From the first time my dad brought me back a doll from one of the countries where he was stationed in the Navy, the love of traveling has continued to weave throughout my soul. As the collection of dolls continued to grow, I was able to start finding a sense of what life was like outside of my family’s middle-class neighborhood. Both of my parents were travelers, and their adventurous attitudes are one of the main reasons that traveling is such an important part of my life today. In addition to working with independent travelers, I have made it my ...
From the first time my dad brought me back a doll from one of the countries where he was stationed in the Navy, the love of traveling has continued to weave throughout my soul. As the collection of dolls continued to grow, I was able to start finding a sense of what life was like outside of my family’s middle-class neighborhood. Both of my parents were travelers, and their adventurous attitudes are one of the main reasons that traveling is such an important part of my life today. In addition to working with independent travelers, I have made it my goal to spotlight the importance of traveling with children and grandchildren.
During college, I quickly realized that I was more interested in business, working, and letting life be my professor, than I was in mundane schoolwork. I wanted to be immersed in the world and get going. Since college, I have raised two kids, spoiled six grandkids, launched, and managed various businesses. I went from opening the first-day care center in Leesburg, Virginia; founding Williams and Company; being asked to run the Oriental Rug Retailers of America; and opening an art school, gallery, and magazine in the very same town. Eventually, I found myself in New Orleans working as the public relations director for the New Orleans Museum of Art and traveling when I had the chance. However, after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I decided to devote myself to traveling and to my business that you now know as Freedom Travel.
When I am not exploring, I enjoy painting, dabbling in my garden, experimenting with new recipes, and talking about all things travel. In my life, one of my most noteworthy accomplishments was taking my son, daughter, and her girlfriend to Europe for the summer in 1985 with little to no plans and going wherever the wind blew us. With a tight budget, we slept wherever we could, found the best authentic restaurants, and experienced Europe in the purest way possible. From this trip, I was able to teach these children patience, moderation, communication, and teamwork. For anyone wanting a beautiful adventure to learn a little bit about yourself, traveling is wonderful, but it is not easy. You have the opportunity to learn about life by going through difficult times and appreciating the world that is, in fact, filled with people just like you and me.
My traveling style may be different from others because I don’t travel for the quick picture, the touristy restaurant, or the statistical side of things. I yearn for the culture, for the authenticity, for the street marketers bargaining, for the authentic smell of a warm meal coming from a hole-in-wall restaurant, for the real experiences, and for the ways in which a place can touch a person’s senses. I think that in all my years of sending people to places like France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, China, Turkey, Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, United Kingdom, Argentina, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Caribbean and the Galapagos, my clients have been much happier with this approach and if they are happy, I am happy.
Tips & Tidbits
What is your favorite travel tip? My #1 rule is: (and all travelers must know and agree to use this rule) If/when you get separated from each other, ALWAYS return to the place you last made eye contact! Do not go searching, instead return to the place you last saw each other and stay put.
What is your favorite place? And the “not-to-miss” thing to do there? The spectacular spot that still takes my breath is Azenhas do Mar in Portugal. This small village of whitewashed house sits perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Atlantic. Your first glimpse is a stunning surprise. As you round the bend of the already dramatic coastal highway you are flanked on one side by the deep blue ocean and fixed directly in front of you is Azenhas do Mar. There is an overlook with a small cafe, where we spent many hours painting this amazing view and sipping a coffee. Yes, that might be my favorite and "not-to-be-missed" jewels of Portugal.
What is your favorite travel reference? I have several favorite travel books – they are favorite for different reasons:
- DK – for big and colorful pictures, and for their graphic city map illustrations
- Michelin – for historical information
- Karen Brown – for her reviews of small inns, and restaurants of Italy
- Fred Plotkin – for his culinary bible titled: Italy for the Gourmet Traveler