Atlas clients Dale and Robin are childhood friends turned high school sweethearts. Married right after college graduation, they moved to Dallas from Michigan after a snowy winter with a car full of belongings, Robin 8 months pregnant and $500. After spending decades building their careers, Robin has found a new passion in retirement.
[minti_pullquote align="right"]"Remember that even when you’re working on a passion project, you’ll still have some parts that are difficult." Robin[/minti_pullquote]
Tell us about your retirement.
Robin: When we moved to Dallas, I started working in accounting and finance. After several years, I moved into HR and then went back to school to get my master's degree. Eventually, I started my own consulting business.
When I initially retired, I spent a year enjoying some travel and playing with our granddaughter, Brianna. I was able to do so many things with her that I didn’t get to do with our kids while I was working and going to school. Once Brianna, started school, I thought, "Well, I need something to do." One of my coaching clients suggested becoming a travel agent.
It was a fun idea, so I did quite a bit of research, completed several certifications, and then hung out my shingle for Create Your Dream Travel.
What are some of the lessons you've learned working as a travel agent? And what advice do you have for others looking to pursue their passion?
Robin: The biggest thing I have learned is not to make assumptions. Just because I travel a certain way, think about my finances in a certain way, or think about travel budgets in a certain way, doesn’t mean my clients share that same perspective. I always keep in mind that each individual client is unique.
For other people who want to pursue their passion, I’d say that you have to remember that even when you’re working on a passion project, you’ll still have some parts that are difficult. But, if you're going to do something new when you're at this point in your life, make sure that you really enjoy it. Then, when you get the occasional challenging client, you’ll still be able to remember why you’re doing what you do.
Has starting another career hindered you from doing other things you enjoy, or has it helped?
Robin: That’s true! We're actually leaving soon for a six-day river cruise in the south of France.
It’s a pretty good deal, but sometimes, it’s more than you think it's going to be. When I first started this, Dale kept saying, "I thought you were just going to do this part-time, have a couple clients and do it for fun," but there's some crazy weeks where I’m back to working 60 hours a week because everything tends to happen around the same time.
We try to stay prepared and plan to keep it small, but sometimes things change. We’re trying to find a good balance because I also like to volunteer. Between being a travel agent and my volunteer responsibilities, I definitely stay busy.
Do you have any personal goals you’d like to accomplish in retirement?
Robin: We like to try to go on longer trips, for instance to Australia and New Zealand. We snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef, and marked off a few other items on our bucket list. The older we get, the more we like road trips, so we’re looking for things that we can do in the US and just travel at our pace. Then, of course, we have our granddaughter, Brianna, and we want to be able to help her with college too.
Which trips have you enjoyed the most?
We had a big family reunion. I met a lot of people I'd never known and talked to people who I hadn’t seen since I was four. That was a very memorable trip.
Robin: I enjoyed being on the other side of the world, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, but we both absolutely loved our river cruise on the Danube. A trip I took to Africa several years ago was life changing as was the Israel trip Dale and I took. Both of our daughters live in the area and I would love to be able to put together a trip for our whole family sometime in the next couple years. Coordinating schedules can be a challenge but that would be wonderful. Hawaii would be great!
Dale: We were both so excited to be able to take our granddaughter Brianna to Disney World. That was a really special trip. I’m also looking forward to visiting the five states that I haven't been to yet, to finally get all 50.
What are your favorite states so far?
Dale: California and Idaho are some of my favorites. We like to get away from people.
Robin: They're all so different. I do love California, but I really love Vermont and New Hampshire, in the fall.
We’re big national park people and had even talked about doing the senior program at the national parks. They have accommodations and you can go visit for the summer, work for a month or two and do a lot of sightseeing while you give back. It sounds like a really fun adventure.
Are there any special trips you want to take with your granddaughter?
Dale: Our plan is to take her to Universal Studios and Monument Valley.
Robin: There are several European tour companies that focus on children's programming and finding cool experiences there, which would let her have fun and see other parts of the world. When she gets a little older, I’d love to take her on one of the tours where she can do community service work in a more disadvantaged part of the world to provide her with fresh perspective on how others live.
What's next on your journey?
Dale: True retirement. I’m looking forward to not working. I've been working since I was 13, so I’d like to volunteer but I haven’t settled on which organization just yet.
Robin: Yes, he's very excited about retiring! Me? Just continuing to stay busy and do as much volunteer work as I can. Also enjoying time with family and friends, and, of course, continuing our travel. I just want to feel like, when it's my time to go, that I've made some small difference in the world.
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