By Alexis Moore
An almost 30-year veteran to the travel business, Mary Nelson, AAA Travel Agent in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has helped thousands of clients plan their dream vacations.
How did you break into the travel business?
When my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Hawaii 28 years ago, we had a fantastic travel agent. I was really interested in how seamlessly she put everything together. When we returned, I signed up for a night course. That started it all! Over the years I fell in love with sending clients to my favorite vacation spots, like Disney and the Caribbean. When we moved from Long Island down to Myrtle Beach, I came to work for AAA. It’s been a great fit.
What’s your favorite trip to plan?
It’s always been Disney World. It’s magical. When clients come to me to book a trip, I take lots of time to talk through all the different hotel options and the pros and cons of each. My favorite place to stay is the Polynesian because when I’m there, I feel just like I’m in Hawaii! I love to show people how to use the My Disney Experience so they can customize their experience.
What’s one of your top personal vacations?
My newfound love is river cruising. I think it’s the best way to see parts of Europe because you’re not constantly packing and unpacking. You’re on a floating hotel, waking up every morning to a new little city or town. Recently I took the Tauck “Blue Danube” river cruise, and it was the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever been on as a travel agent.
What’s on your travel bucket list?
I have a long list that keeps growing every day! I’ve always been intrigued by the animals in South Africa. I’d also love to explore Alaska. When I go, I want to do the land and the sea. I always tell people, if you can afford it and you have time, see everything you can see. I’m dying to see the bears and the glaciers in the Inside Passage.
What’s one of the most challenging itineraries YOU’VE recently planned?
Two of my clients take a long vacation every year, and when they go to a new country, they want to see everything. Last year, they set their sights on France. We started with three river cruises with Viking River Cruises: “Paris & the Heart of Normandy,” “Lyon & Provence” and “Chåteaux, Rivers & Wine.” With all three, they did every optional excursion — which is definitely not for everyone! At the end of all that, they wanted to go on a private guided tour to the Loire Valley. For me, the biggest challenge was making sure their insurance was right-sized. I wanted them to have a sufficient amount without overpaying.
You mentioned that AAA has been a great fit. Why?
It’s so rewarding to share in people’s joy when they’re planning a vacation — and then to hear all the details when they come home. I received an email from a member who was on the Uniworld “Splendors of Egypt & the Nile” tour, with a picture of her and her husband on a camel. It made my day!
Let your AAA Travel Agent handle all the details of your next big adventure! Call 800-750-5386 or stop by your local AAA Travel office today.