By Hannah Curran, Editor
TRUSSVILLE — A vacation is supposed to be a time of relaxation and serenity, but planning for the vacation can be stressful. The 2021 Reader’s Choice Trussville Tribune Favorite Travel Agent Clarissa Ojeda-Winchester, has found a new home base at The Cahaba Building on Main Street in Trussville and is helping vacationers every chance she can.
Ojeda-Winchester has been an agent since 2016 and has been with Cruise Planners since 2019. Now she will offer a public walk-in agency at The Cahaba Building.
“I bought my own Cruise Planners franchise in the summer of 2020,” Ojeda-Winchester said. “Since then, I have been running my own travel agency during that time.”
Ojeda-Winchester explained that Cruise Planners was founded in 1994 and is a network of 2,500 travel agents, and she stressed that they are not multi-level marketing (MLM), they are a franchise model.
Don’t let the name fool you because Ojeda-Winchester can help you plan your land or sea vacation wherever your heart desires.
“We can do cruise travel, land travel, theme parks, river cruises (both domestic and international), ski trips, custom trips, and group trips,” Ojeda-Winchester said. “There just isn’t much that we can’t do.”
One of her earliest memories is being on a plane traveling anywhere and everywhere.
However, it wasn’t her love for travel that pushed her to be a travel agent, it was her kids that she homeschooled. Ojeda-Winchester homeschooled her kids for all 18 years, and she wanted to share how to travel and homeschool children at the same time.
“I put together a homeschool travel resource that has 4,000 followers on Facebook,” Ojeda-Winchester said. “We have done over 200 field trips from Mexico to the local zoo.”
She wanted to make sure she was offering the best opportunities to the homeschool students. She knew there was no one to advocate for homeschool travel and so she applied to a local travel agency to learn the business. The response she got shocked her more than she realized.
Along with the Facebook page, she also created a website called fieldtripsrushomeschooling.com and presented it to the travel agency.
“They were like, ‘Oh, my goodness, you’re already a travel agent, you just don’t know it yet,'” Ojeda-Winchester said. “They hired me immediately, and I got my training there.”
Ojeda-Winchester said that while homeschool travel was not a known niche at the time, it was a much-needed niche in the Birmingham area.
“I didn’t realize how much, so when I started putting these groups/travel events together, we would have 300 people sign up to go on our group trips to Disney and Universal and our homeschool cruises,” Ojeda-Winchester said. “I had clients, homeschool parents, that were coming from Las Vegas and Chicago, and they were coming from everywhere.”
From this experience with the homeschool travel group, she started to transition into being a travel agent for anyone who needed one.
Ojeda-Winchester favorite part about her job is not the opportunities to travel but the educational components that come with traveling.
She is also a member of Trussville Daybreak Rotary and Trussville Chamber and Publicity Chair of Trussville Area Lions, and she has participated in Trussville City Fest. In addition, she was a Travel Columnist at The Alabaster Newsletter Magazine and a former Disney Cast Member.
Ojeda-Winchester will host travel nights that will be themed various travel excursions on the rooftop entertainment area at The Cahaba Building for any interested in travel.
For more information about homeschool travel, visit fieldtripsrushomeschooling.com, and if you want to book Ojeda-Winchester to plan your next vacation, visit www.cooltravelmemories.com, and call her at 205-873-8621, or visit her at The Cahaba Building in Suite 108.