Maryke Cudd has been married to the SAME GUY for 42 years! She and her husband have two grown sons and six grandchildren. Maryke was employed by the postal service for 28-½ years and worked her way up to Postmaster. She was offered early retirement and decided it was the right time. After she left her job, Maryke took her mother back to her mom’s native country of The Netherlands. Maryke enjoyed leisure time for a while, but all of her friends still worked, and she was got bored.

Since Maryke and her husband like the travel, she thought she might enjoy being a travel consultant. Maryke loves her job; it’s a passion for her. She loves working with her clients to create their travel experiences. After their second son left home for college, she and her husband had more time to travel with their friends. Sometimes they travel as a couple but more often in a group as “it’s more fun with a group!” It can be a small group or a large group like the trip she has planned to Alaska in July with 40 people!

Maryke loves to cruise because “it’s a great value for your money. It’s where you visit several ports, and if you find one place you really like….then go back and enjoy that.” Her favorite place to cruise is the Caribbean because it’s so easy to get there since Maryke lives in Texas and Galveston is a big port. She and her husband travel a lot to the Western Caribbean via cruise lines out of Galveston, though she’s headed for Florida in the fall for a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. Cruisers have the choice of many different activities. Their travel group “made an agreement from the get-go: everybody does their own thing. If you happen to go together, that’s great, but we’re all going to meet at dinner, and we’ll see each other on the ship. That’s the way it’ll be.” It seems to have worked great for them!

When Maryke worked for the Postal Service, she had the opportunity to travel when working on special projects. She and her husband also got a taste of traveling. Once she retired, she wanted to do something with her life. She believes in order “to do something right, you have to know about it. You have to….know the business.” She did the research and decided to buy a franchise from Cruise Planners affiliated with American Express. The company provided extensive training including behind-the-scenes ship inspections during which she got to see all the category of rooms, look at the entertainment, and sample the food. Maryke said, “I educate myself to be able to provide that information to my clients.” She asks clients what they’re looking for so she can make recommendations that would be the best value for their money. She’s now been a travel consultant for 10 years!

In order to inform her clients the best she can, Maryke travels to many destinations so she has first-hand experience. If she hasn’t been to a certain place, she usually knows a colleague who has who can fill her in on the experience. There is no fee to clients, although there may be a fee if it’s a large group or a destination wedding (for planning). Normally, there’s not a fee. She strives to find the best value for her clients’ money.

Maryke talked about the importance of travel insurance. It can cover many travel-related circumstances, but she does advise people to read all the terms and conditions of the policy. She described a couple of situations concerning her clients and how they were covered by their travel insurance. To 50+ folks thinking about starting a business, Maryke’s advice is to have a passion for something. “A person with a passion is a successful business person.” Then you have to do your research. Also, access SCORE and/or other local resources in your community to learn about small business development. In addition, you need to know your finances. Be sure to check out the IRS tax regulations as well.

Maryke Cudd, Travel Consultant – Cruise Planners