With a background in interior design and experience in product development for Saks Inc., Karen McAlpin has an eye for details and seeing the whole picture. While spending hours and hours planning a family trip to Disney, she quickly realized that her skills could be applied where her passion lies: travel. Karen heard about Brownell’s Mentoring Program from a family friend and entered Class 7 in 2012. She now specializes in trips to the Caribbean, Hawaii, the US, and all things Disney. We share more of Karen’s journey + travel tips below!
Why did you choose Brownell as your host agency?
Growing up in Birmingham I had always heard about Brownell so it was only natural to talk to them first.
The relationships with vendors and the Virtuoso amenities go a long way in helping your clients have an amazing trip.
What are your favorite aspects of the Brownell Hosting and Mentoring Program?
Accounting help, Virtuoso, vendor relationships, and Travel Tribe [Brownell’s online Advisor forum]. I’ve also made lots of new friends with similar interests and we have a great time exploring new destinations together.
What advice do you have for someone entering the travel industry?
If you truly love the industry and your job, stick with it and keep shaking the trees for business.
What is your favorite aspect of being a Travel Advisor?
My favorite part of a client’s trip is hearing all the amazing stories and seeing the pictures when they return home.
Travel Tips + Favorites
What are the best books to read before you travel to certain destinations?
I prefer movies. For Paris I love Forget Paris and French Kiss; for Hawaii I like Blue Hawaii, 50 First Dates, and The Descendants.
What are your packing secrets?
Fold and roll dresses and nice clothes and I try to fold everything as small as possible. When traveling with my kids I like to put their clothes for each day labeled in a Ziploc storage bag. That way everyone knows what to wear each day and we can get out the door fast every morning.
What are the top 3 destinations on your bucket list?
A safari, Italy, and the South Pacific
What’s your best advice for traveling with the whole family?
Know your family’s interests and boundaries and plan accordingly. If you have a child who is afraid of bugs and wildlife, then Costa Rica is probably not the best destination. You will want to stretch their comfort zone a bit because that’s what travel is all about but know their limitations.
To learn more about Karen, visit her website: McAlpin Travel.