Summer is underway and we know that a lot of families are planning summer vacations, so we wanted to share with you this week’s Meet a Mom, Carissa Gulyas, a luxury travel agent with Your Wish Travel Co. She is a local mom here in Trumbull, and specializes in custom travel experiences. With the current travel advisories in place, she has been working closely with airlines and resorts on their updated guidelines. She also most recently wrote two articles on ‘Domestic Travel Ideas in Summer 2020’, as well as ‘Summer Camp While Traveling’ – scroll down below for direct links! With so many beautiful places to explore (even more so locally), she hopes that she can help you plan your perfect getaway! Read more about Carissa below!
Where are you originally from and how long have you been in the area?
I was raised in Darien from the age of 2 to around the age of 23. After that I had lived in downtown Stamford with a friend (perfect for young ladies in their early 20’s) and then with my boyfriend, now husband, we lived in Norwalk, Milford, Fairfield and then finally settled down in Trumbull.
Children / Age(s)
We are currently an all boys family – Jaxon is 6.5, Carter is 4.5 and we have two sons that no longer with us, but that we fostered for many years and still see often – Trevor 12 and Tyler 11.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Most are surprised to learn that I have my motorcycle license and used to ride. I grew up around bikes and was tired of always being on the back of one and having to go by the other person’s schedule, so I went and got my license and then a bike and rode for many years. We’ve put riding on hold until the kids are a little older.
Favorite local things to do in Trumbull?
Trumbull is super family friendly and one thing we loved that they offer are various beautiful parks to hike and bike within, like at Indian Ledge, as well providing updated playgrounds for the kids. We also enjoy the option of 3 pools to use for residents – 2 outdoors and 1 indoor. The kids love seeing their friends from school there.
What’s your favorite thing about raising a family in Trumbull?
One of my favorite things about raising our family here is that Trumbull is pretty strict on not overcrowding the town with so many businesses. They keep the businesses on major roads or small sections throughout town leaving it mostly as residential neighborhoods. The community here is wonderful and everyone is so willing to help each other.
Funniest part that you’ve learned about parenthood?
A sense of humor is super helpful when you’re a parent lol. You just need to be able to go with the flow sometimes and when those quirky, kind of gross things happen you just have to laugh. It’s so easy to get annoyed, but raising kids is comical and makes for great, unexpected memories.
One thing you wish someone would have told you about motherhood?
I wish someone told me from the beginning that it takes a village to raise kids. You really cannot do it on your own and if you try to, (which was me in the beginning), you will be so stressed out. Rely on your parents, grandparents, babysitters, friends and community to get those much needed breaks or even just to socialize with other adults instead of just the kids all the time and don’t feel bad about it. It’s healthy for them and you.
Best advice for moms who experience the inevitable MOM GUILT handling a career and a family?
Mom guilt is definitely inevitable, but for me it is so rewarding running my own business from home and having the ability of being home for the kids too. Everyday when the kids are home it’s a challenge and I feel guilty when I’m working and I need to hop on a call and have to turn the TV on to keep the kids quiet, but you make it work and do what you need to do. The kids see how hard both of us work and we hope that they appreciate it as they get older. I would say to other moms to create goals and follow your dreams. It is possible to be a great mom and have the career you want – it’s hard work and tiring, but definitely possible and well worth it. Don’t lose yourself in caring for the kids if that’s not what completely fulfills you.
Who has most influenced you to be the mother that you are today?
My mom has definitely been a big influence on how I am as a mom. She was a single mom from the time I was 8 on and she worked so hard everyday so that my brother and I could have everything we needed in life. My mom was always there for us, a little soft spoken and still loved and supported us through our crazy teenage years. I learned so much from her growing up, as well as from her mom, my grandmother, and so grateful to have them. My mother is also the most amazing grandmother and our kids adore her and my step father. We’re very lucky.
Tell us about your business as a Luxury Travel Advisor with Your Wish Travel Co.
