"There has to be a better way."
That's the statement Christine Hardenberger said was the catalyst for her travel agent career.
She and her husband had traveled to Walt Disney World for their 10th anniversary.
"I had been a few times before, but I had never realized how complicated things could be," said the owner of Modern Travel Professionals in Richmond, Virginia. "Even with past experience, we made some mistakes that cost us a lot of time. I thought, 'There's a business for people who need help navigating this.'"
Once she got back home, Hardenberger discovered various Disney-focused travel agencies, but she wasn't looking to hire one. She wanted to become one and signed on.
"I really wanted to help people get the most out of their vacations," she said. "We all work hard for our money, and our vacation time is precious. Who wants to waste it flailing around? I wanted to ensure that people got the best vacation for their budget and made the most of their time away."
Hardenberger specializes in Orlando vacations along with river and ocean cruises, with a focus on military families.
"As a former military spouse, I know that family time is even more precious to our service members because they are gone so frequently," she said. "Making special memories is even more important. I love helping these families unplug and really focus on each other, not on the logistics of travel."
Just recently, Hardenberger helped a young honeymoon couple on a tight budget plan a trip to Walt Disney World when Hurricane Irma hit.
"Their flights were canceled and the couple was not able to change their dates. They were so disappointed to miss out on a Disney honeymoon," she said. "In particular, they had been excited about the Halloween festivities."
Three days before they were due to depart, Hardenberger was able to recreate a brand new honeymoon with all the Disney magic, including Halloween. She sent them to Disneyland in California for a few days and booked them on a two-day Halloween on the High Seas cruise aboard Disney Cruise Line.
All of this was done on the same budget.
When Hardenberger isn't planning her clients' trips to Walt Disney World, she loves to travel to, well, Walt Disney World.
"I love to travel just about anywhere, but if I had to pick one place, it would be Walt Disney World," she said. "While it's not the most exotic place I've ever visited, it's the place where my family and I have shared many happy days. My second favorite place would be Paris."
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