It’s easy to get bogged down by everyday responsibilities, but it’s important to make time for yourself and the things that bring you joy. Hobbies can offer an escape, as well as an opportunity for adventure. We encourage our DiRAD Team to embrace their hobbies, which we believe are essential for a well-rounded and happy life.

This month’s Company Spotlight is focused on Travelers of DiRAD! Those that love to explore the world we live in, near and far!

What was your first travel experience?

Annie G: The first trip I took as an adult was a semi-guided tour of London, Paris and Rome. Trips like these are a whirlwind, with just a brief look at each place, but I thought all three cities were amazing and I fell in love with traveling!

Kathy C: The first one outside the US included France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

Brooke S: Growing up we’d visit vacation spots on the East Coast. Mostly Myrtle Beach or Daytona Beach. Hitting boardwalks and Nascar tourist spots that my parents wanted to see. Even if Nascar wasn’t my thing, these trips sparked my interest in visiting new places!

Emma W: Probably going over the Ambassador Bridge to Canada. I grew up in Michigan and that part of Canada was closer than most of the rest of Michigan, let alone the rest of the US. That and so many state parks.

Lisa W: My family always took vacations when I was a kid. My first experience was probably to the Daytona 500. As an adult, my first vacation was on a cruise to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel with two girlfriends. We had a blast!

What is your favorite place that you’ve visited?

AG: I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite! I love so many places I’ve been to, including the temples of Cambodia, Florence, Venice, Paris, Sevilla, Santa Fe…

KC: I’ve enjoyed every place I’ve visited, but I think the place for sheer raw beauty was the Arctic.  It was an amazing experience to be part of the land and sea with polar bears, walrus, seals, whales, and many other animals; and let’s not forget the icebergs and ice shelves.

BS: London! I went for a school trip in college where we saw lots of historical spots like Tower of London and small theater productions (one where I got to meet Alan Rickman briefly!). It was then I fell in love with the city. I went back again with friends years later for a more ‘nerdy’ trip. Saw Harry Potter and The Cursed Child in its first run, went to the Warner Bro. Studio Tour, and had high tea at a fancy hotel, among other things. I’ve been itching to return ever since.

EW: Ireland was incredible. Not just beautiful and packed with fun but an absolute adventure and a great example of the fun you can have just by saying yes to a journey and talking to people. But nothing beats home. Lake Michigan is absolutely gorgeous and up north in Michigan it’s so beautiful no matter the season. Summer is great for swimming but early October hitting the cider mills and watching the trees turn one thousand shades of ochre just touches something deep in the heart.

LW: While I have loved them all, my absolute favorite was Paris, France in 2017 with Annie. It was my first time abroad and it included London, Bruges, Brussels, and Amsterdam.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of traveling? Either as a whole or maybe a specific place you’ve visited.

AG: I think a lot of people think traveling is very expensive. It certainly can be, but you can also find ways to control costs. I love traveling off season, as airfare and hotels are less expensive, plus it’s a lot less crowded!

KC: Dismiss any stereotypes, preconceived notions about a state/country/region, do your own research and be open to what the world has to offer.  I’m not a fan of crowds and being a ‘tourist’.  If that’s not for you either, travel during the off season.  You’ll miss the crowds while seeing/doing everything you planned – albeit in a more relaxed setting.

BS: That Europe is inaccessible to a “regular” person. I’ve seen people drop $10K on a Disney vacation but think Europe is out of their budget. If you do your research on the best times to fly, consider AirBnB-style accommodations instead of hotel, and you can put together a great trip!

EW: That only big trips matter. Or that they need to cost more to do a lot. Every couple of years I’ll book an Amtrak far in advance and go to DC to see the cherry blossoms and go to a million museums and jazz clubs. Or grabbing a zipcar with friends to go camping somewhere in New England. Having a packed agenda is great but sometimes you just need rest and to see some trees. It’s always good to plan a trip based on what you’re feeling would be fun rather than what a bunch of travel websites say are the top things to not miss.

LW: That you’re not safe. I’ve never felt unsafe on any of my travels.

Based on places you’ve already travelled, where would you recommend someone visit? What should they see/do there?

