Travel—whether you explore a new destination every few years or regularly hit the road on exciting adventures—can be transformative. For travel expert Wendy Perrin, founder of WendyPerrin.com, more than a few vacation experiences have been life changing. From her journey to the Galapagos Islands, to a pre-war trek through Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, the revelations have been numerous and often shared with her husband and two sons.
RewardExpert recently spoke with Perrin to learn more about her background and popular website as well as get her tips to help you make your next family vacation extraordinary.
Satisfying the Needs of Sophisticated Travelers
Perrin has always loved to travel and did a lot of it with her parents as a child. This love eventually led her to a 20-year career at Conde Nast Traveler magazine followed by a stint at Trip Advisor.
“During my time at Conde Nast Traveler, I saw that sophisticated travelers really needed something that didn’t exist,” she recalled. “I kept waiting for someone to build it but nobody did. Finally, I decided to do it myself.”
She simultaneously joined Trip Advisor and launched WendyPerrin.com in 2014. The website is home to the WOW List, a continuously evolving database of travel specialists tested, selected and monitored by Wendy herself.
“It’s a living, breathing thing that is constantly updated with the latest, greatest people [in the travel industry],” she explained. “If anybody is dropping the ball, they get removed. I bring new travel specialists on as they pass the test.”
Contacting a WOW List specialist or submitting a trip request to Perrin directly activates the unofficially titled ‘Wow System,’ which she has developed over the years to ensure travelers have the very best vacation experience possible.
“I’m not a travel agent myself,” she said. “I’m simply a travel journalist and travel expert on a mission to help travelers have the best trips they can possibly have. I show them how great travel can be by removing the problems, minimizing the drawbacks and maximizing the advantages.”
One of the ways she does this is by making sure travelers who use a WOW List specialist have all the information they need at the moment they need it.
“I offer advice throughout the process from start to finish,” she adds. “I make sure you’ve connected to the right travel specialist, that the planning is going well, and that you have everything you need at the appropriate moment. When you come back from your trip, you receive an invitation to review it.”
Perrin reads every review and uses that information to determine if specialists should be added to, or removed from, the WOW List.
Have a Memorable Family Vacation
Traveling as a family—especially one that includes young children—can be stressful. But it can also be a positively memorable experience. Perrin offered the following suggestions for ensuring more of the latter on your next family excursion. Travelers will find thousands of additional tips—for everything from family and airline travel to choosing hotels and apps—on her website.
1. Get everyone involved in the planning. “Have your kids research the destination and figure out what they’d like to do while they are there,” she said. “You can also give them maps and allow them to plot your route to some extent. This will give them a sense of ownership over the trip.”
2. Find ways to tire them out. Perrin suggests finding as many ways for your kids to expend physical energy as possible during your journey. Walk instead of taking a taxi. Make pit-stops to play Frisbee or tag during a road trip. The more kids move, the better they’ll behave. “I always suggest a hotel with a pool,” she said. “Throw your kids in there and they’ll exhaust themselves.”
3. Encourage them to collect things. Perrin’s sons, currently 13 and 15 years old, have been on trips to 40 countries each and have shelves full of meaningful keepsakes to remind them of their experiences. “A lot of parents will tell you to avoid gift shops,” she said laughing, “but we’ve been in a lot of them. Letting them visit the gift shop for a few minutes is a way to keep them excited and engaged.”
“Of course, you don’t have to buy souvenirs,” she added. “You can encourage them to find things to collect along the way.” Suggestions include postcards or magnets from the cities or states you visit, do-not-disturb signs from each hotel you stay at, or brochures from the tourist offices you stop at.
“Kids love collecting things,” she said. “It gives them a purpose and a goal. As they go through the trip, they are so proud of their collection and are always looking for the next thing they can add to it.”