Travel agencies aren’t the ultimate solution when it comes to vacation planning, but here are some things to consider if you’re going without them.
When it comes to traveling in 2022, it’s completely normal (and natural) to have some confusion about where to start. We are traveling in a post-pandemic world, to begin with, which brings its own unique set of considerations. Also, many people are just starting to travel again after an enforced break of nearly two years. To say it’s “overwhelming” would be an understatement.
This brought many travelers back to the same discussion: is it worth booking through a travel agent and having the work taken care of, or is it still possible to plan a complete and elaborate journey without the help of a single person?
The answer isn’t as simple as a yes or no, but planning a great vacation without an agent might be easier (and cheaper) than you think.
Planning a vacation without a travel agency: Pros Vs. Cons
There are two sides to every holiday, right? When it comes to planning, there are some things to consider for those forgoing expert assistance. When the pros and cons are listed, it becomes clear that planning a vacation for yourself might just be the best option.
Pros: Affordability and affordable costs
Once another person is hired to help a traveler research, book, and plan, that already takes a big chunk out of any travel budget. For example, according to GO Bank Rates, travel agents generally do not receive a commission when it comes to booking flights. Therefore, when you use a travel agency, additional “reservation fees” may be added to the final statement. There is also the consideration of bribes, inducements and commissions for travel agents who use specific companies or book through specific agencies, so this is not necessarily the best option. more economical for anyone looking to control their accommodation, flight and transportation options.
Disadvantage: Confusion and additional research when booking
However, probably the biggest downside of not hiring an agent when planning a vacation is the fact that the onus is on the traveler to do all the work. In pre-pandemic times, this would generally not be a concern. However, with new guidelines, restrictions, testing requirements and vaccination mandates, the world of travel has become much more complicated. While this shouldn’t be something that should deter a traveler, it does mean staying up to date until the very last minute with the requirements and making sure one has all the necessary documents, negative tests, etc., to be able to cross international borders.
- Point: Another thing to consider is a cancellation in the event of a border closure – if tickets or reservations are non-refundable, this leaves travelers in a difficult situation.
So how can you start planning a vacation without a travel agent?
Think of it like this: travel agents are great at what they do because they know a wide variety of destinations, airlines, hotels, and services. This is something that travelers will also need to master in order to plan a vacation worthy of travel agent status. Here are some tips to get started:
- Use cards. And by that, we mean Google Maps or Google Earth. They’re both great resources for travelers who want to get an authentic sense of a place without ever leaving the comfort of their own home – as well as the layout of certain towns or cities. Plus, it gives travelers the ability to see where the nearest restaurants, hotels, rental car agencies, and convenience stores are. YouTube videos about a destination, taken by travel bloggers, are also a great source of virtual information.
- Plan a time frame. Find hotel prices, restaurant prices, and general costs of visiting an area based on a certain time of year. Obviously, it’s always best to go out of season for those looking to save some money. However, these prices should also be weighed against the cost of flying during this time to ensure that the off-season vacation is worth it.
- Be flexible. Sign up for alerts on airline sites or travel sites such as Expedia and Travelocity. Monitor flights for a week or more to make sure prices don’t fluctuate drastically (a sign that cheaper flights and lower fees will happen randomly). And, when in doubt, book a flight early if it’s within budget.
- The flexibility also applies after arrival. Nothing is ever guaranteed. An attraction may close the day before tickets are purchased. A restaurant may not be open during the only free space a traveler has for a reservation. Tours may be suspended once arrivals. Being flexible doesn’t always mean being open to different travel dates and nothing else – it also means having backup activities, plans, and resources in case the vacation doesn’t go as originally planned.
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