Areas of Expertise: Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Puerto Rico and Argentina
I have been a tour operator for most of my working career. After graduating from Western Michigan University, I took a job with a company that specialized in performance tours and was hooked! I had found my niche. Over the years I’ve organized group tours to countries all around the world. The many years of experience in all aspects of tour planning, from negotiating contracts with suppliers, planning concerts and logistics, to sales and marketing, ultimately led to a management situation for many years. Now here at Cultural Tour Consultants, I feel I have refined all these experiences into a perfect situation, where I can express myself through the tours we plan and enjoy my passion for travel. My business partners, Melissa and Nancy, will probably agree.
People often ask me what my favorite place is. I honestly don’t think I’ve been anywhere I did not like. I think the places that hold the most appeal for me are those where I have engaged in contact with the local people. I especially love the warmth and humor of the Irish, the music and food of New Orleans, the Latin American music and mix of European and indigenous cultures, and every single morsel of food and drink I’ve enjoyed in all the European countries.
My specific areas of expertise include performance tours and religious heritage tours to Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Puerto Rico and Argentina.
Areas of Expertise: Central and Eastern Europe including Germany, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, as well as Scandinavia and South Africa
People ask me all the time how I got started in such an interesting business. My answer; follow what you love and somehow it all works out in the end. I’ve spent my life traveling, exploring and seeking out places that I love. I was lucky enough to have parents that instilled in me, a love of history and culture. They took me on my first European trip at age 14, that was the beginning of my lifelong love of travel. After school, I crewed on a charter yacht to the Bahamas and Caribbean for a few years before entering the airline industry, spending most of the 10 years as Customer Service Director (Purser), on flights to Europe and the South Pacific. After spending a few years outside of the travel industry, it was apparent that that was not the life for me! I started my career as a tour operator in 1996. Since then I’ve been writing itineraries and proposals, coordinating and leading tours in the US, Europe, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.
My areas of expertise include Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and South Africa. Sustainable tourism, environmental issues, wildlife, history and cultural heritage are some of my special interests. I travel frequently attending travel shows, doing site inspections and leading tours. I hold specialist certificates for Germany, Austria, European Quartet (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic) and South Africa.
I love hearing someone’s ideas and passion and turning those into a tour, customized specifically for them. I walk each footstep of every tour during the coordination and treat the tour as if this will be each travelers one and only international experience. It’s my goal to insure that each one of our clients comes home with wonderful, life long memories and is eager to explore the next new destination.
Areas of Expertise: The Mediterranean including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Turkey
My life-long passion has been the study of world cultures. I obtained a Master’s Degree in International Administration with an emphasis on cultural anthropology. For several years I worked in the field of cultural exchange, while living in France and Greece, organizing homestays with local families for foreign visitors and administering a Study Abroad program.
I find that cultural diversity renders the world an incredible kaleidoscope, just waiting to be discovered. My tours always include opportunities for American travelers to experience the culture of the country being visited. I jump at the opportunity to travel and often stay for extended periods in my favorite countries of France and Turkey. I am fluent in French and am learning Turkish. The long‐lasting friendships that I have developed with choir directors, hotel owners, and directors of tourism offices over the years often translate into an especially warm welcome for our touring groups.
Travel and the discovery of world cultures permeates every aspect of my personal and professional life. This passion has been passed along to my children. My son studied abroad his Junior and Senior years in high school and now speaks four languages. My daughter first traveled abroad, to live with a family in India, when she was fifteen years old. She now lives in Istanbul, Turkey. The two of them have traveled to Colombia, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and across Europe. This experience as a parent dealing with children traveling abroad has been very helpful to me when putting together student tours. I am always ready to speak to parents about any concerns they might have.
Portraits taken by Tom Brayne Photography