Over the years you have come to know me as a mother of special needs children, a maker and art teacher. Being a maker and art teacher served my family well during the times when I wanted and needed to be able to drop everything for my kids. Whether it was a heart appointment for Emily or an autism conference for Evan, being a maker and teacher allowed me the freedom to work -- which I love -- and the comfort in knowing that the career I built fit perfectly into our lives.
What you might not have known is that when Emily was 4-years old she was granted a wish from the Make a Wish Foundation to visit Florida for a week and stay at Kids Village, a property dedicated to special needs children through Give Kids The World. It was magical. On the plane ride home Emily and I cried and I promised that we would return to Florida and Disney World soon. I wasn't working at the time and didn't know how I would keep my promise and afford a vacation as magical as the one we just enjoyed. We started planning to return to Florida anyway. We picked the date, January 2000. We didn't know that I was expecting and Emily's little brother, Evan, would be born January 2000. Opting to postpone to 2001 gave me the opportunity to research our future dream vacation in great depth. Along the way I met remarkable people on a Disney forum -- Facebook didn't exist at the time. One of the people in the group contacted me and offered me a job as a travel agent specializing in Disney because of the thorough research I posted on the travel forum.
It was perfect! I needed a job where I could stay-at-home with my children and work in a field that I loved. After intensive training and passing my TICO exam (required in Ontario, Canada), I started selling travel -- primarily Disney.
We also were able to visit Disney annually until Emily's heart health worsened.
I traded my travel career and became a maker and teacher -- only booking travel occasionally on special request.
We had several more happy years with Emily.
She died January 2021 due to complications from her May 2019 heart transplant. She was 27-years old.
My husband, Gary, and I decided not to make any big decisions for one-year, although we did do a lot of talking about our future and what changes we might consider.
When January 2022 came, Gary announced that he would be retiring in April 2022, he's 62-years old. We got our ducks in a row -- as the saying goes.
I have been helping Evan build a business as his autism is best suited for him to be an entrepreneur. He is such a lovely soul.
Wanderlust returned in 2022 and I was hired by Northstar Travel in Ontario as a travel agent -- work-from-home. Covid-19 gave me the opportunity to stay home and dive into re-learning the travel industry and all the new pandemic protocols. Everyone is buying travel insurance now!
This brings me to why I am writing to you.
I wanted to let you know that once again my family life made a pivot.
I will continue to make and teach art, but my main focus will be the travel industry.
We can still chat about art, crafts, fiber, textile arts, homesteading, raising chickens and beekeeping of course. Now we can add travel to our conversations.
I absolutely love talking about travel.
My travel service is free -- travel suppliers pay travel agents commission.
Booking with a travel agent doesn't cost travelers more and often saves money because we have the inside scoop on industry framework and patterns.
Even if you just want to chat about travel you are considering and not necessarily planning, I am here to help. Northstar Travel is a full-service travel company. I will be focusing on family travel, Florida, theme park destinations, beach vacations, and traveling with special needs children and adults.
I started a blog https://www.sandraclarke.ca/travel and will soon post a travel vlog on YouTube. The blog and vlog will have lots of tips and helpful travel information.
Thanks so much for your support over the years.
I'm happy to move forward together and chat with you about dream vacations and bucket list travel.
We are planning a road trip from Toronto to Florida in September. I'll post updates about that too!
Have a great day,
Sandra Clarke • A Work In Progress