By Katie Doten, on May 31, 2021

Commercial pilot Garrett Ray gives us a little travel inspiration


It’s time to gear up for Expedia Travel Week! If you’ve been looking for a specific reason to move ahead with a travel plan that’s been simmering on the back burner, this is bringing the heat. Listen to this episode of Out Travel the System for the details of how you can save anywhere from 20-60% on more than 2000 hotels and activities around the world.
Host Nisreene Atassi chats with commercial pilot Garrett Ray (@flywithgarrett) and former Olympian, current awesome human Perri Edwards, aka Perri Shakes-Drayton (@itspsd) about the itineraries they’ve curated especially for Expedia Travel Week. Along the way, we talk about why Perri is splitting her time between London, UK and Lagos, Nigeria, and how Garrett is adjusting to a temporary pause in airline pilot tradition. We also delve into their hopes for the future, both for travel and in their own lives.
If you’re looking for more tips and tricks to hack your travel budget, have a listen to these past Out Travel the System episodes about Shoulder Season, the Reverse Road Trip, and Travel Trends.

Expedia Travel Podcast

Travel Inspiration and Information

Nisreene Atassi: I don’t know about you all, but I have always loved a good sale, especially when it comes to travel. Some of the best deals I’ve ever gotten have been secured during amazing sales where I preplanned ahead of time, knew exactly what I was going to book, was there right when the clock struck 9:00 AM, so I was able to get amazing deals to some of my favorite hotels. That’s why I am so excited to dig into today’s episode. I’m Nisreene Atassi and this is Out Travel the System. This season, we’re taking a transparent look at the world of travel and what might be involved in actually getting out into the world again. In some cases, that might involve finding some travel inspiration. And in other cases, it means getting the information you need to book that trip. Ladies and gentlemen, today is the day I give your travel budget the boost it may just need by giving you the inside scoop on Expedia Travel Week. I have two guests with me today. Garrett Ray is better known as Fly With Garrett on social media. Online, he shares both his life as a commercial pilot and his travel adventures.

Garrett Ray: Hey, how are you? I’m glad to be here.

Nisreene Atassi: In her days competing on Britain’s Olympic track and field team, she was known as Perri Shakes- Drayton, but now Perri Edwards is often found running around the world traveling. Hi Perri.

Perri Edwards: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Nisreene Atassi: I absolutely cannot wait to dig into your itineraries, but first I want to quickly just bring listeners up to speed on the news. So for the first time ever, we are launching Expedia Travel Week. It’s a five day sale running from June 8th to the 12th on and our mobile app where travelers can get anywhere from 20 to 60% off more than 2000 hotels and activities from all over the world. And what’s even more exciting is that for the first time ever we’ve enlisted some of our favorite travelers to go in and handpick their favorite places that will be featured throughout the week. Perri and Garrett are two of the amazing travel curators that will be featured during the sale, so I’m super excited to have them on the show with me today. Okay Perri, take me through the itinerary you designed and some of the inspiration behind it.

Perri Edwards: The first country that I chose was Grenada. My background is Grenadian and Jamaican. I was fortunate enough to travel to Grenada two years ago. It was my first and only time I’ve ever visited. As much as it is a very small island, Grenada had a lot to offer. And even though I went to go and visit my grandma, I did manage to stay at a hotel and get another experience. The hotel that I’ve actually chosen to recommend to you guys is because I’ve actually stayed there with the True Blue Bay Resort, that’s in the capital, St. George’s. I often try and choose a boutique hotel whenever I’m traveling, because I just like the uniqueness that it has to offer. And it was a lot more homely, very vibrant, actually, quite huge. There was so much, I don’t think I saw all of the hotel, very family and child- friendly because you could have a villa, like a beach holiday. That’s how it was, the wooden floor, the sheer cloths over the bed, decorated with seashells and stuff, very blue, hence the name of the hotel.

Nisreene Atassi: Oh, that’s so nice.

Perri Edwards: The local chefs are cooking the food and you’re eating the food overlooking the water, which I really thought a really nice touch.

Nisreene Atassi: So lovely.

Perri Edwards: Just to have that ambience to start your day.

Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. It’s so nice when you go to hotels and they feed you the local fare, because I think a lot of the times there may be catering to the travelers. And so what they end up serving as the basic Western breakfast, like a continental breakfast. But it’s really nice when you find a hotel that leans into the culture of the destination that you’re in.

Perri Edwards: Exactly. The hotel was so great in a sense that it had like a local market.

Nisreene Atassi: Oh, amazing.

Perri Edwards: Instead of you having to travel out and about and leave the hotel, it was there, swimming pool, there was a beach. I felt like you really didn’t have to leave this hotel because everything was onsite.

Nisreene Atassi: And so I know you’ve also been living in Nigeria for the past couple months. And so you also chose Lagos as your next destination for your itinerary. So tell us a little bit more about that.

Perri Edwards: Yes. So I’m currently in Nigeria. My husband is Nigerian. When I first came to Nigeria, I didn’t know what to expect, but it definitely has some hidden gems. Lagos, that is where you want to be, where the best restaurants are. And the hotel that I chose is another boutique hotel, very small hotel. But I like that because the attention to detail and catering to guests on such on a personal level, they want to make sure everything was okay. I mean, I’ve actually done a shoot, a photo shoot at this very location. That’s how beautiful it is. Everything is just like Instagramable. So it’s actually on a place called Victoria Island. So in Lagos, there’s three parts on the island. So you have Victoria Island, Ikoyi, and Lekki. Victoria Island is the upscale part. But if you was to stay there, I would recommend you stay on the island because that’s where it’s happening.

Nisreene Atassi: I’m so glad that you featured some international destinations Perri, because it really speaks to the fact that people dreaming of travel and getting back out there is really on the rise again. And the beauty of this sale in particular is that the flexibility is built in already. You can travel any time between the day the sale launches all the way up until the beginning of next year. So if you’re not absolutely ready to go now, you can think about the future. Travel is coming back, which is nice. So Garrett, let’s talk about the trips you chose. You took more of like a domestic lens.

Garrett Ray: Yeah. So the first destination I picked was Las Vegas. Vegas is one of my favorite spots in the United States. You know, you do have the nightlife that’s tremendous there – it’s probably some of the best in the United States – but then just, you’re surrounded by pure beauty. Red Rock Canyon is right there, there’s so much amazing hiking to do, which is something that I personally love to do. The sunset every single night are some of the prettiest sunsets you’ll ever see just over the canyons. And then you have some amazing scenery, like the Hoover Dam, which is a must to go see. And then just a few hours away, you have the Grand Canyon, which is one of the most beautiful attractions in the United States alone.

Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. So what hotel did you choose for Vegas?

Garrett Ray: I chose the Cosmopolitan just because it has everything you could need right there. It has the most beautiful pools. It has probably the biggest… It’s called the Chandelier Bar.

Nisreene Atassi: Yes, I’ve been there. It’s so nice.

Garrett Ray: It’s like a, I want to say four story bar with just this massive chandelier that hangs down in the middle of the bar. The customer service of the Cosmopolitan is some of the best I’ve seen. The food is tremendous. There’s so many different food options. It has its own like shopping down below. It has all this food and it has one of the biggest and most beautiful casino there is, which, whether you’re a gambler or not, it’s still really cool to walk around casinos and just experience that. But, if you’re just going to Vegas to maybe relax at the spa there. Everything is tremendous at the Cosmopolitan.

Nisreene Atassi: I love how you’re showcasing the best of both worlds here with the hustle and bustle of being on the Strip, by staying at the Cosmopolitan. But you also talked about just some of the outdoor activities you could do, and specifically the Grand Canyon, which most people don’t, I think, associate going to Vegas with also taking a scenic trip to see the Grand Canyon. So I love the combination of both. What was the other destination that you chose?

Garrett Ray: I actually had never been to Hawaii until two years ago. And I’ve been back three times since.

Nisreene Atassi: Amazing.

