That hazy time between Christmas and New Year’s is always an interesting time. There’s some sadness that the Christmas season has passed so quickly yet again. The Hallmark Christmas movies are coming to an end. It is no longer acceptable to have cookies for dinner. We have the hopeful idea that we will stay up until midnight to ring in the new year like we did in our youth. For us it is a time to reflect on the past year, but only the good stuff. The surprises and accomplishments. The goals we met and where we are going from here. Here’s our year in review…..

Family picture in Hawaii.

Pivot!

When we laid our heads on our pillows at 12:01am on January 1, 2021, we were optimistic we were taking our trip to Italy in April. We had our plans all lined up and our calendars were set. 2020 was a bad dream we were finally waking up from. Third times a charm. All the positive talking and wishing could not change the world around us though. By the end of the month the reality kicked in and we knew we had to pivot. (Can you hear Ross yelling PIVOT?)

Jen is a firm believer in the saying, “When one door closes, another one opens.” Sometimes that other door is more amazing than the one that was just slammed in your face. Italy in April turned into Hawaii in July. Two of our boys accompanying us turned into all four coming along. As any parent with teen and adult children can attest, a family vacation has a clock. There is only so much time to have the ability to pull one off. What a blessing we were given to be able to make it happen.

Saint Lawrence Spirits Chateau, Clayton, NY.

In February amid planning we decided to go for a small local weekend getaway to recharge the mid-winter batteries. We booked two nights at Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel in Clayton, NY for Valentine’s Day weekend after opening one of their email advertisements. (Don’t always ignore and delete those emails, you might miss out.). Two days away brought us one-of-a-kind dining at Saint Lawrence Spirits Chateau for brunch (that we still talk about.) A relaxing afternoon in the hot tub. Appetizers and drinks in the charming bar within the hotel. Shopping and walking along the inviting downtown streets. We even had a Valentine trip to Thousand Island Winery. It was a great reminder that we have local gems close by.

Should We Start A Travel Business?

March comes along and we are talking about our blog and business plan. We started the blog to inspire people to travel more. We wanted people to know that it was possible on almost any budget and to make the plan now. Not to wait. Our mantra is to #NeverStopPlanning. What we discovered was that while we were planting the seeds for the travel bug, many people were still unsure where to begin. The task of booking a trip was too daunting for many people to tackle on their own. What could we do to help? Trip planning was our favorite part. Could we start a travel agency? Do we have the time? Is now the right time? Let’s find out the answers…. Yes, yes and yes.

The Traveling Chevaliers Travel Agency was born. We did not have grand expectations for our first year. While we were confident we could help people fulfill their travel dreams, we were unsure with the 2021 ‘situation’ if many would reach out and want to travel right now. Not only were we wrong, but we were also blown away.

The Traveling Chevaliers logo. Designed by Ollie McGowan.

We have helped local people get out into the world when they could not have done it on their own. We got them on a plane down the coast or on a cross-country train. To hear them tell us, “Thank you so much, we would not have taken this trip without your help,” is the reason we started this business. It is also inadvertently adding places to our own bucket list while researching for our clients. We are excited to see where this venture takes us next and most importantly, where it takes YOU next!

To all of those people who have reached out to us asking about planning a trip, Thank You. It means the world to us and we are eternally grateful for your trust.

Normalcy and Special Moments

June brought us one of our boys graduating as Salutatorian of his class. While his senior year of high school was not what we envisioned, we were grateful for the small victories. We were able to watch him play soccer with limited capacity. Jen was able to watch him play one hockey game while working the clock at the arena. Lacrosse to wrap us his senior sports season was attended by many. The graduation ceremony was more than we could have hoped for. He stood by his friends, and they looked back on all they endured and learned from this experience. Another shining moment.

View of the ocean from our balcony, Oahu, Hawaii.

Now onto July and our family trip to Hawaii. We have a series of blog posts that detail out each day, so we will not delve into the details again. We will say that we created memories we will each cherish for the rest of our lives. Sharing moments like this is what we hold onto more than any material object. We will take those talks on the balcony with our boys over a new kitchen any day.

Practice What We Preach

The end of summer came quickly and with that came the college drop off. Our empty nest was drawing near. One of our plans for down the road was to start camping. We wanted to wait because dragging a 17-year old camping was not our idea of fun, or more like not his idea of fun. As we drove by the camper dealership multiple times a day, we had the epiphany that we do not have to wait. Isn’t that what we preach on a daily bases. Make the plan now. So, in September after a little bit of shopping around we snagged up a small camper at an end of the season sale.

Our new camper.

We now added camping travel to our list. We have always wanted to explore the United States this way and now we can slowly chip away at another sector of our bucket list.

What A Year So Far!

October brought us Meliora Weekend at the University of Rochester. At this time, most universities were cancelling Parent’s Weekend, so we were thrilled to be able to attend in person and get a feel for where Jake has been calling his second home. Most events took place outdoors or with limited capacity indoors. We signed up for every event we could and enjoyed some college parent normalcy.

University of Rochester.

With the end of the year on the horizon we had one last event planned. Our first live concert in two years, Andrea Bocelli in Boston. As we tend to do, we made a weekend out of it to take in the holiday season. We can’t explain the feeling to be in a stadium again with a crowd. Live vocals instead of a virtual concert from your living room. Things we will never take for granted again.

The Christmas holiday we were surrounded by our family and there is no better gift than that. In the not-so-distant future our boys may be scattered across the country and being together will not always be so easy. We took in every moment and are grateful we were present for them.

While we know 2021 was not what it could have been for many, it still brought cherished memories, days filled with laughter, sun kissed days and love felt in every way.

Travel Plans: 2022

What are our travel plans for 2022? Well, it starts in late January, with Craig taking a bucket list trip with his brothers to see the United States Men’s National Soccer team play in a World Cup qualifying game in Columbus, Ohio. We’ll have a blog about the trip and plenty of pictures to go with it.

We are headed to Italy in May. We have a travel credit we need to use this year and can’t wait to get back to our favorite place on earth. There’s new adventures planned for while we are there, and we are counting down the days.

There will be a local getaway in July/August, camping with our Stella, and probably some surprises along the way. We are excited for everything that the new year has to offer!

The family in Hawaii.

Business Outlook: 2022

We were blown away by the response to our travel agency in 2021. So, what is in store for the agency in 2022? Well, we have plans we are excited to share with you in the coming year on more country specific certifications to help you get out in the world. Getting detailed training on certain countries will help us ensure that you have a once-in-a-lifetime trip when you go there.

We are tossing around the idea of adding another agent to our travel agency. Adding another agent, with specialized training, will help us offer you even more specialized travel advice. And this could help the two of us focus on what we do best and what we are most passionate about; building complete, individualized itineraries from start to finish. We are currently exploring this option.

One thing that we are super excited for is to be able to offer you guided European vacations. This would entail a complete itinerary AND having us onsite with you to experience everything alongside you. We can’t wait to be your European tour guides! This isn’t something that we will be offering in 2022, but we will be spending the year laying the groundwork to be able to offer tours in 2023 and beyond. Would a guided trip with us as tour guides interest you? Where would you like us to take you?

Us.

Thank You

As 2021 winds down, we wanted to tell you how much we appreciate you. Thank You for reading our blog. We appreciate you for interacting with us on social media. Thank You for reaching out to us to talk about travel. And Thank You for your trust in planning your vacations. You helped make 2021 an amazing year for us.

What wonderful things happened for you in 2021? Where are you headed in 2022?

Thank you for reading, and remember, #NeverStopPlanning!

Jen and Craig

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