Soul of Travel: Women's Empowerment and Travel Podcast

The Role of Community in Transformational Travel with Catherine Gallagher

February 15, 2023 Christine Winebrenner Irick, hosted by Lotus Sojourns Season 4 Episode 116
Soul of Travel: Women's Empowerment and Travel Podcast
The Role of Community in Transformational Travel with Catherine Gallagher
Soul of Travel Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript

“Through building the community, connecting those leaders and having a place where they're learning from each other and growing together…it helps to spread the ripples further.” ​​​​​​~ Catherine Gallagher

In this episode, Christine hosts a soulful conversation with Catherine Gallagher, UK-based travel business coach, social entrepreneur, and mastermind facilitator and co-founder of Women Travel Leaders. After spending the first decade of her career in recruitment and talent development, she followed her dreams and set up her own travel business, which she led for the next decade. She loved arranging ethical experiential travel for high-end clients, but she felt lost in the wilderness of entrepreneurship. She wished there was an industry-specific trusted community that she could call upon for support, and now she's excited to be helping shape just this kind of community with Women Travel Leaders. Catherine passionately believes in the transformational effects that travel can bring and is committed to supporting leaders that share this belief.

Christine and Catherine discuss:

  • The importance of community, especially for women in business
  • How entrepreneurship and business creation are a type of creative expression
  • Experiencing community in travel with Women Travel Leaders
  • How community can reinforce your values
  • How to align travel experiences with personal transformation
  • Creating work in alignment with your values
  • Designing and encouraging transformational experiences through travel
  • Bringing children into the travel experience

Join Christine now for this soulful conversation with Catherine Gallagher.

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Credits. Christine Winebrenner Irick (Host, creator, editor). Catherine Gallagher (Guest). Original music by Clark Adams. Editing, production, and content writing by Carly Oduardo.

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Christine: Catherine Gallagher is a UK-based travel business coach, social entrepreneur, and mastermind facilitator. After spending the first decade of her career in recruitment and talent development, she followed her dreams and set up her own travel business, which she led for the better part of the next 10 years. She loved arranging ethical experiential travel for high-end clients, but she felt somewhat lost in the wilderness of entrepreneurship. She wished there were an industry-specific trusted community that she could call upon for support, and now she's excited to be helping shape just this kind of community with Women Travel Leaders. Catherine passionately believes in the transformational effects that travel can bring and is committed to supporting leaders that share this belief. She brings a unique mix of business, professional development, knowledge, travel industry experience, and coaching expertise, along with the perspective of balancing motherhood with her business adventures. In our conversation, Catherine and I talk about the importance of community, especially for women in business, and how we experience that with the Women Travel Leaders community. 

Christine: On the podcast, she and I look at the process of bringing our true selves to our work and how entrepreneurship and business creation is like the paint for creatives that express themselves. In this way, we talk about the transformational aspect of travel, traveling with children and the way it shapes them and us, and explore if there is actually a work-life balance to be created. 

Have you been loving these soulful conversations? We rely on listener support to produce our podcast. You can support me in amplifying the voices of women by making a donation on PayPal. The link is in the show notes. Join me now for my soulful conversation with Catherine Gallagher. 

Christine: Welcome to Soul of Travel podcast. I'm so happy today to be joined by Catherine Gallagher. She is one of the co-founders of Women Travel Leaders, which is where I was so fortunate to meet her. Um, and I have really loved being a part of that community, especially the past few years as we've collectively navigated all the hurdles that we've come across during the pandemic. It's been such a great space. So I can't wait to talk a little bit more about the importance of community, uh, the transformational power of travel, traveling with our kids, all these things that we have in common. I'm really excited to be able to jump into that in a moment. So, Catherine, welcome to Soul of Travel. 

Catherine: Amazing. Well, thank you for having me. And it's been amazing having you as part of the community of Women Travel Leaders. 

Christine: Thank You. And thanks for being there. <laugh>. So happy to be a part of it. Obviously, community and travel are my two favorite things and community of women especially. So I, it's such a, a great space to be for me for so many reasons. Not just because of the support, but just to like, be in that space is really special. Um, as we get started with our conversation, I just wanna explore a little bit the, I guess maybe winding path that has shaped you and led you to where you are. I think so many of us in the travel industry looking back, have a little bit of that, the winding path, but it really is important in shaping who we are and what we're passionate about and what we hope for the future. So I would love to have you share a little bit about how travel first became a part of your life and how that has really impacted where you are now. 

Catherine: Cool. Okay. So, um, I always had a desire to travel. Um, my, my uncle been a big inspiration to me. He was always traveling and so he'd always be coming back from me sort of exotic where I thought exotic trips and um, like, oh, I'd always really love to kind of know more about where he'd been and his stories. And, um, but it wasn't until I was 16 that I actually, the first time I ever went on a plane and the first time I ever went outside of, um, the France, we, we used to go on, um, the occasional trip to France, which I, I'm based in the uk so France was just a hop over the pond. And, um, uh, so yeah, the first big trip I took was when I was, um, uh, 16. And I went to Sri Lanka for  four weeks. 

Catherine: Um, with, it was through a local church. And, um, I lived quite a sheltered existence. I basically grew up, well, not completely, but sort of for [I spent]  my teenage years in a forest. Um, and um, so, you know, I just, I'd had this sort of wanderlust that I'd never really seen the world. Um, and then, uh, so I got to go to Sri Lanka, but I didn't just get to go on a holiday vacation. Um, I actually got to stay with families. We stayed in a convent. Uh, we got to meet so many interesting people and like the, we met with sing [unintelligible]  and lived with them, which was amazing. So for my like first experience of travel, that was pretty epic. And it was a real culture shock that I didn't realize I was having <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative> until, you know, I was a couple of weeks in. 

