It’s mud season in the Colorado Foothills. Gaya Vinay reclines slightly in a lounge chair on her stone patio, watching the craggy peaks of the Boulder Flatirons as they slowly, day after day, transform from snowy white to lush green, the product of heavy rainfall and spring growth. She never takes that view for granted, ever, spending long hours by her pool gazing at the majestic sandstone formations, laptop in front of her. It’s not that hard to plan life-changing trips for people when you’ve got a view like this.
A hummingbird passes by, temporarily disrupting her thoughts. It’s late morning, and Gaya’s three children, ages nine, seven, and five, are at school. She’s been up since before six getting them ready, and now in a moment of quiet she checks in on her Fora work. Sometimes, she’ll sit on this patio for three or four hours at a time, setting up a corporate retreat with a five-figure spending budget, or a safari for a family of five. Other times, she’s hardly on her computer at all, spending days off the grid while backcountry camping, deep in the mountains where her heart lives.
Once the clock strikes noon, you pretty much won’t ever find Gaya in front of her computer.
“Mornings are my Fora time,” Gaya said, “But afternoons are for my kids.”
Photo by Memry Anderson
At twelve, she switches off her laptop and goes into full-time parent mode, practicing lessons with her youngest, doing school pickups, and making afternoon snacks. Gaya loves being able to create her own schedule with total freedom: it’s one of her favorite parts of being a Fora Advisor.
The freedom to schedule your day with complete flexibility may seem like it comes at a cost, but Gaya is one of Fora’s top performing travel advisors. Her key to success is having a really good grasp of who her clients are and who they’re not, and she finds that the vast and diverse community of Fora advisors is another one of Fora’s huge strengths. Where Gaya likes to focus on corporate retreats, group bookings, and luxury family vacations, she knows that planning other types of experiences isn’t in her skillset, and she isn’t afraid to forward them to another advisor in her network.
“Sometimes if I get a client and they want to plan a girls’ trip, I’ll pass it on to somebody else,” Gaya explained. “That’s what I think is great about Fora. The access to advisors who work along different budgets [and travel styles] is great. If someone comes to me with a Japan inquiry, I can say, ‘Hey, Brian [another Fora advisor], I have no idea what I’m talking about. Can you help?’”
From the office to the outdoors
Photo by Memry Anderson
If anyone can talk about making a career shift, it’s Gaya.
“I come from a marketing and e-commerce background,” she said. With a Master’s Degree in Finance and Economics from Brandeis University, Gaya worked in the B2B space for years at S&P, and in book publishing at McGraw Hill. It was in 2017 when her third child was born that she decided she wanted to make a life change and spend more time with her kids. But consulting wasn’t enough for her.
“I was really bored,” she explained. When her son was six months old, she discovered Fora and was hooked. “Henley and Evan’s vision for Fora was really encouraging for entrepreneurs.”
“You have your own book of business, and you work however much you want. You have a lot more control over your day…And I think that that was very appealing to me because, as a parent of three very young children and a very busy partner, all of the responsibility fell on me for the house and the children. I just didn't want a job commitment where I couldn't take time off and had to be on call on the time. And so this just fits my schedule.”
Gaya’s kids think she has the coolest job ever, and she incorporates a lot of her Fora research into family trips, maximizing her work and family time at once.
“They pay attention to everything I do,” she said about her kids. “They like to talk about how, when we travel, we get all this special treatment, I think because we travel so much. We expose them to so many things. They feel like it's just a natural extension of our lives that I'm doing what I'm doing.”
This summer, Gaya will take her family on a trip to India, visiting her home city of Bangalore and touring Bombay and Chennai, including taking a helicopter ride to a luxury safari lodge.
“[My kids] love India,” she said. “You know, it's so stimulating and fun. For them, it's just so mind boggling to go from Boulder, Colorado.”
Encouraging families to try something new and helping people to explore the outdoors is one of Gaya’s favorite things to do as a travel advisor. She loves Twin Lakes, two sparkling glacial lakes about an hour’s drive from Aspen.
“It's pretty spectacular,” she gushed. “We’ve taken inflatable paddle boards and kayaks out there. The water is freezing cold, so it's not really a place to swim. You just gaze at it, and fish. It’s so beautiful. I mean, that's the thing. Camping in Colorado and Wyoming is just very special.”
Helping families explore their world
Gaya isn’t a stranger to travel advising. Before she started doing it herself, she used travel advisors for her own family. She’s a huge proponent of their work, especially if you’re traveling with family, for three reasons. First, because she believes that a travel advisor can challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone.
“I think that sometimes what happens is, if you book something on your own, you tend to do things that you've done before. But sometimes when you work with a travel advisor, that travel advisor can be like, hey, you know what, this is great. I'm glad you're going to Cabo. I had a client who went to Cabo last time, and they took the kids mountain biking. Do you think you'd want an intro to mountain biking class? And if yes, I suggest that you book this service. And I think that is helpful, right? Like, it's not just the booking, but it's also your experience.”
Gaya also thinks that travel advisors can reveal really helpful tips that you might not know otherwise. Since they know their clients and their personal needs as a family, they can offer insight that might not be gleaned elsewhere.
“An advisor could be like, ‘I just want to tell you that if you have your four-year-old with you, you may want to book a babysitter in advance, because it's going to be hard for you without one,’” she explained. “So [when] you make a booking, and then your client shows up, they don’t have a moment of, ‘Wait, I can't do anything, because I have my four-year-old with me, and all the babysitters are booked out because the other clients knew to book, and I didn't know.’ [Travel advisors can give] them that sort of inside scoop.”
Finally, travel advisors can save their clients money by being able to offer them exclusive perks.
“I don't know how many times I've repeated myself that there are no hidden fees,” Gaya said. “I'm not charging you anything [for my services]. And you're booking through me for these additional perks.”
One of her clients’ favorite perks when they travel with family is free breakfast, a common offering from many properties for stays booked by travel advisors.
“The free breakfast is amazing,” Gaya explained. “I have families that are like, ‘Oh my god, it saved us like $200 a day,’ because they do the last seating for breakfast and they skip lunch. So they’ll save $1,400 in a week because they had an early lunch."
Building a flexible career through meaningful work
In March 2022, Gaya joined a group of travel advisors for a familiarization trip to Montana. They stayed at Sage Lodge, a stunning luxury resort on the banks of the Yellowstone River, and participated in a number of activities including a tour of Yellowstone and an ax-throwing class. Trips like this are common for travel advisors to get to know a place and a property, but also double as fun networking opportunities.
“Yellowstone is such a gorgeous, gorgeous place,” she mused.
For Gaya, finding opportunities to help other families explore their world in a meaningful way, while also providing herself with a flexible career and quality time with her children, is everything.
“As a mom, being a travel advisor is just such an experience that you have to embrace. It brings so much value into your life,” she said. “I’m not just talking about going to stay in a nice hotel or whatever. It’s the people you meet, it's the engagements, it's the food that you try and the places you see. Being a travel advisor gives me an opportunity to educate people about something new that they might not have otherwise thought of, or have experienced. And that, I think, is my most favorite thing.”
Want to book your next trip with Gaya? Reach out to her today.