As a sustainable travel agent in Australia, Dayana is on a mission to educate travellers on protecting cultural and natural heritage, and making eco-tourism the only way to go. For all of our purpose-driven travellers, check out some of Dayana’s simple tips to become a more sustainable traveller – for the sake of the environment and future generations.
How did you become a travel agent?
I became a travel agent 17 years ago, simply by answering a job advert for STA Travel. I had just returned from my own trip to Chile, and I was finishing my degree in geosciences. Travelling always felt natural and I grew up with my dad always taking us off the beaten track which was cool and intrepid. He also taught me to be street smart as well. So it just felt right to be in travel. So I applied, was interviewed and got the job where I worked in two stores while I finished my degree.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
When you first start, there are mountains of codes and programs to learn. You also have to learn the travel lingo when speaking with suppliers and airlines. Unfortunately, it’s one of those jobs that you make mistakes that are often costly or at the inconvenience of the traveller. But it’s the only way to learn. Nowadays, the biggest challenges are not being able to travel as much as I like and having to say no to famils with suppliers. Instead, I spend hours researching and planning amazing trips for my clients that I would plan for myself.
What are the benefits of using a travel agent like yourself instead of booking everything online/direct?
The online travel space is cluttered with so much information overload. It can often confuse a traveller even more. An experienced travel agent declutters the information and knows what and where to book. One of the biggest advantages of booking with an agent is our personal connections within the travel industry. We have a ‘black book’ of contacts that can change your hotel booking from a nobody to a somebody with a room upgrade, a personal welcome note from the General Manager and include things such a spa or hotel credit with early check-in or late checkout – all complimentary. You also can’t call the internet but you can call your agent anytime, who knows what you like and how you travel to perfection.
As you are organising amazing trips all around the world – do you see any new travel trends emerging?
Every year there are new ‘travel trends’ and destinations to visit, and avid travellers are always seeking different experiences. An emerging travel trend is creating ‘wow' moments and memories to last a lifetime. For example, when you visit Rome, don’t line up with the crowds to enter the Vatican. Your travel agent can organise your very own private pre-open tour of the Vatican with no crowds. Or arrange a special picnic setup in Central Park. If you happen to be flying on your birthday, your travel agent can also arrange a surprise birthday cake on your flight.
Personally, I’m promoting more travel awareness amongst travellers and the industry on the impact our travelling has on the environment. Our love of travelling has meant many cities are being inundated with over-tourism affecting locals, cultures, and wildlife. Which is why my business, The Sustainable Traveller, ensures all travel booked is as sustainable as possible.
With carbon offset of flights, hotels booked with a commitment to sustainability, resources and waste management, it’s important to keep travellers educated on things such as travelling light, saying no to single-use plastics, and being mindful of the locals and cultures.
How did you find your recent Travelshoot experience in Rome?
This is one of those ‘wow' moments you hope to experience when you travel which is fun, and a great way to see a city. The Travelshoot was really well organised with great pre and post follow up. The photographer was so professional and made you feel really comfortable. But the best part was receiving the photos – they really are a lovely way to capture special travel moments. These photos could never be captured on a smartphone, and they sure are photos you are proud to show your friends and family.
What’s your favourite travel destination and why?
It will always be Chile. The home of my parents and a country I have visited many times since I was a child. This country empowers you with its majestic wilderness, culture, and friendliness of its people. The geography is unique with grand fjords and the wilderness of Patagonia in the south, to the hustle of city life in Santiago, and to the north there’s the world's highest and driest desert – the Atacama.
It has everything to do and see and so easy to get around. It is also emerging as a pioneer for conservation and preservation of its national parks, flora and fauna, and with many hotels being built around stern sustainable policies and principles.