Sam was recently named to Travel + Leisure’s 2017 A-List for Family Travel for the 5th year in a row and Awarded the Virtuoso honor of Most Innovative Travel Advisor in 2014.
My first passport picture was taken when I was one month old. I had the great fortune to grow up as an “oil brat” – living and traveling around the world.
When I settled in Austin with my husband to raise our family, it was on the condition that I could travel often and share the world with our children.
While they didn’t get their first passports quite as early as I did, Madison and Ian journeyed to all seven continents by the age of 12. They have been to their father’s ancestral homeland of Ireland, to my ancestral homeland of Italy and seen some of the places where Mommy grew up including Brussels and London... sprinkled with trips to the beach in Belize, Nicaragua, Mexico, Hawaii, Bora Bora, Fiji and The Caribbean where they have discovered my passion for snorkeling.
I have experienced many new places with them – the uninhabited Galapagos Islands, the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, safaris in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Namibia, the rain forests of Costa Rica, the raw beauty of New Zealand, the mysteries of China, the ancient wonders of Egypt and Jordan, Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, the magnificent falls at Iguazu, the stunning Dalmation Coast of Croatia, the exotic landscapes of Turkey and looking for lemurs in Madagascar. We've gone bi-polar together from the mystical Antarctic continent to the ice capped Arctic Circle!
I have also revisited familiar countries in a new way – we have biked together through the Loire Valley, Holland, from Prague to Vienna and the Canadian Rockies. We've gone on safari in Australia, and explored Greek mythology on the Peloponnese and cruised the Aegean by sailboat. I took them to one of my favorite countries - Kenya, where we embarked on a camel trekking safari with Masai warriors. Recently I took them back to one of the most beautiful countries on earth – Iceland. Even as young adults, we still share a passion for exploration as a family and continue to dream about our next adventures.
I believe that the greatest gift you can give your children is to share the world with them. That is why I started Small World Travel in 1999 to help other families enjoy discovering the world together.
Rachael was recently named to Travel Agent Magazine’s “30 Under 30” for 2014.
I had the fortune of traveling early and often throughout my childhood, growing to love the thrill of immersing myself in new cultures and environments. I wholeheartedly believe these experiences instilled a sense of intrepid curiosity that has continued to shape my choices well into adulthood. I have an appetite for adventure and to this day I can’t stay put for too long without getting “itchy feet.”
While attending the Savannah College of Art and Design, pursing my BFA in Film & Television Production, I spent a summer in Washington, DC interning with National Geographic Television where I got to participate in the production of the “Earth Live” series. That experience inspired my senior film project where I produced and directed an award-winning ecotourism documentary on location in Colombia – “Flight of Colombia” – which ultimately set me down the path to the travel industry after graduation.
Since then my travels have taken me to six continents (and counting) and over a dozen unique countries. Bucket list highlights for me have included a polar plunge in Antarctica, trekking with silverback gorillas in Rwanda, and receiving a traditional sak-yant tattoo in Thailand. These experiences have expanded my vision of the world far beyond any conventional learning, and I continue to feel so fortunate to be able to help others do the same.
One of my earliest memories was my parents’ promise to take me and my brother to all seven continents by the time we were 12 years old.
My mother (Sam McClure) took this promise one step further and started Small World Travel when I was five years old, and I have been her “guinea pig” ever since.
I got my first passport at age 4 to travel to Ireland, London and Italy. We learned to snorkel in the Galapagos Islands and how to hike (on our parents’ backs) up to Machu Picchu before heading on a research safari in South Africa by the time I was 7 years old. We spent summers biking through France, Belgium, Croatia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and the Canadian Rockies, and I managed to survive on mifan in China at nine years old. I turned 10 while learning to drive a zodiac in Antarctica and 12 in Australia, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge. And just like that, my parents kept their promise, and I was officially hooked on exploring the world.
My love for new adventures pushed me to leave home in Austin, Texas at 14 to attend the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut and Colgate University in upstate New York. I spent my first summer in College studying International Relations at the London School of Economics and my first semester sophomore year at University College London. While abroad, I put my travel-planning skills to test, traveling almost every weekend throughout Europe and Morocco. When given the opportunity to choose destinations for my high school and college graduation presents, I selected several new and different destinations – Turkey, Cambodia, Vietnam and Madagascar.
After graduating from Colgate University cum laude with a double major in Economics and English, I embarked on another new adventure and entered the world of finance in New York City. Over the past two years, I have spent the holidays with my family in Brazil, Iceland and Bora Bora and managed to squeeze in a few beach vacations to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with friends.
Those who know me well know that there is no match for the excitement I experience when I am traveling. I have been very lucky to have traveled so extensively by age 24, and by joining Small World Travel, I hope to spread my passion for adventure travel with as many people as possible.
My parents viewed education not just as textbooks and classrooms but also experiences. Growing up we took family trips to see Mayan ruins, wildebeest migrating across the Serengeti, and giant green sea turtles in the Galapagos.
We interacted with Masai tribes, caught fresh halibut off the coast of Alaska, and walked the streets of Paris sampling strawberry tarts and crepes au chocolat. The cultures, foods, cities, and landscapes of the world were my classroom.
I am a native Austinite and I attended the University of Texas where I played soccer for four years while earning a dual degree in Plan II and History. The summer after my senior year I spent six weeks with a backpack and a Eurail pass traveling through Europe. I shared rooms and beers with travelers from all over the world and soon had a lengthy wish list of destinations. After graduation I joined Teach For America and moved to New York City and after four years in the northeast I moved back to Austin where I was introduced to the travel industry. I am excited to share with you my love for the cultures and foods of the world.
I have always loved to travel and believe it is the best educational experience possible – for young and old.
My passion has certainly rubbed off on my husband Gary and daughter Cory. Together we have voyaged to five continents to bike Kitty Hawk, ride camels in Cairo, climb the great wall of China, snorkel the Galapagos, whale watch in San Francisco ... but wherever we go – near or far – we approach each location as a learning opportunity.
In 1994, I left a decade-long career in marketing to become a teacher. Over the years, I earned a Master’s in Education and a Doctorate in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum. In 2003, I devised a way to combine my passion for travel with my love for educating students. My husband Gary and I took our daughter (then 7 years old) and 25 middle school kids on an exchange trip to southern England. It was, truly, the best educational experience I have ever been a part of. Many years, several countries, and hundreds of students later, we are still going strong. Not only do we lead the trips ourselves, we design and coordinate trips for other educators that wish to participate in such a valuable learning activity. Some of our “alumni” students are now in college and have told us that their trip abroad was truly life changing.
I am thrilled to offer both my love for travel and my background in developing curriculum to Small World Travel and their clients. All journeys lead to a deeper understanding of our fascinating world – but well-prepared activities and thoroughly developed itineraries maximize travel experiences to provide families with life changing learning opportunities.