My love for travel began on my first international trip to Vancouver to visit family. Since then I have always enjoyed visiting new places and trying new things. Many years ago I had friends working at Ritz Carlton St. Thomas and Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman as the event planner for the resort and hearing their stories is what ignited my passion for this industry and long and behold Your Wish Travel Co. was born. My agency is a member of Virtuoso, which allows me to get my clients amazing extra amenities not normally included and we are preferred with every major luxury brand, also allowing us to VIP our clients with great amenities as well. I absolutely love what I do and from the beginning it’s never been about just a sale, but rather about building trust and a great relationship with my clients. It’s really important that I get to know each client/couple/family/group, so that I can best assist with what their goals are for each trip. Travel is an investment, so I think how you travel matters.
When and how did you get involved with the Travel Industry? What do you specialize in?
Tell us about the new travel protocols in place now and how safe are certain destinations to travel with your family or friends?
The current travel restrictions are changing constantly and I am getting several emails on a daily basis on those changes, especially from airlines. I’m finding that many people are wanting to stay more local this summer and stick to domestic travel, which is a great option. We honestly have so much to do here in the states, so why not go somewhere new that’s a little closer to home. Depending on where the family is looking to go I’ve been suggesting traveling mid July on to be on the safe side for restaurants and pools to be open, so families can take full advantage of all the amenities. I know Maine had pretty strict protocols for visitors, so I would stick to Maine starting in August. My family and I just got back from Montauk and had a wonderful experience. They are very strict on wearing masks in all public areas, as well as in stores and restaurants until seated, but they have indoor seating now, which is helpful when it rains and the beaches and pools are open. Here’s my website with great references on up to date information and restrictions – Your Wish Travel Co – Covid 19 Updates You can also email or call me and I’m happy to discuss this more on the areas you’re thinking of traveling to.
What should clients look for when choosing a luxury travel advisor?
I think the meaning of ‘luxury travel’ has definitely changed over the years. I don’t think it’s just about the fancy, expensive hotels, but much more about the experience. People want to go out and really experience the destination and all it has to offer – maybe it’s the culinary scene with some great food or wine tours. People want to get to know the locals and the culture and all that that destination has to offer. I think that’s the new ‘luxury’ in travel. It’s also about the nice hotels, resorts and service, but more so about the experience that one will take with them forever.
When working with an advisor it’s important that you and your advisor mesh well – you don’t have to be best friends, but your advisor should be able to take everything you have told them and curate the best experiences with their vetted, travel partners to ensure an amazing experience. This is why you’re using our services. We have the relationships with these companies that the normal traveler does not and we know who to go to that is going to be reliable and provide great service. Consistency is also very important. Your advisor should be getting back to your inquiries fairly quickly. I’ve heard many complaints in the past that the person they were working with wasn’t getting back to them and that to me is very unprofessional and unacceptable. If your advisor is a part of a consortium or is preferred with luxury brands this is a very good thing and adds a lot of value and savings to your travel plans.
With all of the new spikes hitting southern states, how do you help families / clients navigate planning a vacation if they still would like to travel?
With so many states numbers spiking again with the virus it’s my responsibility to look after my clients and give them the most up to date travel information on hotel/resort updated protocols, as well as the policies in place for that area; what the family will be allowed or not be allowed to do when traveling to that state so that they can make the best decision for themselves. Majority of hotels and resorts are being extremely understanding and flexible with their cancellation policy, so we can get you booked, to ensure you have a room, suite or villa and then if things change and you no longer feel comfortable traveling we can cancel without penalty. If you’re comfortable flying I will give you all of the details for the airport’s policy, as well as the airline’s procedures, so you can go into it feeling more comfortable and knowing what to expect.
Can you share with us your latest article regarding traveling domestically this summer?
I recently created a summer campaign that was sent out to my clients for domestic travel ideas this summer and then I put that into an article to share with magazines. Here it is if you would like to read it and I hope it sparks some ideas for you and your family – Domestic Travel Ideas this Summer 2020 . I also just wrote an article for Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine on What’s Hot this Festive Season – while social distancing. It’s about travel I’m finding to be popular among my clients for the holiday season and it’s written for travel advisors, but is helpful for travelers as well – Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine – What’s Hot for Festive 2020. If you’re wondering what to do about Summer Camp I have a blog post on a new concept of Summer Camp – Summer Camp while Traveling. If you ever just have a travel question I’m happy to try and help, especially during this unsure time of traveling.
For more information, please reach out to Carissa!