Alphabet Streets Resident Lisa Sewell Took Her Passion for Seeing the World and Turned it into HighLow Travel
By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Lisa Sewell has always loved to travel. As a kid, she journeyed around the world with her family, visiting places like Hawaii, Mexico, New York, Canada and Europe.
She has booked stays at everything from hotels to Airbnbs, Vrbo and even two several-week home exchanges, where she swapped with families in France and London.
“Do you know the movie, ‘The Holiday?’” Sewell asked with a laugh. “I really took it to heart.”
Sewell, now married with kids, continues to travel at least once per month, and her bucket list of worldwide destinations includes Russia, Antarctica, Japan and Machu Picchu.
Though she lives in the Alphabet Streets, Sewell was raised in Portland, Oregon, where her parents ran a Pacific Northwest-based tour and travel company.
“I grew up working summers there, back before the internet, when you did everything with the books,” she explained.
After graduating from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree, Sewell moved to New York and took a network sales job with NBC, which eventually led her to a West Coast job at ESPN.
While at ESPN, she did a lot of events with clients, taking them on high-end trips to the Super Bowl and various golf events.
“The details they would do, I learned a lot by traveling with those companies,” Sewell shared.
With her husband, Bill—who also grew up traveling with his family—and kids, Sewell moved to Pacific Palisades 20 years ago.
As a family, they continued to travel, including several trips to France and London, and spending last Christmas in Africa—exploring four countries over the course of three weeks.
“It was special because it’s raw, it’s just the animals, even the insects,” Sewell explained. “Everything was just an amazing experience.”
Taking her knowledge from her previous job and all of her travels, Sewell had a chance to flex her trip-planning muscle when her kids attended Corpus Christi School.
“As they got into sports teams—volleyball—I started helping plan our accommodations for the team,” Sewell explained. Friends caught on and would ask the couple questions about traveling to places like London.
Sewell has a wide range of travel-related knowledge, traveling with her then-young kids as well as her mother and Bill’s parents—allowing Sewell to have an understanding how to book for all generations to have a good experience.
With her kids growing up and getting ready to go off to college, Sewell took an opportunity to start a travel agency of her own, helping people of all ages book their dream trips, from graduation trips to family-friendly vacations.
When describing how HighLow Travel was started a few years ago, Sewell shared, “It really just came all together, it’s my background and it’s what I love to do.”
Some of Sewell’s clients will research their own trip, but rely on Sewell to finesse, follow up, and book accommodations and transportation. She also is able to assist with travel insurance.
She explained that a lot of people are coming back to travel agencies—many of the high-end hotels and safaris prefer to work with an agent as opposed to a traveler.
“Our generation tends to do everything on the internet, but I’ve had a lot of clients come back now after either they’ve had a not perfect experience with Airbnb or Vrbo, of they’re between two luxury hotels and they want to know which one, how to do it,” Sewell said.
She explained that with the knowledge she has gathered over the years, she has learned when to save and when to splurge, including which cities a centrally located boutique hotel would beat out a luxury resort. And, when possible, ending the trip with a high-end cherry on top.
“I love travel books, I am still a book person,” she explained. “I always give my clients a travel book on their destination. As much as the internet is great, it’s always good to double check it with some of the experts.”
From first-time explorers to a seasoned traveler, Sewell added that everything is a learning experience.
“Every time something wrong or low happens,” she said, “there’s usually a positive that comes out of it,” adding a story about when she was on her honeymoon in Italy, their rental car conked out and they were brought to their hotel by a friendly policeman who assisted them.
“That’s the best part of travel—the people you meet when you’re there,” Sewell said, “and you see their life and their struggles—it makes you appreciate, we live in a beautiful bubble here.”
“I think it’s humbling,” she continued about traveling. “It’s also very nourishing … I think there’s a benefit to seeing the world—it makes it feel smaller.”
For more information or to contact Sewell, visit highlowtravel.com.