It's travel agent awareness week and we're all starting off with 'Who am I?' This week is all about the general public getting reacquainted with travel professionals. We're always sending updates on destinations, hotels and travel tips but here's our day to shine as an actual person behind product. Besides what you can read in the About section on my website here's the run down on how I got started in the travel industry. Like most of the sweetest things in life it was complete serendipity. I studied French for 5 years in school and always thought I'd move to Paris for a while after college, work in a PR firm or in house at a non-profit organizaton. My mom made a huge sacrifice for me to go on an exchange trip to France in high school and I just couldn't wait to go back once I was bitten by the travel bug. Life happened (aka a handsome young man) and I moved to Miami instead. While there we fell in love with cruising. Without even flying you can meet people from all over the world, eat till you're comatose and see some great entertainment. On our first cruise we met some really cool tablemates that we hung out with and kept in touch with for a while. (This was before social media so we fell off writing letters after a while, but I still remember their names.) After I lost my job at a non-profit organization I had to attend a workforce training program for unemployment. That was definitely a life lesson. Apparently the assumption is that anyone collecting unemployment needs to learn a trade, which I didn't. It hadn't even been that long since I graduated. So there I was all salty about my old job, thinking why in the world do I have to do this stupid class for a measly $100 a week and it actually changed my life. On the list of approved community college programs was a travel agent track among the truck driving and plumber classes. Hmmm....so maybe this isn't a total waste of time! It was exciting to think about working in something I loved to do on the side anyway. While it was scary to completely change direction in my career path I found that everything I'd done before actually helped prepare me. Most of the courses were marketing related, so I didn't need to start from zero after all. Around that time more companies were starting to do online trainings. The rise of the internet actually helped me. I still did not see myself as an entrepreneur at all. That also happened by accident. spoke with an acquaintance who owned an agency about my excitement and I got squashed immediately by them saying 'Don't do it! There's no money in travel anymore. You should just use your communication degree and freelance.” Did I mention I got fired 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant? So I also needed to make sure I had a flexible schedule to spend time with that new bundle of joy. Many brick & mortar travel agencies were closing and not willing to take on a newbie. So I figured if I'm going to do this my way I'm on my own! I found an established host agency in California willing to work with me and I've never looked back. Again, look how the internet actually helped! I never met any of those people in person. Eventually I hung out my own shingle, and here we are! I love travel in general for the amazing opportunities if affords people to learn about the world around them and themselves. For some reason I just felt drawn to Mexico. Even though I got sick as a dog on my first visit to Merida. This journey has taught me to roll with the punches and go with the flow. It will usually lead you to something greater than you ever imagined. After all that French I've found myself selling mostly Latin America and cruises. It is rewarding to see the families I help enjoy themselves. They're getting to know each other better and creating memories that will last longer than any other material gifts. Like any business there are challenges, but there aren't too many industries where anyone can say they sell fun and transformation as much as travel professionals. Each day this week follow the hashtags #TravelAgents #WeExist #TravelAgentAwareness for new topics.