Let me tell you about how Italians cook. There is never a recipe – it is passed down from generation to generation, changing and adapting from family to family. The purpose of cooking in an Italian family not only to fuel the body with nourishment but to bring the family and friends together for a unique experience.
I met Elena last year in Venice. I am the travel blogger, she is the travel experience provider and we hit it off – a bond over something quite unique. A lust for a different way. Elena showed me and my family a way to enjoy Venice I could only dream of. Why was it so special? Elena approaches her travel clients like Italian approach food – with love and with passion, each experience she caters to the needs of the individual and allows it time to evolve. Eleana is passionate about sustainable travel, supporting local businesses and inclusivity for all travellers no matter what age or ability. No wonder she uses a jam making graphic to explain her process. It fits perfectly.
I was curious to know more about Wanderjack so here is an interview with Elena – Founder of Wanderjack.
Tell me about how Wanderjack started?
In my twenties, I decided to create a tourist assistance company, an opportunity that allowed me to achieve some amazing gratifications.
I was managing 50 – 60 hostesses and stewards, whether it was an event or congresses halls or and cruise ship turn around. It was a big challenge because I was really young and a woman. It took quite a time before my staff and my clients trusted me.
Then something went wrong: tourism has started changing and so its operators. The trend was to attract as many tourists as possible, without real care for them. Rates for local companies were slipping every year more and more. I was really sick of all this and I started asking myself if tourism industry could be going to stay my passion.
So I took a month break and I flew to Australia. And there something happened. As far as I could see Australian tourism was really on experiential and customized travel. By “experience” I mean access to other people’s culture, way of life, food and environments. No fake. No tourist traps.
Why couldn’t Italy be the same? It all started with that question I asked myself.
When I got back from that trip, I entered the office with a new resolution. I wanted to create a new kind of tour operator service which would offer a way to have a much more authentic experience of a place and culture – fragrances, flavours, meeting artisans and locals in their home environment.
From this idea, I created a tour operator comparable to my way of travelling.
What makes you so passionate about sustainable travel and why should this be important to all travellers?
My way of travelling is ensuring that I am discovering and tasting eateries which celebrate local cuisine as part of their culture, learning, meeting a local guide who shares with me all local secret spots, staying in a family owned lodge and chatting and maybe became a friend of the owners. I discover later these all means sustainable travel.*
I want to make the travel experiences I create sustainable for the long term: I know that tourism can have both an exceptionally positive and potentially negative impact on local communities. Traveling means learning how to connect with others on a deeper level, and travellers have a big responsibility, they can shed a light on a new culture with their fellows. It can help fighting racism.
You cater for different types of travellers, tell us about this element of your business.
I like to say that Wanderjack is for anyone who has the backpack always ready in mind; travellers that feel the need of travelling like the air they breathe, but don’t feel like collecting postcards.
Whether you are 20 or 80. I summarize this point in a “Traveling manifesto”.
I am also committed to improving our focus on inclusive tourism because travelling could be the DNA of people with physical disabilities too.
As family travellers, sometimes a tour doesn’t seem to be suitable. What is different about WJ tours?
Children can be travellers, too. Parents need someone to assist with decision making during the holiday, and that means also being meticulously attentive to the smallest details. We take care of the following elements that we know will make their life easier:
- valuable and cultural experiences for the entire family; parents desire to give their children values and spend quality time together creating memories
- organisations and safety
- assets for remembering experiences done (handmade objects, photos, videos)
- good organization of the travel times
- live the journey as a traveller and not as a tourist
- having the organization of the trip easier and faster
- comfortable transfers (also cheap)
- children-friendly local guides
- flexible travel insurance
- family friendly services at the accommodations (have the flexibility to use the kitchen or having a safety garden where children can play and parents relax is little details but can affect the entire holiday)
Wanderjack team studies, research and answer to the needs of every traveller kind, that’s way every travel experience’s element has been chosen considering the accessibility of the activities, the transports and the accommodations that are offered picked according to our traveller needs.
What advice or recommendations would you offer to families considering a Wanderjack tour.
I would love for any family to contact us to share their story. Each family is different so this is why I love to skype or in writing us telling about their self, about their concerns (even the smallest) on the trip. We need to know them to create their life-time journey. Our job is to let them being travellers with no worries during the trip.
Thankyou so much Eleana for your insight about how Wanderjack came about. Our Family Travels are proud Ambassadors of Wanderjack.