Travel Planner Sarah Schwab Works From Her Farm, Travels the Globe

Personal travel planner Sarah Schwab of Pavlus Travel enjoys both a rural lifestyle and traveling the globe. Photo by Sarah Schwab.

From her New Market, MD, remote office, Sarah Schwab, personal travel planner, Pavlus Travel, provides top-notch service for her travel customers. And she does it from a unique spot. “I work from my beautiful, three-acre-farm – my piece of heaven on Earth,” she emphasizes.

Living on this century-old farm, she and her two children, Caleb 11, and Paige, 9, grow fruits and vegetables. They also care for several horses and enjoy the farming lifestyle.

That said, this 12-year travel industry veteran also loves assisting her travel clients in crafting their dream vacations, whether that’s a luxury tour, cruise or independent trip. Schwab has worked for Pavlus Travel since September 2023, and she previously served with AAA as a travel advisor.

From 2012 to 2020, Schwab also served as a tour manager for Sights & Soul Travels, a tour operator specializing in small-group, woman-only international tours. As a global explorer, Schwab has traveled to nearly all 50 states and many countries across the globe.

And she has a truly global mindset, thanks to her family heritage, as you’ll learn reading farther down in this blog.

(In the photo atop this page, Sarah Schwab is shown on her farm. Photo by Sarah Schwab.)

Travel Planner: Crafting Vacations

In her job as a personal travel planner with Pavlus, Schwab books many clients on the Rocky Mountaineer train, as well as Tauck, HX (Hurtigruten’s expedition brand) and Viking.

“I personally love history, and I feel that these brands focus their itineraries on offering the best experiences, while incorporating the culture and history of the regions that they visit beautifully,” she tells The Meandering Traveler.

For example, Schwab explains that Viking focuses on attracting curious-minded travelers who want to enjoy a less glitzy onboard experience — without casinos or themed parties. “Yet, guests enjoy an elevated experience onboard with all the comforts they’ve come to expect, and they share their time onboard with like-minded travelers,” she says.

She also believes that Viking is all good at the details, so guests can just relax and immerse themselves in the culture at each destination.

Mediterranean Antiquities

She highlights one voyage that’s particularly appealing to many guests. It’s Viking’s 15-day “Ancient Mediterranean Antiquities Cruise” from Istanbul, Turkey, to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy.

To get the lay of the land, Istanbul's Gelata Tower is in the foreground, with Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) in the back left and the Blue Mosque in the back right. Photo by Turkish Minister of Tourism and Culture and Turkiye.
(Viking’s guests can view the Galata Tower, Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia), and the Blue Mosque during a cruise from Istanbul. Photo by Turkish Minister of Tourism and Culture and Turkiye.)

“So much fascinating history in the ports is included in this cruise,” Schwab notes. For instance, travelers can see the ancient ruins of Troy in Turkey as well as the hilltop Parthenon in the Acropolis above Athens, Greece.

“This itinerary truly gives you a sumptuous taste of this region,” she says. At press time, this voyage started at $5,598 per person, double occupancy.

Galapagos Islands and Beyond

She also suggests clients might check out HX’s new, 12-day “Galapagos Island” land-and-sea journey. It’s entitled “In Darwin’s Footsteps Plus Machu Picchu.”

By way of background, HX is the new expedition line name for Hurtigruten, which recently split its coastal Norway and expedition businesses into their own entities.

Lima's impressive Cathedral of LIma in Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(Guests on HX can begin their Galapagos journey in Lima, Peru. Shown is the impressive Cathedral of Lima in Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor. Photo by Susan J. Young)

So, this HX journey begins in Lima, Peru, then continues to a Galapagos Islands cruise on the 90-passenger Santa Cruz II, and ends in Quito, Ecuador. This vacation starts at $10,171 per person, double occupancy.

Solo rates are available starting at $15,011 per person. Schwab also says the expedition cruise line is offering a limited time BOGO (buy one, get one free) sale for summer 2024 sailings.

Talk to your personal travel planner about whether the promotion is applicable at the time of booking and whether it applies for your desired journey.

Train Across the Rockies

For train enthusiasts, she also suggests a rail trip on the Rocky Mountaineer for a nine-day “Journey through the Clouds Discovery Banff” vacation. As they travel by luxury train across Canada from Vancouver, B.C. to Calgary, Alberta, guests will travel in glass-domed trains for tremendous scenic views.

They might spot wildlife. Plus, they’ll sip and savor meals and drinks aboard. Overall, it’s a romantic, luxurious experience.

“It’s the best, most comfortable way to see Canada,” Schwab emphasizes. At press time, the starting price for this Rocky Mountaineer vacation was $3,288 per person, double occupancy.

Solo rates and a May 2024 pricing promotion are also available. So, chat with your travel advisor about options.

