Hometown: Jacksonville, NC
ITMI graduation year: 2015
Travel bucket list: Black Forest (Neuschwanstein Castle), Machu Picchu, Antarctica, Egypt, South Africa, Asia
Tour essentials: Chapstick, good walking shoes, phone/camera/chargers
What did you do before you became a tour director?
I was a travel agent.
What or who inspired you to become a tour director?
I was ready to leave the desk where I planned the wonderful journeys for my clients.
How do you balance your personal life with your travel career?
My husband and I have been happily married for 22 years. We met when I was a tour guide. He's always known that eventually, when our son was grown, I'd want to spread my wings again. We stay in touch on a daily basis; with today's technology it's very easy to do. A few months ago, I was getting out of the Pitti Palace, and while my guests were taking a break, I was helping my husband (back in the US) locate his username and password for his bank account...I mean...really, I'm only gone physically; mentally these boys still rely on me, no matter where I am....
What can we find you doing when not guiding / tour directing?
Riding, training and grooming my 2-year-old thoroughbred, and helping out my friend at her horse ranch; 37 horses require all the help you can get!!
What qualities do you feel make for a good tour director?
Outgoing, positive personality, empathy, being a good listener, patient, adventurous spirit, cool headed, organized, and most of all trustworthy and responsible.
What advice would you give to a first-time traveler?
Don't be afraid; try everything once. You are not at home; therefore things are not going to be the same. Don't compare ways other countries do things; you travel so you can experience new things.
What are some of your favorite tours or places you have visited as a Tour Director and did you have a "dream location" or something on your "bucket list" that you got a chance to do?
Italy is my own country of course, but when I'm working there, I always see it from the eyes of the guests, and I appreciate it more and more. My bucket list location is the Black Forest and of course Neuschwanstein Castle; when I was assigned the Explore the Alpine Countries as my first tour as a full time TM. I was THRILLED!!!
Do you have a moment or story you would like to share about something that has particularly touched you on a tour, a "once in a lifetime" moment or something memorable with a guest or tour group?
I am very lucky to be able to say, that on every tour, I've had wonderful guests who have made me feel like I was the best thing since sliced bread, but this one lady went above and beyond when she wrote a 7 page addendum to her survey; she emailed it directly to my company. In it she highlighted everything I did from the first day on tour, to the moment I dropped them off at the airport. These were just tasks that I do on a daily basis, for all my guests, but they meant so much to her. And when I read her description of how I handled things...well, it validated everything about why I am in this business.
How has tour directing impacted your perspective of the world?
I have learned to embrace the differences, to get out of my comfort zone, and most of all I've learned not to stereotype or have a negative image of a destination.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a tour guide / tour director and coming to ITMI?
DO IT!! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?? Best decision I have ever made. This is your time, time to invest in yourself.
One of my favorite quotes " I travel because life is short, and the world is huge."