When Veronica Kastukevich opened a full-service storefront travel agency 20 years ago this past July, it was the culmination of a longtime dream. Keeping that dream alive, however, was the hard part.
Kastukevich had earned her associate’s degree in travel management from BayPath College, after which she landed a position at American Airlines through a work study arrangement. She took herself out of American Airlines’ management program to start a family with her husband, but she continued to work inside and outside travel sales while her children were growing. As her children grew, Kastukevich opened her storefront agency, but the challenges didn’t end there. Custom Travel was competing with eight other travel agencies in her hometown of 40,000 people, and after terrorist attacks, wars, recessions and natural disasters — not to mention a battle with pancreatic cancer — it emerged as one of only two agencies left standing.
Today, Custom Travel is a true family owned and operated agency, with Kastukevich having brought her son into the business as a full-time sales manager two years ago, and her daughter onboard one year ago.
Kastukevich specializes in complex vacations to Europe, the South Pacific and Australia, although the trip she considers her true masterpiece was notable for more personal reasons. She met with an engaged client who was distressed because her family had decided not to participate in her upcoming wedding because her fiancé did not follow their religion. With Kastukevich’s encouragement and support, the bride planned a destination wedding just for her and her fiancé: a St. Lucia getaway with an upgraded suite with private pool (courtesy of Kastukevich) that made the bride cry tears of happiness – truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Kastukevich is also a supporter of the Sandals Care for Kids Scholarship Program, which assists financially challenged students across the Caribbean.