The Travel Life Story
I know there are many visitors who will come across this page, both new and old. A lot of you have known us as The Destin Beach Houses, but we are now officially rebranding to Travel Life Vacations.
How and why, you may ask?
At this point, our story is 11 years running, and I’d like to share it with you……
(Since I am the author of this blog, I will start with myself *smirk*)
Sara’s story: I came from a military family, born on an air force base in Bitburg, Germany. Now, before you ask me what the castles and beer are like there, let me tell you that we were quickly re-stationed. The first memories I have are of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. I received my AA at Northwest Florida State college. When I graduated, I had no idea what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it. But I can tell you, when asked about my future, what was on my heart were the ideas of real estate, writing, and interior decorating. Along came Ryan….
Ryan’s story: Ryan was born and raised in Virginia until around 12 years old. Then his family relocated to Destin, to follow other family members and to get into the vacation rental industry. As a home-schooled student, he spent a lot of his free time learning the ins-and-outs of the business from an early age, hands-on. His family was in some form of real estate most of his life, so he developed an understanding and a passion for the business. Combine his drive and knowledge with his God-given intuition and creative business ideas…. and whatever he put his hand to was destined to succeed. (Which, at this time happened to be The Destin Beach Houses).
The birth of a marriage and a business: Although we did not know each other the whole time, we’ve both been in the Destin area now for over 17 years. We met while both working at a local restaurant, hostess and bus-boy. We got married shortly after graduating, and started The Destin Beach Houses shortly after that! He knew the business; I had the dream, (as I had mentioned before…. Does it get any more coincidental)? Our business, and our marriage, have been up and running since 2010. It’s been full steam ahead ever since.
We started with our first rental property 7 months after we got married. This was in 2010, and smack in the middle of the BP oil spill that devastated the Emerald Coast. It took a lot of faith to take such a leap during this time. For the next few years, we worked nonstop. We worked a total of 4 jobs, not including the rental home. Long, hard hours went into maximizing profit on that one home, until we had saved up enough for a second, and then a third home. We weren’t just vacation rental owners, we were cleaners, launderers, painters, decorators, landscapers, pool care, and maintenance.
After a few years, we were given the opportunity to build and develop a home for the first time. This home was called The Ocean Kiss’d. (It is still in our rental management program). Many people will tell you that building a home can be tough on a couple. While it definitely has its challenges, we were both hooked and knew we wanted to build more.
Things have developed and changed since we first started in business. We have currently designed and developed 7 rental homes! ( 8 if you include our personal home). We have ventured into the real estate side of things, and we’ve sold some homes. Also, we’ve built a management company that manages other client’s vacation homes for them!
There was a point, after we had built 3 homes, that we took a break, and did a lot of traveling on our own. We quickly started realizing our love for traveling, and even started frequenting the same places sometimes. We found ourselves having random conversations, about having second homes in some of these places, and renting them out the majority of the year that we weren’t using them.
After talking about it enough times, we finally thought, “WHY NOT?!”
Ryan started pondering a business model, and what it all would look like. And Travel Life Vacations was born. A brand that could include all of our vacation homes, no matter where they were, (not just Destin).
Our business picked back up after that and was quickly growing. But we ran into a problem…… There was so much business, and not enough Ryan and Sara. At this point we started to hire more and more employees and stepped back from the part of the areas that we were able to.
So we brought in more help!
Jessica & Eric’s story: This is where they came in! Jessica is my sister. They lived in Georgia at the time. Jessica was a stay-at-home Mom, raising and homeschooling 4 kids. While Eric was setting up to be VP at the company he worked for. Many conversations were had, questions asked, ideas thrown around…. Finally, they decided that they felt led to make a change. They took a leap of faith and moved their lives to Destin. They bought a vacation rental of their own and joined Travel Life Vacations. Eric is now our Property Director, and Jessica is our Quality Control Manager. They are the hands-on, on-property, eyes and ears for all our Destin homes.
This helped Ryan and me significantly. I was really able to step back and start working on some personal goals of my own. But still, Ryan was working overtime.
And so, we decided that more help was still needed STILL. All the while, the business was still constantly growing, more people were asking us to take on their homes for management! This is all by world of mouth, we never advertised for management, and we turned down most properties that came our way.
Sherri’s story: Long-time friend of the family, Sherri was working as a teacher for 9 years. The role of teacher is not an easy one, and it keeps on getting even harder.. She voiced her desire for a change in casual conversation, and Ryan started thinking, (what he does best). Once again, after many conversations were had, Sherri was brought into the Travel Life Vacations fold as our Sales & Office Manager!
We now have an amazing, highly qualified team! Just in time for the launch of our re-branded company, Travel Life Vacations!
We are so excited about how things are moving forward. And we are so grateful to God that He brought us the perfect people at the times that we were ready for them. We truly feel that we are exactly where we’re supposed to be as a company at the moment.
Now Ryan has the time to do what he does best, come up with and develop new business plans and ideas. He has many, many ideas for the future of Travel Life… products, locations, completely new business models…. Heck! Travel Life itself was his idea! Now that he has the time to focus on these things, who knows what God has in store.
I, on the other hand, now have time to just focus on my passion for interior designing and decorating our new projects! Also, as I mentioned previously, I have always had a passion for reading and writing. I have been working on some personal writing projects of my own, wrote a book, started a personal blog and now bringing you this Travel Life blog!
We’re excited to bring you Travel Life Vacations, and hope you’ll stick around to see where it takes us!
God Bless and thank you from the Travel Life Team