July is the perfect time to plan a summer vacation! It used to be that you had to plan a trip far in advance to save money, but according to Expedia’s Sarah Gavin, that is no longer the case. Sarah joined me live from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the middle of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada for an interview yesterday to dish on why Alberta, Canada is the perfect summer vacation destination. She also shared two of her other favorite destinations for summer, the secret to planning the perfect trip, how to save money while on vacation, and how make the most of rewards points while relaxing and enjoying yourself this summer while taking in the scenery at your favorite travel spot.
Candace Rose: What’s the secret to planning the perfect trip this summer?
Sarah Gavin: “I have say given that I’m sitting here at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the middle of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada – secret number one is all about location, location, location. There are so many great hidden gems like Alberta, whereas a summer destination you can be outdoorsy, you can go out hiking, you can go canoeing, you can explore the mountains, see amazing wildlife or you can spend your whole day in the spa having some of the best dining and wine experiences in the world. I have to say location, location, location is really what it’s all about this summer!”
Candace Rose: Alberta, Canada sounds beautiful! Are there any other favorite destinations that you have this summer?
Sarah Gavin: “A couple that I love this summer – if you’re anywhere on the West Coast, the Oregon coast is hot or hot in a kind of cool comfortable way this summer. It’s a gorgeous coastline, rocky beaches and tons of great easy family experiences.
And on the opposite side, I love Tybee Island just outside of Savannah, Georgia. It’s one of my favorite beach destinations and it’s really undiscovered. It’s a great place to get a convertible, get some heat and have some fantastic Southern food.
You can get great deals at both of those locations because they’re largely pretty undiscovered.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any advice on how travelers can save money while on vacation?
Sarah Gavin: “I think there are a couple of money saving trends this year. One is always book your flight and your hotel at the exact same time. Typically we’ve been told that you’ve got to wake up at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday so you can save $20 on your airfare, and then think about your hotel later. Well, that’s just not true anymore. You really want to book your flight and your hotel together, especially in big resort destinations. On average people save up to $540, and in big beach destinations you can save more like $1,000 on a family vacation for a week – big, big savings there.
The second thing is it’s the summer of mobile. We always used to think last minute travel was more expensive, well today it’s less expensive, thanks to the rise of smartphones. Get an app like the Expedia mobile app and sort of make that last minute or that road trip really spontaneous by booking at the last minute and save 20/30/40 even up to 60% just by booking on your mobile phone.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Sarah Gavin: “The last thing is it’s really an interesting time to have rewards points. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m a member of 250 rewards programs, and it’s hard to make sense of what to do with rewards points, today. For most folks, you’ll want to pick a single airline that you want to be pretty airline loyal to so you can rack up those miles, or for some airlines now it’s about racking up dollars spent.
You really want to say how else can you augment your rewards programs. For us, it’s not about the four hours you spend on the plane, it’s about the four days you spend in the destination. We just launched the Expedia+ Rewards program where you get to keep all your airline miles and then you get to earn points on anything you buy on air, on a snorkeling trip, on your hotel trip, even earning points on a cruise now. And then you can turn those around and use them at any hotel in the world, in particular there’s a whole set of VIP access hotels as part of the program. There’s 1400 of them all around the world, they’re top hotels, typically boutique hotels or small chains. They’re gorgeous hotels that you want to stay at when you go to a place like Mexico or the Caribbean and really be able to maximize your points, get upgrades, get that free bottle of wine or that spa credit when you check in because you’ve got a rewards program like Expedia+ Rewards that allows you to be able to sort of double dip with air, but get a ton of fantastic experiences when you’re in market.”
Candace Rose: That sounds amazing. Where can we go for more information?
Sarah Gavin: “Check out Expedia.com or download the Expedia Mobile app.”