We recently connected with Cindy Lucio and have shared our conversation below.
Cindy, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. What’s the backstory behind how you came up with the idea for your business?
I love to travel, I love to plan travel, so why not let other people share in the fun? I have always loved to read about the “out of the way” places, beautiful beaches, cabins in the woods, nature hikes, bike rides and adventures that are extraordinary. I love to experience the food and customs of people from different cultures, whether in our own neighborhood or across the globe. As a chef, I sometimes start with food as a topic, who doesn’t like to eat! I also have an art background and am an athlete, of course these are two other areas that I incorporate into travel. Recently I was talking with a friend from Mexico, telling her that I have so many people that have listened to my stories of travels to Mexico. They tell me that they would like to go with me on a trip to Mexico, but they are afraid to go alone. She just smiled and said that she had the same idea- to take people on trips to different places in Mexico, for them to understand that it’s more than the resorts on the beaches. We knew it would be fun for us to travel together, but we also understand that we have to put together itineraries that others would be interested in. As we are developing the trips we offer, we have taken a few “experimental trips” to learn and decide if this is what we want to do, and to make sure it is still fun! We have discussed the different ways that people like to travel, and how we aren’t right for everyone, we want to make sure people understand what they are getting into. We will ask them to go on hikes, ride bikes, snorkel with fish and sea lions, learn to speak some Spanish, eat amazing food, take a cooking class, drink mescal, go to an architectural site, visit a museum, shop for crafts, watch artists make amazing ceramics and rugs, and have fun with us! We want to be the team that people say, “Hey I have heard about those 2 ladies, they look like they are having a great time, I want to go on a trip with them!” Our boutique, adventure travel idea is not the only one out there, and I am glad. We need people to get out of their comfort zone, learn things, experience other cultures- especially in this day and time when cultural diversity has become such a hot topic. Acceptance and tolerance is taught by experiencing the beauty of other people in other places. We plan to give back to the local community by supporting the businesses and artists while we are there and after the trips as well. Travel craft is small group travel, with a maximum of 8 guests per trip. We make all of the arrangements, buy the tickets, make reservations at some of the best restaurants, and have local tour guides to teach the history and customs. We have a variety of trips from adventure to luxury to food focused and “glamping” experiences. Most of the trips are to Mexico, but there will be other trips in the US as well. I don’t know of any other travel company that travels with such a small group of people. This is part of what makes us unique, we will not stand out in a crowd as a big group of tourists. We are able to secure reservations at small boutique hotels and b&b’s, as well as share a dinner table together. We want singles, couples as well as any age traveler to join our group and feel comfortable. We post the itinerary and activity level to potential guests before the trip, in order to make sure they are ready to travel differently, and have fun with us! We are excited to share these experiences with others.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
My name is Cindy Bennett Lucio, I grew up in Texas as a tomboy playing sports with the boys in the neighborhood, and ended up playing collegiate tennis. In college, I studied art (graphic design) and have a Masters degree in Education with a certificate from Culinary School. I have been a Publications director, art teacher, elementary school teacher, triathlete, happy wife and proud mother to two grown men and a daughter in law. My husband, Javier Lucio is also from Texas, with family from Mexico. He introduced me to traveling to Mexico to visit his family in the small towns in Northern Mexico. Over 30 years ago we ventured out with a family caravan to Southern Mexico, through the mountains and deserts to the beaches, it was amazing- I loved every place we saw. The colonial towns were beautiful, the colors, the plants, the food, the people, the art…I had never see such a beautiful and diverse place. The people we encountered were so hospitable, luckily my Spanish is suficiente’. I was hooked, we have now traveled to 18 of the states in Mexico, and have plans to see them all (just like we did in the US)! I recently sold my bed and breakfast in Fort Worth, after almost ten years of blood, sweat and tears…and many hugs and smiles from new friends from around the world. The Texas White House was recently voted “best b&b in Texas” by Yelp, as well as “best in Dallas/Fort Worth”…all of this took a lot of passion, something I have been told that I have plenty of! The commercial property market was right, the economy good and Covid was doing such a number on the hospitality business I decided it was a good time to sell- and it was! I had already begun talking to my business partner, Maria