Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

How to Get The Best Trip Possible

Wendy Perrin | September 24, 2016

An important message from Wendy

Most travelers don’t want to just read about an amazing trip, they want to actually have an amazing trip—no crowds, lines, tourist traps, time-wasting logistics, or rip-offs. After 25 years listening to sophisticated travelers tell me their frustrations, I’ve created a system to zap those problems and ensure you get the best trip possible. The result: WOW trips like these. When you use this system—which includes my WOW List of the thoroughly vetted travel specialists whom I would use (and do use) to arrange my own trips—here’s what you get:

1. VIP status
2. The best possible pricing
3. My advice throughout your trip planning
4. An invitation to review the travel specialist after your trip, to keep The
WOW List up-to-the-minute accurate.
5. A WOW Moment, custom-designed for you and complimentary, that I personally
add to your itinerary on every third trip you plan via this system.

But—and this is important—to get these benefits, you must submit your trip request via This means using the black CONTACT buttons on The WOW List each time you contact a travel specialist, even if you’ve worked with them before. When you click on those CONTACT buttons and submit your trip request, it’s the equivalent of my personally introducing you to the travel specialist. That’s how they know you’re a VIP traveler sent by Wendy. A copy of that trip request goes to me too, allowing me to provide you with key advice and watch over your trip from start to finish.  After all, I can’t monitor your trip if I don’t know about it.  It’s also how I stay in touch to get your review when you return.

This review system ensures that The WOW List remains stellar and safeguards my reputation by proving I can stand behind my recommendations. That’s what I get out of this. What you get is the best possible trip. For more details, read the FAQ below.


  1. Can I hire Wendy to book my trip?

Readers ask me that question a dozen times a week. I can’t personally arrange your itinerary—I’m a journalist, not a travel agent—but I want to help you the way I’ve helped all these other people. My unique expertise is that I have spent two decades researching, interviewing, road-testing, and monitoring trip-planning firms, so that I know the absolute best ones out there. And it’s my goal to make sure you don’t waste any more time or money on mediocre travel experiences. I’m on a mission, on behalf of the traveling public, to hold the entire trip-planning industry to a higher standard than it’s ever been held before.

2. What kind of trips does help with?

If you’re looking for the cheapest trip or an off-the-shelf product, is not the right place for you. Here, we define value by how high-quality the experience is, not how little it costs. There are plenty of other sites that can help you find deals (though you should beware phony “values”), but this isn’t one of them. Instead, if you’re seeking a custom-tailored, sophisticated, smartly designed, hassle-free, non-touristy, flawlessly executed, transcendent trip—a WOW trip like these that travelers have recently returned from—we can help.

If you’ve already booked most of your trip, then is not the right place for you either. To choreograph a superlative and seamless travel experience from start to finish, a travel specialist needs control over your trip from start to finish.  The more of your trip a Trusted Travel Expert designs and books, the more he/she can save you wasted time, money, and pitfalls at your destination and embellish your trip with special treatment.  The more parts of your trip you have already arranged (say, you’ve booked your accommodations and need only a driver on one day and an Engish-speaking guide on another), the less incentive a Trusted Travel Expert has to get involved in your trip (he/she will be concerned about having to bail you out of a mid-trip situation that he/she did not book and is not responsible for), the less value for your dollar you will receive from the TTE, and the less financial sense it makes for you to use a TTE.

3. How does Wendy help you get a better trip?

Via my WOW trip-planning system. Here’s how it works:

  1. Click to my WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts. These are the savviest, most well-connected, most honest trip planners out there; they’re the people I entrust my own trips to.
  2. Find the right Trusted Travel Expert and click his/her black CONTACT button.
  3. That pulls up a Trip Request Form. Answer the questions honestly and thoroughly. Hit SUBMIT.

Can’t find the right travel specialist on The WOW List?  Use the Ask Wendy button.

4. What makes a WOW trip better?

It maximizes your experience of a destination.

  • It eliminates inefficiencies, crowds, lines, hassles, and other pitfalls.
  • It gets you priority status, insider access, and VIP perks.
  • It sometimes will cost more but is worth it.

To understand 12 ways WOW trips are better, read this article written by a traveler like you.