Garrett Ray: People don’t associate Hawaii a lot of the times with staying domestic. Just from landing in Honolulu alone, it’s probably one of my favorite airports. When you land, there’s no windows it’s just an open concept. And you’re immediately engulfed with just the Hawaiian tradition. And Honolulu alone, like I said, I’m an avid hiker, it’s probably the best hiking I’ve ever seen. There’s so many different spots. I chose the Four Seasons Resort in Oahu. Everything from having a beautiful golf course right there… Four Seasons, I think has the best spas I’ve ever been to. The layout of the resort, the food it’s very Hawaiian tradition enriched food. I just love what they have to offer there.

Nisreene Atassi: So nice. And I forgot to mention this actually, but the itineraries that Garrett and Perri have put together along with a few other travel curators each day of this sale, we’re going to have a getaway of the day where we’re going to feature one of their itineraries. So you’ll be able to get 20% off with a coupon just for these. So if you felt like perhaps the Four Seasons was maybe a little bit out of your budget range, now is probably a good time to give it a shot. Because you’ll be able to get 20% off if you go and you book it on Garrett’s day. So I’m curious for both of you, what’s your personal planning process for how you navigate travel sales typically when you sort of aren’t on the inside? How far in advance do you like to hear about sales so that you can start to think through what’s the best way to approach it?

Perri Edwards: I’m a bit of a last minute person.

Nisreene Atassi: Are you? Okay. Me too, by the way, me too. I’m a terrible planner.

Perri Edwards: I mean, I can plan ahead, but with how my schedule is and how things are set up, sometimes I’ve just got to get up and go. And I might have a free slot. And I’m like, ” Okay, if I heard that there’s a deal, let me try and get this deal.” And then I just love it if for instance, there’s like a free cancellation or something I can rearrange. So that is what I try and go for.

Garrett Ray: I’m kind of with Perri on this one. I’m more of like a last minute traveler. But when I travel with friends, I definitely have to plan way ahead and find a couple of dates that are flexible for my friends. Because that’s when you can really find some great sales, when you have a little bit of flexibility. Sometimes I’ll even book, six to eight months, even a year in advanced. Resorts if you book X amount of nights, they’ll give you a free night. Especially if you stay kind of in the same chain of hotels. If you get 20% off, it’s like, “Okay, basically I have free money. What can I spend that on? Let’s upgrade to first class or let’s do an extra activity while we’re down there.” So that’s what I try and think of.

Perri Edwards: Yeah. Where you save the money, you can spend it on like an activity or something.

Garrett Ray: Activities. Exactly.

Nisreene Atassi: Because it’s really about the idea of getting the most out of your trip. Right? And so you’re going to save a little bit here, then that’s more money that you can spend on whatever other things that you want to do. Which is so nice. So I want to ask you both, there’s some really interesting dynamics at play when you’re so vocal on social media. And you guys have such big social media audiences. You’ve obviously been traveling during the pandemic. What has been the reaction from your social media following as you’ve been traveling? Have they been curious? Have they been asking questions? What’s been some of the feedback?

Garrett Ray: I didn’t receive a single negative piece of feedback the entire travel. Of course, I was very conscious about it. And I also expressed the reason why I’m traveling and what I’m doing to take precautions. I was asked a bunch of questions regarding like, ” What are hotels doing to help out with social distancing?” Back when airlines were blocking off middle seats, they were curious what it was like flying. I think the experience was very good and it’s doing nothing but getting easier and better and to travel right now.

Nisreene Atassi: Perri, what about you? What was the reaction from some of your followers?

Perri Edwards: I was very conscious about my sharing when it came to me traveling because I was just being very sensitive. But my reason for traveling to Nigeria was because we have a home here and my husband works here. He will be out here for a long period of time. We as a family have flown out here. But I never received any negativity or people questioning me as to like, “Why are you traveling,” and such. If anything, “Oh, wow. You’re just making this place look so beautiful. I can’t wait to travel.” That was kind of the feedback.

Nisreene Atassi: How thoughtful were you when you were curating these itineraries and thinking about the message that you want to send to your followers, knowing that people might still be a little bit cautious about traveling? Garrett, go ahead.

