International Tour Management Institute (ITMI)

The Premier Training Institute for Tour & Travel Professionals Since 1976

Making the World a Better Place Through Travel


Ulla Salafrio

Hometown: Davie, Florida

ITMI graduation year: 2008

Travel bucket list: My list is full, now I'm looking forward to revisiting loved places!

Tour essentials: Music, camera & a bathing suit

If you truly love travel, all life and work experiences will meld into this new career, to enhance other’s travel experiences...and your own.
Working with Tauck
Sweden
Nordic Adventures
tour guiding with group leader
retirement travel jobs
 

What or who inspired you to become a tour director?

I retired from the travel industry after four decades to take care of my mother. After she died I knew I was not ready to just sit at home. The travel Industry had been my life but could I still find a way to work part-time doing what I loved to do and still spend time with my husband and grandchildren. A former colleague and friend told me about the International Tour Management Institute (ITMI) and that it could help me in discovering new possibilities by becoming a tour director. 

How do you balance your personal life with your travel career?

It is a lifestyle that allows me the ability to plan my travel assignments to places like Cuba, the Caribbean, Bahamas and more...around my family's needs and special occasions I don’t want to miss.

What qualities do you feel make for a good tour director?

It is not just a cliché to say a good tour director is someone who needs to like people. It is just as important to have a willingness and desire to interact with people, listen to their stories and want to fulfill their dreams while on tour. Most importantly, you have to love it.

What advice would you give to a first-time traveler?

The experience will be enhanced for anyone that remembers to remain open to learning, flexible when the unexpected happens and truly just enjoy the journey.

What destinations are on your travel bucket list?

It has been more than 7 years since I graduated from ITMI and now I work for Tauck, one of the most respected companies in the Industry. Do I have any places on my bucket list? Of course, however, I just went to Antigua and Guatemala and found this experience so profound that I would gladly go back. So I find that my list is being taken care of by the opportunities that come up and I know I will find myself in other interesting places. Maybe even re-discovering places I have already been to.

What are three things you must always take with you?

Music – Inspired by the location and my own personal favorites , Camera – to capture memories , Bathing suit… just because

If you could design your own customized tour to reflect your passions what would it look like?

First stop, Iceland to experience the hot springs under a volcano. Next stop, Scandinavia to view the beauty of nature and of instill the love of the outdoors. Last stop, Russia to learn the art and history of the region.      

Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and where you’d like to take them.

Shirley MacLaine. Why? It is because of what I believe is her ability to see and sense things that I would enjoy and having a conversation and learning about. She has traveled to many areas I now long to visit.

How has tour directing impacted your perspective of the world?

Traveling all over the world has been rewarding, especially a Swedish native coming to the U.S. and learning about different cultures and traditions. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. That learning and love of travel has led me to know without a doubt that we, as a planet, all basically want the same things...simply a life well lived in peace for children, grandchildren and ourselves...and adventure and travels!     

What advice would you give someone if they wanted to become a tour director or guide?

Make sure you are in love with this profession; it is really rewarding and fulfilling, at the same time, it could be physically and emotionally demanding, with long periods away from home, if you are in love with it, go for it passionately.       

Do you agree that a tour director is actually an ambassador of goodwill? If so, why?

Absolutely, we are and should be in our role as a tour director to be held accountable in conveying to the world a positive light for others to follow.