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Hidden Gems: Meet Michelle Rawls

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Rawls.

Michelle, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
After my long-term career as a Montessori Early Childhood Educator ended, I decided to follow my childhood dream of working in the travel industry as a Travel Professional.

My love of travel was passed on to me through my family. I am thrilled that my children and husband love traveling as much as I do. The memories we have made and will continue to make as a family while traveling will be cherished for many years to come.

As an educator, I feel it is very important for children to extend their learning outside of the classroom. The best way to learn is by actually experiencing things in the natural environment.

I encourage parents to take their children on different vacations and for those who are able to work remotely, to travel extensively with their children. Experiencing firsthand the beauty and diversity of our world is the best teacher!

I am very passionate about helping everyone feel comfortable traveling. Our oldest son has autism and is intellectually disabled. We believe that exposing him to new things is very important to his development.

Traveling with neurodiversity or any special needs can be challenging, but it is also filled with so many rewards. Many times, we would marvel at the new things he was willing to try and learn because he was in a different environment.

I want to be a valuable asset to the community as a resource and offer a kind listening ear. I hope they will book their travel through me to help support my small business so that I can continue to do what I love.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has been a bumpy road! Starting a brand-new career after being an Early Childhood Educator for over 30 years has been a challenge.

In addition to learning everything I can about the travel industry (which is never ending), I am also trying to figure out how to work at home with all of the distractions, learning computer skills, and navigating social media.

We’ve been impressed with Michelle as an independent contractor at Road To Relaxation Travel, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
As a Travel Professional, my goal is to design a dream vacation so that the client can relax and enjoy their vacation to the fullest. I want them to make special memories to last a lifetime!

I am an advocate for my clients and as a mom of a neurodiverse child, I am a person who listens to and understands the unique requirements of traveling with special needs. In addition to family travel, I encourage parents and caregivers to take a vacation for themselves. It is very important to make the time to relax, rejuvenate and connect with your significant other.

I am very proud of earning my certificate through IBCCES University as a Certified Autism Travel Professional. In addition to this, I received a certificate as a Travel Advisor through Wake Technical College and ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors).

My next goal is to complete the Certified Accessible Travel Advocate program through The Special Needs Group to be able to better assist more people who wish to travel but need special equipment to do so.

As a Travel Professional, I am continually taking courses on learning what makes different locations and properties unique so that I can tailor fit a vacation for each client. Being a member of ASTA and other travel-related groups is a key element to staying up to date on changing travel restrictions and regulations for the travel industry.

What would you say has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
To give myself grace. Trying to juggle learning a brand-new career while being a wife and caregiver to my family has not been easy.

I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do it or learn it all in one day. I also remind myself to take my own advice and find time to relax and enjoy this wonderful life.

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