Catherine: It's like, yeah, so, and I, I, I think now I've been through life as far as I am now. It's only when you get older of it, you sort of start looking back and you're like, those kind of trips did shape me and you don't appreciate it at the time. You don't realize the impact of those trips. And, uh, it really helped to kind of appreciate the value of student travel, you know, and those kind of un voluntourism if it's done in the right way and the experiences that give you a chance to, uh, I, I know it's an overused word, but give you that kind of authentic, um, experience of, of the, the place that you are traveling to and the people that you meet along the way. So yeah, that's kind of my first entry, really into travel, which then a year later was followed by, uh, an expedition to Ecuador. Uh, I was mountaineering and completely different kind of experience, more adventure focused and uh, I had to do a selection weekend to get to go on that. Uh, which there's another whole kind of story with that that I won't go into now. And, um, uh, yeah, that was sort of just a completely different experience to Sri Lanka, but both like epic. So I think those kind of trips really gave me, even I knew I wanted to travel and that just confirmed hit mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, yeah, 

Christine: I love hearing those stories cuz like you said, reflecting back, you can see how that shaped you in the moment. It's, it's just the experience that it is and, and I think that it should be like, we shouldn't, we should be in the moment and not thinking about what that experience will mean later. Um, I mean, sometimes I think we are, but like, as you look back and as you were talking, I was like, oh, I can see how this relates to this thing in your journey and how this relates to this thing in your journey. And I even think with my kids, like my oldest daughter is getting ready to do her first school trip at the end of this year going to Costa Rica with her history teacher. And I just am like, oh, I know what door that's opening for you, potentially, you know, and it's so exciting for me to, to kind of hopefully know what that is gonna bring into her life. 

Christine: But I just think it's really cool when we can look back and then see how things started to show us who we are and what we'll love. And I think the other thing that I loved that you mentioned is having this wanderlust or this sense of wanderlust, even though you weren't really exposed to anything, it just was this thing that lived within you. Mm-hmm. And I feel like <affirmative>, I really had that as well, and I've known so many people. I think that it's just interesting how people that maybe really knew they wanted to travel, it wasn't because they already had a sense of how vast the world was. They just had this thing that said, you need to do this, and it doesn't really seem to make sense. It's just this, it's just like, it was something that's a part of your DNA that you have to tackle at some point in your life. 

Christine: Um, so I really resonate with that because I grew up in a small town in Montana that I was pretty isolated and, you know, not connected to anything, and I just like, just knew I had to see whatever else there was outside of my a thousand people in my world. And, um, yeah. So I thank you for, for sharing that experience. Um, part of this season of the podcast, we are really focusing on women who are influencing change. Um, I think with Women Travel Leaders, that's definitely such a, an important thing for me is to see the opportunities that exist for women in the industry to see the support of communities and the way that we can come together. But I'm wondering for you, what is that impact that you see yourself creating? Or what do you hope that you're creating in the world? 

Catherine: Oh, it all, all comes back to ripple effect. Um, and I, I hone, I feel so humble to have the opportunity to, uh, be in connection with the incredible women that are in the community and to see the amazing things that they're doing, uh, and the impact that they're having. And I'd really love to think that through building the community, connecting those leaders and having a place where they're learning from each other and growing together, that that is having, it has that ripple effect. It helps to, to spread the ripples further. Whereas if you were, I mean, I used to run my own travel business and I truly wish there had been a community like this when I, uh, had my business because I did feel a bit lost sometimes. I didn't know who to speak to, I didn't know who to trust. And, uh, if I'd had other people I could speak to that business may have been a very different story. At the same time, I feel that that was part of my path and I needed that to happen for me to be in the position that I'm in now. And so it was a painful experience, <laugh>, um, but one that I hope is going to bear well. It is already bearing fruit in the way that I see the ripples going out and yeah. 

Christine: Yeah. I, part of, for me, that is also one of the things that I think is such a privilege. And like, someone will email me after they've been on the podcast and they'll say, so-and-so heard my episode, and now they're, you know, interested in this part of my business, or they're supporting me in this way, or they've asked how we can partner. And for me, that makes me feel really excited about what that means for what this show is creating and the, and the ripple that it, it it can have as well. Um, so I, or if I see people that I know connecting on LinkedIn that have been guests, and it's just, it's really exciting for me. Like connection and community are really, are everything. And so I also feel like that's so important. Um, I realize as we've started talking and jumped righted in, um, as friends and colleagues, we haven't even talked about what Women Travel Leaders actually is. So for those listening, would you share a little bit about this community and, and who it's for and and who it serves, how it serves? 

Catherine: Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Sure. While I remember something that you just said there that I thought is, uh, relevant for, for hopefully everyone listening is never underestimate the power of a, a connection or a conversation that you can have this, I've had this throughout my life where someone's told me something that lay up there like, oh yeah, I did this, um, because you said this, or, you know, it, it, those sort of conversations. So I just, it's amazing the impact that we can all have through, uh, showing up. So, um, so Women Travel Leaders is, uh, community for top level leaders in the industry, uh, through, we've started in in the pandemic and the amazing Jennine Cohen got it started. Um, and we have the most incredible leaders, I'd say we are, we are veering towards business owners who are in the adventure, luxury travel space. And I'm very pleased to say that, uh, most of them are interested in transformational travel, sustainable travel, and making a really positive difference through travel. 

