Alethea and Kevin Smith met on their first day of college almost 24 years ago. Today, Alethea’s wedding ring has “Scott Hall 1998” engraved inside. From the University of Illinois to events with DK Security and 42 countries traveled along the way, the Smiths are two of our most adventurous and highest-performing employees. Ahead of the renewing of their wedding vows this June, we spoke with Alethea and Kevin about their relationship, the role DK Security plays in their love for travel, and their adventures to come.
Kevin recalls that on their first day of school at the University of Illinois, Alethea wore a red-and-white striped shirt, blue jeans, and blonde-streaked hair. Nine years of friendship would pass before the two started dating, though.
When Alethea, a pre-law student, left the country to study at the University of Bristol, Kevin split his studies with work as a Zamboni driver and sent her the American snacks she couldn’t find abroad.
The two married in 2010, after three years of dating and 12 years of best friendship. “He made it out of the friendzone,” Alethea joked with us.
In addition to launching separate careers after college, Alethea and Kevin each decided to join DK Security’s West Michigan event staff team.
Kevin began working events regularly in 2013, also picking up on-call shifts as a uniformed officer. In January 2015, Alethea joined the events and loss prevention teams, adding store detective work to her resume while studying for the bar. Now, she operates out of our Grand Rapids Command Center alongside her event security work.
Photo: Alethea and Kevin, DK Security (2019)
As part of the Command Center, Alethea loves interacting with DK officers across the state. “You feel like they’re family, and in a way, they’re an extended family,” she describes. On the challenge of supervising the company’s hub for information and client support: “It’s where I thrive.”
“The reason I like DK so much is that it doesn’t feel like work,” Kevin adds. The event staff experience is different from his main line of work, and as a bonus, his office is close to several Grand Rapids event venues.
Kevin and Alethea will often put in full-time hours with DK Security on top of their daytime jobs. “People often treat this as a second job, but we don’t … DK has been great to us. We tell people all the time.”
The Smiths' Ultimate Travel Guide
Joining DK Security was a decision with a specific goal in mind: funding their love for travel.
Alethea and Kevin have visited 42 countries together, and they are on their way to all 195. Every dollar they make with DK Security goes into a travel account that stays untouched until needed for travel and related expenses.
The last time they broke the piggy bank, it took them to Dubai, Taiwan, Singapore, and Bali all at once. According to Alethea, creating the travel account was “one of the smartest things we could ever have done. DK funds every single vacation.”
Photo: Queen Emma Bridge, Curaçao
Planning each vacation at least one year in advance, our world travelers aim for multiple countries at once when possible. The hope is to see a little bit of everything, which often means stepping out of their comfort zone.
Namely, the Smiths don't like to stay at the resort. Instead, they explore and take full advantage of their surroundings. Natural beauty, unique experiences, and full exposure to local settings are important parts of a memorable trip. "We do so much research, we've never had a vacation where we didn't have a good time."
Best of the Best
Alethea's Pick: Bali
Alethea’s absolute favorite travel destination is the Indonesian province of Bali and the little-known island of Nusa Penida, 30 minutes from the mainland. Largely untouched by modern infrastructure and Western influence, Nusa Penida is full of ancient ceremonial traditions, transcendent views, and easy living; it’s a place Alethea would revisit in a heartbeat.
Photo: Cliffs of Nusa Penida, Bali
While you're there....
Panoramic Views: The island of Nusa Penida bursts with vibrant color and vegetation. Alethea recalls a panoramic landscape, viewable anywhere on the island, that can be described only as an art illustration.
Seminyak: This trendy coastal city is known for its beaches and relaxing ambiance. Stunning beaches in the city and around the island are complemented by an abundance of natural spas, all available at a fraction of the price that tourists see elsewhere.
Uniquely Balinese Offerings: Over 25 ancient temples meet rice paddies, swings over the jungle, a monkey sanctuary, and an elephant rescue as just a few of the endless attractions of the island. Alethea brings special attention to Diamond Beach and a stairway carved into its cliffs, as well as rose petal pools with aquatic art created by thousands of individual petals.
