By Sarah Waffle Gavin, on March 21, 2016

Technology, travel, and the children of St. Jude

At Expedia, we have the privilege of seeing, every single day, the transformative impact of travel. For most of us, we equate travel with some of the greatest features of our lives. Travel brings loved ones closer together. Travel opens our minds to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Travel drives our business and the economy.

But for some very sick children and their parents, the only journey that matters is the journey toward wellness. For them, that may mean a journey to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Expedia has supported St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since 2010, and many of us have had the honor of meeting the families of the children who are undergoing treatment there. The stories they tell of the moment they first learn that their child has cancer; the first time they walk through the doors of this amazing hospital, which honestly looks, feels, and smells more like a child’s fantasy elementary school than a medical facility; and about the connections they make with their award-winning doctors and researchers, other parents, and other patients are overwhelming, life-affirming, and enduring.

Perhaps the hardest stories to hear are about the months—and sometimes even years—that their children spend at St. Jude. That time is filled with painful, emotional treatments that no child should ever have to endure. However, thanks to the team at St. Jude, they are also filled with hope for a future outside of the hospital walls.

As a travel and technology company, Expedia believes in the power of travel to make the world a better place. This year, we wanted to make the world a better place for the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, who could not otherwise travel, through a project we’ve called Dream Adventures.

We started by asking four children about their passions, their dream adventures, and their favorite things. Their answers ranged from playing with monkeys and running with horses to digging for dinosaurs and swimming in the sea. Then we dispatched a team of employees, each armed with a 360° camera and live streaming technology, to Argentina to play alongside wild horses, to Miami to feed and pet monkeys, and underwater in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, to scuba dive with schools of fish to bring their dream adventures to life.

You can see the results of this experience when the children went into a four-wall, floor, and ceiling virtual reality installation for a real-time experience with Expedia employees and their favorite things in the video here.

This was the first time 360° filming, projection mapping and live streaming technology have been used together in this way. Through this innovation, Expedia delivered truly immersive travel experiences to these amazing St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patients so that each of them was able to explore, to direct the actions of the Expedia employee in real-time, and to immerse themselves in the experience.

Learn more about the behind-the-scenes technology in the video below.

For most of our readers, we build tools and technology to help you travel the world; to help you make moments that you will never forget. We have a long-standing history of supporting the amazing work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and we were so honored to be able to combine travel and technology to help give the brave kids there a memorable respite.

If you enjoy this work, please support the work that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital does every day by donating your Expedia+ points to St. Jude at Thank you.