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Meet Vanessa Ray of Laila’s Luggage

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanessa Ray.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m Vanessa and my six years old co-founder is Laila. Laila’s Luggage is a mommy and me travel duo set on making travel easier for kids (and their adult companions) by creating easy to carry travel activities for families on the go! Laila’s Luggage started as a way to encourage black families to explore the world together and also provide tips to parents traveling with kids. Diversity in family travel is something I strive to show Laila because as of now, it’s not mainstream. Even in our own world explorations, we’re often one of the few if not the only black families visible. We started traveling when Laila was two months old. I introduced Laila to travel because I believe the best way I can teach her about the world is to show her. The cultures we have discovered together that are different from our own have been such a beautiful teaching experience that is hard to discover without immersion.

At one point in my life, I traveled every weekend with Laila by plane for work and then every other weekend for the next six months. I didn’t grow up traveling often and my first experience of realizing just how big the world was happened when I moved from Dallas, Tx to Washington, DC to attend Howard University at 18 years old. We’ve covered over 20 countries together and I’ve visited nearly 30 countries by myself. Laila learning the extent of the world early in life has been and remains a priority for me. We created products specifically for kids who look like Laila to see themselves exploring the world as our contribution to expanding the way diversity in travel is shown.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Traveling with a child on a consistent basis isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it. When we were traveling for my job every weekend for 1.5 years and then every other weekend for the next six months by plane, a quick learning curve had to be developed to help keep myself and my then toddler healthy and from experiencing burn out. We have experienced food poisoning while traveling, jet lag, being sick in different countries that don’t have the medicines we’re accustomed to, delayed and lost luggage, canceled flights, and so much more. With every travel issue we’ve come across, we’ve managed to turn it into a learning experience that has made us better overall world traveler’s and given me the knowledge to help other families that want to travel, but have anxieties about what could occur.

Please tell us about Laila’s Luggage.
Together, Laila and I launched easy to carry travel activities to keep kids busy during travel. I think the most difficult part of traveling with kids is keeping them occupied. My products are designed to keep kids busy and avoid tantrums and restlessness, thereby doing both parents a favor and those traveling with no kids. All of our products are well-made and durable to hold up through years of travel. The best part? They’re travel-themed and educational so kid’s minds aren’t on vacation even when their bodies are! With our products, kids will learn geography, language development and more — without the use of a screen. It was important that we design activities to limit screen time while traveling. We currently offer (3) card games, no bigger than a passport and an activity book designed to fit in a backpack. Our activity book eliminates the need to travel with a coloring book and games because it includes both. Our ultimate goal is to make travel less stressful for parents, so they’re excited to explore more often and fun for kids so they don’t mind the sometimes mundane portions of travel.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Having the opportunity to travel for work for so long was definitely a blessing in that it gave me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of point travel when it comes to flights and hotels. So many of our travel experiences have been free, simply by maximizing points earned from travel and credit card opportunities. The work opportunity also gave me the chance to learn travel tips with kids quickly because we saw weekly what the best and worst methods were when it comes to traveling with my daughter.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Steve Jackson

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