Kevin's Pick: Singapore
Southeast Asia’s island of Singapore tops Kevin’s list of travel locations. As one of the country’s official languages, English makes acclimation easy for travelers, and our travel guides appreciated Singapore’s modernity, entertainment, and local cuisine.
Photo: Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
While you're there....
Hawker Centres: Government-owned and price controlled, these open-air food markets offer variety and affordability for locals and travelers alike. The Smiths ate Michelin-starred meals at Hawker Centres without breaking the bank.
Sentosa Island: A resort island off the southern coast, Sentosa is home to some of Singapore's most popular attractions. Alethea and Kevin describe it as Los Angeles, Miami, and Las Vegas all in one.
Changi Airport: If the main island experience wasn't enough, Singapore also boasts one of the world's best international airports. The Smiths recommend arriving early to check out the glass-domed forest and waterfall, upscale eats, and a free 24-hour movie theater.
More Memorable Destinations
Photo: Oia, Greece
The Smiths also recall Kevin's 12-year hunt for a "bake and shark" sandwich that took them to Trinidad and Tobago (and it was absolutely worth it), loving Greece so much they visited twice in nine months, and Alethea's dream of moving to St. Lucia or Antigua in the Caribbean. "I think the people and the culture are amazing. It makes you feel alive," she remembers.
The Smiths’ Highest Recommendations:
- Best food: Singapore
- Best landmarks: Greece
- Best natural landscapes: Iceland
- Most culturally diverse: Curaçao
- Most surprising history: St. Kitts
- Farthest destination: Australia
- Favorite U.S. destination: Maine
- Top experiences: Feeding Australian koala bears and exploring New Zealand’s Glowworm Caves.
Photo: Ice Cave, Iceland
The Bucket List
Ultimately, Alethea and Kevin intend to visit all 195 countries across the seven continents. Trips to Africa and Southeastern Europe, rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are on deck.
More bucket list items for the Smiths include the East African Seychelles islands, South Africa, and Tanzania. A Chicago native with Louisiana Creole roots, Alethea speaks fluent French and is excited to put the language to work in Africa.
Photo: Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand
Kevin is (jokingly) eager to make the jump from Cape Town to Antarctica on the same trip; it’s one of three continents they have yet to visit. Alethea isn’t quite ready. Her mind is on Arizona, much closer to home. It’s been one of her top travel choices for almost 10 years, alongside an ambitious list of international destinations:
- Seychelles, East Africa
- Budapest, Hungary
- Tirana, Albania
- Zanzibar, Tanzania
- Grenada, Caribbean
- The British Virgin Islands
- Galapagos Islands
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Saint-Tropez, France
- Canary Islands
- Marrakesh, Morocco
- Mauritius, East Africa
- Istanbul, Turkey
Closer to Home
From work to travel and everything in between, Alethea and Kevin never slow down. For one, they’re avid roller coaster fans. Loyal to Ohio’s Cedar Point and the Top Thrill Dragster, Kevin converted Alethea from her fandom of Chicago’s Six Flags Great America.
The couple is also heavily involved in their church. Kevin is a talented musician, playing saxophone, guitar, drums, and sometimes the bassoon in the church band. Alethea regularly organizes food drives, Sunday service donations, and church breakfasts.
At the same time, their love for travel never ceases. When they’re not flying internationally, you’ll find them behind the wheel. Kevin has visited 44 U.S. States, and the couple drives to Chicago about three times per month to see Alethea’s family.
Photo: Maine, USA
The Smiths are thankful for the opportunity to travel as much as they do. “Can you imagine having two full-time jobs and them both allowing you to travel as much as we do?” Alethea poses. Citing the flexibility of event security, she and Kevin love having a secondary income.
There’s even more exciting news on the horizon for Alethea and Kevin – they will be renewing their wedding vows this June in Grand Rapids. These best friends, co-workers, and travel companions are eager to celebrate each other and continue sharing a world of adventure.
“We just have a lot of fun together,” Alethea smiles.
More 📸 From the Smiths' Travels
Photo: Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud
Photo: Iconic Swing, Bali
Photo: Elephant Safari Park Lodge, Bali
Photo: Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Photo: Skógafoss Waterfall, Iceland
Photo: CN Tower, Toronto, Canada