Why I work in Travel

For me, travel is a true passion, and I find great joy in sharing my experience and expertise with others. I’ve been fortunate to have had so many opportunities to travel myself, whether with family or for work, and each time I learn new things about myself, other cultures, and this incredible world in which we live. I love exploring new destinations and planning itineraries.

I know how lucky I am to be part of the Travel Beyond family, where there is a shared interest, passion, and dedication to the mission; “design(ing) custom journeys that exceed each client’s expectations”. The leadership at Travel Beyond takes incredible care of their staff; sending staff on familiarization trips to ensure that we can speak authentically to clients about each core destination and every aspect of their trip. It’s no wonder there is not only great knowledge within this organization, but also incredible enthusiasm and genuine care for one another. In turn, the staff emulates its leadership by taking the same great care of clients and passing along that same incredible experience. I know how rare and special the work environment and atmosphere are at Travel Beyond, and I feel truly blessed to be part of this incredible team.

Destinations Visited

South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Germany, Austria, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Ireland, Iceland, Mexico, Canada

Education

BA – History and Political Science, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN
BS – Social Studies Education, Mankato State University, Mankato, MN
MA – Educational Leadership, Southwest State University, Marshall, MN

Career History

I was a history teacher for eighteen years, with expertise in Holocaust education, and loved being in the classroom. During the summer months I started taking students, and later colleagues, on study tours to share my passion for travel. It eventually evolved into my own small business while on summer hiatus. When my daughter graduated from high school, I left the classroom and joined the Travel Beyond team: a place I had longed to work for some time. I quickly felt at home among people who shared my interests and passion and are simply the best in the business. A few short months later, however, I was offered a position at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Faced with one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make, I ultimately decided to go to DC or I’d always wonder “what if?” I spent five incredible years training teachers around the globe in Holocaust education, furthering the Museum’s mission, and researching/creating a Museum resource that examines the choices teachers made during the Holocaust. Five years in our nation’s capital was enough, however, and it was time to return home to MN where we could once again enjoy all the natural beauty this state has to offer and be immersed in “MN Nice.” I’m thrilled to be home, both in my native state and back at Travel Beyond. I know this is where I belong. I can’t wait to assist clients in planning their “trip(s)-of-a-lifetime” and once again work with the best possible team in the industry.

Most Memorable Travel Experience

I’ve had many memorable moments in my travels, but one that stands out recently is the “special welcome” we received at a brand new safari camp in Zimbabwe on my first African safari. My colleague and I were the only guests at camp (because it was new) and as the staff handed us our welcome drinks, someone said, “We have visitors.” We turned around to see an entire herd of elephants just steps from the lodge! All of us, including the staff, grabbed cameras and phones, not wanting to miss a second of it! (We knew this was special when staff were as excited as we were!) For the next hour, we moved from one doorway to another, one tent screen-window to another, in total disbelief that these elephants were quite content to just hang out with us in camp. We had stepped outside the main door onto the deck landing to get a better look at one of the baby elephants, but Mama elephant quickly let us know that we were a little too close for her comfort! We took a few steps back, and as long as we stayed in the doorway of the lodge, she was happy to let her little one explore near us with her watching.

Their immense size is hard to comprehend until you are actually face-to-face with them. It was fascinating to watch them eat, play with one another, and move about the grounds of the camp. There were moments we all wondered if a few of them might actually come INSIDE the lodge! Their power and beauty is truly captivating and it leaves you a little breathless. This was a chance encounter, nothing that you could plan…but I have come to learn that that is the magic of Africa; you never know what you will see or when you’ll see it, but the magic and beauty that is Africa will surprise you, touch your soul, leave imprints on your heart, and you will be forever changed.

Most Recent Trip

Most recently, I traveled to to Southeast Asia. A highlight while in Vietnam was visiting Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park for our three cave adventures; Phong Nha, Thien Duong, and Hang En. Each was incredible in its own way!

Phong Nha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can only be reached by boat! An 8.5-mile-long underground river runs throughout the cave. As we approached, the boat’s motor was turned off, and an oar was used to guide us into “the dragon’s mouth.” We saw incredible stalagmites and limestone creations throughout the whole cave, but for me, the most magical part of the experience was quietly drifting down the river in a boat inside the cave; this is something I will never forget!

The sheer expanse of Thien Duong is indescribable! Before reaching the floor of the cave, you must descend several wooden staircases. (It looks like you’re on the set of a Raiders of the Lost Ark film.) Each time we’d come to a spot where we’d think, “surely this must be the end,” it just led to another section to be explored! We walked the full 1.3km that is open to the public. Scientists have found an additional 31km of the cave, but it’s currently only open for research. Just incredible!

Our final cave adventure, Hang En (the 3rd largest cave in the world,) had us trekking 22km through the Vietnamese jungle, completing multiple river crossings, experiencing 450-meter elevation changes, and finally camping overnight on the sandy beach inside Hang En Cave! The feeling of accomplishment, incredible scenery, and unique experience gave me memories to last a lifetime!