These days you have many tools at your disposal to help you with your vacation planning—Expedia, Viator, travel blogs and magazines. Before the rise of “do it yourself” booking on the internet, most people used a travel professional, and for the many benefits that come with having an expert in your corner, many people still do.
Travel professionals come in all shapes and sizes
Travel professionals specialize in various aspects of the industry and offer services to assist you with vacation planning. Travel agents arrange flights, reserve hotels, book tours, cruises and travel packages. Travel specialists offer more personalized service based on their firsthand experience in a specific region and provide itinerary details. Travel consultants do just about everything from book your trip with miles to finding you the best local restaurant to dine on while you visit an exotic destination.
Some travel specialists and travel agents focus on a particular attraction, such as Disney World, or once in a life time excursions to the Galapagos Islands. But most offer a variety of services so you can use their services again and again—no matter where you plan to go.
Why hire someone?
If you are booking a complicated journey or flying with a large group, a travel professional can be helpful in getting you and your party on the right flights, at the right times, and to the right airports—which can be quite tricky if you attempt this on your own.
When you are headed to an exotic destination like Patagonia in South America, you may want to enlist a travel professional to provide details that may not be easily available. Navigating the snow capped mountains and green forests of the wilderness will certainly require more thought and planning then a travel website can provide. They can also help you determine if a particular location is suitable for your little ones, kids or teens.
Or, if you are simply too busy to plan a vacation on your own, a travel professional can make all your reservations and can help you plan the details so you don’t have to do any heavy lifting.
Instead of spending hours researching articles online yourself, a travel specialist can tell you which attractions to visit, how to get there, when the best time to visit is and more. Whether you need a reservation at the hottest new restaurant in New York City, a yacht rental in Monaco, or just need help navigating the streets of Paris, chances are there is a professional out there that can help you.
Lots of benefits
If anything were to go awry with your flights, some travel agents can act as a liaison in getting you on another flight or booking a hotel. They can also assist in making sure that you have all the proper documentation and paperwork with you, as Visas and entry requirements differ from country to country and obtaining the proper documentation takes time and preparation.
If you’re headed to a destination you have never been to before, it can be incredibly time consuming to read the endless reviews on the internet. A travel professional can save you precious time by providing insider tips since they are experts in those regions. If you have the right assistance, your travel professional can sometimes get you into restricted areas, private access to attractions and quick entry to skip lines. Special amenities such as room upgrades, spa credits, free airport transfers and more are also available, depending on who you choose to work with.
Picking the right professional
The first step to finding the best travel professional to work with is deciding what you want. Do you need someone to simply plan your trip or someone who will take care of everything from start to finish so you don’t have to think about it? Start by doing a Google search for things like “luxury travel consultant” or “travel planner” to see who is out there. Check out www.zicasso.com/ for top rated specialists or contact an organization such as The Travel Society or Protravel. They can match your needs with a qualified member who specializes in your destination or type of travel.
Sonia Frieder is a travel specialist, blogger and owner of Sonar Travel. She was born in Poland but grew up in California. After 7 years in marketing, Sonia turned her love of travel into her new career. In addition to traveling, she loves all things Italian, playing with her dog Dino and watching F1. Connect with Sonia on Twitter @sonartravelplan or on her blog www.thesonarping.com.