The first thing that she asked me when we first met is,
“When is your next travel?”
For the whole night, she would ask the same question to the other people she met during the Backpacker Teacher launch. That’s how I met Karan Grace Ballon, our third featured traveler in our Travel Bug Series. Get to know the woman behind Ritz & Grace Travel and Tours in this interview.
First, tell us some things about you. Who are you?
I’m Karan Grace Ballon, owner of a travel agency, and a certified jet-setter.
You have your own travel agency, when and how did it start?
My business began in Aug 2008. A client became my mentor and she encouraged me to start my own travel agency. She sent me all the books I needed and patiently guided me throughout the process of applying all the necessary business documents to start the business. Then my aunt provided me the capital to finance this venture. It’s a home-based business, but I am happy about it; gives me freedom in many aspects.
What are the challenges that you encountered while trying to build your business?
Because my business is home-based, I had to work harder to gain the trust of my clients. Most of my corporate accounts or new clients tend to have trust issues. Also, there’s the competition with Air Bnb, group-buying sites, and the likes.
How do you deal with these challenges?
What I do is just send them (clients) all the business registrations I have. With regards to the competition, I am just thankful that there are still clients who prefer to book with travel agents simply because they know who to call just in case they’ve missed their airport pickup or if some other problems occur during their holiday.
Why do you travel?
I travel because I’m always curious with different cultures, I love meeting people from different walks of life and learning from everyone’s life experiences.
When did you discover the joys of traveling?
Looking back on my childhood pictures I guessed even at my very young age I am already into traveling.
Out of the places you’ve been to, which one is most memorable and why?
BALI (Indonesia)! I just fell in love with the country, culture, and the people there are awesome. I keep coming back there every 4 months, that’s how much I love it.
Do you like to travel solo or with a group?
How do you prepare for a trip?
Research on the destination and ask friends who’ve been to that place.
What are your travel must-haves?
Emergency medicine kit (health wise I’m so sensitive) and scarf (so many ways to use it ).
What is the best thing that you learned about traveling?
Traveling is an eye opener for me, it’s how I learn to appreciate life and be grateful for what I have.
Do you have a flying anxiety?
What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling?
I have several funny experiences while traveling so let me share some of them here:
A. I made an impression in Bali where I get ripped off by the price of flip flops, yeah trust me, it happens, even to people who travel a lot like me. Then my friend came to Bali and met this travel agency manager, named Mr. Andrei, and he didn’t know that she’s a friend of mine. He told my friend the unfortunate event that happened to a certain Filipina (me!). My friend laughed and him if the Filipina’s name is Karan. He said “yes” and asked how did she know her name. The two ended up laughing together, realizing that this is indeed, a small world. I got an email from both of them telling me this story.
B. Since most Southeast Asian people look the same, they always mistake me for a local. Suddenly, they’d just talk to me in their in their local language.
c. Doing the sign language in some Asian countries where they don’t speak English well. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate how they try to help travelers.
Do you travel solo?
Yes, I do, once or twice a year, that’s the time I learn more about myself.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
I got three: Europe, Turkey, and Maldives.
What is your non-negotiable term when traveling?
I don’t like taking trips that involve a long drive.
Any travel tips to share?
First will be to respect the culture, research on the Do’s and Don’ts first before you travel anywhere. It’s okay to get lost (it’s where you will discover something exciting :). See to it that you talk with your fellow travelers, you will meet new friends and definitely you will learn something from them.
This or That
Beach or Mountain?
I am a beach-lover.
By Air or by Land?
Air! Why waste long hours of land travel when you can use that time to explore good places on your destination.
Exotic food, Yay or Nay?
It depends, if it looks yummy hahaha… 🙂
If you too want to get started on traveling but don’t know where to start, Karan can help arrange your next trip. You may contact her through her Facebook page, Ritz & Grace Travel and Tours.