Tonya Topel has been traveling since before she could remember. Her father’s position in the US Army took them all over and only settled into the town she considers home at age eight. By that time, “Traveling was in my blood,” explains Topel. “It was something I knew I would always love to do.”
Since then, Topel’s prediction has come true. Not only has she become a licensed travel agent (her agency is named Sandy Sunsets, LLC), but she travels frequently for pleasure, as well, and lists Spain, the Bahamas, Boston, and San Francisco as some of her favorite places to visit. In her role as a travel agent, Topel has the opportunity to share her love of travel with countless others and combine it with her abilities to organize, research, and create experiences for other people to enjoy. To her, being a travel agent doesn’t feel like a job, it’s just a way of sharing her passion with others, and helping them to discover that same joy.
For Topel personally about traveling, the most rewarding thing is when you observe other cultures and can adapt to experience their way of life. As mentioned, one of Topel’s favorite places to go is the Bahamas. The islands themselves are stunning, but it’s their mindset on life that ultimately attracts her. In the Bahamas, the lifestyle is to slow down and just enjoy. Unlike many big cities and other cultures, there is less of a rush. There is a slower pace life, and a different mindset altogether.
Locals don’t walk around glued to their cell phones, rushing off from one appointment to another. When they sit down for breakfast, it may take an hour-long meal because everyone stops and enjoys their surroundings and talks to the people around them. Getting to be part to take part in the native culture of the places she visits is the best part of traveling for Topel. Whether alone or with her two daughters, she is always ready to take on the next adventure and learn something new.
This ties into her philosophy on travel: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” To travel is to catch a glimpse of a lifestyle other than the one you lead. With that in mind and her practical travel tips, Topel is determined that her next destination will be: the Emerald Isle. She looks forward to seeing Ireland’s breathtaking scenery and grand history in person, experience authentic Irish hospitality, and have a drink or two while discovering a new favorite musical performance.