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From Classroom to Compass: Celebrating Teacher-Turned-Travel Advisors for Teacher Appreciation Week!

With summer swiftly approaching, anticipation for a well-deserved break is palpable - and it's not just the kids feeling it! As the school year winds down, it's essential to pause and honor those who shape lives within the classroom. Here at Touring and Cruises, we deeply value the passion, commitment, and expertise that teachers bring to the realm of travel planning.


During this Teacher Appreciation week, we're thrilled to turn the spotlight on two of our agents who continue to touch the lives of children and adolescents, both in and out of the classroom. Jill and Allison exemplify this dedication; driven by a shared passion for nurturing future minds, they've seamlessly transitioned into the travel industry. While Jill has embraced the travel profession full-time, Allison juggles her teaching responsibilities alongside her travel endeavors, demonstrating unwavering dedication to both roles. We interviewed each to learn about how they got to their role of a travel advisor, helpful tips to bring education to your trip, and more!


Jill Headshot

Meet Jill!

High School Biology & AP Enviornmental Science


1. What was/is the subject that you teach/taught?

I taught high school biology, and AP environmental science. I also worked with many nonprofits teaching environmental education and fisheries. I facilitated schools in creating school gardens and assisted teachers with lesson plans and trainings to bring science into 3rd and 4th grade classrooms. I facilitated Project Wet and Wild for teachers in the Yakima Valley Washington (state). I also was the Enviro Education Director at the World Forestry Museum in Portland Or.  As a former Wildlife biologist, I had the new opportunity to bring science to life for many classrooms of grade schoolers. 

 I also was a certified Water Safety Instructor and taught 100s of children to swim and safely enjoy the water over the years. 


2. How has that impacted your travel style?

I LOVE learning and everywhere I go I find myself teaching my kids (and the poor people around me) about our destination's wildlife and biology. I like educational experiences like museums and aquariums-. I LOVE the campsite programs that the national parks provide.

 

3. How long were you/have you been a teacher? 

I taught in various capacities for over 25 years. I currently homeschool my two children (one in middle school and one in high school)


4. What led you to your role as a travel advisor alongside teaching or after teaching? Tell us your story! 

I had the incredible opportunity to stay home with my children when they were small and as they aged, I realized that because they are both neurodiverse, the school system just couldn't meet their needs like I could.  I went back to school and got a certificate to teach a reading program for dyslexic learners. I have been fortunate, that I had the background in education and the resources to be able to educate my own kids. I realized though that we needed another income, but I needed to be able to be home and to continue to teach my kids. I LOVE research and travel and had used an agent to book my personal travel for several years. She got me started and mentored me my first several years and then I spread my wings and took off on my own. 


5. How has traveling changed from when your kids were little to now that they are older?

It's brilliant, they are so independent and helpful now! My kids have been traveling with me since they were just weeks old, but now they pack their own bags and help navigate the airports. 10/10 


6. How has traveling changed from as a kid to now taking your own children for travel? 

I didn't get to travel much as a kid, both my parents are home bodies and neither really enjoyed travel. We did do Disney World once when I was about 11, but we drove there from Eastern Kansas. That was back in the day when there were only two parks, Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  I like a good road trip, but now our family usually flies. We also order sodas with dinner which was unthinkable when I was little. I still like to pack a cooler with snacks though and stop by the grocery store when we arrive. 


Quick Tips 

Favorite destinations for spring break/summer travel:

Cruising is my current favorite vacation. It's so easy to bring the entire family, there is never any shortage of things to do for all ages and there are price points to meet everyone's needs. Not to mention the food! Gluten free, vegan, nut free etc can all be accommodated, and the offerings are great! 


#1 travel tip you give your clients:

Use the services of a Travel Advisor and book early if you can for the best pricing!


Best ways to make a trip to somewhere fun educational:

Ooooo now we're talking!

  • Pull up maps of where you are going, involve your kids in the booking of airline tickets and download the app so you can see where you are once, you're in the air. Check out the important landmarks as you fly over them-the Grand Canyon is SO cool from the air. 

