REDMOND, WA., Sept. 28, 1999—As this century ends and the next one approaches, family vacations are becoming a more important aspect of American life, according to an online essay contest hosted by the Expedia.com™ online travel service (http://expedia.com/) in its recently launched Family Travel section.

During the summer, more than 6,000 children ages 7–13 submitted essays for this contest defining their ultimate family vacation. Most essays revealed the overriding wish to leave busy schedules behind and spend more time having fun together as a family.

According to Joseph Steffe of Sewell, N.J., “It's just nice to be just 'the family' for awhile. We get too busy at home and too tired. But [on vacation] in Vermont, we get lots of rest and play games together.”

“My ultimate fun family vacation would be to just have fun with my entire family without thinking about anything else,”: said Lauren Meriano of Wilmington, Del. “Every problem could wait until the vacation was over.”

The winner, Michael Dombkowski of Lockport, Ill., went so far as to suggest planning a vacation for his family as a surprise in order to spend more time together. His plan involved secretly arranging for his parents to get off work for the vacation.

More than half the respondents saw their ultimate family vacation as a break from chores, and nearly a quarter said it gave them a vacation from bedtime.

As part of the contest, children were also asked to answer several questions relating to travel, including their suggestions for improved airline food and which television family they would most like to spend their vacation with. A resounding 62 percent of respondents would serve pizza if they were in charge of airline food, 14 percent grilled chicken, 13 percent hamburgers and 11 percent grilled cheese sandwiches.

The Spellman family from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” won out as the most popular family to vacation with, at 52 percent. Cory Mathews of “Boy Meets World” was second, at 21 percent, followed by the Reed family of the cartoon program “Arthur” and “The Hughleys,” respectively.

Thirteen-year-old Michael Dombkowski, as the grand prize winner of the “Ultimate Family Vacation” contest on Expedia.com, is taking his entire family on a dream vacation.

He will receive the grand prize of a family trip for four to Orlando, Fla., for five nights. This vacation package, sponsored by the Online Vacation Mall, features Universal Studios Escape passes; round-trip air fare to Orlando; accommodations at the new Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Studios Escape, a Loews Hotel; use of a minivan from Alamo Rent A Car Inc.; and dinner for four courtesy of NBA City, a unique interactive basketball experience and the newest hot spot on the Universal City Walk.

The grand prize is in addition to the weekly winner prize of a Fujifilm Endeavor Camera for the 24mm Advanced Photo System, a backpack from eBags Inc., and Microsoft® Home Publishing Suite software. Each essay was posted on the Expedia.com travel service Web site and read over Expedia® Radio, the new interactive radio program that is broadcast in more than 50 cities across the country.

About the Expedia.com Family Travel Section

The new Expedia.com Family Travel section helps parents easily plan trips with information tailored to their needs, whether they are in search of an educational getaway or a week at the beach. The section contains news, expert advice, special vacation packages and links to resources specifically designed to make planning family trips more convenient and enjoyable.
About Expedia, Inc.

The main online component of Expedia Inc., Expedia.com online travel service (http://www.expedia.com/), is the leading place to go on the Web to find the right trip at the right price. People can book air, car and hotel reservations as well as find vacations, cruises and other travel options. Along with booking travel, Expedia.com helps people plan their trips with in-depth destination information, travel news and mapping services.

Expedia.com leads the online travel industry in sales and customer traffic. Expedia.com was the most visited online travel site for the five months from April through August 1999, including each month of the second quarter of fiscal year 1999, according to Media Metrix, with nearly 4.4 million visitors in August alone.

Expedia.com has also been recognized as the top online travel site by such prestigious publications as PC Magazine, PC World, PC Computing, Macworld, Computerworld and Brill's Content

. A credit card guarantee is offered on Expedia.com (U.S. and Canadian versions only) to protect credit cards used on the Internet from fraud. With this service, after customers use their credit cards on Expedia.com, the cards are protected from fraud liability—up to $50 (U.S.)—on any purchases made in the subsequent 12 months on or off the Internet. Expedia.com also offers exceptional customer service, with more than 250 travel representatives and travel agents available via toll free number and e-mail 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Expedia.com is also available under Travel on http://MSN.com/.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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