Meet the Life is Better Traveling Team

Mary Yohannan, CTIE & CTA  //  Owner and European Vacation Planning Specialist

Favorite city in the world...Budapest, Hungary

Mary has been in the travel industry for many years and believes that a customized travel experience is the best way to travel.  She built her business on her own personal travel experiences, including having traveled to over 20 countries on 4 continents.

Mary started Life is Better Traveling as a travel agency built on authenticity, love, and integrity.  Mary likes to get to know her client’s travel preferences so when they travel they the travel experience that will create memories of a lifetime.  Mary’s customizes vacations for Europe, Disney, Universal Studios Orlando, the Florida Keys, the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, United States, and the French Polynesia.

Mary is a Certified Travel Associate (CTA) with the Travel Institutes and believe in staying up to date in her industry with continuing education and travel.  She also has several other training’s with Disney, Universal Studios Florida, CIE tours, AmaWaterways, Royal Caribbean, and many more.

Mary is also a contributor to the Pittsburgh Moms Blog(SM).  She loves to write articles about her travels and giving advice on how to travel with kids!  CLICK see some of her articles. 

#1 RATED Travel Agent in the Pittsburgh area on Travel Leaders.  

See what Mary's Clients say about her….CLICK HERE

Melissa Snyder, CTA  //  New Hire Manager and Disney and Univeral  Destination Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World...Walt Disney World

Melissa is 100% certain that she has pixie-dust running through her VEINS!

She has a genuine love and appreciation for Disney that has spanned a lifetime having traveled 22+ times, including 7 times in the last 8 years. She has stayed on property, at Budget, Moderate and Deluxe, resorts, and also off-property. She has traveled with multiple children, as young as 10 weeks old (I have tips for nursing moms!), and has traveled as a multi-generational family (including seniors), larger, extended family groups.

Melissa loves PLANNING and troubleshooting all-things Disney.   Her clients say she is very knowledgeable and patient with the amount of questions they ask her.  Whether you are thinking of taking a day trip, a 7-day getaway , or a split between Disney and Universal Orlando, Melissa would love to help make sure that your planning is stress-free.   She wants to make sure that the BEST souvenirs you take home from your Disney Destination vacation are heavy doses of Disney magic AND many, MANY priceless memories!

As a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, Melissa is recognized as an individual who has attained a special knowledge of Disney Destinations (not an agent, affiliate or employee of Disney).

Kathie Murray //  Disney Destinations, Caribbean, and Mexico Vacation Planning Specialist

Favorite Place in the World...Disney or Cancun

Kathie is a true Disney fanatic and she is passionate about all things Disney.  Kathie has visited Walt Disney world so many times, she has lost count.  She has even become a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass Holder so that she can experience the magic even more often.  During her numerous visits, she has stayed at a variety of Disney resorts, including value, moderate and deluxe.  Her favorite so far has been Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge but Pop Century Resort is a close runner-up.

Kathie is self-proclaimed “foodie” and is knowledgeable about the various dining options at Disney.  She has a degree in Culinary Arts and works full time as a pastry arts instructor and she definitely knows where to find the best meals and treats while visiting Disney. Whether you’re looking for sushi followed by fireworks at California Grille or dining with princesses at Cinderella’s Royal Table, Kathie can help guide you in determining what Disney Dining Plan is best for you or what reservations you need to score.

While Kathie loves to visit Walt Disney World, she also loves to relax on the beach while sipping a margarita.  She has traveled to Cancun and Mexico’s Rivera Maya numerous times with her husband and family and has stayed at a variety of all-inclusive resorts including Riu Palace Resorts, Secrets Resorts, El Dorado Resorts, Now Resorts and Ocean Coral and Turquesa.  She loves the ability to grab an early flight from the East coast to Cancun and have lunch on the beach before noon.  Her firsthand knowledge of the various resorts, dining, activities and excursions in this area make her a top-notch agent to work with. 

Looking to plan an upcoming vacation and feeling overwhelmed with all the choices or you don’t know where to even begin? Let Kathie Murray help take the guess work out of it while saving you time, money and stress. 

Don’t delay in contacting Kathie to get your VACATION QUOTE TODAY!  Fill out the form below and you will be hearing from Kathie!

