Apr. 16—Air Force veterans Karen Esaias and Richard Von Schlichten have, throughout the decades, gone to locations all across the world for both professional work and personal enjoyment — Europe, Asia, South America, the Caribbean.
So, when looking for a retirement business to start, becoming travel agents felt like a natural fit. That led to the Cambria County couple recently completing training and opening a local Dream Vacations franchise.
"I think, over the years, I've often thought, 'Oh man, it would be cool to be a travel agent,' because we like to travel, and then you kind of live vicariously when you're planning travel for other people, too," Von Schlichten said. "So that's fun."
Dream Vacations encourages veteran ownership, so Esaias and Von Schlichten talked to several franchise owners who spent time in the military before making their decision.
"To a person, they were really pleased with the company itself and the support that they got," Esaias said. "They loved it."
Their training took place during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"Now's a good time," Von Schlichten said.
"While nobody's really traveling, we can get all this learning done, we can attend all these webinars and videos with different cruise lines and the different suppliers around the world, and then, when people are ready to start traveling, we will have learned a lot."
Von Schlichten and Esaias can book trips and cruises at locations all across the world.
But, along with helping clients go to far-off destinations, they also want to use their business to support the local community. Twenty percent of their earnings will go to nonprofits.
Clients will be able to direct the donation to St. Clement Food Pantry, Johnstown Free Medical Clinic or Veteran Community Initiatives.
"We're doing what we love, and we're happy to give some of that money back to the community," Von Schlichten said.
More information about the business is available at OnVacationToday.com or by calling 814-961-2075. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.