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Stephanie Durst

Westbury, New York Travel Agent

My Life in Travel

My passion for travel began with our family trips when I was a child. My most vivid early travel memories are of a trip to Hawaii in 1967, before it was a big tourism destination. My brother, who was serving in Vietnam, met us there and our travel agent, a family friend, put together an amazing itinerary. I was so impressed by seeing lava fields and black sand beaches. We’d been to Bermuda a number of times but Hawaii looked different from anything I’d ever seen and seeing it together as a family felt so wonderful. To this day, I remember that amazing trip and planning family travel is very special to me.

I have always worked in the travel industry, first as a tour designer, then at a cruise company, and for most of my career, as a travel agent. I managed an agency for a time before deciding to join Protravel International. It’s the leading agency in the country. When I say Protravel to my counterparts at hotels, cruise lines and other suppliers, I get tremendous respect, and this brings wonderful benefits for my clients.

A key to fulfilling people’s dreams is taking the time to fully understand what they are looking for. One of the most satisfying trips I planned was sending a single woman in her 20s to Tahiti. She had been feeling isolated and alone after losing a close family member and asked for a destination that was different and beautiful. It took a leap of faith for her to go to such a romantic destination on her own, but she had an independent spirit and knowing how loving and caring the Tahitian culture and people are, I felt it would be right for her, and it was. She told me that being in a culture so totally different on her own changed her life and that the people she encountered had made her feel safe, warm and comfortable in the world again. That’s a real testament to the transformational power of travel.

I also am always there for my clients when they are traveling. For example, I recently had clients in Scotland who had a serious medical emergency. Fortunately, they had taken my advice and purchased medical evacuation insurance and I was able to get on the phone (in the middle of the night) to sort it out so they could return to a hospital at home. Being able to ease clients through challenges, big and small, is one of the most gratifying parts of my work.

I also enjoy photography, tennis and water skiing.

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