Catherine: So, uh, that's really exciting. And a lot of them are small business owners who don't necessarily have, uh, the community around them of other leaders that they can talk to, even though there's all sorts of trade shows and trade events, they're all over the world and they're not always easy to get to. And even if you are attending those events, uh, as you know as well, it's not you, you're not gonna have deep conversations necessarily when you are sitting sort of listening to someone who's bringing their destination or their hotel or whatever to life. Um, you're not gonna get into the nitty gritty of what it's really like running a travel business or what are some of the challenges that you're facing. Just to have that ear that can listen is invaluable. Great. Does that answer the question? 

Christine: It does. Thank you. We're gonna, we're gonna talk a little bit more about community in general, so we'll go into it further, but I just wanted people who are listening if it sounds like something they might be looking for to know, uh, what it was. And we'll also invite people in at the end of the conversation as well. But, um, you were sharing about the importance of those connections and really having, I would say, honest, vulnerable, real conversations, which, especially during the pandemic was so important because so many of us were facing challenges we've never been prepared for in our careers at this point. And like me, I, I launched my business, I'd been in the industry for 20 years, but I launched my business right before in February of 2020. So I was both starting as a new business owner and just like having no clue how to <laugh> put one foot in front of the other. 

Christine: And so it was really great to be able to just sit in community and one know I wasn't alone because it, like you said, it feels so isolating. Especially I'm a solopreneur, so my business, it's just me and this computer and Zoom most of the time. And, uh, it, that was really valuable. Um, also for me, the connection with women around the world is really valuable because I think that's something you don't often get, even if you go to trade shows, you're still kind of isolated to the region that you're in. So I have loved that aspect. But for you, and thinking about community, I guess one thing that I'm curious about, what is maybe unique to communities of women, especially women in business, and maybe something that either you didn't expect or something that surprised you over the past two years that this community has been coming together? 

Catherine: Um, something that came up to me then, which is slightly unrelated to a question, was more of a personal thing of like community and how it's like, I've realized that it's a massive value for me to have is community. If I'm, like, if, if there's a thing about, if you are feeling like kind of down or not motivated, it's probably because you are out of alignment with your values. And, uh, there's a really cool like little thing you can do. If, if you know what your values are, then you're, you can sort of do a checklist like, oh, it's cause I'm not, uh, there's no community in my life. So then if you know that, then you don't create it <laugh> and then you feel great. So, um, that's, uh, without in necessarily intending to, that's kind of what, what's happened. Uh, and in, to answer your question about some of the things around women in travel, uh, women and community particularly, well, I think that they're just generally a lot more open and able to be more vulnerable. 

Catherine: Uh, I think it is actually really important for men to have community as well. And I think the more of that that's done the better. Uh, where especially where they have an opportunity to talk, where they have a space, a safe space. I, I think it's a lot harder though because they're much more, uh, generally speaking closed. Whereas I find that from my experience of working with women, that we are much more open and able to be vulnerable at the same time. You know, I I've also observed that women are, that, you know, business women and they're keen to move forward with kind of some of the practical things. They're much more, yeah, collaborative, collaborative, compassionate. And I've got a kind of thing around, I think there's the alpha alpha women. We have quite a few of those in our community. I'm more on the kind of, uh, soft power <laugh> type of women who, um, I'd love to raise up more of those natives who maybe are not as confident, not as classically alpha women. Um, uh, and but even so with, with all of the ladies, we've got amazing groups where yeah, they're sharing their, their inside secrets within with competition, and then they're collaborating and doing like really cool stuff together. And I just, I'm not sure that would happen one without community. And I think that's probably something that's quite unique to women. 

Christine: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. I, I feel like that has been such an amazing thing too, to see the collaborations that happen and the willingness to share. And I think for me, part of that comes from like the, the better the narrative is around female leadership and travel, because we are all doing well, the, it reflects upon all of us, right? So it, I think it's the same as if you look at it from a perspective in sustainability or, you know, responsible travel or ethical travel, like it's the, the, the one person that's not aligned with that or that's has the bad news press or whatever, like they're the one that you remember, right? So the, the more unified we are in raising one and up another up, the stronger we are, the more valuable we become as a whole. So I think so many of the women, we really realize that. 

Christine: And the other thing that I have talked a lot about, and I had a great chat, um, in my podcast with [unintelligible] about this, um, so people can jump back and listen to that one, but about this idea, and this is something I had to do in my own mind, was that everything we create is, is our own and an extension of ourself. So there really isn't competition per se, because mm-hmm. <affirmative>, everything mm-hmm. <affirmative> that you do, I'm going to do differently through mm-hmm. <affirmative> the fact that I'm creating it. And if we are looking at, um, what we're creating, being in alignment with our guests or our audience or whomever we're speaking to, we should only be seeking to speak to the person we're meant to speak to. So in that way, there's also not competition because, you know, you … as a leader in women's community are speaking to your people. 

