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“It’s a pain to put on your legs, then take off your legs,” Debra Kerper admits. “But I’ve been blessed with a positive attitude,” she jokingly laughs.
In her early 20s, Debra was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. A few years later, she developed a serious infection that ultimately led to the amputation of her right leg. Eventually, further complications would lead Debra to have her left leg amputated as well.
A young mother at the onset of her health problems, Debra has never let her physical limitations hold her back. She simply couldn’t afford to.
“I had two very small children,” she says, “so I had to be OK. I had to raise those kids.”
In addition to an income, Debra was searching for a career with purpose and found her calling as a travel advisor. An avid traveler herself, she wanted to leverage her own experiences to help people with disabilities see the world. Today, driven by that same mission, Debra has grown her travel advisor business to nearly two million dollars in annual sales, and she has done it all from her home.
Because of her health complications, doctors recommended Debra not work. But a self-described “doer,” she quickly became bored.
Debra ultimately found Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, the nation’s largest home-based travel franchise company. As a Cruise Planners franchise owner, Debra owns and operates her own full-service travel advisor business from home and helps clients plan amazing vacations of all kinds, including tours through Europe, African safaris, and all-inclusive resort vacations. The home-based model gives Debra the flexibility to work when and how she wants.
“If I need to go to a doctor’s appointment or if I want to work just part-time, I can do that,” Debra says.
In 2018, Debra was hospitalized after breaking her hip. Never one to slow down, she kept working.
“I was able to run my business from my hospital bed,” she says. “I never missed a beat.”
Cruise Planners Provides Resources to Grow Her Home-Based Business
In addition to the flexibility, Cruise Planners also provides Debra robust resources and support to grow her home-based business, including comprehensive marketing, industry-leading technology, a personal business development coach, and ongoing training.
“Cruise Planners provides so much to help you be successful,” Debra says. “My business has truly exploded.”
Perhaps the most important thing Cruise Planners has given Debra is a great team.
“Cruise Planners has created such a family atmosphere,” she says. “From the Home Office Team members to my fellow travel agents, to my clients—they literally fed my soul.”
Making Travel More Accessible
While Debra appreciates the financial success she has earned, she continues to be driven by her original mission to help others with disabilities travel the world.
“I believe travel needs to be accessible to everyone,” she says. “Just because someone doesn’t have the use of their legs or their sight or their hearing doesn’t mean they don’t have the same wants and desires as everybody else.”
And although it may require some extra planning by her as a travel professional, Debra is working hard to make travel more accessible for people of all abilities.
“Stop listening to your neighbors and friends who say you could never go to a particular destination,” she laughs. “We have vendors all over the world that want to help you see their country or their city, and we make it happen.”
I Can’t Believe This is My Life
When Debra reflects on her life, she sometimes wonders how she got to where she is.
“I look in the mirror sometimes, and I can’t believe this is my life,” she says. “I have been to so many places, and I get to do all these great things with wonderful people, and I have the support of Cruise Planners that has changed my life both personally and financially.”
Learn More About Cruise Planners
Although travel has slowed in recent months, there is a huge pent up demand, and already sales are up for 2021. Now is a great time to start a travel agency so you can learn the industry, establish the foundation of your business, and capitalize on the surge in travel coming in 2021.
If you want to learn more about Cruise Planners and how you can start a travel agency from home, click here to download the Getting Started Guide.