MY IDEAL LIFE: The Road to Cirillo Travel Group
Updated: Nov 10, 2022
How my various jobs, passions and skills led me to pursue a career in travel!
Who doesn't love to travel? Well, I'm just like all of you! Meet me, Marissa Massa-Cirillo. The founder and CEO behind Cirillo Travel Group or CTG. I owe my first travel experiences to my parents. I was born in Florida where we were fortunate enough to go on several Caribbean cruises and did not live very far at all from the magical world of Disney, Universal Studios, and since my favorite animal as a kid was a dolphin we spent a lot of time at SeaWorld. Whenever family and friends came to visit, naturally we took them to the parks. After we moved up to New York we spent summers traveling the North East to the beaches on the Southern Jersey Short or up to the gorgeous Lake George area of update New York or out to go whale watching off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
When I travel now, I want to experience every destination as if it were home. Which it is for the short time I'm lucky enough to call it so.
Fast forward 18 or so years later and I knew I wanted to spend time abroad during my college years. I was very involved in clubs and organizations at my college and the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) on what was happening back on campus that would come with a full semester abroad lead me to pursue a shorter, 3 week summer study abroad offered by the business school which took me to England and Ireland. I have always been proud of my Irish lineage and when I stepped off the plane in Dublin, my heart was home. When I travel now, I want to experience every destination as if it were home. Which it is for the short time I'm lucky enough to call it so. On this trip to Ireland we stayed with a host family who opened up their farm to us and generously showed us the history and beauty of Ireland.
A cousin of theirs was visiting from the states and we came to find out he was from a town only 10 mins away from my hometown back in New York, while we
didn't know each other, this small world coincidence brought the largeness of our planet down a few sizes for me. The world might feel so big and unknown but the best way to get to know it, is to go out and experience it. With each town, city and country you visit, the world feels that much more familiar. I knew I wanted to spend as much of my spare time and money getting to know the world and all its corners.
Careers that led me to starting Cirillo Travel Group
I studied marketing, communications & advertising in college and thanks to experience from internships and hard work in my studies, I landed a job in New York City at a large online publisher working in sales for their online activations and sponsorships. I worked for their "Globetrotter" division which specialized in helping tourism board, travel brands and airlines reach their audience. While I loved the people I worked with - the corporate 9-5 routine just wasn't making me happy. Unfortunately and fortunately, I was laid off from my job at the publisher and was given a push to peruse a new path.
I had dipped my toes in the Film industry by working on a few music videos with my Uncle's production company during my off days while working an internship in New York. This creative atmosphere was exciting and what I liked most about it, collaborative. The whole crew from the make up artists to the grip and lighting department to the producers were all working toward the same goal. I wanted to be a bigger part of this team. Starting at the bottom again I worked as many gigs as I could until I landed in full-time roll working for a production company in Brooklyn. Within 2 years, I worked my way up to Production Manager, overseeing sometimes up to 5 shoots per week. Again I loved the people I worked with but after meeting my husband I knew I wanted a more flexible, on my own terms schedule so I left the comforts of this agency an went out on my own as a Freelancer.
I hustled, I built up my network and worked for amazing teams and great brands such as HGTV, National Geographic and Delta. In early March of 2020, as I worked on a project for Delta at their HQ in Atlanta, Georgia, the news of COVID was becoming very serious. We flew home from that job and 3 days later the world shut down. The industry went dark. My future was unknown. I could have stayed still and waited but that's not really my style. So I took this as an opportunity to start something for myself, by my own boss.
I started my own business. Vintage & Vine, live succulent arrangements filled antique vessels like old teapots and milk glass vases. Breathing new life into old things...I built a website, a social media following, created beautiful arrangements and set up shop at local farmers markets and craft fairs to bring my creations to the world. This busines took on a life I didn't expect - due to COVID and vacant spaces, our local mall had storefronts to fill. Another local maker and I, rented one as a pop-up shop for the holidays of 2020 not sure if people would even be comfortable shopping in stores that winter. Well it was a success, so much so that we renewed our lease for 1 year to see if we could build on the momentum. I was lucky enough to be accepting into a local small business mentoring course with our county which aimed to teach new entrepreneur or #solopreneurs how to launch and find succuss in their business. As part of the first phase of the course, the instructors had us outline our passions, what brings us joy, and what our ideal life would look like. I outlined my desires of a flexible schedule, the ability to work from anywhere and something that took my current skill set and put it to work. It was clear having a brick and mortar storefront that held me to a specific location was not getting me closer to my ideal life.
My Ideal Life
My husband, Chris, and I met at a house-warming party in Brooklyn 6 years ago. A friend of his from high-school was now roommates with one of my co-workers. We didn't talk much at the party, and still to this day we aren't sure who suggested it, but we shared a cab home back to Manhattan. We arrived at Chris's stop first, he got out but popped his head back in and asked if I wanted to grab a night cap. I would say "and the rest is history" but there is another more memorable moment that led us to where we are now. After just a week of knowing each other without thinking really, decided to go on a road-trip to Montréal, Canada. Despite the advice of my mother, we got in a borrowed car and crossed international boarders to visit a city neither of us had ever been to before. Because.. why not! While I do not recommend traveling to internationally with a stranger - I'm so very glad I trusted my gut and I took this risk.
We've walked the black sand beaches of Iceland, slept aboard a houseboat in Amsterdam, spent our Honeymoon sipping regional wines down the Rhine River, and have seen Orcas cruising along Alaskan shores.
It was this spontaneous decision that proved Chris and I saw travel and exploration as part of our ideal life. And the rest is history! Chris and I have been building a life together centered on learning, exploring and challenging our comfort zones to make the most memorable experiences in the short time we have on this earth. I spend hours researching a destination when we even mention the thought of traveling somewhere. I want to make sure when we land we'll be able to eat and drink our way through a city and get a feel for the regions personality not just see the top 5 things on TripAdvisor to do in that destination. We've walked the black sand beaches of Iceland, slept aboard a houseboat in Amsterdam, spent our Honeymoon sipping regional wines down the Rhine River, and have seen Orcas cruising along Alaskan shores. We've hiked, biked, and explored countless miles together.
It was these amazing life experience that have led me to finding my true career path. When I realized my boutique shop was getting me further away from my ideal life, I shifted my mindset in order to find something that better aligned with my sweet spot of passions, skill set and lifestyle framework. I explored real estate but again that linked me to a specific geographic location and Chris and I want flexibility. After much thought I stumbled upon some resources about becoming a Travel Agent. It didn't take long for me to realize that this was a career that put all my best skills forward. I've spent countless enjoyable hours finding the most fitting things to do, places to see and drinks to sip on in some of the most beautiful places and I want to be able to help other people share in experiencing all the world has to offer.
As we all navigate looser COVID restrictions, the world is becoming available to us wanderlusters again and we can get back to one of the things we love most...travel.
If you need some travel advice along the way or want me to plan a surreal experience for you, please do not hesitate to reach out!
Marissa at firstname.lastname@example.org