As a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, Kathie is recognized as an individual who has attained a special knowledge of Disney Destinations (not an agent, affiliate or employee of Disney).

Sonja Hester, CTA  // European and Caribbean Vacation Planning Specialist

Favorite Place in the World...Blue Grotto in Italy

Sonja has a true passion for traveling which she has turned into a career helping clients customize their vacation experience and help make memories that last a lifetime. 

Sonja is Italian through and through.  She has family members who live in Italy, so any chance she get to go over to visit them in Salerno.  Sonja speaks some Italian, but her strength come in knowing how to get her client’s around this beautiful country with ease. 

Sonja is also a certified as a Hawaii travel specialist! If you are thinking of taking that family vacation to Hawaii, she is the person to help you plan an amazing adventure. 

Sonja is always loves a challenge and the opportunity to help you travel from Italy to Hawaii and everywhere between.

There are so many ways to live a life. Let Sonja help you see them all!

Specialist Certifications:  Hawaiian Destination Specialist

#2 RATED Travel Agent in the Pittsburgh area on Travel Leaders.  

See what Mary's Clients say about her….CLICK HERE

Heather Joyce
 //  Disney Destinations and Royal Caribbean Cruise Vacation Planning Specialist

Favorite Place in the World....Florida Beaches

Heather is an absolute Disney enthusiast!! She has been to Disney so many times she has lost count.  To her, every trip to Disney is a unique experience, and hold new and exciting memories.  Heather truly believes that Disney is a place for all ages, as she has traveled with younger pirates and princesses to swash-buckling teenagers.  Each time she was able to plan a magical vacation that was stress-free. 

Heather has stayed in each category of resorts on property, and knows exactly where the best rooms are on several properties.  She also has extensive knowledge of the various restaurants on Disney property as she and her family have dined in almost every restaurant.  Heather also has a good understanding of which meal plan will work best for your family’s needs, and some helpful tips in understanding if a Park-Hopper ticket is the way to go.

Heather loves to share her tips, tricks, and hacks for traveling with children to Disney.  She would love to help you plan your next Disney vacation so it can be a magical vacation that creates memories of a lifetime. 

I can’t wait to talk Disney details with you!

As a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, Heather is recognized as an individual who has attained a special knowledge of Disney Destinations (not an agent, affiliate or employee of Disney).  

Heather is a Certified Sandals/Beaches Specialist.  She is able to perfectly plan that all-inclusive romantic couple getaway or family Caribbean getaway for you and your family.  Make sure to ask Heather about why you NEED butler service on your next Sandals or Beaches vacation.  The answer will surprise you.

Rebecca Tucker
//  Disney, Universal, and Hilton Head Island Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World....Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Hilton Head

Rebecca’s favorite time of year is family vacation time.  She has vacationed with her family each year since birth!  Now having a family of her own, she understands the importance of getting away from day-to-day life and unwinding.  Her passion in creating memories and sharing experiences with loved ones makes her easy to work with when planning your own family vacation.

Rebecca is a true traveler.  Taking once-in-a-lifetime trips to El Salvador in Central America, eating her way through Paris, France, and trekking around India, she has embraced the culture and understanding of what makes these places great.  When here in the States, she enjoys multiple vacations to Hilton Head Island and trips to Atlanta, Georgia each year.  The beach is calming to her, but the food and arts in Atlanta are not to be missed! 

In addition to her love of the ocean and world travel, Rebecca’s kid-at-heart demeanor had her falling in love all over again Walt Disney World and Universal Studios as an adult.  After honeymooning at these two Orlando parks and returning a year later for their anniversary trip, she knew just how truly magical these places were.  Believing in that magic, she wanted to help others experience it, too, and knew vacation planning was how she could share it. 

Let Rebecca help you plan something magical today!

As a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, Rebecca is recognized as an individual who has attained a special knowledge of Disney Destinations (not an agent, affiliate or employee of Disney).

Emily Nugent
//  Disney and Universal Destination Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World....Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Hilton Head

Emily is am very excited to help make your Disney Vacation as magical as possible!! She grew up going to Walt Disney World and introduced her Husband to Disney World on their Honeymoon. (He is now a Disney Dork!) Some of her absolute favorite memories as a child are from Disney vacations! Currently, their family goes every year and have stayed at many resorts (from value to deluxe)!!!