Christine: And even if I'm doing the same thing, I'm speaking to my people and maybe there's some overlap and that's where we support one another, but like on a whole, like, we are all meant to do a certain thing in a certain way and attract those people. And if we create our businesses in that model, it again, it's just better to know one another. And for me to say, like, if someone comes in and asks me about, you know, this kind of trip to this region and I don't run that trip, I shouldn't try to create that trip. I should give that person to the person who is gonna be best served. Uh, and so I think that's kind of somewhere in there is also the magic of a space like this is, I, I think we start to see that and we don't, then we also don't have to be all things to everybody, which is a huge weight off of our shoulders because we can just say, you know, that's not my expertise, that's not my magic. This is her space and I'm so glad to give you to them. And I think then it comes back as we work in community. Um, but those have been some things that I've really had to spend a lot of time thinking about because I'm, I'm not going to be a multi-billion dollar travel company tomorrow. I don't know that I actually ever want to be, so I can only do so much and it's okay. So I don't know what that, how that resonates with you, but 

Catherine: I I, I could not agree more <laugh>. It's like some, it's exactly, exactly what I believe as well. And yeah, I totally believe that if you are in true alignment with yourself, with your values, with heart, your soul, then there you can't go wrong because that's your path. And if you truly follow that path, then yeah, there'll be other people doing something really similar. But it's not exactly what you've just said. It's, it's never gonna be the same. It's, it's, as you said, again, it's, I see entrepreneurship as an extension of self. It is an, uh, it is a form of self-expression and it is you, uh, I've often, I've thought about, I've kind of always thought, well, I'm not very creative, you know, I look at other people who are like really arty and creative and then like, oh, actually, you know, I am. It's just that it comes through my, through business for me, and that's an entrepreneurship. Uh, so yeah. Yeah, completely agree. And I'd love that message to go out further and for more people to appreciate that. And I think that would create a much more peaceful collaborative world and yeah, that would, that would really be, that really would change the world, wouldn't it? Yeah. If everybody thought like that. 

Catherine: Yes, I agree. But hey, I think we can do it!

Christine: <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. We're, we're starting world peace right now on the podcast. Um, I, I really, and Oh, go ahead. 

Catherine: Sorry. I was going with, you were saying about, you know, you, you about being a multimillion dollar kind of business as well, and I think that's the other thing, people get so caught up in the idea of, oh, I need to be this, and, and we all see the various adverts about, you know, reach 10 times your business or all of these sort of big, big goals. And I've been completely guilty of falling into that myself and not, that's all great for people that genuinely want that. And yeah, I would like to earn decent, have a decent income and have a really nice lifestyle and everything, but it's like, you've got to ch you've gotta find the right, the right level and the right point for you, because again, you are beautifully unique as you are. And it's like, okay, what's the, what, what is the real, what is the reality that you wanna create for yourself, not for someone else, and not because someone else has said it, or some guru has kind of said, this is what you need to do. Like, no, it's, it's within 

Christine: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Which I think is also an interesting space, and I feel like a space I've spent more time in in the last five years is understanding, and, and you've said, you know, entrepreneurship is kind of like how we express ourselves. That is our outlet, and it's like this piece of ourselves we put out to the world, uh, which is also really vulnerable, um, when, when you are really creating something and, and trying to show people that essence of you through your work, but also I think really beautiful when you see that. And I'm very drawn to those people where I can see like, aha, they are letting me see them and they're letting me see what they wanna be in this world. Um, but also in, in business. And I think just in the space of time we're in, in this, in, in the history of our world and a history of humanity, is that we're really being asked to know who we are, and we're really being asked to know, to understand the impact we create and the trajectory and, and the ripple that we create, whether it's positive or negative. 

Christine: Um, and in business, I think we've, we've really been conditioned to, you know, have the education, have the skills, follow the map, follow the plan, do the checklist succeed, and that doesn't allow for us to be ourselves in that space. And so there's a lot of discomfort for people who are trying to both be themselves and be entrepreneurs or be leaders in the, in the travel industry or in any industry. And, um, I witnessed that a little bit. Uh, you and I were both recently together in Slovenia, which was amazing to be together, um, for the transformational travel councils gathering. And I noticed a few people who hadn't spent a lot of time in that space of thinking about who they are and, you know, the beliefs that we hold and how that shapes us as leaders and how that shapes everything. Um, they are still kind of in these two different buckets, you know, they are operating with those in the, in a space that's integrated together. 

Christine: Um, and I loved for me, because I wanna jump right into that space with everybody, and I forget that some people are like, oh, no, I, I don't do that yet. <laugh>, uh, I loved TTC allowed that to happen from a business perspective to, to be more fluid in between those two spaces. Um, so I would love to now just kind of jump into transformational power of travel and kind of what is unique to travel that allows us to have that and also maybe unique in the travel community that allows us, I don't know if it's unique, I feel like it is, allows us to be who we are in our business, um, in a way that I think maybe isn't allowed in a lot. I feel like it's in a more creative genre, so maybe as artists or musicians, but I think even as travel designers, like you said, we, that's our paint. Um, so I, I didn't really ask a question. I'm realizing <laugh>. 

Catherine: Um, where I feel like there's an opportunity to create more transformational travel is in for those. But when, when you're talking about travel, well with, within conversation between travel designer or travel agent and the client, and I think that there's, I'm sure it happens, some people do it very well. I'd love to know who they are if they're doing this. Um, and it's something I'm really interested in exploring is how you can, through the kind of sales process and asking questions of your clients, how you can, not, we, you can't really weave transformation into it, but it's more about, it's, it's kind of using coaching, it's using the principles of coaching through asking the right questions to help people to switch that light on that they didn't know was there. And for them to then it's awareness, it's for them to be able to then have that awareness when they travel to open their eyes and to see the unseen mm-hmm. <affirmative> 

Catherine: That it's unseen to them up until that point. And I think there's some probably some really simple things that a sales person can do with questioning. And I think that it could mean that they end up, uh, having a converting the client, selling a bigger trip, and for that person to have a much, uh, a transformation experience that they wouldn't necessarily otherwise have had. And then it becomes a much more interesting process for the, the agent, because you are, uh, you are creating a transformational experience as opposed to a transaction. And then the person who's traveling is gonna have a much more, uh, transformational experience. I dunno whether I, I, it's kind of dreamy, I suppose, to kind of think like that. And I'd love to get some examples of how people have done that. And I, because equally I think it can be done where I just think it could like accelerate that, that, or it could make it happen where otherwise it might not. 

