How my passion for travel was my exhilarating education of life

Sinead Lonergan 28 April 2021
The other day, I walked past some landscape paintings in my home and felt an urge to admire them. It made me think of my late aunty Lily from Ardee who painted them. We used to call her the family photographer, as she was the only one of us with a camera in the 80s. She was a retired matron, and we shared a bond through our love of beautiful landscapes. While working on a cruise ship for ten years, I would often send her photos from my travels.

One of which was Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, which today remains as one of my favourite places. She also painted an image of one the islands in The Bahamas I sailed past many times. Working as a Guest Services Manager aboard the cruise ship - I had joined for the adventure and wow - did I get that. I got my travel education in what Lily called “the university of life”. I made friends in every corner of the world during my cruise days, before going on to work in the hospitality industry as Wedding and Event Manager with the Knightsbrook Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort in Meath.

My cruise days were a far cry from my first trip abroad to Tenerife with my cousin Orla when we were in our early twenties. I laugh now when I think of how unprepared I was. Why did I pack so many pairs of heavy Irish jeans for such a hot country? These days, I have packing down to a fine art and I’m usually packing for three – my 6-year-old daughter Lucy and my husband Noel. If I was packing for a holiday, my favourite destinations would be...

1: Alaska As an asthmatic, I found Alaska’s air fresh and clean. Whether you canoe, trek or go dog sleighing, it’s such a beautiful place. I felt so sad for their tourist industry this year as their cruise window is only a few short months long and they’ve now missed out on two years. 2: Maldives, South Asia I don’t think there is anywhere in the world that lets you switch off as easily as you can in the Maldives. I honeymooned there and it was gorgeous. 3: New York The ultimate girls’ trip away, I love the buzz of New York. And I’m looking forward to my trip there this November. 4: Tenerife, Spain If you told me tomorrow that I could fly off on a holiday, this is where I would go. Easy to get to, safe and reliable with everything you want from a family holiday. 5: Sint Maarten, Caribbean The Dutch part is nice and the French side, while less explored, is incredible. Also, Maho Beach beside the airport is a must-see, as the planes fly so low you could almost reach up and touch one.

Being a Travel Counsellor Becoming a Travel Counsellor was an obvious career move for me and I suppose it’s not surprising that cruise holidays are my favourites. I was fortunate to win Travel Counsellors ‘Best Newcomer’ award in 2016, and after being nominated for ‘Best Cruise’ in 2017, I won the award in 2018 and 2019. This has been an honour and reflects my passion for cruise holiday planning. Cruise holidays require multi-dimensional planning but they’re second nature to me.

Over the past few weeks, I have been working on some very exciting itineraries, a Kilimanjaro climb, a honeymoon in Bora Bora, a self-drive in Iceland, a South African safari, Lapland for this December, numerous trips to New York, Maldives, Dubai, fantastic cruises and many more. So many people have missed out on celebrating special occasions over the last year from birthdays to anniversaries, and so I’m delighted to now be working with clients to help them celebrate these very special milestones.

Travel Counsellors benefit from working with Destination Management Companies located in many different countries around the world. Having someone on the ground helps with precision planning of transfers, attractions and guided tours, and weather updates - to offer a real authentic experience. Many people are now planning and booking 2022 and 2023 holidays. For extra peace of mind, talk to me about our flexible promise itineraries. These are a selection of itineraries that you can amend up to eight weeks before your trip. You can start planning your holiday or honeymoon now and give yourself something to look forward to. Let your next trip be part of your university of life.

But don’t leave it too late, get in touch with me for a video chat or call about your next holiday.