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autumn 2016

Andrea Gilbert: Personal Travel Agent


I called on Andrea one hot day in July. Nearing her house I was thinking more about visiting China, than what I would ask her, but here was someone who lives and breathes travel in all its aspects. You mention a country and she’s been there. You say Disneyland and she’s been to Disney World in Orlando 11 times and to Disneyland Paris five times. So it turns out I was definitely in the right frame of mind to meet someone who has been a travel agent for 30 years.

Andrea moved to Barrow 45 years ago. She remembers attending Cotes Road Infant School, although it closed two years later. She moved to Hall Orchard then Humphries and Rawlins. We reminisced about BOSCAPS and she remembered basket weaving (in the old Hausa huts) which she loved. She also remembers the afternoon trips, some driven by me in the Land Rover. She left school at 17 and worked at the Loughborough Coop Travel shop. Later she became manager of Thurmaston Coop Travel but then started her own business from home as a personal travel agent, with two small children, this suited her well and she’s never looked back.

Package holiday, tailor-made adventure, city break, caravanning , cruising; you name it, Andrea can arrange it. Perhaps her most unusual task was making the arrangements for a client going cycling in China on his own. I expressed surprise that people still need a travel agent; doesn’t everyone sort themselves out online? She explained that it is indeed still a thriving business because a travel agent can save the customer money compared with a DIY approach. Andrea can access exclusive deals and can also help if things go wrong, partly from long experience and partly by accessing the appropriate travel protections.

As a personal Travel Agent, Andrea will choose the perfect hotel, organise the itinerary, book the magical extras and offer expert tips and advice to ensure your holiday is filled with magical memories. She was recently awarded the status of preferred Disney Specialist and is very proud because there are only 20 specialists in the UK. This status means that she is funded by Disney to bring in more Disney business, which she does by advertising special offers at the various Disney destinations. You can see these for yourself on her Facebook page Andrea’s magical destinations.

Judith Rodgers