Catherine: Because if you are sending someone to, or someone visiting a place and they're having an experience, then they're gonna have a, just through the nature of the experience, they'll have a transformational experience. You can't make someone have a transformation experience. It's obviously down to where they're at and how the experience is curated and how it's delivered. Where I think there is an opportunity though, is that for someone who may not have, hadn't chosen to have an experience that through the sales process, then you convince that person to have an experience mm-hmm. <affirmative> and therefore they have a transformation. 

Christine: Yeah. It's kind of like frontloading how many barriers you can break down and create that openness because kind of like you're saying, like, every trip holds this possibility. And I see this in, in group travel experiences. Like, you take 10 people, in my case, 10 women on it, and it on a experience, and everyone has a different experience. And it really comes down to, you know, where they're at in their life journey, how, what, what they'd been thinking about coming in, why they're coming into the experience, and then how much they've thought about that prior to the experience. And then for me, like I kind of imagine travel, just like sitting there waiting to know what it can give you, because I've had it happen where, you know, depending on where I'm at in my personal journey, I will have a very different experience traveling and, and recently traveling now spending a lot more time thinking about what travel cannot create for us and the awarenesses it can bring about ourselves and the world. 

Christine: Like I feel like travel gives me bigger cards or like more, more options to, to play and to grow. And, um, it, it's just is that much more impactful for me. And I, I only think it's because of the openness I have. And it's funny that you mentioned this, like, how could we do this as people selling travel? Um, like bring people already into this conversation because right before we got on this call, I was going through, I have this like, intake form of getting to know my travelers. So before people travel with me on a sojourn, I wanna make sure this is the experience they want. So kind of going back to what we were saying, like, yes, I could take anyone on one of my trips, but I want the people that are gonna create community on my experience together. And I, I want people to have the experience they need and I, if I can't give it to them or it's not what they're looking for, I'm okay that it's not a good match. 

Christine: Um, but part of that process for me is helping people or helping me to understand and maybe them to understand their travel style and their travel values and making sure that experience is aligned for them. And I, I don't think many people have thought about that. They're like, I love beach vacations, I love being in the mountains, but you say, what are your travel values? They're gonna just look at you like, I have no idea what you just asked me, <laugh>. So like, my intake process is helping that, um, understand that they have those. And so like, one of the questions is what type of experience are you seeking? Adventure, connection, quiet relaxation, disconnection. Um, and then like having them say like, what does your ideal travel experience feel like? And most people probably haven't thought about that, but if you do, then all of a sudden you're gonna really realize like, is this experience what you want? 

Christine: I we're so keen to take a vacation or to get away. And we just kind of like jump into it often. And I think we're gonna have more rewarding experiences if we do this process. So like I ask people like, what does this look like? What does it smell like? What do you picture yourself doing every day? Like, do you like to be in one place? Do you like to move from place to place? And I just think we don't, we don't think about it like even asking people like, do you want this experience to be similar to your daily life? Or are you looking from a giant for a contrast from your daily life? So yeah. I love that you said that cuz I really was just thinking, I'm like, I feel like this is such a valuable process on its own, not just for people applying to take my trips, but that anybody could really use these questions as a catalyst for opening, opening this door and then stepping into a more powerful travel experience. 

Catherine: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah, exactly. And um, when you talked earlier about when we were in Sri Lanka and, and remembering that some people were not like in the same space as you are. And I think it's the same with travelers as well. And the, the, the thing that comes to me is that like some people are, there's the people that who are, who are awake and that are ready for this and they get it. There's the people who will never get it. And I kind of hate to say that cause I feel like there must be an opportunity to break through that. But I think there are just some people who are just, they're just, they're just, I dunno, they, um, sleepwalk through life maybe. Is that unfair? I'm not sure. Yes. And then there's the people who are looking, who are seeking, but they don't, they don't know how to yet. 

Catherine: And I think that's where like you can, yeah, there's an opportunity, but it, it obviously it has to be the right time for them. And there's all sorts of ways that that just that they could have that moment where they start to see, I've got an example of, um, I used to do a lot of networking, like business networking and, um, it was a bni you know, when you, you have to kind of give your one minute pitch and then everyone refers business. And we had a reiki practitioner in the room and um, these were all kind of like classic gray suit business people. And because it was a referral based and her sessions were like, I'm say $50 or something, it was like, that was an easy referral. So people were like, yeah, I'll book a session with this lady person. And uh, and so there were several people who went to see her and it was like, it opened a whole new world for them that they did not know existed. And they couldn't, they like believe it themselves. It was just so cool, like to see that happen. Uh, yeah. So, and it was just an example, <laugh> of how people can be woken up 

Christine: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. And I, yeah, I, I just think that, I think for many of us, because we've had that experience, that's what we, we are so excited to bring other people into that experience, you know, and it, it, it all, it's, it really becomes less about us and more about everybody else. And I think, uh, this maybe can get snarled up in the entrepreneurial experience or business learning and, and like you said earlier, like I do want to have a financial exchange and reward for the energy that I'm putting out, but because we, we are become so passionate about other people's, have people having these experiences, we forget about that other piece, <laugh> and like find ourselves really giving and open and inviting people into this space and, and forgetting to put a price on the value of the things that we offer. Um, which I think has also been really helpful for Women Travel Leaders to see people who are good at that and know how to value their time and their expertise. Um, so I think that's something that really, that conversation needs to happen a lot more, especially when you're kind of tying these two pieces together. <laugh> 

Catherine: Yeah, absolutely. <laugh>, it really does. Oh, there's just so much I can talk about on that subject, but I mean, it's a thing that I'm, I'm learning about myself, but, uh, yeah, the, the conversation around charging fees, the agents comes up a lot. Um, and it stems out through obviously pricing and it is, it's absolutely fascinating how the, how everyone charges so, so differently and how yeah, like you say, some women in our community are, well, a lot of them are doing well. I'd like to think doing incredibly well and good on them. And we, I hope we can all be inspired by them and yeah. But I think that's a whole nother kind of conversation around, um, the, the, the idea of, um, charging fees for your services, for, for selling travel, um, and valuing for, there needs to be a shift, I think in the way that consumers value travel agents. 

