It is a sad week for those of us who had the great fortune of knowing Chris Lytle. She lost her horrific battle with cancer on Saturday and we miss her terribly.
Chris had a deep impact on me personally, as well as on Ciao Bambino. She was my very first client after I launched the company around offering family-focused trip planning services to Italy in 2004. Although I had no prior travel industry experience and had only been to Italy once with my own child, Chris put her faith in me and let me plan her holiday with her mom and toddler-aged daughter.
The rest is history. Chris loved her trip; her positive feedback and encouragement empowered me to work tirelessly to develop Ciao Bambino over the past seven years.
Our relationship didn’t end there. Chris found Italy with kids to be so magical that she decided to work with me to help other families travel to Italy. Chris was my first employee and subsequently planned trips for a long list of happy and grateful Ciao Bambino clients.
We became fast friends. It was impossible not to be drawn to Chris. Her laugh was infectious. Her charm was ever-present. You could talk to Chris for hours and never run out of things to say.
I wrote to a few of Chris’ clients to let them know the news and want to share a few snippets from the responses:
“I was beyond pleased to receive my first email from Chris and what followed for the next 6 months were the most helpful emails and phone conversations a travel newbie could ever ask for. She was professional, funny, patient, and so well-written.
You need to know that Chris made the planning of this trip enjoyable and something to look forward to. I have said to my husband many times that half the fun of this has actually been the planning and if it wasn’t for Chris, I don’t think I would feel this way.”
Chris developed meaningful relationship with people far and wide. Despite the negative events in her life, Chris miraculously managed to be upbeat and focus on others.
Even after Chris was bed-ridden, she still read our blog and lived vicariously — not bitterly — through our adventures. It takes a very special and strong person to do that.
Another client wrote the following:
“Chris was the loveliest person and I had the best time ever planning with her. I liked her voice and looked forward to her calling me. I could tell she loved her work with Ciao Bambino – it came through in every way, from the places she recommended to the people she knew there.
There was one restaurant in Positano that she set up for us where she knew the owner and waiters and told me who to look for and even funny stories about them. Honestly, she planned the best trip my family has ever had and my boys who are now 12 and 14 want another adventure just like the one we had throughout Italy.
Chris was a pleasure to know and made the world a better place. Her life is a reminder to me that we have to cherish the time we get and spend it with the ones we love.”
That last sentence says it all. We never know what life has in store for us; it can and will change in an instant. “Cherish the time we get and spend it with the ones we love.” I’m going to paste these words onto my computer.
The incredible benefit of travel is the opportunity to spend uninterrupted time together. Whether you travel to that same favorite spot or visit a new destination each year, family trips are the best way to connect as everyone can break away from routine and ruts.
Chris loved visiting Europe. Her last trip was to the Amalfi Coast. I’m so glad she was able to be in Italy again before she become very sick and unable to travel. I can hear Chris’ voice as I’m re-reading her post. Her joy is palpable.
I prioritize travel in my life and encourage everyone I know to do so. You don’t need to go as far as Italy to experience the power of getting away from it all and experiencing the unknown. Thank you Chris for the potent reminder about what is important in life. We are grateful for the gift of knowing you.