Hello World! Vacation Visions is My Travel Dream For You…

Staci at Machu Picchu in Peru

Staci at Machu Picchu in Peru

Have you ever had a dream?  Yes, of course you have!  Everybody does, right?

My dream is to be a successful entrepreneur in the travel industry and that’s why I have created Vacation Visions and this website.

I like to help people create dream trips so they can have fantastic travel experiences.  Oh yes, I also enjoy traveling.  So much that I have chosen to do it for my life-long career.

I have enjoyed over 25 years in the travel industry working in various positions ranging from the airlines, retail youth & student travel store, convention & visitors bureau, tour operator, state tourism office and travel agencies.  Running my own travel agency has probably been one of the most challenging yet rewarding of these businesses.

What’s that you say?  Travel agents are not needed anymore?  Everything is all online?  That’s exactly why travel agents are needed.  To help cut through the “chatter” and help clients find exactly what they are looking for.

There are so many fantastic travel experiences out there, and it’s my goal to help as many people as possible experience the world as I have been able to do over the last 25 years.

I started with family road trips here and there mostly around the southwest region of the USA while I was growing up, but my first overseas trip to Germany/Austria/France for six weeks just after high school graduation changed my life and opened my eyes to what a great, big wonderful world was really out there.

I decided to major in Tourism/Recreation Management at Arizona State University, and while a student there was lucky enough to get a part-time job in reservations at Tempe-based America West Airlines.  This was the best part time job ever as it allowed me to fly for free and at greatly reduced rates around the country.   I remember flying turn-around trips from Phoenix to several destinations in first-class just for the fun of being able to watch a first-run movie and enjoy a nice meal while doing my homework.  This was the days before all the frequent flyer upgrades.

While still a university student, I started volunteering for Hostelling International (HI).  When a part-time position opened up as travel store manager at HI near ASU, I grabbed it–now I had two part-time jobs.  I was selling rail passes, ISIC cards and backpacks and counseling other students on the joys of traveling to Europe on a budget.  I decided that I would sell better if I could experience it for myself, so off I went on my own version of “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969 movie)” and visited Paris, Nice, Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna, Munich and Berlin within two weeks staying in hostels and riding the rails with my own pass.  Back again I went to London for another week over winter break just as the first gulf war (Operation Desert Storm) started–what an eerie experience that was as I pretty much missed this whole televised event since I was determined to see all London’s highlights in one short week.

I felt that I was very lucky when next I was offered a position at the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau as Tourism Marketing Manager, where I had done my student internship (which involved duties like dressing up in a teddy bear costume to promote Tempe and local events such as the Fiesta Bowl).   How exciting–I had finally landed my first full-time career position!  With my new promotion, I was now able to promote Tempe as a destination at trade shows and sales missions across the USA, Canada and Mexico–extensive traveling for me.

Working in this industry put me in touch with many tourism suppliers, and I was offered a job three years later with a local tour operator, All Aboard America!, that ran local, regional and national coach tours.  It was a fun challenge working with groups and individuals to create and help run custom and scheduled tours, and of course sometimes I had to go check out those destinations personally (hello Copper Canyon, Branson, Washington DC and Colorado)!

Moving over to the Arizona Office of Tourism really allowed me to jump in and get some additional international exposure.  I started work here promoting Arizona in the domestic and Canadian leisure markets, then graduated to United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Mexico.  We also tested new markets such as France, Italy and Australia.  It was not all fun and travel–we really worked hard and had to deal with a lot of political issues, but I enjoyed it all very much.

When September 11, 2001 dawned, I was packing to leave that morning on a two-week sales mission to France and the United Kingdom.  Of course, all flights departing from and arriving to the USA were cancelled for several days as the devastating news rolled in, and our sales mission along with them.  This event changed my career and life as international travel to the USA soon plummeted, sales dollars dropped, and every program was examined closely to make sure it was the best use of taxpayer dollars.

I started looking for a way that I could be closer to my family (I had two young children at this point) and still work in the tourism industry–but only traveling on trips of my own choosing.  Working as a home-based travel agent seemed to fit the bill.  It was a new field, and I had previously enjoyed some telecommuting opportunities, so I knew that I would enjoy working from home.  I set up my own office, started my new career, and have been lucky enough to have helped numerous clients on their own trips around the world.

Since I started this wonderful career, I have also been able to personally travel to 49 U.S. states and about 75 countries on six continents (Antarctica is always the elusive last continent for most including me).  I have traveled by train, planes and automobiles, and have also sailed nine cruise lines on multiple worldwide itineraries, and thus feel very comfortable offering advice and making recommendations based on individual client needs.

My favorite destination?  I don’t have one because I enjoy traveling to new destinations so much, and until I experience them all, how can I possibly have a favorite–although I have especially enjoyed Peru, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand and India.  My own personal travel bucket list currently consists of China, Bermuda, Bali, a European River Cruise, a World Cruise and extended backpacking trips to southeast Asia and South America.

I also love to read, write and take photos, so I will be blogging and submitting photos as often as I can.

So, if you need help with your own bucket travel list, please feel free to give me a call or shoot me an e-mail and I will be happy to help you plan a trip that you will never forget…

Staci Blunt

Vacation Visions Owner & Travel Entrepreneur

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