Interview: Claire Soares from Up In The Air Life
I first met Claire at a large travel industry conference in Henan, China. We bonded over being one of the few black women in the conference – it was exciting for us to meet locals who wanted to take pictures and ask us questions about life in America. Without having to explicitly mention it, we knew as seasoned travelers we were seen as sole representatives of an entire race, which wasn’t a surprise in the more local sites we visited in China. What was startling was seeing the lack of diversity within the trave conference –looking around the sea of professional travel agents, travel agencies, and destination management corporations, our brown faces stood out tremendously.
I was awed at seeing a woman like Claire not only show up and expect a seat at the table – but to build her own table, in the form of Up In The Air Life, a luxury travel company. It was through her entrepreneurial spirit that I knew I had to make my own mark in this industry!
Hey Claire! Let’s start with a quick intro.
My name is Claire and I’m the founder of the luxury travel company, Up in the Air Life, which caters to people who enjoy the finer things in life. I’m an avid traveler and lover of life. I like to live life to the fullest at every moment and surround myself with the people I love.
How did Up in the Air Life come to be?
I started Up in the Air Life because I didn’t feel there was a space for people of color who enjoyed luxury travel. The only market offering available that targeted people of color was predominately budget travel. I wanted to share my love of luxury and epic experiences at an affordable price. Our first trip was a yachting trip to Croatia, and from there we began to offer trips to Mexico and Colombia. Today we have trips to almost 20 destinations around the world hitting five continents.
Do you think the current luxury travel landscape has adapted well to travelers of color? If not, what are current gaps in this industry?
No – the marketing is a huge miss. Often we are never seen in any of the imagery. It’s still shocking when we get asked to participate in ads for luxury magazines that don’t have one picture of someone of color. It’s very preposterous that they ask me to spend money in their magazine. My response is usually something to the effect: if they don’t even show one non-white person in their magazine then I’m pretty sure my soon-to-be clients aren’t looking at this magazine.
Up in the Air Life's 2019 trip to Beijing and Seoul looks absolutely incredible! From butler service in Beijing’s St.Regis Hotel to exploring Korean spas, this looks like the perfect trip for anyone who wants the best luxurious experiences in Asia. What inspired these locations?
I’ve always wanted to go to the Great Wall of China, and the combination of Seoul and Beijing was an instant attraction as it’s so unique. [The itinerary] is filled with a Chineseworld wonder, luxury in both cities, and features the beauty capital of the world – Seoul. The Beijing food culture is absolutely amazing – there is a lot of great dining in Beijing from rooftops to indoor spots with great music, craft cocktails, and amazing food. Spots like Unico and Da Dong Roast Duck are both places that are a foodie and meat lovers dream!
What advice would you give other people of color who are interested in luxury travel in Asia?
I would recommend that they stay at the St.Regis Hotel as we do on our trips. A minimum of four nights is in order to fully enjoy the hotel. The expansive indoor pool and signature St. Regis spa are a must! You can also enjoy a daily complimentary glass of champagne with the sabering every day during their happy hour. The Waldorf Astoria has the some of best décor room-wise I’ve ever seen. I’d also recommend reading a few blogs on the luxury hotels.
What is your favorite country and/or city to visit in Asia?
My favorite countries in Asia so far would have to be Indonesia and Thailand. I’ve spent the most time in Thailand through the islands and Bangkok. I enjoy Thai culture and the people always make my trip special. Indonesia is a true gem, as well as the food...the greenery there is incredible. It’s the most Instagrammable place I’ve ever visited!
What are three packing/traveling essentials you recommend for luxury travelers?
I love Evian’s facial spray and it’s a must for my travel bag. I also enjoy lip balm to keep my lips moisturized. Last but not least, Cabeau Evolution travel pillows, the cushions on your neck sides give you great comfort to nap inflight– even in a middle seat!
You can find Claire on social and on her website below:
Claire’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/upintheairclaire/
Up In The Air Life Website: https://upintheairlife.com/
Up In The Air Life Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/upintheairlife/