Catherine: And it's not, I don't, it's not the consumer's fault, it's, it's that we are the ones that have to grow our own self worth and be able to, um, have the right conversations and be able to yeah. Sell that to the client and they will value it a lot more as a result. And we've got some examples of women that in our community that do that really well. Um, like Anne McIntyre from on the Map travel, she's, um, I'm gonna get her to a talk, uh, in our, uh, community about how she works. And it's, and it's, it, well she didn't, it didn't happen overnight. She built up, you know, from charging a small amount and now she charges a lot more. And, um, yeah, it's cool. And I think we could all be better. Well, not all, but some of us could be better at that. 

Christine: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Um, well, to shift gears a little bit, I think one thing that would be fun to talk about with you is about traveling with our children. Um, I know that you have a little one that you had a great adventure with last year, and I'm about to set off on a year in the world with my three daughters. And so I thought I would ask you, what do you think is special about being able to bring your travel, your children into travel experiences with you? And like how does that benefit them and even you to have those experiences together? 

Catherine: Well, I, I hope that, um, I think it <laugh> depends on the child. And I, I kind, well, for me, like, it's kind of too early to say whether Jasmine, my daughter, is gonna have the same level of passion for travel, what I do. Uh, and, uh, but to answer your question, I think I, it's an opportunity, it's a, it's like an travel is always a way of going out of your, not always, but it's often, um, going out of your comfort zone. And of course that's character building. So, uh, I think it's really valuable and important to, uh, to travel for your children to travel, but also to travel or to travel with your children and to push them a little bit. Because I think, I mean, even like at home sometimes, my daughter doesn't want she rent. She's like, doesn't necessarily wanna go to here. 

Catherine: They're all everywhere. And, and it takes some persuasion to get her to, to go and then she loves it. So I think that, um, it's, it's an important, it's that, that we, we live in this age of tech and, you know, too much screen time. And so again, travel is a great way of moving away from that and opening their eyes to so much more than what they see in their, uh, well on their screen, although they see an awful lot that way. But just to actually experience, you know, hands on what's happening in different places and, um, yeah, I, I'm, it's very exciting that you're going for a whole year with your family. I think I, I totally believe, and I'm sure lots of people listening to this will agree with this, is that travel is by far the best education and uh, yeah, you can't beat it. Yeah. Especially if I think, um, well, something that I think having gone on various sort of fan trips and things in the past where if you have a really, really good guide and someone that can help to bring an experience to life for you and having like, yeah, those curated experience makes a big difference as well, because you are, you are, you are learning so much, like just from not, not just from being there, but from having the right guides and the right people supporting you on that trip. So, um, yeah, 

Christine: I think it's a great process to learn about them too, because I feel like even as a, with ourselves when we're in our daily routines, we're acting one way or we're following, you know, the flow of our daily life. And when we travel, we have that sense of freedom and so do they, and then you can start to see who they are a little bit more. And like the last couple of weeks, uh, we went to the library and got guidebooks for the first few countries we're planning to be on, and I just put a sticky note on each guidebook and I asked them to go through and just like, write the pages or the ideas of things that looked of interest to them because I mean, we've never traveled like this before. They usually do what I like to do, but I was curious about what they would like. 

Christine: And, um, it's been great to see them do that excavation of like what they're really interested in and, and then seeing like how different each of them is. And like, my youngest is seven and she, like, every time she gets home from school, she grabs the Scotland guidebook and she just, she can't put it down. And she's like, I can't believe we're going here. I can't believe we could see these things. You know? Um, and just that process. And also when we started this, like she was saying, oh, are we gonna go to California? Are we gonna go to Florida? Are we gonna go to Arizona? Like the places in the US she's been that she knows, and like for some we reason, like, she just couldn't figure out what we were doing because she hasn't experienced that before. And now having these guidebook she's kind of understanding like, oh, we're doing something bigger than like a road trip to the Grand Canyon. This, she's like starting to be able to understand cuz she's a little too young to understand the greatness of the world. Um, but it's also giving them a part of it. Like my middle daughter, she's just really hilarious that she's like, I don't really wanna do anything that's too, like naturey <laugh>. And she's like, 

Christine: She, I, I remember hiking with her once and she was like, this hike is nice, but it's so like naturey, there's like bugs and trees and plants and sun. I was like, oh my goodness, I don't know how we're gonna do this together, but we'll figure it out. But anyway, that process of like exploring who they are has been really mm-hmm. <affirmative> fun for me and I don't think we often as parents get to spend that much time in that process. 

Catherine: Yeah. It's perfect. Um, and yeah, it's a absolutely brilliant way to, for them, for us to understand them and and for them to understand themselves. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and how old are your children? 

