think about where my passions lay – not just what I was good at (details, organizing, management) but what I really wanted to do. What was my dream job? A friend reached out to me in the spring of 2017 – just as the boy was graduating. Her husband had received an all-expenses-paid trip from his employer. Knowing of my vast travel experience, she wanted to know what I would recommend. I got to work putting together lists, ordering catalogs and coming up with suggestions and sent if off to her. I was so eager to see what she would choose. A few days later, she called to thank me and said, “You are so good at this! You should be a travel agent!”
FLIP SWITCH – LIGHTBULB MOMENT!!!!
At first I rejected the idea. Were travel agents even a thing anymore? After researching, I discovered that not only were they still a thing, they were now travel advisors and it was a growing industry. I got to work researching training and certifications I would need. I signed up with the Travel Institute and began their 12-week course that summer. I was hooked!!
One of the things that we talked about during my training was how to find a niche; your specialty, if you will. Our family has been traveling together since 1999 when we all took a cruise through the Panama Canal. At the time, my son was three, and he was the youngest member of our family. There were seventeen of us, and with marriages, births and some losses, we are now 22 people spanning four generations; from a 6-month old to a 90-year old. We have been on eleven trips together. We have visited over 40 countries.
I thought about these experiences and finally decided that I would focus on multi-generational family travel. You know, when Grandma and Grandpa take the kids and grandkids on vacations together. It’s what I know. It’s what I do! And so, a travel business was born. Family travel has so many benefits. Shared experiences and memories can be invaluable in building family bonds. In this day and age, families live far apart and may not be able to spend much time together. But when everyone can carve out time for a vacation together, the effects are magical. Even families who do live close are rarely together for extended periods. Two weeks with family gives you amazing opportunities for conversations and bonding that might not happen otherwise. When it came time to name my business, I wanted something that represented how much I value the travel experience. I wanted to reflect on travel as a gift, a legacy. There’s an amazing quote from Anthony Bourdain that goes like this:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully you leave something good behind.”
Rather than leave behind a house full of knickknacks and antique furniture, fancy dishes and appliances I never used, I have decided to leave my children the most valuable thing I can imagine - A Well-Traveled Suitcase.