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She’s part foodie, part tech geek, part mom, and part traveler. When she’s not strolling through the shops of Manhattan or sitting poolside in Mexico, she hangs her hat in the burbs of Seattle, Washington at the intersection of travel, technology, and motherhood. Working side by side with Expedia, she’ll reveal to us the true savings from this popular online travel booking company. Get ready to save hundreds… even while traveling abroad AND with kids!
How did traveling become one of your interests?
Sara: I’ve been with Expedia for about four and a half years, but I’ve been a traveler my whole life. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to all of his conferences. He would go to a conference and I would get to hang out. I got to go to a lot of the great US cities, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, and really that was my first experience with travel. All the memories of all of the really classic US cities. When I graduated from college I went to Peru. I moved to Peru actually for a job and when I got there it turned out to not be what I expected, but I got to travel all over South America. I was having just an amazing time traveling. So I have always been really passionate about it.
I also have worked in technology my whole career. I like the idea of spending time traveling with using technology together. We can make travel less of a burden for people, travel planning less of a burden for people, and make it much more magical. It’s a powerful tool to have, and I really love it. It’s really fun.
As we come to the end of the school year, the kids are out of school, but parents have to work and have a budget to consider. How would it be possible to do a summer vacation to Mexico or somewhere similar now that the cold spell is over and the kids are free?
Sara: I have four kids myself, so there are two ways in our family that we think about vacationing in the summer. One is the sort of last minute weekend getaway, and we really like doing that, because sometimes you just can’t predict what your work schedule is going to look like. It’s much easier to say on a Thursday, you know that we can get away at the last minute, and we make that work from the budget perspective because you can use mobile apps like the Expedia app to save a lot of money.
Hotels give Expedia exclusive deals just for people who are shopping on mobile apps at the last minute, so you can save up to 40% off. There you have it: you got everything right, you surprise the kids or your spouse with a get away for the two of you, and then you get to save money on top of it. So that’s one way that we think about saving money and making vacation happen in the summer.
The other one is, of course, the big vacation or what you are going to do for a week; to take a week off and plan for a trip. For that, you want to really think about booking your flight and your hotel together, especially if you’re traveling with kids. You’re buying a lot of flights and you’re buying at least one, maybe two hotel rooms booked together. In the same way that you think about bundling your cable and your Internet, you really can save a lot of money on average, across all destinations, up to about $570.
The big beach destinations like Mexico, the Caribbean, or Hawaii, you can save more like $800 – $1,000. We just took the kids to Maui for spring break, and again we have four of them, so that’s a lot of tickets and a couple of hotel rooms. We were there for 9 days and we saved $2,600 just by booking the flight we wanted and the hotel we wanted at the same time, so that’s really a significant savings for a family. It makes it much easier to take that week-long trip.
It was funny; I didn’t use my employee discount to book that trip because I was like, I save so much more money if I just do it like a consumer! It was great; I was totally amazed that I went around the office and told everybody about it for days.
Awesome savings! So now we get to our destination, how in the world are we going to avoid overcrowded beaches while trying to keep our kids in tow and the experience enjoyable?
Sara: What I really love are secondary destinations that are still great beach destinations; and frankly are really good for kids. The Riviera Maya, Mexico is one of them. Simply fly from just about anywhere in the country into Cancun. It’s a main airport, with lots of flights every single day, and instead of staying in Cancun, where you may find it a bit more crowded than you want for a family, drive 45 minutes south and go to Riviera Maya or Playa Del Carmen area. You can stay in some beautiful hotels with half these beaches more or less all to yourself and you’re a lot closer to a lot of really interesting historical parts of Mexico. Now you can go in and do these archaeological trips with your kids, or plan some jungle trips with your kids, so you have both a beach trip and something that’s a little bit more enriching. That’s why I love Riviera Maya for that. I also really like San Juan, Puerto Rico for a lot of the same reasons.
The first one is that it’s a great deal this summer. It’s about 26% less expensive to go to San Juan this year than it was last year. Some huge savings – and that’s just what you save on your plane ticket. Once you’re there, you’ve got this amazing historical city, and right there on the island, you have some of the most beautiful beaches and rain forests. It’s a really great place to travel with kids, so they can get enriching experiences on some days and hang out on the beach and just play on other days. It’s a really great place to save money, and still give your kids the experience of a lifetime.
Before I let you go, would you share where to find more vacation ideas and information?
Sara: You can go to expedia.com or download the Expedia mobile app. There’s also a blog called the Expedia Viewfinder that has lots of tips from lots of different types of travelers, including some Mom Travelers and Dad Travelers to get some perspective on some of the top destinations and what to do in those destinations.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that would be beneficial for families or couples?
Sara: The only other thing I would say is this – it’s a really great year to think about traveling abroad with your kids. The U.S. dollar is so strong compared to currencies like the Euro or compared to the currency in Australia. Your dollar goes a lot further, and you can add that together with the fact that you’re saving money on your plane ticket because of fuel prices. So your tickets, as an example, are about 10% less expensive this year than last year to fly to London, Paris, Rome and Madrid. It’s a really good deal to think about when traveling abroad, especially because this is a really good year to do it.
Thank you for that tip. Traveling abroad may not be on the forefront of most family’s minds thinking it’s so expensive, but now it sounds like it’s reasonable.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights, your tips, and your passions with us!
Sara: Thank you so much for having me; family travel is my favorite thing!