Christine: Uh, my youngest is seven and my middle is 10 and my oldest is 12, so, 

Catherine: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So I mean, it's just, it's gonna be such a like, um, life changing trip that they won't even realize until they're much older or life, you know, it'll really influence mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, what they do. And I, I think to your point of like the nature thing, and it's quite interesting looking at, so with Jasmine, she's, um, I'm like, really? You know, I wanna go, um, at mountains or all of that sort of thing, uh, walking and I, she Jasmine, I'm thinking, oh, I think she's gonna be like my sister <laugh>, who was always like, oh, do we have to go up this mountain? <laugh> <laugh>? So, but I dunno, we'll see, she's, um, yeah, is, it's a brilliant way of being able to kind of see what they're into. And I, I mean, I'm, she's only four, so I'm interested to see how that's gonna develop as well, because we went to see, um, whales and it was absolutely amazing from Kni. 

Catherine: We went out of, saw these huge gray whales of like, mind blowing, uh, they were absolutely enormous <laugh>. She was just totally uninterested, <laugh>, amazing thing. How can you not find this incredible? But she just was totally not interested. But what I thought was also really lovely is how she connected with, um, with the, the people that we met and, um, how they took her in as well. And, uh, well we were in Mexico and they were just so brilliant. Like they're so family friendly and um, that was just really lovely to have that kind of dense community and that connection. And it's again, one of wonderful things about, um, travel as well, isn't it? You know, getting to, to meet, meet different people in different cultures. 

Christine: Yeah. And they have different le levels of reservation because they haven't, they haven't developed all of those ways that we compartmentalize people or create barriers mm-hmm. <affirmative> based on assumptions. They have a little less of that process happening, so they're easier to just jump into those connections. And so I'm excited too for that because I feel like that will invite, uh, us to engage with places in a way that maybe I wouldn't because I would feel mm-hmm. <affirmative> all of those resistances that I've learned. And yeah. So I think it will be a great adventure that'll be sharing with the community as we go through it. But, uh, the last question I have, and I know we probably could spend a lot of time talking about this, but just wanted to dive into you, uh, dive into this with you a little about work life balance and as a, as a mom balancing all of our things that we have on our lists. 

Christine: And I was listening to a podcast the other day and she was saying how unrealistic it is to have the expectation for women that there is balance to be had. And she was saying that like, in life we will ebb between having our energy really focused on business at one time and with our children at one time, and maybe with caretaking of parents at one time. Like the, there isn't necessarily that each day is gonna have this grid with balance. And, and I was thinking, you know, that that perhaps balance is really not that we are distributing our energy and our focus equally at all times. Um, but that we're creating balance between those bigger things and noticing that maybe we've spent a lot of time, we're focusing on business and it's been a while since our focus on family or on extended family or on friendships, just not like trying to make it an equitable distribution every day. Um, and also thinking like that, that maybe it also relieves us or makes us have an awareness that we cannot be all things to all people at all times. Like that's really what balance is, is realizing that we can't do that. But I'd love to just hear your thoughts on what that balance might be and maybe conversations you've had around this with other women, especially in the women travel leader community. 

Catherine: Well, it's something that I would say is a, um, I a work in progress for me and, um, something that comes up a lot in the community is around boundaries. Um, and have it being able to say no, having boundaries around your time. So yeah, also with the businesses where they may be over delivering with clients and then they're potentially compromising on the time that they're spending with family. So, and it can happen the other way as well. So it, I think a lot of it, it comes back to what we were talking about earlier with being able to tap into who you are and what your journey is and rightly or wrongly, I mean, there's some people who they're just, they are career obsessed and they don't spend as much time with their kids and they have nannies and what have you. I dunno enough about, uh, chief of different experiences other than I'm just thinking about, um, someone I've booked a holiday for who, uh, they're going as a big family. 

Catherine: And, um, one of the par like one set of parents are like, oh, we just wanna the kids in their clubs all day and we don't really wanna see them. And then the other one's like, I actually wanna spend some time with my kids. So I think there is a, it, it comes back to you and your path and what's like for you. And then within that it's like being, when you know that, then it's about having the boundaries to create that reality. So, um, that's I guess my answer to that. But something that made me kind of laugh about, I think, I can't remember exactly what you said. One of the real kind of character building thing for me. Oh, it was being all things to all people. Uh, when I went to Mexico with Jasmine last year, she was three at the time, and I went out specifically to meet Janine, who I'd never met before, my business partner that we've been working together on this business. 

Catherine: And I took my cousin with me to basically be like an op pair for Jasmine. And, um, I found that, and here's me being vulnerable <laugh> that, uh, I was giving, I was trying to please everyone. I was like, okay, I, you know, my new business, my business partner, we've not met before, and then I've got Jasmine doing the right thing per and my cousin and, and then, uh, who had I left out? Yeah, me <laugh>. Uh, so it was a really, uh, important experience for me to go through <laugh>, uh, to come. And I think it always, it, you have to come back to yourself and trust that by looking after yourself. And, uh, people talk a lot about self love, self-compassion, it's so important and links in with self-worth as well. All of this. It's, it's so important to have that and to protect you because that's how you can be, um, have, have a greater influence than you can have a, you, you can have a greater influence on other people. And, um, yeah. And you can be, be, you can, you can, I've lost the word <laugh>. It's very simple. You know, I can be a better mom as a result. I can be a better business partner. Mm. And by looking after myself first. So I think that's something that's very much like important for all of us. And I think it's something that as women, we don't, we struggle with. 

