Tropical Travelers — A balancing act | TravelResearchOnline


Tropical Travelers — A balancing act

Growing up, I had a friend whose mother was a Realtor. I remember numerous last minute trips to her mother’s office, her mother dropping her at my house (last minute), cancelled outings (last minute), and so forth. The almighty dollar was of utmost importance to her mother and it seemed to me, that everything else was secondary. And if that worked for their family, that’s great. I know the job of a Realtor can be 24/7 and a tough one at that–especially in this economy. And, often I find myself comparing my own career to that of a Realtor’s.

When I started my own agency nine years ago, I was working full-time in addition to moonlighting as a travel consultant. In 2005, I finally decided I wanted one full-time job and chose to eliminate the ”other job” to focus on my own travel agency. At the time, I was married, but had no children. So, working at midnight or Sunday morning at 7am wasn’t really an issue.

I now have a three year old who commands much of my time. My agency is of utmost importance and my clients can be demanding of my time. They expect emails and phone calls to be answered immediately no matter the day or time. I run my business myself with a few outside agents. So, as you can imagine, the demands on my time are limitless. Most mothers I know work outside the home, so this is nothing new. But, many hold 9-5 type jobs and when they come home, they are off the clock. Between the calls, voicemails, Blackberry and laptop, sometimes I wish I worked the makeup counter at Nordstrom’s!

I’ve built my company into exactly what I always wanted it to be. But, I can’t help thinking about my friend’s mother who put her career first on so many occasions. So I constantly wrestle with “when to turn the Blackberry off.”  What constitutes a “travel emergency?” Does the client really need to be called back at 10pm because they have a question about their seat assignments for the next day? Do I really need to send another quote on a Sunday to clients who have been “checking” quotes for three months, for fear they will book elsewhere if I don’t respond immediately?

In my mind, it’s all about getting back to the clients as quickly as possible for fear they will go elsewhere. I have been trying to figure out where to draw the line. Working every evening and weekend is no longer a must for me. Unless the client is currently traveling, I tend to leave it until the next business day. My family is the most important aspect of my life and my motto has always been “work to live, not live to work.” I do love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything (well, I would prefer to be retired and living in Turks and Caicos, but that’s another entry), but I’m at a place where I feel like I have put in my time working like a mule, and can back off a bit. I think I might finally be learning that I’ll never get every booking and I need to focus on being the best I can be for myself, my family and my clients.  So now, it is 6pm on a Sunday night and I am turning off the Blackberry—really I am. And you know what? I may even decide to take a day off one of these days—nah!

What about you? How do you balance family and work?

Jennifer Byrne is the owner of The Tropical Travelers ( in Malvern, PA. For more information, you can contact Jennifer at

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  3 thoughts on “Tropical Travelers — A balancing act

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    I’ve been working from home since 2002 and my kids are now teenagers. When things start to spiral out of control with my time I often come to realize that it’s me and my own expectations more than that of my clients. It does feel weird on the occasional weekend day that I do not check my email. Now, if I could just figure out how to take a day off during the week!

  2. Ann Petronio says:

    Jennifer — Good question! I know that I am definitely walking a fine line between being a conscientious business owner and a workaholic.

    It’s funny, because the main reason I left my corporate job and started my travel business was the constant 24/7 demands of doing marketing/events….and now I’m still working 24/7, but at least it’s for my own business.

    My kids are older than yours (15 and 13), so they don’t want me around as much, but I am making a conscious effort to “unplug” for a while in the afternoon to go to a lacrosse game, help with a school project, etc. and then just work later at night.

  3. Carol says:

    I have been in the business for 23 years as an agent,then owner of my agency. Three children,husband,home,trailor. At this point l do contemplate how l will ever give up this lifestyle because now l am hardwired to be under pressure to do it all. I love my life but do hope the value of a travel agent doesnt disappear and make all this effort become worthless.
    I have kept up to date with all technology as best as anyone can with being a huge conglomerate and hope my life can relax a bit but cant see it in the near future. Life changed when the internet came into play.

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