Whether your vacation is at Walt Disney World, Disneyland or a magical cruise on Disney Cruise Line,  she will strive to bring you the most Pixie Dust possible!

Let Emily help you plan something magical today!

As a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, Emily is recognized as an individual who has attained a special knowledge of Disney Destinations (not an agent, affiliate or employee of Disney).

Dena and John Bentz
//  Disney, Universal, and Caribbean Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World....Walt Disney World

Dena and John have been traveling to Disney since they were both little kids.  Dena always jokes that the only park at Disney World was Magic Kingdom when she was a kid.  Her mom actually told her the best ride there was the Monorail.  They have a good time with that memory.  As years have passed both have extensive Disney Experience.  Their entire family is HUGE Disney fans and this is how they got started as travel agents.  

Dena and John wanted to help others have great, stress free, magical vacation experiences at Disney.   They do try to go to Disney at least 1-2 times a year and keep up on all the new happenings.  If you are a Star Wars fan and want to know what the new rides are like at Hollywood Studios, they would be the agents to call.

Their skills do not stop at Disney, they also frequent Universal as well and visit Harry Potter.  They book ‘the world’, they love many fun destinations abroad, the Caribbean  and in the US.  They are Sandal Certified and Jamaican Specialist.  Traveling in general is a passion for both of them.   They want to help each person get the best travel experience as possible.

As a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, Dena and John are recognized as an individual who has attained a special knowledge of Disney Destinations (not an agent, affiliate or employee of Disney).  They are also Sandals, Universal Orlando, and Jamaica trained specialists.  

Let us Point You in the Right Direction!

LaToya Butler-Williams
//  Cruise and Caribbean Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World....on a CRUISE!

Starting at the age of seven, LaToya started to travel all around the East Coast with Girl Scouts.  This is when her passion for seeing new places and experiencing new things started.  She traveled throughout the United States including visiting places like Los Angeles, New York City, the mid-west, and various cities in Florida. 

The first time LaToya took a cruise she was hooked.  The ship, the food, the activities, the fun, and the idea of traveling to new islands each day was exciting.  Every island they went to was more amazing than she could ever imagine.  For the past 12 years she has been cruising around the Caribbean visiting Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Bahamas, Grand Turks, Costa Maya, MX, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, and St., Maarten. 

With all of her cruising experience LaToya has helped family and friends enjoy the cruising experience as much as she does.  She is excited to help you plan your next cruise so make sure to contact her today.

Amanda Stocker
//  USA and Caribbean Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World.... Hawaii

Amanda’s interests include learning about the history of various places so she can get a good understanding of the land and culture of every destination she visits.  This passion for history makes her great at being able to design vacations for her clients so they get the most out of their experiences.  Whether she is planning a historical trip to Williamsburg, Virginia or the a river cruise from Paris to Normandy, she loves making that connection for her clients. 

Amanda believes that the best gift you give to anybody is the gift of travel and enjoys giving those unique gifts to her clients.

Ashley Leopold
//  Caribbean Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World.... A Beach

Howdy! My name is Ashley and I live in College Station, Texas! I spent most of my childhood traveling and then joined the Marine Corps which took me to many different places and was an adventure all in it’s own! I’m now a mom to two amazingly adorable little boys and we LOVE to experience different cultures, environments, and places.  

My husband and I always say “we’d rather spend money on experiences instead of things”. We love all trips whether near or far. March 2019 my husband and I got married in Punta Cana, Dominica Republic and my 80 year old grandpa went on a plane FOR THE FIRST TIME! How awesome is that? It’s never too early or too late to start your travels. I love helping others plan their vacations and ESPECIALLY love hunting for the most affordable deals! Please feel free to reach out to me so we can begin planning your cruise, Caribbean, or European adventure!

Meghan Marshall
//  Disney Destinations and European Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World....Valencia, Spain

Meghan is a recent college graduate who was inspired to be in the travel industry by not only her relationship to the Walt Disney Company, but her relationship to the world. Growing up, some of her favorite memories were made at Disney World, Disney Land Paris (which she just went to in 2019!), and on Disney Cruises, the latter of which she still does regularly. Her personal experience of being on Disney Cruises throughout her childhood, teenage years, and even adult life, help her bring a relatable perspective to all types of families looking to vacation with Disney.

