By Ken Gillespie

Lindsay Hardy has found a career in the travel business and it couldn’t be a better match for her passion — even her major at Florida Atlantic University was in geography. Early on, her parents recognized her curiosity about places and cultures. They encouraged her travel bug and frequently asked her to accompany them on business trips, including many trips to Washington, D.C. with her dad, who worked as a contractor for the Department of Defense.

Q: How did you come to Florida?

A: Sorry, but I’ve always been here! I’m a Florida native as well as a Jacksonville native. It’s a terrific place to live, especially since just about all my extended family live nearby. When we celebrate holidays and special occasions our total gathering numbers almost 50 – 60, including many boisterous Italians. My own two children will grow up with a strong sense of family.

Q: How did you get started in travel?

A: In my early 20s, I had wanderlust. Took a year off from college and surprised everyone by moving to Maui, Hawaii. Loved it there. Later returned to Florida, this time to Miami where I continued my education. During my studies I formally entered the travel business as a reservations agent with Windjammer Barefoot Cruises. It wasn’t much of a transition to eventually becoming a full fledged travel agent. In 2008 I joined Travel Leaders, an agency affiliated with the world’s largest travel network. Originally hired in their Palm Coast office, I’ve since climbed the ladder and am now president of the company.

Q: What travel destinations are especially hot right now?

A: Iceland has been a unique destination for several years and prices are finally starting to stabilize, making it more affordable. Italy is and probably will be the top travel destination for years to come. There is so much to do and see … you could visit annually and still find a new village to explore. And a number of our clients are asking about Antarctica. Both cruise and air travel suppliers are expanding their itineraries for these locations.

Q: What tips do you have for travelers?

A: For air travel, I urge clients to book flights early. The myth that waiting till near your travel date is just a myth. Airlines open their seating 11 months prior and prices tend to rise as flight time approaches. Another tip: pack light. I know this is difficult, but due to baggage fees and limited overhead storage on planes it’s more costly and troublesome to overpack. My own practice is to pack a suitcase, set it aside for a day, then remove a third of everything. I also advise travelers not to worry about language differences. I’ve only spoken English when visiting more than 20 countries and not had issues; however, I do encourage clients to at least learn how to say “Hello” and “Thank You” as respect for the culture.  

Q: How do you disconnect from the business for relaxing and other activities?

A: As a mom with two kids aged six and four, there’s not lots of available time for doing other things. My husband Quincy and I are members of a local beach club, where we enjoy family time. My daughter loves looking for sharks teeth and it’s amazing how many she finds. Of course we also like to travel. Both kids started traveling at just three months. I’d like my children to widen their perspective about the world as I did while young. This year, we’re all heading to Costa Rica for Easter.


Photo courtesy Lindsay Hardy

Lindsay Hardy

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