Even computer scientists need a creative outlet. Chanda Daly, a pro Fora Advisor, had a fulfilling career as a computer scientist. She loved her job, but decided to pursue one of her life-long passions: travel advising.
The mom of two always loved to travel: her father was a sailor, and she fondly recalls sailing around Washington’s San Juan Islands, where she grew up. In her early 20s, she went on a tropical cruise with her partner (they’ve now been married for several decades) and his family, and discovered the joy of warm, sunny weather — and of travel.
From there, she couldn’t shake the excitement of exploring new places, and became the designated trip planner for her friends and family. She maintained a travel blog, provided the best recommendations for different destinations and crafted thoughtful itineraries.
So when the time came for her reset, she decided to give travel advising a try. We sat down with Chanda to ask her about her journey, what inspires her, her favorite trips and more.
What has been your career trajectory?
I received my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from San Diego State University. I started my career as a computer scientist employed by the Space and Naval Warfare System Center where I worked in a computer lab. Over the next two decades, I held positions such as IT manager and most recently as a program manager for a satellite communications company.
What compelled you to try travel advising?
I got to a point where I was, like, “You know, I'm going to take a break from my career.” I decided to take some time off from my project manager career and try being a travel advisor for a living. I was going to take time to revamp and think about what I wanted to do.
My whole life, people have told me, “You should be a travel agent.” I was the one who always planned the group trips and everybody would always come to me and ask me for travel advice. I decided to give it a try, and completely to my surprise, you can actually make a career out of it.
How did you find Fora? What eventually convinced you to join?
I explored different host agencies and discovered that many required a minimum of three years’ experience as a travel advisor or charged significant fees for training programs. These options weren’t suitable for me, and I almost abandoned my dream.
Fortunately, I came across Fora. What attracted me initially was their comprehensive training program offered at a very affordable monthly fee. After I signed up, I realized how much more Fora offers beyond just the training. The technology, the support of fellow advisors and Fora staff is unbeatable and invaluable.
What is your favorite part about being a Fora Advisor?
Choosing a single favorite aspect is challenging because I cherish various aspects of my role. The chance to travel and personally experience different locations and resorts is invaluable, especially when matching them with clients for their vacations. Equally fulfilling is the joy of working with people and tailoring their travel experiences. For me, travel is an opportunity to break free from the ordinary routine, creating lasting memories and bonds. I feel privileged to be a part of that journey with my clients.
What’s the most challenging part?
The most challenging aspect, I would say, is managing all facets of the business independently — from networking and marketing to running the business and handling vacation bookings. The support I receive from Fora, including their marketing resources and the continuous exchange of ideas among fellow advisors, is invaluable. I couldn’t envision doing it without this collaborative support system.
What’s your personal travel-advising style? How do you think about curating trips for clients?
I approach my work with a no-pressure mindset. I attentively listen to my clients, selecting accommodations and activities that align with their preferences. I never attempt to upsell or persuade them into activities they’re not interested in. My genuine motivation is to craft the best possible vacation for each client. Being a part of creating an amazing experience in their life brings me immense joy, especially when they return and share what a wonderful time they had.
One of the areas you specialize in is wellness travel. What is your favorite wellness getaway?
CIVANA Wellness Resort and Spa is one of my favorites. They have tons of classes all day long, from mindful wellness to physical wellness, nutrition — everything.
And everything there was very healthy, all the food. I just felt like it was transformative. I spent three days there by myself. I loved it. I loved being alone and just doing all the classes and I fell in love with it. I thought, “This is something that everybody needs to experience. Everybody should do it once a year, at least like by themselves.”
You just get some alone time and get away from all the chaos of life. Then you get to go to those classes and look more inward and plan for the future. I became so motivated for other people to try it.
What distinguishes a great trip from a merely good one?
A great trip is one that is truly curated to the traveler’s personality and style. For those like me that like a schedule, a trip that is planned, so that once you leave for vacation it is stress-free, is ideal. I love to do all the research and scheduling ahead of time so that when I show up, I can just relax and follow my itinerary. It is also ideal to leave room for down time and exploring so not every hour is accounted for.
I always make sure to note cancellation policies for tours and reservations in my itineraries so that the client knows if they can cancel if they change their mind on something pre-booked. Some people do not want an itinerary and want to decide day by day what they will do. A trip curated to their preferences is still always best! Everyone is seeking something different from their vacation, and it is my job to create the dream trip according to each client’s preferences.
What excites you most about your travel-advising trajectory?
As someone who recently entered the industry, I didn’t anticipate experiencing such rapid growth. The journey of expanding my business and connecting with new clients every week has been incredibly gratifying. My passion for my company makes the work enjoyable, and I find it fulfilling to contribute to its success. I intend to continue this venture indefinitely.
How has Fora equipped you with the necessary tools to succeed?
I completed both levels of certification training, gaining valuable baseline knowledge as a travel advisor. I consistently engage in destination and partner trainings, continuously expanding my expertise. Each session brings new insights, enhancing my understanding of travel, ultimately benefiting my clients.
Fora’s monthly marketing materials complement my independent efforts, and they efficiently manage commission collections. The availability of office hours throughout the week allows ample opportunities to seek guidance and ask questions. The unwavering support from Fora makes me feel that they are genuinely invested in my success, aligning with my own aspirations for success.
What has been one of your most memorable travel experiences? What made it so poignant?
Out of all of the amazing trips I have taken throughout the world, I would have to say my most memorable experience was a family vacation to Kauai last summer. My family is not the type to lie around by a pool or at the beach all day. I customize my own vacations depending on who I am going with. If it’s a girl’s trip, it tends to be a lot more about dining out, good wine, spas and relaxation. When I’m with my family, it’s much more about adventure, trying new activities and bonding time.
This particular trip was amazing because we did so many unique activities for the first time together as a family. We laughed so hard and have memories that we will keep forever. I felt like we came back even closer than before we left for the trip. The trip was stress-free for me as the planner because I created the perfect balance of activities to keep everyone entertained and down time to relax in between.
I created our itinerary on my itinerary software and sent it to the family, just as I do for my clients. Everyone loved that so they could check and see what we were doing the next day. It was the first time I didn’t get daily questions on what we were doing next.
What initially gave you the travel bug?
I grew up with my dad and my brother. And we would sail a lot in the San Juan Islands up in Washington State. My dad was a sailor. That was the extent of our travel. We never got on a plane. We never did anything like that. We just always went sailing, that kind of outdoorsy stuff.
The first time was actually with my husband's family. I was in my early 20s. They took us on a cruise out of Florida. I was so naïve, I didn't even realize there was warm water in other places. I just hadn't really left Washington. That gave me the bug. I was like, “Oh my gosh, you gotta be kidding me. You can go swim in the ocean and it's nice and warm.”
Then I kind of became obsessed with tropical travel. I just love seeing new places. At first it was all about escaping the weather in Washington. So I would pretty much go to Hawaiʻi repeatedly, anywhere warm where I could get away from the rain and swim in the warm ocean.
And then, for my last corporate job, I started traveling to other cities in the US pretty frequently, about once a month. I just fell in love with seeing new places — things you've always heard of, and then you go to see firsthand how the culture is different, even just in the US: the different cities, the way people live. I just became fascinated with it.