It has become second nature for many of us to book our plane tickets, car rentals and hotel stays on our own. But there are some times when you really need to hire a travel agent.
Planning things like ground transportation for groups, tours, theater tours, theme parks, and concerts to coordinate with your itinerary can be time consuming.
Retired Travel Agent Explains When You Should Hire One
I am a retired travel agent. Recently I have spent countless (too) hours planning hotel nights, train trips and sightseeing to see as much of Ireland as possible in one fell swoop over just over two weeks.
Even I admit that the time spent was a bit excessive. Studies show that travelers spend 30 hours researching and planning a trip and visit up to 38 websites before making a reservation. I may have exceeded these averages.
It wasn’t that I was trying to over-plan and overfill each day; I just wanted to know that all the experiences would suit my travel style (no big bus tours, lots of free time, no evenings planned).
If I hadn’t been an agent myself, I probably would have hired one for my visit to Ireland. Here are some of the cases where it can be very helpful to have someone to work on your trip:
- Travel agents can guide an inexperienced traveler in first trip abroad, during a trip to a destination where tourism is less developed or when the travels in several cities.
- An agent can help you get out of traffic jams if you miss a flight connection, to deal with canceled flight or need assistance in the event of a natural disaster that affect your plans.
- A travel agent can often help find the best prices on tours and cruises with promotional offers and exclusive offers. Estimated savings can range from $ 500 to $ 1,000 on airline tickets and international tours.
- An agent will inform you of everything necessary documents you might need: visas, vaccinations and restrictions (if you are traveling to a religious or conservative country).
- A travel agent can offer you travel insurance options to cover just about anything that might happen during your trip.
- An agent is the key when you want to get started in a trip of a lifetime like the inaugural navigation of a spectacular ship, a Disney vacation or The Passion Play in Oberammergau, to name a few.
- When your trip involves to coordinate with a group of friends or family who live throughout the county, an officer can keep things organized.
- Cruise experts can help you navigate through the many options depending on your needs. Some ships offer refundable or non-refundable rates and guaranteed cabins compared to cabins with free benefits. Which option is best suited to your needs? This is where the expertise of an agent is essential.
How much does it cost to use a travel agent?
Can a travel agent help you save time in planning your trip? Yes, most definitely!
Can a Travel Agent Save You Money? Probably, but there will usually be some upfront expense.
You should expect an agent or agency to charge a fee for certain services. Ask your agent for details. Here are some averages:
- Plane tickets: $ 25- $ 50 for domestic or multi-city round trips; higher for an international ticket (per route)
- Cruises: $ 30- $ 50 per person
- Visits: $ 100 per person up to 8 nights; $ 175 9-13 nights; $ 250 14 nights or more
- Last minute: $ 100 per person (for travel arrangements within two weeks of departure)
Some travel agents do not charge any fees. This is because they earn commissions through partner vendors.
Some agencies may accept a planning deposit for tailor-made multi-city trips or trips requiring different modes of transportation and coordination.
You may be asked for such a deposit (around $ 100 in most cases) to prevent you from booking elsewhere once the agent has done all the research. Part or all of this deposit may be refunded upon completion of the trip.
How to find a good travel agent
So how do you find a good travel agent?
Ask your family, friends and colleagues who love to travel for their recommendations. Chances are they will use the services of an agent.
You can also search for an agent on TravelSense.org, operated by the International Air Transport Association. Look for agents / agencies accredited by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). On the ASTA website, you can filter agents by specialty.
Each year, Travel + Leisure editors compile the “A-List”, a curated selection of the world’s best travel agents and destination specialists. The information is organized by regions of the globe as well as by specialist trips such as fly fishing, scuba diving, game drives and honeymoons.
Need help planning your cruise? Enter your zip code here to find a Certified Cruise Lines International Association agent working near you.
Most trips probably don’t require the services of a travel agent, but if you are planning something that involves any of the complications described above, you might be able to benefit from help.
These are people who do this for a living, so sometimes it’s best to leave the planning to a professional.