About Us may be a bit of a stretch right now. To be honest, Travel Safe Travel Smart website is more correctly About Me. At least for a while.
It's not really about me. It's just that I'm the one who writes and designs and posts and cleans up after myself.
In other words, the staff is a singular, solitary voice coming from my brain, so I can share what I know about travel [and that's a lot] with you.
Soon I hope to be adding stories, comments, and photos offered by you, my faithful readers, who'd like to share your own travel stories, ideas, tips, and experiences from your personal travel adventures.
But while my site is still young, I need to focus on making it as interesting and up to date as I can, so you'll come back and visit on a regular basis.
So for now, it’s just little ol' me.
BTW, I'm Carole. Although for years my closest friends have called me by my initials: CJ.
I was unfortunate enough to have been given a double name at birth, and ever since I’ve been trying to rectify that situation.
Believe me, double-given names don't work, especially in the professional world. At least that's been my experience.
But that’s a story for another day. I’m sure you didn't stop by this page to hear me bemoan the status of my given name. [Sorry, Mom]
I’d like to introduce you to the person behind the voice on these pages and tell you a bit about how I got here.
I feel it’s important for you to understand my relationship with the experience of travel, and why I think I have something to share about such a broad, yet per-sonal subject.
You see, I’m extremely passionate about travel. Not all travel. But the kind that takes you out of your comfort zone.
Away from your everyday friends and surroundings and throws you headlong into different lifestyles, locations, cultures, thoughts, attitudes, and perspectives.
And makes you think.
I’m passionate about travel that makes you grow. That urges you to become something better than you are. That opens the doors to your mind and the channels of your consciousness.
To me, overseas travel is the single greatest form of education.
It's easy these days to find travel information in some form or other almost everywhere you look.
Everyone who's traveled has an opinion, a tip, or a suggestion for where to go, what to do, and how to do it.
But nothing so easily demonstrates the impact travel has on your life, or the insight into what it means to venture off to distant lands and faraway places, than the emotions you feel when you're standing there - right in the middle of them.
For those of you who've become parents, the best analogy I can make for the effect on your psyche of my kind of overseas travel is to compare it to having kids.
Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you once you have a child, everything changes. Especially, your perspective.
If you're a parent, I don’t need to elaborate.
For those who've not made children a part of your life, you’ll have to trust me. Travel, too, can change everything.
Not for everyone, of course.
But travel didn’t get to be the world’s largest global industry by people staying home.
The sheer volume of people on the move – traveling – speaks to our innate desire as humans to learn and understand the new, the different, the unfamiliar in this beautiful world we inhabit.
It’s that first taste of international travel that gets you.
The inexplicable feeling that overtakes your senses and emotions and opens them up to the scope of human history, the centuries of recorded of time, the awe of standing in the shadow of 1000 year old architecture.
It’s the exposure to vastly different landscapes, lifestyles, cultures, foods, smells, and of course, people, that makes you understand the symbiotic relationship each of us has to our global surroundings.
It’s the proverbial light bulb going off in your mind.
Suddenly, you know.
Now – off my soap box and back to how I got here.
Some years back, having traveled pretty widely in the eastern part of the U.S., as well as to Canada, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas, I got my first invitation to travel to Europe.
With small children at the time, I had deeply mixed feelings about leaving them for 2 weeks. But I began the process of getting my passport just the same.
I made all the plans [plans for home – not plans for travel] and eventually talked myself into believing I would not be a bad parent, if I left my young family for a 'personal vacation' in Europe.
With excitement and trepidation I got ready to fly out of Atlanta with my co-traveler to meet our connecting flight overseas.
But - not so fast. On one of the few times in aviation history, a snowstorm closed all New York City airports. Europe was on hold for 24 hours.
Oh, the let down!
But the next day, with tears in my heart and fear in my stomach, I kissed my young family good-bye and was off. To one of the most exciting adventures of my life to that point: two weeks in Spain, Portugal, and North Africa.
I forgot my kids. I forgot my family. I forgot to worry about school and lunches and cleaning and bills and put my brain on absorb. And absorb I did.
Here is not the place to question whether Iberia is the best place to start your European travel education.
Suffice it to say I was so completely overwhelmed with what I saw, and did, and tasted, and felt, there was no room in my brain for the things that normally filled my life.
