Use a Travel Agent or Not???

I am currently planning my summer trips and as you can imagine they are fairly complicated trips trying to maximize time in places while seeing a lot of different things and covering a few countries in a clip. Complicated trips make you do a lot of research and check lots of different options. Planning, route selection, hotels, modes of transportation, etc. can take hours and days on end. You obviously want to get the perfect trip and when you get frustrated with how things are going you think, why don’t I just use a travel agent? This happened to me recently and got me thinking, when should you use a travel agent?

I have a few friends that are travel agents and as you can imagine, half of the Travelers Century Club are travel agents or at least it seems, and I bounce ideas off of them and use them for certain bookings, mainly hotels, strange flights, drivers and airport pick ups. I have learned to not ask them for ideas and in general not even a concept. It is my feeling that generally, unless the agent is extremely well traveled themselves, you may in fact know more than them especially if you have been doing research on a region. I usually try to contact a travel agent that specializes in the particular region of the world I will be going to. You can find these types of agents in guide books and off the Internet. This can be difficult because they may in another country or may barely speak English. However, they can be a big help because they may have intimate knowledge about the infrastructure and money saving tips and passes that can really be a blessing if you get them ahead of time. However, if you know the route and all of the places that you want to hit, then I am usually in favor of booking it yourself.

I know what I want. I hate having to explain to others what type of things I am looking for and I hate going back and forth about accommodations, side trips, etc. That’s why I usually book myself except in certain instances. Right now, I am booking a private tour around Morocco and the guy from Journey Beyond Travel I am dealing with right now who is an American living in Morocco who does tours there has been a great help. This is when tour and travel agents are at their best. Setting up tours is a nightmare if you do it on your own. Agents have alliances already set up and can customize tours to fit everyone’s tastes. I look forward to this trip and to see everything we have been planning come to fruition.

Flights and generally hotels in my opinion are fun to look for. You can usually find better deals on the Internet and you know the times you are interested in. Additionally, agents don’t use discount airlines, especially in Europe where you can save big bucks using the discounters. If you don’t mind doing some looking around and doing the legwork, you can book most things yourself but be aware that travel agents do still have a lot of value but you have to seek out the appropriate people to help you with each particular trip because it’s very hard to find one agent to help you with every aspect of your global journeys. A combination of agents and your own work can lead to the best and most cost efficient trips.

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  1. I hate travel agents, I never use them

  2. Couldnt agree more…I’m doing 15 days in southeast asia in August and have not used an agent for any of my bookings. too much fun looking into it all on your own.

  3. The problem is they try to book you into places they know because thats what it says in their travel agent programs. They usually haven’t been there or even heard of the place until they punch it up on their system generated opinions. half the time they don’t even listen to what you are looking for and try to tell you what to do instead of working with you.

  4. I ring STA Travel for everything. They have done brilliantly for me. Its quite the bother to do it yourself.

  5. It depends on where you are going, what you want to do, how easy it is to access certain places, your traveling savvy and how long you have as well. Lots of factors go into a decision of whether or not to do it yourself but there is value either way for all types of trips.

  6. BeckhamSux says

    Baumer, where are you going in SE Asia? I will be there in mid-august too. I visit Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Viet nam

  7. I’m going to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap (Ankor Wat), Saigon and down to Ko Samui to end the trip.

  8. BeckhamSux says

    I will be in all of those places plus Ko Phagnan and Ko Tao, have fun

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