Jose’, about a boutique travel company, we would use “Covid time” to plan and research and take a few “experimental trips” in hopes that as soon as the air clears people will want to travel- often! It’s happening! We have taken a few successful trips and have learned several things we will incorporate in our travel plans. Travel craft is inclusive travel, we will post itineraries and dates and prices and activity levels. People on our mailing list will figure out if it is the right trip for them. We plan to have different types of trips, from outdoor active trips with glamping, surf lessons, snorkeling, hiking, and outdoor eating arrangements to a luxury r&r trip with fine dining and shopping trips and pool time, as well as sunsets on a yacht. We want to have diverse trips to cover the diversity of Mexico as well as our guests’ personalities and travel styles. The plan is for potential guests to contact us, ask questions, pay a deposit, sign an agreement and book their own airfare to a set destination. We will work on a first come/first deposit basis. We are currently working on a website, hoping to roll it out in March 2022. Our plan is to develop itineraries for our groups as well as sell itineraries and travel services to groups wanting to travel alone, but not wanting to do the reservations and planning. We plan to expand our trips over the years, but start with a core 8 trips to Mexico: Oaxaca, Guadalajara/Chapala/Tequila, Mexico City, Baja California Sur, and wine country tours to Saltillo/Parras, Copper Canyon train ride, and 2 trips in the US: Big Bend outdoor adventure to Marfa/Terlingua, TX and another to the Grand Canyon/Sadona/Flagstaff, AZ.
Have you ever had to pivot?
In my career as a graphic designer, I worked many long hours, and had a stressful job. After having a child, I knew it was not the best situation for him or for myself. I found a great job at a University, it was a much better fit for my family. As the family grew to 2 children, I decided to teach to have a similar schedule to the kids- it was a good move and I feel we all benefitted from that decision. When the boys were older, I attended a year of culinary school in order to follow my dream of having a chef- owned bed and breakfast. I did it, and I did it well. I enjoyed cooking for people, meeting people, planning their trips in Fort Worth and Dallas as well as all over Texas (I was trip planning back then, and didn’t realize it)! As time went by, I became exhausted and felt tied down by the b&b. As people would enjoy get-aways, holidays and weekends, I was there for them, but I didn’t get to have (many) weekends or getaways myself. My ideas of travel made me grow weary as the b&b became very popular and busy, so I hired more staff and things were good…then Covid hit and things were bad! As I spent many stressful days trying to figure out how to take care of my wonderful staff, we made to-go meals, we painted the interior of the b&b and did landscaping to pass the time. Things started getting better as people were ready to travel, but wanted to feel safe- at the b&b, we met that criteria! I was so happy to have a full house every weekend again! We even hosted a few weddings and showers. Now, after almost 10 years of b&b life, I was having day dreams of traveling and starting my next adventure- it was time to sell the b&b while we were on top of our game and the real estate market was so hot. Sooooo, here I am onto career number 4…the saying, “it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey” fits me well! I am ready for the next challenge- how fun to take vacations twice a month,,,with other people that “just want to have fun!”
Can you tell us the story behind how you met your business partner?
My new business partner (travel adventures) is the wife of a friend. We met when she would visit Texas from Mexico. We got along right away, as she spoke Spanish and I spoke English, we understood each other well (and laughed often)! Eventually they married at the b&b and we have vacationed together a few times. At a dinner party we realized that our birthdays are 1 day (and many years) apart. Kindred spirits that love to travel, enjoy people and food. A few years ago I explained to my husband that after I sold the b&b, I wanted to take people to Mexico and he told me that I need a business partner from Mexico because he has his own architecture firm and cannot go on all the trips. Shortly after, Maria Jose’ told me that one day she told her husband that she wanted to take groups of people to Mexico, he told her she needed a partner from the US with contacts here. Funny how things work out! We are now putting the finishing touches on the design and images we want to portray for our logo, website, social media and marketing emails. We are planning itineraries and going on a few “experimental” trips as well. I guess you could call them “business trips” as we are exploring places to stay, eat and things to do. Finding the local watering hole as well as artists and chefs that will open their businesses to educate people and forge new international relationships! Any partnership is a gamble, but when you start out as friends, and are able to travel to beautiful places …as kindred spirits, I think it will go well!
- Website: in the works- in March look for Travel craft
- Instagram: @chefcindyluwho
- Facebook: cindylucio
- Other: email for now: email@example.com