Garrett Ray: So both of these destinations were actually places that I went just in the heart of the pandemic. I was even fearful of like, ” What’s going to go on, am I allowed to ever travel like this again?” And I finally, after communicating with some of these resorts and seeing precautions that they were taking, Vegas was the first one I went to. The casinos, I feel like alone did such a good job. They have plastic barriers between every single seat. The capacity is basically down to 25% , so they took tons of chairs away. But I really went out there just to go hiking. Hawaii was the same thing. I really wanted to go hike, flights were wide open and I just saw it as another opportunity to really show people how you can be cautious about traveling. So there’s ways of going about it and being very smart and strategic.

Nisreene Atassi: Yeah, for sure. Perri, what about you? How has creating these travel itineraries been a bit different in terms of how you’re looking to message it with your followers and your fans?

Perri Edwards: It’s not like trips that I’ve done before whilst been in Nigeria. One, now I’m a mother. So it’s the case of, it’s a lot more of a calmer trip and I’m looking for family based things to do. Now when I came before I was a mother, it was very much party city. So I’ve been able to incorporate for two different kinds of audiences.

Nisreene Atassi: All right. Well, I appreciate both of you sharing the thought process behind your itineraries and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to some of the awesome savings that people are going to be able to get. When we come back, we’re going to dive in a little bit more into some travel inspiration.

Nisreene Atassi: You’re listening to Out Travel the System. I’m your host, Nisreene Atassi. We feel like it’s the right time to extend the conversation around travel, to continue to build up your bucket lists, and to feel inspired about all of the options in the world. Get your travel research going with our deep dives into specific destinations and our Only In episodes. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to Out Travel the System so you’re always in the loop. All right. We are back. I’m here with Garrett Ray, AKA Fly With Garrett and Perri Edwards, who is online @itspsd. Perri, we’ve talked a little bit about how you are currently in Nigeria, but typically you’re dividing your time between Nigeria and London. And for the past little while you’ve had a baby in tow.

Perri Edwards: Yes, travel has changed a lot for me now that I have a baby. I think I started traveling with Matthew at five months and he was an absolute angel. And I’m not just saying that because that’s my child. I mean, I feel like he was at an age where all he wanted to do was sleep. So he slept a lot on the plane. Even a passenger would say to us, “I didn’t even know there was a baby on here.”

Nisreene Atassi: That’s so nice.

Perri Edwards: That’s how good my child was. It was really easy, but it was a case of, I’ve just got to travel with a lot more stuff.

Nisreene Atassi: Did you travel with him before the pandemic and then again, after the pandemic started?

Perri Edwards: Yeah. So I’ve had both experiences.

Nisreene Atassi: What do you miss about pre- pandemic travel?

Perri Edwards: One thing I noticed was I like to get to airports pretty early, three hours before we’re going to take off.

Nisreene Atassi: That is really early.

Perri Edwards: Yeah, no, I came even earlier.

Nisreene Atassi: I’m usually like running to the gate.

Perri Edwards: I can’t be doing that now with a baby. I don’t want them to be calling my name on the tannoy , “get to the gate.” No, no, no. Because of all the checks and stuff that they go through, we had to get there five hours before. That’s not really convenient when you’ve got a baby.

Nisreene Atassi: I mean, that’s not convenient for anybody, baby or no baby.

Perri Edwards: For anybody. So yeah, pretty long, pretty boring hanging around. But if you don’t want to miss your flight… as much as I’m an athlete, I don’t want to be running through the airport.

Nisreene Atassi: Garrett, you’re an airline pilot. Have you been working? And if so, how have things been different pre- pandemic and now?

Garrett Ray: I was used to being gone 15, 16, 17 days a month working. I had all those days at home as a reserve airline pilot, meaning I’m just on call all the time. I found myself just craving travel more and more. With my father being an airline pilot for now 36 years. I’ve really been a part of the industry since just a couple months old when I took my first flight. So I saw the traditions and stuff. The few times that I did get called, shaking hands when you trade aircraft, that’s kind of been that weird experience of like, “Am I going to shake your hand. Am I going to do the elbow bump? Am I going to do a fist bump?” It’s nice to see things are getting back to normal. I’ve never seen Charlotte’s airport so busy. All of our flights are picking up. The passenger account is picking up. The airlines are doing better. The overall economy is doing better. It makes me very happy to see a lot of people are becoming less and less fearful. And that light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter.

