How are you doing during this time of social distancing? I know things have been rough, but I am reading a book about WWI and people living in caves, so I’m trying to keep everything in perspective. What’s hard for me is not doing what I love to do which is to plan travel.
When I was growing up, I had no idea that travel was going to shape my life. My dad worked for the State Department (no, not CIA like many people thought!). He was an accountant who traveled the world and worked with embassies doing their books. He loved it although it had him away from us 2-3 months at a time.
When I was 10 years old, he was going to be in Paris for several months and took my mom, sister and me with him. That was my first trip abroad and it was a revelation. I was a chubby little kid who loved food, so when I got to Paris it was heaven. In my mind I like to visit Paris 1972 and remember how much I loved it. I remember my first taste of a pain au chocolat and I remember the grit and dirt of the city (because…1972), but I mostly remember the kids at the French school (see below), the beauty of the language and the famous sites.
After we returned home, I didn’t go outside the country for more than 15 years. After that, there were a few trips to Club Med in the Caribbean but being a bit on the frugal side, I ventured nowhere else. Then I got a job with an international company in my early thirties and got to travel to Europe. Again, a revelation. I like to remember London 1996 and how much I loved the mix of work and travel. It was an exciting time that made me hungry for more.
I met my husband through that job – I went to a party at the home of a colleague – and there he was! It was crazy: I went from a “me” to a “we” very quickly. About 3 months into the relationship my future husband asked if I wanted to go to Paris and Munich on a trip with friends. Of course I said yes. And there I was in Paris so many years after I had first visited. That trip kicked off our romance and our love of travel.
A few years later we got married and embarked on our first “Best Trip Ever” - our honeymoon on a Windstar Cruise to the French and Italian Rivieras. After that, we traveled whenever we could, although we did take a break when our daughter was born. Then, we started taking her with us and found she was just as excited to travel as we were.
A few times I considered becoming a travel advisor but was not sure I wanted to start from scratch when I already had a pretty good career in corporate marketing. Then, in 2010, my elderly parents’ lives fell apart. I quit my job to help them – losing my Dad in Feb 2011 and Mom a few months later. After that I thought long and hard about what I really wanted to do and decided to follow my dream and become a travel advisor.
When I became a travel advisor 7 years ago, I had some people scratch their heads. They said that travel agents were a dying breed. Some still ask, “Can’t I just book online?” I’m glad I didn’t take their comments to heart because this job isn’t just about love of travel. It is love of helping people – whether that means booking a massage for a harried mom, getting honeymooners an upgrade or helping a stranded traveler get home during a pandemic.
The past few weeks have been the most difficult of this 7-year journey, but it has validated my choice over and over. While I would prefer to be planning trips that fill my clients with wonder, I am happy that my true value is being there for them when they need me most - and that is the most important part of this job that I love so much.
I look to the future, hopefully soon, where the most difficult decision to help clients make is where they should go next. Until then, I’m doing what I do best, helping my wonderful clients get through this incredibly difficult time.
Stay safe and healthy at home until you can travel again.