There is a myth that travel agents vacation all the time and get to travel for free. Really? Somehow I must have missed the boat on that one. The reality is that most of us do travel more than the average person but not always for pure enjoyment and rarely is anything free. I can’t remember a vacation that didn’t turn out to be a working vacation in the end. Even if I plan a weekend getaway or have every intention of relaxing and enjoying my surroundings, it just never turns out that way.
Fam Trips are trips we have the pleasure of being invited to by resorts, tourism boards, cruise lines or any number of other sponsored groups. While they are often offered with free room and maybe a discount on air, they are not “vacations”. FAM stands for Familiarization. Let’s say I just booked a large wedding in Mexico at a 4 or 5 star resort or maybe I just completed the training to become an expert in the brand. The resort sends me an invitation to come to Mexico to their resort and experience it first hand. This is great, right? When I arrive, I am shown to my room and given my itinerary. Yes, I said itinerary for my 4 days. You didn’t think they wanted me to come here to pamper me and treat me like a queen, did you? Now, let’s say that this resort also has 2 sister properties within the area. My itinerary is to take an escorted walk around the entire complex, sample the food, check out the different rooms, check out the spa, etc. Now on day two, I get to catch a transfer early that morning to go visit one of the sister properties. Same as the day before but with a different resort. Back to the resort late afternoon for some free time before dinner. I am able to take an excursion of my choice on day three in the morning, then off to the third resort for the afternoon and dinner. Back to the resort in time for a cocktail and bed since I am flying back home the next day. That was fun, wasn’t it? Well, in all actuality, it IS fun for me. My husband isn’t too crazy about me calling them vacations but I love it. I love being able to share with you what a resort, destination or area is like from first hand experience. Many of my recommendations come from these “vacations” because I know what the service is like, what the staff is like and have first hand knowledge of the resort.
Cruises – To obtain and maintain certification with the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) you must take “x” number of cruises of varying length as well as continuing education. Of course, unlike a FAM trip, you are booked as a regular passenger. This could be great, if I could just leave my “travel agent” brain at home and not drag it along with me. I look at every thing, place and meal as something that I need to share with someone interested in a cruise. We do get offered “seminars at sea” which are educational cruises and very much the same as FAM trips but onboard a cruise ship.
Scheduled Vacations – Yes, I do schedule a real vacation from time to time. Whether it is a weekend road trip (love ’em) or a week long stay in a new and exciting destination or anything in between, I always wind up thinking about you, my clients and readers. Would you enjoy this restaurant, this view, this B&B? “Wait Honey, I need to get a picture of that before you put your fork in it!” or “Stop!!! I need a picture of that for the blog.” See what I mean? It always turns out to be a work in progress.
The beauty is: I love my work! I am addicted. My soul is restless for adventure, for travel, for new experiences. My grandmother used to say I had “itchy feet”. This is why the travel industry was such a perfect fit for me when I was blessed with the opportunity to change careers. I have always dreamed of travel and it thrills my heart to know that I am helping people to realize their dreams of travel if even only for a vacation.