  • If you have a special interest, see if there is something there that you can't see anywhere else (art/ flight/ kids museum etc). 

  • Involve the kids in making the budget for the trip and keeping track of what they spend on souvenirs. I give my kids a budget and they know EXACTLY how much they have left to spend.

  • Go to the library and get books related to your destination. Going to Hawaii? Learn about the hula and the humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Book a snorkel and see if you can see one.

  • Have them watch the weather reports and help pack their bags with the appropriate clothing for the destination.  There are so many ways to make a trip educational, but I think the key is to keep asking questions, trying new things and having fun! It's amazing how much kids learn just having fun! Tips on traveling with kids (infant, toddler, middle aged, and teenagers):

  • Infant- bring a change of clothes FOR YOU, book a paid seat and bring a car seat- not only is it safer but most babies feel comfortable in their own car seats and will sleep, it will also leave you with free hands and you can actually have a drink or a snack. You will arrive less stressed and that is nearly priceless

  • Toddler- wrap small toys they haven't seen lately or that are new and that don't roll in wrapping paper then give them out slowly throughout the flight, tablets (with pre-downloaded movies) and snacks are also priceless, bring your own sippy cup

  • Middles /Tweens- tablets, snacks, card games, portable gaming device, books, special lovey (attach an air tag to it just in case)

  • Teens- OMG SO MUCH FOOD!  Plus, all the tween items. Have them manage the boarding passes on the app and look up where to eat in the airport. Let them take you to the correct terminal and figure out if there is time for a coffee.  Teens like independence but they still have a lot to learn. This is a great way to prepare them to enjoy and keep traveling as an adult, which is a wonderful gift. 


Allison Headshot

Meet Allison!

Middle School Physical Education


1. What was/is the subject that you teach/taught? 

I taught Middle School Physical Education and Health. I am still in the education field now, but in a district role as a Health Education Specialist, helping School Counselors, School Social Workers, School Nurses, and Health educators with resources, community resources and more. 


2. How has that impacted your travel style?

As someone who focuses on health education and physical activity, I really enjoy an active travel style. I look for travel where there is exploration, lots of hiking, and educational opportunities. We are lifelong learners, why not make it exciting and learn while traveling?! I find myself educating the people around me when I am traveling - because learning is exciting! 


3. How long were you/have you been a teacher? 

I taught for three-and-a-half years, and this is my first year in my current role. 


4. What led you to your role as a travel advisor alongside teaching or after teaching? Tell us your story! 

I grew up traveling with my family, specifically my mom. I have so many core memories from these adventures. I spent a lot of time in Disney World and cruising as a child. There has always been a love for travel that I wanted to share with clients and helping their travel dreams become reality. One thing I really enjoy in teaching is hearing students talk about their family vacations and adventures. I loved sharing some tips and tricks with students and their parents if they're discussing trips, especially on cruises or to Disney. Another factor that came into play is being a military wife, I know we will be relocated often - I want a career that is feasible no matter where we end up and one in which I can share insights to discounts and services for military members and their families while vacationing.


5. How has traveling changed from as a kid to now taking your own children for travel? 

Whew, how traveling has changed, but in the best way! When I traveled as a kid, I got to explore Disney often and got to take in my own new experiences. Now, I get to share new experiences with my husband and daughter and see the excitement through her eyes. As a kid, I didn't have to do any planning - just show up! My absolute favorite trip growing up was an Adventures by Disney trip to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah! I learned SO much on that trip and have many core memories built from it - riding horses (my mom's horse bit mine), four wheeling through cannons, visiting the Grand Canyon and more! Now, there is a lot of planning that goes into a vacation with a kiddo, especially a toddler! I find myself doing a lot of research (oh, the teacher in me!) on traveling with toddlers and making it a seamless trip. What I have learned from traveling with a little one is just like with teaching, structure and planning can make or break a day, along with flexibility and adaptability with your plan. The excitement and experience with my daughter traveling makes me want to travel more often because of the varying adventures and new experiences for her. We try to ensure all trips are educational for her, no matter how small that educational growth is. 


