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Travel Q&A with Robin Norell of Millbrook World Travel

Oh, the places you’ll go! Buckle up for some marvelous travel stories and recommendations from your local go-to travel source

Can you tell us about yourself and Millbrook World Travel?

My name is Robin Norell, and I am the Owner/President of Millbrook World Travel. I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years. I’ve been on 51 cruises, to 45 countries, and 33 states…. So far!

When I was growing up, my Dad had a company called Millbrook Custom Kitchens. It was a family business and we all worked there at some time in our lives. In the early 90s, we had 150 employees and produced award-winning cabinetry that was shipped around the world. My Dad passed away in 2018, but even after he passed, I know he helped put things in place for me to start my own travel agency, so I named my company after his. I even adopted his logo into mine - the “M” with the eagle head on the top was his logo.

What inspired you to become a travel agent?

My father gave me a love of travel - we went on family vacations twice a year when I was younger. In college, my passion was languages. I took German, Spanish, and majored in Chinese (East Asian Studies) and spent a summer in China.  My husband and I traveled a bit before kids and then when I homeschooled them we incorporated travel into our studies. We didn’t just read about places in the world, we visited them. When they became adults and I was trying to decide what to do next, the thought that brought me the most joy was travel. I love to travel and I love to help people, so this is the perfect job for me. I’ve never been bored!

What do you love most about being a travel agent?

As a travel agent, I love using my knowledge and experience to help my clients have a better vacation than they would have had on their own. I was recently in Europe for 5 weeks and did “on the spot” research for two of my clients while I was there. Deciding on the best itinerary or cruise can be daunting with so many options, so I am glad to be able to help my clients with their choices.

As a travel agency owner, I also enjoy helping people join the travel industry. I am always available for questions, help guide them through training and learning, and am happy to be building a wonderful team!

Where was the last place you traveled?

I was in Europe from March 9 to April 11. The first week I attended two river cruise expos in Amsterdam, where we toured 15 different ships from 11 different river cruise lines, and we dined on them and I stayed on 3 different ships. Then I did a river cruise on the Rhine Dutch Waterway to Belgium, traveled to Berlin to visit friends, visited Dresden, Germany, went to Prague then Budapest, then did a river cruise on the Danube from Budapest to Vilshofen, Germany. It was truly a wonderful experience. You can read all about it at 

Your favorite travel destination and why?

I would have to say Europe - I’ve been there 13 times and there are still so many places and a few countries I haven’t visited yet. I love history and the people of Europe, and each country offers different sites both natural and manmade, traditions, history, and people. 

What was your most impactful travel experience?

That would be my first river cruise. In October 2016, my husband and I did the Paris to Normandy itinerary on Avalon Waterways. We thought Normandy would be the highlight because my husband is very interested in World War 2 history. But the Normandy region of France was the home of Monet and Van Gogh, and visiting those places that we had seen in so many paintings was what was really special. And we discovered we wanted to take many more river cruises after that.

What was your least favorite travel destination and why?

I don’t think I’ve gone to a place yet that I wouldn’t go back or recommend, especially because we’re all different. The places that I go might not interest someone, but they may be interested in places I hadn’t thought to visit. So, I don’t think there’s a bad place to go.

How has travel impacted your life?

It has made me more aware of people from other cultures and understanding of the differences that can sometimes separate us unintentionally. It has given me a sense of wonder at the amazing and beautiful places around the world.

What is your top tip for integrating more travel into your life?

Be intentional about it. Make your plans far in advance and stick to them. Don’t wait for “someday,” because none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Make a list (many call it a Bucket List) and plan the trips to check off the places you want to see the most. Studies have shown that “people get more retrospective enjoyment and satisfaction from their experiential purchases than from material purchases.” And when I finish a trip, I always have another one planned in the future to look forward to.  

What are the top travel destinations or experiences you would recommend?

My top recommendation is a European river cruise (obviously). There are also many Expedition options that are becoming popular - small ships with zodiacs (and even onboard submarines) to explore Antarctica or Iceland, sailing ships in the South Pacific with diving experiences, going to South America for the Galapagos and Machu Picchu, and so many more. And multi-generational travel - how wonderful for generations to travel together! And it’s so easy to do and there are many options of places to go together. One of the places I send multi-generational groups most often is Alaska, but even European river cruises are shifting to be more accommodating to these larger family groups. Ocean cruise ships are also perfect for families to travel together. Everyone can “do their own thing” during the day (or do it together) and then gather for dinner together.

I love learning about different parts of the world, their history and culture, and meeting new people. Reading about history is fascinating, but nothing can beat seeing it in person. I am grateful for the freedom that allows us to travel almost anywhere on the planet, with so many different options for travel. 

Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I’ve read a lot of that book and still have so much more to see!

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