Your Stories: Juggling being a teaching assistant and travel agent

Independent Travel Expert Lindsey Waldron tells Josie Klein that after falling in to travel by accident she loves the industry

Q. What is your background in travel?
I got into travel by accident. When my daughter was two my husband and I moved to Cornwall to be closer to my family. I wanted to find a homeworking job so I could be with my daughter and bring in some money. I was looking at options online when I came across Independent Travel Experts, which stood out as I love travel. I got in touch with the agency, had a phone call, then took part in an induction day in Woking. And after that, I was a fully fledged homeworker. I love working in the industry.

Q. How did you meet your business partner?
I set up my business in June 2017 and, later that year, I went to the Independent Travel Experts Christmas party, where I shared a room with a woman called Tricia Hart. We hit it off instantly and kept in touch. After a while, we started discussing wanting to go part-time, as each of us had families, plus I had taken on a full-time role as a teaching assistant. We decided to join forces in November 2019. We’ve enjoyed sharing the business – it works so well for us. Tricia, who lives near Blackpool, works during the days, then on my drive home from school, we have a handover call. When I get home, I pick up any enquiries and work on them in the evenings. We’re such a great team and we speak every day. We went on a fam trip to Switzerland at the start of October and that was the first time we had seen each other in person since the pandemic started. But it feels like we’re together all the time.

We refunded everyone immediately, instead of postponing holidays, which saved us so much stress in the long run

Q. How do you balance two jobs?
It’s quite tiring and I work a lot of hours – but I love doing both jobs. I’m a teaching assistant for seven and eight-year-olds, which is tough because the kids all missed out on key socialisation time during lockdown, so they can be a handful, but I enjoy it. Coming home and working on travel is such a great outlet. I do a few hours every evening, working later on Thursdays when my daughter is at art class and then again on Sunday mornings when my husband and daughter are playing football – so I fit it in around the family. I love sinking my teeth into a complex booking with lots of moving parts. It gives me such a rush when everything lines up perfectly.

Q. Who are your customers?
All our customers come through friends and referrals, which is a lovely way to expand. Tricia’s daughter is a nail and eyelash technician, so we get loads of referrals through her. The rest of our clients are friends of friends. We sell every type of holiday, so we get customers interested in all sorts. The partnership between Tricia and I has helped because I know more about Europe and the US, and Tricia is more of an expert on cruise, ski and long-haul – so together, we cover pretty much everything. We book holidays ranging from multi-generational trips to Spain with Jet2 to tailor-made Japan tours. I love the diversity; I would hate to be pigeonholed into one specialism, as it’s so fun doing it all.

I sat in hospitality with the Beckhams

Q. What was the pandemic like for you?
It was a horrific time for everyone, but Tricia and I made the best of a bad situation. We refunded everyone immediately, instead of postponing holidays, which saved us so much stress in the long run. Everyone was so understanding. The best thing about it was we managed to get nearly everyone a refund fairly quickly. There were a few instances where we had to dig deep to get the airlines to refund the money, but in the end, we got everything back. Our final refund came through at the start of this year; the lady who had booked the trip couldn’t believe it – she was so happy.

Q. Do you have any expansion plans?
Absolutely not. Tricia and I aren’t the kind of people to be shouting about ourselves. We are just happy plodding along, doing our thing. The thought of managing a team doesn’t work for me at all.

Where does your love of travel stem from?

Years ago, when I split up with my ex-boyfriend, his sister offered me the chance to travel with her and her boyfriend, professional footballer Tim Cahill, as a ‘mother’s help’. I travelled a lot with them to help out with their kids. I was working as a waitress at the time and my boss always let me take time off when they were going away, so it worked perfectly. The first trip I went on with them was a week in Barbados. I stayed at this amazing villa on an all-expenses-paid trip – it was incredible. I carried on going away with them for a few years.

We went back to Barbados a few times, as well as to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Tenerife. We even went to an LA Galaxy game once, where I sat in hospitality with the Beckhams. The couple got married in Las Vegas, but Tim had to fly to South Africa for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, so I went on the honeymoon to Florida instead. The couple moved to China, and I’d met my husband and we wanted to settle down in England – so that was the end of it. But it gave me a hunger for travel and led me to a career in the industry.

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