About Specially Designed Travel

Stephen Shands

Stephen Shands

Agent

Tina Shands

Tina Shands

Owner

Welcome to our website! I am so happy you have stopped by and taken the time to get to know me. My philosophy is simple: I am here to be of personal service to you, my client. I give you back the time you might spend planning travel yourself. This time is much better spent on personal or professional endeavors. I work diligently to educate myself on travel suppliers and destinations so I can recommend the right vacation for you. Many of the options I'm aware of are not options you might find searching the Internet. My primary goal is to create a trip that will meet your every need and one that will create memories to last your lifetime.

I started this business, with my husband Stephen, because we love to travel and we wanted to share that love with others. We have been traveling all over the world for well over 20 years. We began traveling with our high-functioning autistic son when he was 5 years old. He is now 21 and has had many wonderful experiences through travel. When I was young, I took a cruise. I loved cruising but could never convince Stephen to take a cruise. He thought he would hate it. Finally, my son begged him to go on a cruise. To say the least, my entire family fell in love with cruise vacations. Thus, cruise vacations are a major focus of our business. If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it.

We have also traveled quite a bit with my mother, who is in her 70s and has a few health issues. Cruises and tours are a great way to travel with multi-generations. When she travels solo, cruises and tours are the way for her to be surrounded by other like mind individuals. I also have a firm belief that cruise lines and tour companies have a vested interest in their passengers well being. In today's world, safety is a primary concern and one I take seriously. Tours are also very good for travelers who want to see the most in a short amount of time. I found that so true when I traveled to China and made it to all major sites and cities in the course of 3 weeks. For these reasons, I focus the business on cruises and tours.

Stephen and I are also serious foodies. When we travel, we are want to try the local food and wine. When we cruise, we seek out the specialty dining or chef's table on board. The California Wine Country is one of our most favorite US destinations and we spend a lot of time in the Texas wine region near Austin. "Food tourism" is an area we are beginning to focus on more. It is a new area for us and is currently primarily focused on food themed cruises and tours. Beer tours and other culinary events are woven into the fabric of many travel options which we can explore for you. We can also create individualized itineraries for travelers who desire a more unique experience related to food and travel. I am always excited to work with fellow foodies to create amazing vacations focused on "food tourism".

Although I work from home, I like to meet my clients in person, over coffee or lunch, whenever possible. I'm always up for a glass of wine or a new restaurant. If you don't live in Austin, no worries! We can always have a nice long chat via phone or Skype. In today's world, that may seem a bit old-fashioned, but I believe getting to know you better will help me provide the best service possible. In this same "old fashioned" approach, I believe in developing a long-standing relationship with you. You may only need me one time a year but I want you to know I'll be there for you when you do.

On a personal note, I am a former lawyer and educator. I practiced law for 10 years in Katy, Texas (near Houston) and Austin, Texas. I taught special education and was an elementary school librarian for 8 years. Stephen and I have been married for 25 years. We have lived in Austin, Texas for the last 22 years and in Houston, Texas for 5 years. Stephen is a Houston native while I have my roots in the West Texas town of Odessa, Texas. My life has been filled with amazing experiences which have all led up to my career in the travel profession. I hope to share those experiences and more with you. I look forward to working with you.