5. Why is it important to use Wendy’s Trip Request Form?

Five reasons:

1. You get VIP treatment.  The Trip Request Form serves the same purpose as a personal introduction from me. The specialist will know that I sent you and mark you as a VIP traveler. He/she promises to:

    • Reply to you within 48 business hours.
    • Have an in-depth diagnostic phone conversation with you. That is critical to a WOW trip.
    • Provide the lowest pricing possible. The Trusted Travel Expert has pledged to offer unbeatable value for the money. (See more on pricing below.)
    • Extend VIP courtesies and benefits.

2. The Trip Request Form helps you to articulate your trip goals and needs effectively.

That enables the trip designer to meet them better and sets you up for a more successful collaboration and trip.

  1. The Trip Request Form enrolls you in my Trip Support System. 

I will watch over your trip from start to finish, weighing in with important advice at key phases of the trip-planning process and intervening if issues crop up. I designed this system because, throughout my decades as a consumer journalist, readers keep contacting me about the same recurring issues over and over again, and I can provide insight and answers before those issues arise. These questions or concerns come up not necessarily because a travel specialist isn’t good (though that does happen), but because the process of working with a travel planner is complex. I can help prevent the common misunderstandings and mistakes that can occur between travelers and trip planners.

  1. After your trip, you’ll get to review the trip planner.

I monitor my recommended travel specialists in order to ensure they uphold the standards and values that got them onto The WOW List in the first place. When you return from a trip that I’ve monitored, you’re asked to share your review of the travel specialist for the benefit of your fellow travelers who are trying to decide whether or not to hire that specialist. It’s these reviews from you that determine whether or not a Trusted Travel Expert stays on The WOW List.

  1. If you don’t use the form, you won’t get Wendy’s WOW Moments (see #15 below).

6. What is Wendy’s Trip Support System and why do I need it?

No one makes it onto my WOW List without being extremely good at what they do. I started this list nearly two decades ago, and I refine it through a rigorous process every year. It’s been said that it’s harder to make it onto my list than to get into Harvard.

Thanks to the exposure I’ve given these travel specialists—exposure not just to travelers like you but to to my fellow magazine editors and reporters who also now put them on lists and interview them for articles—many of them have become extremely busy in recent years.  Many now have huge offices, and are frequently on the road, and as a result new clients are often delegated to new, less candid, less savvy employees. It’s become too easy for a non-VIP client to get a less-than-optimal trip. But when I put a specialist on my WOW List, the prestige is great enough that they are happy to sign a pledge, agreeing to treat all referrals as VIPs, to respond within 48 hours, to speak with them personally, and to offer you the lowest public prices available.

That’s one aspect of my Trip Support System, but that all happens behind the scenes. Out front, after you fill out a Trip Request on this site, I am with you every step of the way during your trip-planning process, checking in and sending you key advice at every stage. And then, when you return from your trip, I solicit feedback, to make sure each specialist still deserves to be on the List—because your input is invaluable to the success of the WOW List.

7. Will using the Trip Request Form add to the trip cost?

Absolutely not. You pay the same price or lower than what you would pay if you booked any other way. The travel specialists whom I’ve selected to be Trusted Travel Experts on my WOW List have pledged to give you the best pricing they offer publicly, along with VIP benefits when possible. If you were on my WOW List, would you risk a negative review, or being removed from the List, by delivering trips that are not a good value?

8. How does Wendy select her Trusted Travel Experts?

I’m the person who conceived Condé Nast Travelers ground-breaking list of top travel specialists back in the year 2000. It was literally called “Wendy’s Rolodex,” and it was the world’s original list of best destination specialists.  It became so popular that I was asked to compile it annually. Other travel magazines copied it, but my list remained the standard setter—and that’s because I based my decisions on voluminous consumer feedback gathered year-round.  I did that for 14 years—until I left Condé Nast Traveler in 2014, joined TripAdvisor, and launched Today, I have systematized that Trip Support System, and my decisions about who belongs on The WOW List and who does not are dictated by the consumer feedback I receive via that process. I am also constantly testing new people for The WOW List. (For more on this testing process, see #13 and #14 below.)  Nobody can pay to get onto The WOW List. 

9. How does Trip Support work?

I designed this system to prevent the miscommunication and mistakes that commonly occur when a traveler uses a trip planner.  As soon as you submit a trip request, you receive an email from me with critical advice for planning your trip smartly from the get-go. (Here’s an example of that advice: How to Get an Extraordinary Trip That’s a Great Value.)   I continue to send important tips at key moments during the trip-planning process. After your trip, I invite you to contribute a review of the Trusted Travel Expert. Those reviews determine who stays on The WOW List.