Quick Tips 

Favorite destinations for spring break/summer travel:

My favorite destinations for Spring Break would be cruising - Spring Break is a week, but never feels like one. Spring Break, as a teacher, you want to turn your brain off. Cruising is that trip to turn your brain off, relax, get your tan on, drink and unload from the school year. By Spring Break - that's what you truly need! My favorite cruise line as a kid was Disney, hands down! As an adult, relaxing on a Royal Caribbean Cruise would be my perfect fix during Spring Break. 


#1 travel tip you give your clients:

Book with a Travel Advisor! Take the planning challenges and stress off of yourself and let someone oversee your travel plans and any bumps in the travel plans. Be stress free! One other tip is to be flexible with changes and welcome adventurous changes - you never know what little change could become a core memory. 


Best ways to make a trip to somewhere fun educational:

Here is where the connections really grow with kiddos! There are many ways to integrate education, you probably do some without even knowing it. During the planning process, you can involve your kids. Education expands outside of your typical math and reading problems - time management skills are learned.

  • Involve your kids in your itinerary, budgeting, travel plans and more! You can involve your child in the mapping, flight tracking, identifying the history of where you're traveling and reading about background of the place you're traveling.

  • Now, for the part I love to focus on - mental, emotional, physical, social health - we use health education in our everyday lives. For little ones, growing education around the climate, animals, and visual aspects in different geographical areas.

  • There are so many ways to implement health education into your traveling.

    • Planning meals during travel is a great way to implement nutrition education and education around differing cultural habits around meals and nutrition.

    • Traveling places that involve heat, lots of movement, exercise, etc. is a great time to teach your kiddos about proper hydration and the importance of water and benefits of water consumption. If implementing lots of movement or activity into your travel, educating your kids on the benefits of physical activity - how does more physical activity increase water needs or increased calorie intake.

    • Mental and emotional health can be a big focus when traveling - kids learn by observing - if you are stressed during a trip, walking through your steps to manage your stress with your kids and discuss the impact of taking vacations and time off to unload stress and increase your emotional and mental wellness.

  • From a recent conference I've attended, we had some student speakers who emphasized their understanding and need for social skills development. They addressed how with the digital world we are in and with parents utilizing the screens for occupying time - they see a huge need, as high school students, with younger siblings is the increase in teaching social skills. Something you can really teach, anywhere, not just traveling but can continue to emphasize with traveling is social skills. Teaching our kids how to communicate with people is so crucial in this digital world. Allowing your kids a safe space, with you, to work on increasing social skills - these social skills can include patience, manners, appropriate voice tone, eye contact, problem-solving, self-awareness, emotional regulation and more! This can be achieved by some guidance and modeling in traveling atmospheres. 

All-in-all, you can make an impact on the education of your kids while traveling in a variety of ways, no matter how small - every little detail can grow your child's knowledge. 


Tips on traveling with kids (infant, toddler, middle aged, and teenagers):

I have traveled with my daughter as an infant and a toddler.

  • For infant travel - making packing lists, having plans, pack the grandparents! Having an extra hand with traveling with littles can be so impactful. If possible, having the grandparents tag along provides a built-in babysitter if you and your spouse are trying to get a meal or adventure alone! Traveling with an infant, their schedules may fluctuate some, be okay with nap time being adjusted, mealtimes slightly adjusted - bring baby friendly snacks to fill the gaps or formula, if not breastfeeding. 

  • As for toddlers, a lot like infants - be okay with some flexibility, bring the snacks! If your toddler is "attached" to something - either have an extra (in case one gets misplaced) or if flying, make sure that item is with your carry-ons, so that it is always with them.


If traveling somewhere where you can send things ahead of time, do so! A few packing notes: packing cubes are your best friend - when you unpack you can pull out the packing cubes and put the suitcase away, this is a game changer for myself.


As we close out the week, make sure to thank you kids' teachers or even a former teacher from your school-aged years for the dedication they had on your future!

 

Ready to embark on your next adventure? Our travel advisors are here to craft your unforgettable getaway!





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