In fact, a week into my trip, I got a long distance call from the States quite by surprise. It was my family calling to see how I was doing.
I'd forgotten all about them!
Long story short, the trip was a success. I was a changed person. And immedi-ately after returning home, I decided that travel had to be my gig.
A stay-at-home mom with a Major in English Lit, I enrolled in travel agent school to learn how to be one.
Fast forward: I went to school and learned to become a travel agent.
But I quickly discovered it was not the world of jet-setters and glamour I thought it would be. Instead, it was hard work. Long hours. And low pay.
I quickly used my skills to move on.
The travel industry is a unique creature. There are lots of really wonderful people in it today, as always. Smart, intelligent, capable people.
But I also think most of them are a bit masochistic. Self destructive.
You have to stay sharp - on your toes – all the time. Another word for travel is change. And not necessarily the good kind.
Everything changes constantly. From year to year, season to season, and in the world of airline fares, hour by hour.
If you sleep, you lose. Everything moves at a frenetic pace.
If you read my article about online travel agents, you’ll have a better understanding of what's occurred over the past 10 – 20 years within the travel industry.
How electronic media has rendered much of it either out of business, lost in time, or scrambling to keep up.
I hung in for a long time after becoming an agent. I did both front office work [selling travel] and back office work [accounting, operations, management].
I designed tours. I led tours.
I planned national and international corporate meetings and incentive programs.
I worked for a travel wholesaler, a small airline, a large corporate agency, and a couple of 'mom & pop' agencies.
I worked for a local passport expeditor - don’t get me started!
I even worked briefly for a prestigious hotel - but I quickly found I didn’t have the 'service mentality' they required.
And my most favorite of all, I worked in business travel management as an in-house corporate travel planner and business meeting coordinator - the best of all worlds.
And I traveled.
For business. For pleasure. On my own. With business travel groups. With corporate travel planners, promoters, and tour companies.
And I learned.
I learned that every trip is different. And it’s different for every traveler.
I learned it was not so important to have all the answers, but to know where to find them.
I learned that traveling, despite the fact it’s often done as part of a mass move-ment, is a very singular personal experience.
I learned to travel without first learning about where you’re going wastes your time and your money.
I learned that making quick, on the spot decisions will often create your best travel memories.
I learned my customers could give me more [and usually better] information than anything in a guidebook, a brochure, or from a computer.
I learned that learning about the huge world of travel is great fun. And that travel makes you more of a human being.
That accepting what happens spontaneously when you travel is better than all the plans you make.
But I also learned that to get there, you have to plan for it.
You have to prepare for where you’re going, when you’re going, and what you’ll do when you get there.
You have to learn about your destination: the places, the people, the history.
You have to understand the mechanics of travel. How it works. How it ebbs and flows.
You have to have an open mind and be willing to accept new ideas and new ways of doing things.
You have to meet the people, eat where they eat, do what they do. You have to get down and dirty, lost, hungry, stranded, to really experience what international travel has to offer.
And most importantly, I learned the best travel memories are built from things that don’t go quite right. But, when viewed retrospectively, usually add the most to your overall fun and adventure.
What I hope to do here at Travel Safe Travel Smart is communicate some of what I've learned over my years of international travel planning, so those of you who read what I write, might spare yourselves a bit of the hassle.
I hope to share with you how to open yourself and your mind to your travel experiences.
I want to impress upon you the realization that the only way to really travel is to do it on a level that will put you up close and personal with the people you meet and the places you visit.
Most of all, I hope to create the understanding that travel done well can become a life altering event. To instill the knowledge that it can become the completion of your education and character building, if not the very person you are.
I hope to make you as passionate about international travel as I am. And to appreciate the benefits this glorious globe we live on offers each of us, when we take the time to travel right.
Thanks for taking a few minutes to learn about me and my perspective on the travel experience. I hope you enjoy the articles I write. Be sure to check out my blog and blog archives for a personal perspective of travel-related events.
My site's still young, so check back often and look for an opportunity to share your own travel experiences on our pages.
Until then, I hope you take the world by its wings and go out there and travel!
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Caveat: I no longer actively work in the commercial travel industry in any way, shape, occupation, or form. [This means I don't work for someone else who pays me to do what I do.]
However, every day I research, review, update, and keep abreast of changes, news, events, and trends that impact overseas travel and make it easier and more fulfilling, so I can share it with you.
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