If you submit a trip request but end up deciding not to use that travel specialist for your trip, I send a brief survey to find out why not, since I want to make sure the Trusted Travel Expert is performing to the highest standard.

This Trip Support System, which launched in July 2015, is constantly being fine-tuned, based on the feedback I get from the travelers who use it. So please be patient. I’m on a mission, on behalf of the traveling public, to hold the entire trip-planning industry to a higher standard than it’s ever been held before. And this system and technology have never existed before. So your patience is appreciated.

10. Where can I read reviews of Trusted Travel Experts?

On The WOW List, immediately below each expert’s entry, you’ll see a link to his/her reviews page. Here’s a sampling of reviews of all TTEs. You can also read a collection of reviews in this article, “The Secret to Extraordinary Travel: Here’s Proof That The WOW List Works.”

11. The Trusted Travel Expert I’m considering for a trip has few reviews or none. Why?  

Two possible reasons:

  1. The expert came onto The WOW List recently.  The travelers who have chosen to book with that expert, and whose trips I am monitoring, have not returned from their trips yet and thus have not posted reviews yet.
  2. The expert has either not received many trip requests or has not booked many trips.

12. What if Wendy lists no travel specialist in my price range for where I want to travel?

Use the Ask Wendy button; I may be able to recommend someone who is willing to make more affordable arrangements. But remember that some countries (Japan and Norway, for instance) are far more expensive than others—and are also more expensive to operate a travel firm in. Also remember that The WOW List is a list of the best people out there; they provide trips you can’t buy elsewhere, and the price they charge for those trips is considered good value by your fellow travelers who have come back from those trips and posted reviews. Furthermore, nowadays there is no viable business model for inexpensive human-being travel agents. If you want the least expensive trip, book online.

13. How does Wendy vet candidates for The WOW List?

I test them behind the scenes. I send travelers to them and monitor those trips closely, by staying in touch with those travelers and asking them for feedback (this is another reason why I encourage all readers to use my Trip Request Forms to contact the planners on my WOW List). If I get enough stellar feedback and few complaints, I add them to The WOW List. This testing process takes about a year (because it takes that long for enough trips to get planned, booked, taken, and reviewed.)

14. Is Wendy looking for volunteers to help with this testing?

Yes.  Hundreds of travel specialists are clamoring to be on The WOW List, and dozens of readers are asking me for specialists for destinations or types of trips that are not yet on The WOW List. I want to fill these gaps, so I’m constantly seeking and testing potential new Trusted Travel Experts. If there is someone who has arranged a trip for you and whom you highly recommend for The WOW List, let me know. If you have used at least three of my Trusted Travel Experts and thus have a clear first-hand understanding of the standard they represent and level of service they deliver, and you would like to be one of my “testers,” let me know.

15. What are Wendy’s WOW Moments?

On every third trip you take that starts with a Trip Request Form, you’ll get a gift of a WOW Experience. This is my way of thanking you for helping me test my trip-planning system while it’s still in beta. Be sure to read all the program details here: Wendy Wants to Amp Up Your Trip!   You can read a traveler’s review of our first WOW Moment here: Wendy Gave Me a Free “WOW Moment” and This Is What I Thought of It.

16. Is The WOW List pay-to-play?

Of course not.  I’m a journalist and would never jeopardize my reputation, and all the years I’ve spent building up the trust and credibility that my readers and sources depend on, by publicly recommending a weak travel planner, no matter how much they wanted to pay me. My name, and the standard of travel I stand for, are worth a lot more than that.

Besides, if The WOW List were pay-to-play, there would be 5,000 travel agents on it.

17. Then what is Wendy’s business model?

I have worked very hard to create a site that puts the traveler’s bottom line first, that preserves my trusted reputation, and that can sustain itself. None of the income that the site generates to keep it self-sustaining influences the advice I give. That’s because the site depends on delivering honest, unbiased counseling and not jeopardizing my reputation. This site has sponsors and advertisers, and I earn money by giving speeches and via writing and consulting assignments, but I do not take into account who is advertising on the site when I advise travelers. I also require that every Trusted Travel Expert on my WOW List sign a pledge ensuring that travelers will not pay one cent more when using and the Trip Support System that I oversee.

18. I have a question that hasn’t been answered above.

Ask it here so I can answer and add it to these FAQs.

Start planning your next extraordinary trip now — check out Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts.


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