Travel Planner: Schwab’s Approach to Travel 

Schwab graduated from the University of Baltimore with a BA in Business, and Montgomery College in Rockville, MD, with an AA in liberal arts. But she’s also a fan of traveling the globe for lifelong learning.

She particularly enjoys delving into a destination’s history, culture, art and people. So, you’ll often find her wandering through museums – in fact, “any museum,” she quips.

She’s always on the hunt for the “heartbeat” of the cities and towns visited — their energy, their people, and what makes them tick. In that vein, she enjoys popping into a café to enjoy a drink or meal and “to people watch.”

Sarah Schwab is shown above at her Maryland farm as she readies to celebrate her 10th wedding anniversary. Photo by Sarah Schwab.
(At her Maryland farm, Sarah Schwab is shown before her 10th wedding anniversary. Photo by Sarah Schwab.)

One memorable personal cruise she took to discover eco-beauty was a fall foliage cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). Sailing along the U.S. East Coast, “the colors were truly breathtaking,” she says.

Why Cruising?

What’s the draw of a cruise, we asked her? She responds: “Cruising is a convenient way to travel and allows you to see so much in a shorter time frame.”

From her perspective, “it’s thrilling to sail across the ocean and stop at new spots along the way. It makes you feel like a pirate or explorer, waiting for land to appear on the horizon.”

Onboard too, “I enjoy the shows and entertainment, trying the specialty restaurants and food or drink experiences, and of course, relaxing by the pool or enjoying a pampering spa treatment.”

Schwab’s Personal Travel

She also has fond memories of floating in the Dead Sea during one overseas trip, as “the salt content is so high, you cannot sink.” Another was hiking through Germany’s Black Forest, which she describes as “dark, mysterious and straight out of a Grimms Fairytale.”

What’s next on her bucket list? It’s unique. “I would love to visit central Africa, specifically the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),” she notes. “My father, the son of Baptist missionaries, was raised in a small village outside the capital city of Kinshasa. I’ve always wanted to see where he grew up and spent his childhood.

She’d also love to visit the Galapagos Islands one day and take her children. “This destination has so many endemic species, found nowhere else on Earth,” she says. “It’s a fascinating destination, a place of untouched natural wonders.”

Travel Planner: Turning Clients Dreams Into Reality

Schwab likes to chat with customers about their travel dreams. “I love crafting the perfect trip for a client, taking care of every detail, so that they can truly just relax and enjoy themselves,” she explains.

As with many other Pavlus Travel advisors (including Fia Bauer whom we profiled recently), Schwab believes there’s nothing better than hearing from a client during or after their vacation what a great time they had and how much they enjoyed the destination.

In addition, clients often tell Schwab that her expertise and commitment to their vacation satisfaction made all that possible.

Planning Family Travel

Schwab plans trips for couples, solo travelers, families with children, and multigenerational groups. “I’ve traveled with my children so much,” says Schwab, noting that on their first cross-country trip as a family, her daughter was only six months of age, and her son was 2 years old.

But now the youngsters (ages 9 and 11) enjoy traveling and have taken more flights and trips than most kids their ages. “Pulling from my own experiences, when I plan a family travel vacation for a client, I learn about the wants and needs of each family member,” she says.

Tips for family travelers? If traveling with children, she advises her clients to bring snacks and activities (non-electronic) to entertain children in the airport, on the plane and at your destination. “There’s no guarantee electronic devices such as their tablets or phones will work, and they will need alternative options to keep them busy.”

More pointedly, she says this: “You do not want to be stuck in an hour-long security line with your toddler with nothing but their tablet to occupy them. I often buy a coloring/activity book about the destination we are traveling to in advance and take it with us.”

Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips

When it comes to planning “bucket-list” vacations and complex trips, Schwab has a vast range of experience. For example, on one occasion, she was tasked with helping a young man propose to his girlfriend on a vacation in Egypt.

Working with an excellent local private guide, she was able to arrange a once-in-a-lifetime proposal in front of the Great Sphinx in Giza. “The woman said ‘yes,’ so then I helped them plan their honeymoon cruise,” she says.

And later, she helped plan a Disney vacation for the couple with their kids. “It’s such a joy to be a part of my clients’ journeys,” she tells The Meandering Traveler.

Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a geologic wonder. Credit Line: Tourism Ireland
(One of Northern Ireland’s top attractions is Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Credit Line: Tourism Ireland)

She also points to one multi-generational family trip she planned to Northern Ireland, U.K.  Using Ancestry DNA searches, the clients had located and chatted with relatives in Northern Ireland that they’d never met in person.

“We helped arrange all the details for the trip, including a banquet dinner at a castle for the entire extended family,” Schwab says. “It was a hugely successful family reunion!”

As her customers travel this year, whether on a big trip or quick getaway, Schwab urges them to buy travel insurance: “You just never know what can happen or anticipate travel hiccups or complications. Just get the policy. Protect your investment and yourself.”

