Sustainable travel is quickly becoming the future of travel with more and more tourists looking for healthier options for both the planet and the local communities they visit. Wayaj makes that easy by helping you locate eco-friendly hotels and showing you how to offset your carbon footprint.
Q: Congrats on launching Wayaj! What inspired you to create this business?
A: My husband and I love to travel. We started witnessing firsthand the impact of climate change and how tourism contributes to its negative impact on local communities. Tourism puts pressure on natural resources by creating waste problems, overconsumption, overuse of water, and pollution. Further, tourism in some cases can have a negative impact on local businesses. We wanted to create a platform that would make it easier for travelers to find more sustainable alternatives. What we find is that people will make choices that are eco-friendlier and more sustainable, if they know what the options are. That is why we created Wayaj, a travel platform designed to promote a more sustainable way to travel and help people locate eco-friendly hotels.
Q: Where do you live and do you recommend your city as a family travel destination?
A: I live in New York and of course I would recommend New York City as a travel destination! New York City is one of the most culturally diverse cities on the planet. That is why it is often referred to as the capital of the world. There are so many family-friendly places. The tourist attractions are naturally great for families and there are some hidden gems that can also be fun for both parents and kids.
Q; What’s your insider tip for families coming to your hometown? What are your favorite family-friendly hidden gems?
A: I love the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which is a short subway ride from Manhattan. There is the Hall of Science in Queens and the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, Long Island. In the Bronx, you can find the Bronx Zoo and in Brooklyn there is Coney Island, an iconic amusement park. These are just some of the places New York City has to offer that are fun for young children and adults. I love these as they offer a chance to discover and learn about new things in a fun and entertaining way.
Of course, now with the pandemic taking its course, they are temporarily closed for health and safety reasons. However, they offer fun-at-home activities and videos available on their website.
Q: Is family travel part of your life?
A: Family travel has always been a part of my life. My son is now 30 years old and we still have family trips whenever possible. When he was young, family vacations were an extension of his education as well as an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate. Now that he is older, it is an opportunity for us to reconnect and spend quality time as a family.
Our last family trip was to Montego Bay in Jamaica.
Q: What is the most memorable trip you took with your son?
A: There are three family trips that I have etched in my memory: our first trip to Europe when we visited Paris, Madrid, Toledo, Rome, Florence, and the French Riviera. More recently, we were in Cuba (Havana, Piňa del Rio, and Viňales). I planned that trip about six months in advance, as a surprise birthday present for my husband. On my husband’s birthday that year, President Obama announced that travel restrictions to Cuba were being loosened. We were part of an organized tour, and that made the trip even more special, as we visited places and interacted with various communities in ways that we would never have if we had traveled on our own. Some university students came to the hotel to discuss their views of the changes taking place in their country and the world. We also had a university professor come for a lecture followed by a discussion.
Best trip ever! Then there was a trip to Ghana, West Africa, where we discovered that Ghanaians are the most welcoming people we had ever encountered. As persons of Haitian descent, we felt at home.
Q: What’s your best advice for traveling parents?
A: Travel is an opportunity to expose children to other cultures. Now with the climate emergency, we must all think about our impact on the environment. I encourage parents to choose eco-friendly hotels and other accommodations based on their sustainability practices, as well as involve your children in the search and the conversation. That is the best way to instill values without lecturing.
Q: What item do you always pack in your carry-on?
A: During a five-day trip, my checked luggage did not arrive at the same time as I did. Ever since, I made it a habit to pack one of everything in my carry-on. There is nothing more disappointing than to arrive at a beach destination and your bathing suit is in your checked bag that will be delivered, with the airline’s apologies, two days later!
Q: How did you tackle the work/life balance (e.g., day care, babysitting, and school)?
A: Holding a job and raising children is one of the most challenging balancing acts that parents need to make every day and it changes as the children enter different stages of their lives. The key for me was to recognize what stage I was in and focus on what mattered the most at that time. For example, from preschool to middle school, those were years when my days consisted of work and being home for our son after work.
Q: What are the advantages of being a Mompreneur while raising a child vs. working for an outside entity? Disadvantages?
A: One of the biggest advantages was more flexibility with my time. It was easier for me to attend school activities during the school hours. I was able to be more involved in my son’s life. Of course, the disadvantages are financial uncertainty and the general stressful conditions inherent to entrepreneurship.
Q: What’s your shameless plug?
A: Make sure to use Wayaj when planning your next trip! You can book sustainable eco-friendly hotels as well as explore socially responsible vacations across the world. You can also calculate and offset your carbon footprint from your trip using the data from the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)-certified projects.
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