When I tell people that we have a family travel agent their first reaction is ‘what? Don’t travel agents cost heaps of money?’, followed by ‘wait…you have a family travel agent?’. To answer their questions, no, and then yes.
I don’t know what it is, but very few people I know actually use travel agents, and I think they are so key to a stress free holiday. As an extended family (grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and my immediate family), we have used the same travel agent since my first overseas trip when I was about 18-months. And now I wouldn’t use anyone else. We contact him for big trips like my holiday trip with friends to Japan in 2015, and for little trips, like over to Australia for a conference.
I thought I’d share with you 5 reasons you should use (or at least consider using) a travel agent for your next adventure. Of course, these are just my opinions, and you’re welcome to take them or leave them, but when you have good experiences with something, you’ve just got to share them.
1. It’s free
It’s one of the first questions that people ask me: doesn’t it cost you? The answer is no. Travel agents are paid by commissions from the companies they book through, and through fees which are in your overall cost for the trip. In some sense, you’re paying them, but because they find the best deals for you, you end up saving a lot of money even if they have a fee rate in and around it.
2. The deals
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and travel agents know people. They have connections. They’ve built up relationships with airlines and hotels and tour groups. So much so that they can get you the best deals, for the best prices.
3. They know what’s worth it
…and what’s not. When my friends and I headed to Tokyo for a week, we looked at a few big things that we wanted to do. Our travel agent suggested that we book the Mt Fuji day trip from New Zealand, in good advance before we left, but said that Disneyland was something we could either book online when we got to Tokyo, or we could just rock on up at the gate. He also booked a great hotel for us, and even though it was a little more expensive than some others, it was still cheaper getting one room with four single beds than 2 rooms with two singles. It was right on the edge of the one of busiest suburbs, and it was the perfect location. We wouldn’t have been able to find it by ourselves. It was definitely worth it.
4. If it all goes wrong, they’ll fix it
While none of my solo or friend trips have gone awry, in the early 90’s when I was just a young child, we ran into some strife regarding flights and airports while we were in Asia. We rang our travel agent back in New Zealand, and he managed to fix the entire thing, and made sure that we were back on track. They are your back-up, your guide, your fixer, and there to make sure you a) have a fantastic time, but also b) get to where you need to go.
5. They become your friends…
…especially if they’ve been the same travel agent you’ve had for your entire life. After a few years, they know you so well that they feel more comfortable that they can suggest tours, sites to see, and routes to take. They can make suggestions, and because you have that relationship, and you trust what they’re doing, then you know that they aren’t suggesting something because it costs more or because it’s more beneficial for them, it’s because they want you to have the best time you can possibly have.
Our travel agent is so fantastic that he’ll ring up simply to make sure that everything is okay before you fly, double checking that you have everything you need, and to ask if we have any questions about the trip or the flights.
While travel agents aren’t for everyone, and there is something so exciting and exhilarating about just getting on a plane and going, if you’re one for a bit more order and surety in your travel plans, then do look into getting a agent. I wouldn’t do any trips without ours now, and it’s such a comfort knowing who to call if things go wrong. It’s cheap, easy, and well worth while. What have you got to lose?