The billion-dollar question on everyone’s lips when booking a holiday and something that I get asked quite regularly is “do I really need to book my holiday through a travel agent?”
Well, the reality is that you can literally book your own holiday online or direct with a hotel or airline so really my immediate reaction would be absolutely not, but if only the answer was that simple. After previously having worked as a travel consultant, I would answer this by saying…maybe… sounds like I am sitting on the fence doesn’t it but I promise I’m not and here’s why…
I’m just so busy
Sound familiar? See for me half the fun of going on holidays is spending hours and hours researching the daylights out of a place, putting the itinerary together, booking it and then going! Now, this can be very time-consuming, so if you are busy busy busy and just can’t find the time to plan your trip then a travel agent will be able to plan your every move so all you need to do is pack your bag and board that plane.
I’m cocky with confidence until I have to booked
You can be a google extraordinaire looking up flights and accommodation costs on line but when push comes to shove and you are ready to book a whole lot of stage fright can kick in. Just the thought of clicking on that “book me now” button not only makes your palms sweat profusely but you also start asking yourself the same questions over and over again… what happens if I clicked the wrong date, how do I know the site is reputable, can I cancel online, do I need a visa to visit America,(if you’re Australian you will need a US ESTA, but that’s not the point). Trust me this will take all of the fun out of your holiday, you will be constantly worried that something will go wrong. So do yourself a favour and enlist a travel agent.
It sounds too complicated – planes, trains, automobiles, accommodation and visas
Complex holiday itineraries can be overwhelmingly daunting for any traveller. Knowing how or when you’ll need a visa or how long you really should leave between connecting flights can make or break your holiday if you get it wrong. If you’re contemplating a 6-week European extravaganza or looking to book a group holiday to ride camels across the Sahara then a travel agent may be just what you need. Not only will they have connections with wholesalers and charter companies but they also have experience when it comes to different countries’ entry requirements. Now, I do book my own but I must admit one time when I went to Bali someone told me that I needed a visa but I knew I had read that I didn’t… needless to say I held my breath at customs in anticipation until they stamped my passport and let me in – phew!
I’m a panic merchant and wouldn’t cope in a crisis
Sometimes when we are on holidays we think we are invincible and nothing will ever go wrong,,, but the reality is that things can go wrong. You may miss your flight, feel unwell or even have to get home quickly due to a PANDEMIC (none of us ever thought it would happen.. and it did!) Now if you know that you panic just at the mere thought of a plane being delayed by 30 minutes then a travel agent may be just what you need as they will have your back in a crisis, you can contact them at any time and they will help get you out of that pickle your in.
I’m a planner, I even colour-code my spreadsheets
Planning a holiday for me is half the fun. Researching where to stay, what to do, where all of the best restaurants are what the best deals are is something I could sit and do for hours and hours on end. If this sounds like you and you are organised, keep a record of dates, times, costs, and booking references and are happy to reconfirm your booking details before you go then I think you’ll enjoy it so go on and give it a go. Create a spreadsheet and colour code away,
I don’t want to pay everything upfront
There are a lot of times when booking a holiday where you will have to pay upfront or before you leave (like early-bird airfares or red hot deals) but I find when you book direct with hotels you can book now and pay when you arrive. Granted not every hotel does this and some may require you to pay a deposit upfront but if the option is available do it as you are keeping those hard-earned dollars in your hot little pocket for longer, plus if a better hotel or deal pops up it is easier to cancel and re-book!
I like to be flexible
Not every holiday itinerary has to be 100% set in stone, having booked your own holiday means you have a relationship with the company and the direct power to chop and change what you do. This came in very handy on our first trip to New York as we were meant to only stay 3 nights and then fly to London for 5 nights before starting a tour, we totally fell in love with New York and wanted to stay longer and it was easy just to make direct contact with each hotel and the airline to re-arrange everything.
It’s a basic itinerary
Point-to-point holidays (eg. Sydney to New Zealand return) are the easiest holidays to book yourself as you are generally only dealing with one or two companies. Airline and hotel websites are so simple to follow, simply add in where you are staying or where you are flying/cruising to and from along with your departure and arrival dates and wallah you are booked. You can then print all of your own documents and you haven’t even had to leave your house! If you are ever unsure about the finer details (like visa requirements) always check the relevant consulate website, google something like “do Australians need a visa to go to America”, call the airline or be really cheeky and call a travel agency and ask!
It is somewhat convenient booking your own holiday as you can do it at a time that suits you. If you book through an agent you may have to wait until they are free. The other reason why booking your own can be so convenient is that if you see a great deal at 10 pm at night then you can lock it in straight away without the risk of it being sold out by the time you speak with your agent the next day.
As you can see there is no right or wrong answer, it is really up to you and what suits your lifestyle. No matter what you decide, if you book and plan your own holiday or leave it up to your travel agent I am sure you will have a great time – you’re on holidays how could you not!
Oh and one last thing I highly encourage you to do your own research first (travel blogs are always a great place to start)and read the fine print so you can enjoy your vacation from the beginning until the end without any unwelcome surprises – Happy Holidays!
Thoughts & opinions shared about “Do I Really Need to Book Through a Travel Agent” are entirely my own!