Schwab’s Favorite Travel Spots

When asked about her personal three favorite spots, “they’re a bit unique as they’re not exotic, but all found right here in America,” she says. “The wonders we have right here at home truly have my heart.”

California and Hawaii

California has it all,” Schwab emphasizes, citing majestic redwood forests, the beaches in Malibu, vineyards overlooking Pacific Coast cliffs, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more.

“Every time I visit, the food, culture, history and character of the Golden State thrill me,” she stresses. “That keeps me coming back.”

Hawaii too is a favorite travel destination for Schwab. “Every individual island has its own riches to explore – pineapple farms, macadamia nut tree orchards, waterfalls, volcanos, cliffs,” she emphasizes.  I also always feel truly relaxed when I’m visiting Hawaii, more so than any other destination.”

She’s also encountered kind locals, and “there is something in the air that makes you let go of worries and live on island time.”

Pacific Northwest

Pavlus Travel's Sarah Schwab likes to spread her wings and explore the world. Here she is shown at the Microsoft office in Seattle, WA. Photo by Sarah Schwab.
(Pavlus Travel’s Sarah Schwab likes to spread her wings and explore the world. Here she is shown at the Microsoft office in Seattle, WA. Photo by Sarah Schwab.)

In naming Seattle as one of her three favorite top destinations, “let me count the ways I love the Pacific Northwest,” she emphasizes. First on the eco-side, she cites the clean cool air, vibrant green trees, rugged coastline, crystal-clear lakes and streams, and wildlife.

Second, Schwab likes the region’s laid-back lifestyle and how the locals care for the environment. Third, she enjoys how the Seattle area celebrates music and art. Plus, she loves visiting local markets, sampling the cuisine, sipping on the coffee and more.

In addition, “I love the solitude and quiet of the mountain towns, and the bustling, vibrant energy of the cities,” she says. Tip for travelers? The personal travel planner suggests taking a ferry from Seattle across Puget Sound to discover a gorgeous town on one of the islands.

Music fans might, in contrast, might plan to attend a concert at a Seattle stadium.  “The Pacific Northwest offers endless options for the curious explorer,” she says.

Schwab adds: “Be sure to contact us at Pavlus Travel. Our skilled personal travel planners can assist you with creating that special getaway. One option is to spend a few days in Seattle prior to boarding a summer cruise to Alaska with your family.”

Volunteerism and Inspiration 

In her community, Schwab volunteers at her two children’s school for a variety of events. “I recently spoke at the school’s Career Day, hoping to inspire the future generation of travel advisors,” she adds.

For many years, she has also been a member of Business Networking International. She has spoken at several small-business events, “hoping to educate others on how travel advisors work and assist clients.”

International Upbringing

Post-World War II, Schwab’s mother grew up throughout Europe and the U.S. as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force pilot.  Her dad too lived throughout Europe and in Africa as a child.

So, the travel advisor has had an international upbringing in many ways. For instance, multiple languages were spoken in Schwab’s home, everything from French and German to Kikongo (a Bantu language spoken by the Kongo people living in central Africa).

“We ate different foods and learned about the history and cultures of the world around us,” Schwab emphasizes. “In particular, my grandmother who was a missionary raised her children in central Africa during the 1960s and 1970s.”

She continues: “They were ultimately evacuated by helicopter for their safety. My grandmother then rebuilt her life in the U.S., became a nurse, and then a minister.”

In addition, “she was a great storyteller,” says Schwab. “I spent hours listening to her tell me all the stories of her travels throughout the world. She was a true inspiration to me – her courage as a woman to go places where women were not necessarily welcome in that time, and to challenge herself constantly.”

Bottom Line? “I aspire to be more like her, and to explore the world fearlessly and boldly,” Schwab tells us.

Living Life to the Fullest

Pavlus Personal Travel Planner Sarah Schwab works remotely from her Maryland farm, where she tends horses and grows vegetables. Photo by Sarah Schwab.
(Pavlus Travel’s Sarah Schwab, a personal travel planner and 12-year industry veteran, works remotely from her Maryland farm, where she and her family tend horses. Photo by Sarah Schwab.)

When Schwab isn’t planning vacations for Pavlus Travel’s clients, tending horses on her farm, or exploring the world, she has many other pursuits. “I also love to read, museum hop, and attend plays, musicals and sporting events with my family,” she says.

Because she loves vintage fashion, she also visits local estate sales and auctions in her free time.  She buys and resells vintage hats, dresses, shoes and purses.

“I love finding an item, doing research about its history, taking photos, writing descriptions, and selling it to its new owner — finding it a new life.”

And she also enjoys putting puzzles together: “I think that love comes into my work as a personal travel planner too. I believe that crafting the perfect vacation is like putting together a puzzle.”

Schwab emphasizes: “In the end, all the pieces have to fit,”

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