By Anna De Gobbi
Valerie D’Elia grew up in a family that has been in the travel business since 1902. So even before her college years, D’Elia felt confident about the path she wanted to take in life.
“My great grandfather was the connection for immigrants to take the transatlantic trips from Italy to Ellis Island,” she said. “He became a travel agent out of the sandwich shop he worked in, because back then travel agencies did not exist.”
So when D’Elia decided to major in broadcast journalism at the University of Miami, and later to obtain a master’s from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, it was with the intention of combining journalism with something related to the travel industry.
After Columbia, D’Elia began working as a freelance reporter. Her superiors praised her, she recalled, for original pieces that gave viewers a look into what travel agencies offered in order to get out of cold Connecticut winters.
It was after those stories, in the late 1980s, that the Travel Channel was launched and D’Elia was offered a position as producer.
D’Elia, who graduated from the University of Miami in 1981, began looking at the consumer side of travel, which taught her, she said, that travel is not about the distance you go, but more about the experience you have wherever you go.
“My little slogan is Travel with VALue,” she said. “I’d like to help viewers see the world without having to empty their wallets.
From the Travel Channel, D’Elia moved to the HBO Visitor Information Network, where she was director of production. In 1998, she started working as a travel reporter for NY1 News. She is still there today.
On her show, Travel with Val, which airs several times a week, she produces, shoots, writes, hosts and edits all her own videos.
D’Elia’s writing skills brought her to another venture – the blog Travel with Val, which includes written and video reports, as well as pictures, links to other useful travel planning sites and ideas for perfect getaways. Today she is best known for her trademark feature, D’Elia’s Deals, which she publishes on her blog.
D’Elia has traveled to 102 countries on seven continents. Recently, she returned to Cuba, where she had visited before, to do stories on the island as it gets ready to open for U.S. tourism.
“It’ll be interesting to see Cuba turn into a travel friendly place for Americans,” D’Elia said. “It’s not on the beaten track; it’s a work in progress – I find that really interesting.”
Nowadays, D’Elia calls New York City home, although she travels two to three times a month, sometimes within the United States and other times to places across the world. Later she reports back to her followers on how to have amazing adventures for great prices.
“My goal is to see and experience as much as absolutely possible,” D’Elia said. “The world is so big and diverse that you can never truly be bored. There’s always something new to experience and somewhere new to be.”
Anna De Gobbi is a sophomore majoring in public relations, media management and journalism.