Meghan spent a semester abroad in Spain while in college, and saw much of Western Europe during her time there. This, paired with vacations to Italy, London, Paris, and Iceland, has her excited to help others plan their dream European vacation. She prioritizes unique experiences, curating a blend of the “big sights” with some lesser known gems of various cities. Working together with clients and their desires, she is confident that she can help take the stress off of planning a vacation.

Meghan is currently based in Boston, but will be moving to London in 2021!

As a graduate of the College of Disney Knowledge, Meghan is recognized as an individual who has attained a special knowledge of Disney Destinations (not an agent, affiliate or employee of Disney). 

Rene Hood
/ Tropical Destination Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World....Grand Cayman

My deeply-rooted love for travel stems from my childhood. As a child, I enjoyed developing a comprehensive knowledge of my home state, Michigan, through many travel experiences! With my family, I explored the Great Lakes and surrounding areas. I sampled the food, life, and culture, and fell into wanderlust! Even at a young age, I learned that you don’t have to travel thousands of miles away to encounter new experiences! There are fulfilling travel opportunities to be found anywhere! I LOVE discovering the hidden gems of travel, whether they may be unique dining locations or memorable adventures in any destination!

Jessica Hutchinson
//  USA and Road Trip Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World.... with my Family

When I was younger I had this strong desire to travel. I knew I wanted to see what else was out there.

I took short road trips initially, getting to know surrounding cities. When I finally had the chance to explore the US capitol, I jumped on the trip. Exploring so many museums, historical sites, and encountering new experiences solidified my desire to travel even more.

Road trips around the United States was my way of seeing the amazing sites that this great, big beautiful country has to offer. Traveling from Minnesota to Chicago to Virginia Beach to Georgia to Florida to Texas, has brought some amazing experiences for myself and my young family. Traveling all over the United States with little ones of my own has come with its challenges, but also all its splendors.

Melanie Hill 
//  Disney Destinations Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World.... Salzburg, Austria

Melanie's love for traveling began at the young age of 5, during her first trip to Disney World. Since then, Melanie has had the opportunity to explore 6 different countries around the world, and numerous destinations across the U.S. Despite having the opportunity to travel the world, Melanie's love for Disney was unmatched.

As a self-proclaimed “Dis-nerd,” she finds joy in helping others experience the same magic. Melanie is fully prepared to help you plan your magical Walt Disney World vacation, and answer any questions you may have about the parks. Coupled with her impeccable organizational and creative skills, Melanie loves spending her time creating custom itineraries and focusing on your needs for a stress free getaway, so that you can focus on creating magical memories the whole family will remember. Melanie also has her own Facebook blog, House 2 Mouse

Holly Myles
//  Disney, Universal, and European Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World....Universal Studios Orlando and Nassau, Bahamas!

I love the feeling of being able to help others have fun, memorable & amazing experiences on their trips. My favorite part of planning vacation is when clients get excited about where they're going & what they'll experience.  They're able to get excited because I take care of all the details for them so they can focus on the fun stuff.  

Planning travel today is a lot more confusing and complicated than it used to be-the plethora of choices on the internet is overwhelming & causes "analysis paralysis" in most people. I take all of the stress & overwhelm away from the process and give you back that time, so you can sit back, relax & reconnect with your loved ones instead of worrying about all the details!

Nancy Vallely 
//  Group Caribbean and Cruise Vacation Planning

Favorite Place in the World....Roatan Honduras plus anywhere in the Caribbean!

Nancy has a passion for travel that started with extensive road trips as a child with her parents. That passion has continued in her adult life taking groups of family and friends not only on road trips, but many excursions to the Caribbean by cruise ship and airline. Cruising and all-inclusive destinations are two of her favorite vacations.

She has had various adventures at both luxury resorts and boutique immersive accommodations in the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexican Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Cayman Islands, and Roatan.  Once for a change of pace she ventured to Alaska

Nancy has made friends from all around the world because she never meets a stranger. She in turn finds the places only the locals know about, and most travelers never see.  Her determination, attention to detail and work ethic are a large part of her travel planning success.

Remember, when you book with a team member from Life is Better Traveling you are supporting a family.  Supporting local families puts money back into our communities.  

Thank you to everyone who supports each member of our team!