AG: Cambodia was incredible and different from anywhere I’d ever been before. The temples are beautiful and fascinating. A little closer to home, I’d say Paris. It’s relatively easy to get to and there’s so much to see!

KC: Wherever you travel, explore, be open to experiencing the food, drink, culture, lore, history.  This includes traveling within the US.  Each state/region has something different to offer.

BS: In London, I loved seeing all the history at The Tower of London. That would be a must see. In Barcelona, I highly recommend visiting the Mercado de La Boqueria. Lots of yummy food and it was an experience all its own. In Herkalion, one of my favorite spots was the Rocca a Mare Fortress, followed by a Greek Frappé. Then finally, in Orlando – to the shock of no one – Disney and Universal Studios are two of my favorite places to visit. Especially in the Fall for Halloween Horror Nights, if you’re into spooky things.

EW: It really depends on what someone is looking for. Peru was phenomenal to go on the Amazon river, Arizona has an incredible night sky where the longer you look the more stars you see, Vermont and Cape Cod also aren’t terribly far and have some great camping and beaches (respectively). Small, weird niche museums are usually really fun. Travel is so personal. If the intention isn’t for solo relaxing then the destination is great but a bad destination with good friends is going to make it a fond memorable experience. Also in the opposite direction solo traveling can be great to not compromise and hit everything you want to see if you have a large agenda of things you want to see.

LW: Paris is my absolute favorite since I learned so much about it during my middle and high school years. They should have a meal sitting outside at the cafes, see all of the favs – The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer Basilica, The Louvre etc. Make sure to check out all of the different signs that are used for the Metro stations – many are very unique!

If someone were interested in travelling for the first time, what tips/tricks/advice would you offer them?

AG: I love researching places I want to visit. You can find books, websites, blogs. etc. with a lot of really useful info. It’s a great way to get a feel for a place, decide during which season you want to go and how long you’ll want to stay.

Don’t pack too much into each day; give yourself time to wander.

When you get to your destination, ask people you meet for recommendations for places to go.

Go to restaurants that aren’t touristy. The food and service will be better, and they’ll be less expensive. And check out grocery stores! You can put together an inexpensive picnic and often find great gifts to bring home.

If you’re going someplace where you don’t speak their language, learn how to say at least few things like “Thank you,” “Please” and “Hello.” You’ll find many people speak English, but we shouldn’t assume they will, and even if they do, they appreciate the effort.

KC: Do some research.  I usually end up with a list of more things to do than I have time for.  With a wee bit of planning and prioritizing, you’ll have an awesome experience seeing/doing the things on your “A” list.

BS: There’s a website called that will search for the cheapest flights across *most* airlines, to help you find the best deal. Also, don’t be afraid to book an AirBnB or VRBO to maybe save some money. The key is to only book if they have solid reviews! I never trust a new listing, no matter how attractive.

EW: Have a plan. Even if it’s mutable. It’s heartbreaking to miss something you were excited about because a location isn’t open certain days or times or to realize that you could have seen everything if you organized the destinations in a different order. Even if you’re looking for a spontaneous trip. having all the data points will ensure that you can be spontaneous without having to deal with a crisis because you’re in an area where you can’t get food or gas easily.

LW: Do your research and shop around for flights, hotel rooms, etc.

In the interest of being a tourist in your own home, what would you recommend for someone looking to visit near you? (Within a couple hours driving.)

KC: You can’t go wrong visiting the Adirondacks.  I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of some rentals on a few different lakes – beautiful natural surroundings, swimming, kayaking, fishing, bonfires, game nights, yummy food and lots of laughs.

BS: My husband and I like to take a trip to the city for a Brooklyn Nets game every now and then. It’s easy to forget that one of the most visited cities in the world is only a train ride away.

EW: It depends on the person but, in NYC, grabbing a coffee or tea and walking around the water in Brooklyn Bridge Park or along the Southstreet Seaport is always fun. There’s a sea glass carousel over by Battery Park that I’ve been wanting to go to for years. At night it lights up. Or for metro-Detroit I’d say on a beautiful warm day definitely visit Belle Isle Park, there’s an aquarium, a ship museum, a marble lighthouse, and a plant conservatory, as well as biking and swimming.

LW: Lake Placid is always a fun place to go for a weekend!

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