Nisreene Atassi: Yeah, definitely. Perri, how are you hoping travel will sort of grow and evolve?

Perri Edwards: So I’m going back to the UK pretty soon. Before getting on the call with you guys , it was having to book my COVID test. And that still gives me a bit of anxiety. I’ve got to make sure I’ve got all my tests done, day two and day eight when I arrive back in the UK. Yeah. I can’t wait until that is eradicated, honestly.

Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. It adds a layer of complexity. For sure

Garrett Ray: Like Perri had mentioned, there are more checks and stuff that are going on, but American Airlines and Delta Airlines started their quarantine free flights over to Italy. And you can get tested right there at the airport and then you can get tested right there at the airport when you land in Rome or Milan. So I love that airlines and especially hotels are starting to do things that make it very easy for the traveler.

Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. What words of inspiration or optimism do you guys want to share with travelers as they’re listening to this?

Perri Edwards: Get out if you can. No, joking. No, seriously. I love traveling. And remember guys, the precautions that they’re doing is for our safety. As much as it may be an inconvenience and annoying it is for our safety and for the better good. And once you reach your destination, I’m sure it’s going to be what you expected, or even better.

Nisreene Atassi: Amazing. Garrett what about you? Any words of inspiration or optimism for our future travelers?

Garrett Ray: So many people seek fulfillment when traveling like I do. Whether it’s spontaneous travel or those vacations, you plan months and months and months in advance, I just hope that those days are coming back where people just feel very comfortable to get out. And things are getting easier, and easier, and easier every day that we go on. Just getting that travel ball rolling again was so good for my mental health, because that’s just who I am as a person. And if you haven’t traveled in over a year, and it used to be a big part of your life, try and find a trip.

Nisreene Atassi: Perri, what are you looking forward to from a post pandemic standpoint, in terms of your personal life?

Perri Edwards: Going out to fancy restaurants with my friends. That’s something that I enjoy doing. I’m always looking for that Instagram restaurant, big foodie. I love my food. And that’s the time when I kind of socialize with my friends, my family, of course. Obviously I’ve had my baby and everyone just keeps saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to hug him. I want to give him a big hug.” So definitely that is on the priority list for me once this pandemic is over.

Nisreene Atassi: So Garrett, what are you really looking forward to in terms of post- pandemic life?

Garrett Ray: My father’s still an airline pilot. He’s still got three years left until the mandatory retirement age of 65 here in the United States. Post- pandemic my dream before my father retires is to fly with him and be his first officer. So I really hope that with three years left, it allows me to progress up through the ranks and be able to fly with him before he retires.

Nisreene Atassi: Well, I hope you get to do that. That sounds like it would be absolutely amazing. Well, thank you so much to our guests, Garrett Ray and Perri Edwards, formerly known as Perri Shakes- Drayton. I appreciate your time and thank you both for coming on the show today.

Garrett Ray: Thanks for having us. It’s been fun.

Perri Edwards: Thank you for having me.

Nisreene Atassi: All right. Well, if the specific timing on Expedia Travel Week isn’t right for you, don’t worry, we are still definitely looping you in on tips and tricks to maximize your travel budget this season. We’ll also link to some past episodes with really great details on these, including our episodes on travel trends, traveling during shoulder season and even the reverse road trip. I’m Nisreene Atassi and this is Out Travel the System. In our next episode, we’re checking in with Oneika The Traveller about her journeys and everything from the privilege of travel to Instagram ready packing tips. Until then, happy travels. Out Travel the System is brought to you by Expedia. Our showrunner and executive producer is Claudia Kwan. Our associate producer is Katie Doten, with sound engineering from Jill Constantine. Additional production support is provided by JAR Audio.



Show links: Expedia // Fly With Garrett // Perri Shakes- Drayton // Expedia Social Media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook


[archivist template=”Category” category=”podcast” pagination=”3″ controls=”false”]

Listen to more travel podcast episodes