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Planning the perfect getaway: DL woman opens travel agency out of her home

Markuson and her family on vacation. She spends time travelling and testing out travel spots, so she knows they are a good place for her clients to visit. From left to right: Drew, Carissa, Brooklyn, Mikayla and Brady Markuson. Submitted Photo1 / 3
Carissa Markuson travels from place to place to meet with different vendors and suppliers. She tests out travel packages, so she knows they are the best quality for her clients. Submitted Photo2 / 3
Carissa Markuson started her own travel agency, Markuson Travel, out of her home. Submitted Photo3 / 3

Planning a vacation can be a headache. There's flights, hotels, excursions to book—and all within the constraints of a budget. The list of details that need to be ironed out to ensure a positive experience goes on and on. That's why many people turn to a travel agency to get the job done.

Carissa Markuson, who started up her own full-service travel agency, Markuson Travel, this spring, says she loves hashing out the details of a vacation. It's her passion and why she went into the career in the first place.

"I'm a planner," said Markuson, adding that she always knew she wanted to become a travel agent. "I have a travel management degree."

Markuson says she worked for a travel agency right of out school back in the 1990s, when the industry was much different.

"There was no Internet, so it was a really different time," she said. "We would hand write boarding passes...the whole desk would be filled with the books for the flight schedules."

These days, everything is done online, which allowed Markuson to open her agency right in her own home. Markuson took a break from the travel industry and did social work for a number of years until she retired, but she says she felt drawn back into the profession, which led to her opening her own agency this year.

"I retired and found myself with a lot of free time. I was taking a lot of great trips and... it was just kind of a no-brainer to get back into it, but to do it on my own terms as an independent contractor," she said.

Markuson Travel is its own agency, though it's under a "host agency," which basically makes it easier for Markuson to connect her clients to vendors and suppliers.

"With the host agency, I'm able to provide clients over 1,200 travel suppliers," she said.

Markuson spends a lot of time travelling and building relationships with these vendors and suppliers too, so she knows they are of good quality and will provide a positive experience for her guests.

She says before, agencies spent a lot of time and money getting established with vendors, so the industry has become more more streamlined and easier to manage, allowing her to really take the headache out of the planning process. With a host agency, Markuson is also able to spend more time putting that "personal contact back into planning vacations."

She is able to work with her clients a lot over the phone and via email, though she says she also meets with them in person in her home, particularly for those clients who are unsure of where they want to take their trip.

"A lot of people don't know exactly where they want to go. That's where we can help steer them in the right direction," said Markuson, adding that she spends a lot of time getting to know their clients, what their interests are, what sort of trip they want to take, what their budget is.

Markuson says she sends people all over, but some more popular destinations recently have been places like Hawaii, the Caribbean, river cruises in Europe and, of course, the ever-popular family Disney trip.

She also handles people who have much more of their trip planned out. "A lot of people will have all their research done. They will have all the details and say, 'Here's my budget. Make it happen," said Markuson, adding that she takes on clients at any phase in their planning.

Some people want their entire trip planned and others just want to book travel insurance with her. Either way, Markuson says she does it all.

To contact Markuson and book a vacation, people can visit or find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under her business name, Markuson Travel.

She can also be reached via phone (218-583-7225) or email (