MumBoss: Meet Katie Walsh, Luxury Travel Agent with top tips for travelling with kids
After the birth of her son, Katie Walsh decided to use her passion for travel to set up her own travel agency. Now she travels to the far flung corners of the earth testing out 5 star hotels and once in a life time experiences all in the name of work. I grabbed a few minutes with Katie so she could tell me all about her experience as a MumBoss and how setting up her business has been the scariest but most exciting thing she has have ever done!
Tell me a bit about Luxury Escapes by Katie Walsh....
I set up Luxury Escapes on my own over 2 years ago. This was the scariest but most exciting thing I have ever done!
As the name suggests we specialise in luxury travel all over the world and mainly lend ourselves to the high end of the market with our most popular destinations being the Indian Ocean, Arabia and the Caribbean. We also specialise in bespoke travel and we work hard on putting personalised itineraries together for clients for that special trip, whether that be their Honeymoon, Wedding, Anniversary or Bucket List trip! Nothing is too much trouble and I pride myself on a high level of personal customer service. My clients know they can call me at any time of the day or night if they need to and my phones never off (unless I'm on a plane myself of course)!
I am so proud of what Luxury Escapes has achieved over the past 2 and half years and I received my first Special Recognition award last year for all my hard work which makes everything worth it!
What was the real catalyst behind you starting your own business?
When I had my son Ollie over 5 years ago I was lucky enough that I didn’t have to work and I was able to spend time seeing him grow up and just be a Mummy! However when he started going to nursery and I had more time to myself I started to think about what kind of life I wanted for my family's future. I knew I wanted to build something myself, that my family would be proud of and could also have the lifestyle I had become accustomed to. Travel has always been a passion of mine and I knew with having my son I wanted to work for myself so I was flexible enough to take him and pick him up from school, and work around my business.
Has the journey of being self-employed and a Mummy been hard or has it been easier than you thought?
Of course building a business from scratch and having to build up a client base was really tough in the beginning as well as juggling being a Mummy and making sure I was there for Ollie. With any new business it takes time and hard work to build and there are long hours but when you see the rewards and how flexible I can be it is all worth it.
What’s the best thing about being a Mummy? What do you find the hardest thing about being a Mum?
The best thing about being a Mummy is without a doubt he can put a smile on my face and make me laugh every day! Even if I'm having the worst day he's just the most amazing thing in my life and nothing else matters when I see his face! I love watching him grow up into the kind, polite and hard working little boy he is. I am so proud of him.
The hardest thing about being a Mummy is juggling work and Mum life sometimes! With the way my business works I do have to sometimes work in the evenings or weekends which may mean I don't see Ollie as much as I would like, or get to put him to bed so when I do I cherish these moments so much more! He knows why I work so hard though. If you ask him why I work hard he says, 'So we can go on holiday!'
What qualities do you think a Mum needs to run their own business?
I think they need to have passion for whatever their business is and it won't feel as much like work! I believe most Mums that start their own business do so because of their family and to give them a more flexible work / life balance and spend more time with their families and this quality gives them the motivation they need. You need to be prepared for the long hours and to work hard to build a successful business so you can reap the rewards in the future. Don't forget why you started the business in the first place and don't give up.
Although I work hard I don't kill myself working as I also want a work / life balance - you just need to get the right balance.
Katie & Team on the Eastern Express
You get to go to some amazing places all over the world as part of your job. How do you juggle these trips with having a little one to look after? What are your thoughts on parents having their own time and spending time away from their kids?
I am very lucky I get to visit some amazing destinations as part of my job and experience things I otherwise probably wouldn't. For example, last year I went to Singapore, Bangkok and on board the Eastern & Oriental Express which really was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget and probably will never do again! I have amazing family who look after Ollie so I am able to go on these trips. If it wasn't for them it wouldn't be possible, so I am very grateful.
I believe for me and my situation I am going on these trips to further my career to build my product knowledge so my business can be even more successful for my family and my future. Ollie is at the age now where he understands where I am going and why, and I don't even think he misses me much now – his Dad and Grandparents spoil him too much!
Katie enjoying a work trip
What’s your favourite place to travel to with kids? What tips would you have for people travelling with the kids in tow?
Dubai has to be one of my favourite destinations with or without kids to be honest! Now we take Ollie there is so much for him to do whether it be the waterparks, theme Parks such as Legoland or just playing on the beach or by the pool - there is just something for everyone! Last time we visited we also took Ollie on the Desert Safari which he loved and got to ride a camel and go dune bashing! The staff and service levels are second to none and they really look after the kids well.
And of course Disney World in Florida - the most magical place on Earth with kids right?! This has to be one of my favourite destinations with Ollie - we have taken him 3 times in the past 5 years and each time it has been magical! He has absolutely loved each trip - even when he was a baby!
My Top Tips for travelling with kids
- Make sure you have lots of activities and snacks for long haul flights to keep them entertained! One top tip I have used is a gift every hour! Wrap them up like a present and give them one each hour - it makes it exciting for them and time soon passes!
- If you can afford it, buy an extra seat for an infant under 2 especially for long haul flights. This makes the journey a lot less stressful for you all.
- Take a pram / buggy even if they don't use one anymore at home. For children aged 3-4 they are a godsend if you are going to be walking a lot or even for at night when they may want to fall asleep while you are out for dinner. It's so much comfier for them.
Fancy seeing how Katie could help you with your next holiday? Check out her website http://www.luxuryescapesbykw.co.uk
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07985 281 785.