Christine: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. I think you can tell us a million and a half times, and we still, it's such, it just seems like it goes against the cultural narrative of who we are supposed to be and, and how we are supposed to be as mothers and as women. And I think that, again, like amongst community, we can start to kind of break some of that down and, and accept that it is important and that we do need to create that time for ourselves. And like you said, see how that time that you give to yourself gives back to the other people around you. And you know, like they say you can't pour from an empty cup, like that's just mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you, you really can't. But it, it, it's so weird how many times we have to learn that lesson before we learn that lesson. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Like, it's, it's just a very hard one. So I think, uh, I appreciate that you brought that into this conversation. Um, I think it'll re resonate for a lot of our listeners. Um, and maybe it'll be the thing that this time at least one of the women or people listening will, will really internalize that lesson, which would be pretty great to, to, to know that we could have that ripple. 

Catherine: Yeah. And I, I think that with that as well, it's like, you might be brilliant at, it's like, you know, you get into the habit of doing meditation every day or yoga, and then for some reason it's a sort of fizzled away and it's a kind of reminder as well. But you might have been brilliant with boundaries at one point, and it's, it's that reminder that it doesn't, you don't just fix it once. It's kind of keep coming back to it and you need that. The more support you can have around that, the better mm-hmm. <affirmative> so that you keep being reminded and it's like, yeah, yeah, okay, I'll come back to that. So having that kinda accountability and support is really, um, key to that. 

Christine: Yeah. And it's valuable. I mean, I feel like that's also really empowering to know that, that you might have to remember that again because I think we feel like, oh, if we failed it, then we just have to let it go. We don't get to pick it up and, and bring it back into our life again. It's not just a one and done thing, but, but we can do it over and over again. And, and, um, I, I just think that's really, really valuable for me personally to, to remember that as well. So, uh, before we end our conversation, Catherine, which I am loving, but it's winding down, um, I just wanna remind listeners that they can look in the show notes for information about Women Travel Leaders and, um, of course re reach out to either Catherine or myself, happy to share my experience and she can let you know how you can be a part of the community. Um, also can go back and listen into my conversation with Janine, which was really fun, uh, back in, I think a year or so ago in the podcast, um, who is the other co-founder. Um, but before we end, I just have a few rapid fire ish questions for our listeners to get to know a little bit more about you. Uh, the first is, what are you reading right now? 

Catherine: <laugh> I'm a rubbish reader, but I listen to things on Audible and most of them are personal development related. Uh, and actually one that I've been revisiting is, uh, children and Get Rich Lucky Bitch <laugh> by, um, Denise Darfield Thomas. Um, so yeah, 

Christine: <laugh> Perfect. Um, I was resistant to Audible, but I actually really love, uh, now listening to books. I think it's a great way to consume that information. Uh, what is always in your suitcase or backpack when you travel. 

Catherine: This isn't strictly, strictly true, but, um, climbing shoes, <laugh> awesome. But I'll always kind of think, can I, can I, is there any that I can, and then I'll put them in if I can. 

Christine: Yeah. Uh, to Sojourn is to travel somewhere as if you live there for a short while. Uh, where is the place that you would love to sojourn? 

Catherine: Ooh. Um, well, uh, everywhere but I, I mean, somewhere that I've been to a lot, but I love and go back to all the time and I would love to have a house there one day is in France. Yeah. So, yeah. 

Christine: Uh, what is something you eat that immediately connects you to a place that you've been 

Catherine: French bread while we're on that subject? Like a baguette? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. So my really good crossin, 

Christine: My middle daughter, her dream experience for this world trip is to be eating a baguette while riding a Vespa <laugh>. This is the thing she wants to have happen. <laugh>. This is like, that's the picture she keeps having of what our world trip means to her. 

Catherine: <laugh>, love it. That's so cool. 

Christine: <laugh>, um, who was a person that inspired or encouraged you to set out and explore the world? 

Catherine: Oh, I mentioned him earlier on and my, my amazing uncle Andy. Um, yeah, <laugh>. 

Christine: Yeah. If you could take an adventure with one person, fictional or real alive or past, who would it be? 

Catherine: Um, <laugh>. I said, I'm like completely, I do love my, I'm, I'll go with the uncle again. I'd really like to go to, um, Himalayas with him cause it's somewhere he really wants to go. So it might be a nightmare if we travel together, but I would quite like to do it. 

Christine: Yeah. Yeah. That's good. Maybe he's listening. You'll be off on an adventure. Uh, the last one is, uh, this space was really created to amplify the voices of women in this industry, which I know is important to you as well. Uh, who is one woman you would admire and would like to recognize in this space? 

Catherine: That is an impossible question to answer. 

Christine: I know for you, this is really hard one!

Catherine: <laugh> because there are many and, um, you obviously Christine are one of them. Um, and my amazing business partner Jennine. Um, a couple of members that we've, that I do some, uh, Kirsten Dixon, who's one of our, um, uh, newish members and she's got an incredible lodge in Alaska with like, it's just, when I hear her I'm like, how do you manage talking about balance? But she seems really chill, but like, I dunno how she manages to do all of these things and she's got like a massive p and e farm and like she's a chef and she's like just multi-talented and does all these really cool things. So, um, yeah, but they all inspire me. 

Christine: Yeah, that, that was really an unfair question for you, but <laugh>, um, I appreciate you sharing and yeah, this has been such a great conversation. I knew that it would be, I've been waiting to be able to block in a whole hour on your calendar forever, personally and selfishly, so I appreciate that. Uh, thank you for sharing your passion and wisdom with us and I hope a takeaway for our listeners might be to understand your values, your personal values, and how those are, you know, showing up in your life, whether they are or not. Cuz I think that's something we both really agree is important. So maybe that'll be an inspiration and a takeaway. But thank you for being here with me today. 

Catherine: Thanks. Thank you Christine. It's, uh, brilliant to talk to you and it's, yeah, nice to get on the <laugh>. 

Christine: Yeah. Thank you.