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your summer planning guide
week 4: diy travel vs. travel agent

summer-travel-guide

welcome back to the summer travel guide series hosted by cailin at a white picket fence and yours truly! don't miss what we have already covered:

getting the most out of a hotel reservation

planning and traveling on a budget

where to go and what to do

planning a successful and relaxing staycation

lots of different lodging options

eating on a budget

in the final week of our series of tips, i'm covering some reasons you should diy your travel and some reasons you to consider using a travel agent for your booking. there are so many resources on this littered all over the web so i am only going to share a few simple reasons and then give you some great resources to check out yourself if you are having trouble deciding!

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diy travel:

the initials should really be "biy" because this is really a "book it yourself" idea. there are so many travel & booking websites that it is almost child's play to book a flight/hotel/car reservation. here are a couple instances where biy-ing it will be to your advantage:

1. if you are knowledgable about the destination:

there are a few places that all of us frequently travel to. i go to austin every summer for a family reunion and we visit friends in baton rouge regularly. i would never dream of using a travel agent to book anything for me in these two destinations. i know more than enough about these specific cities and environs to be able to book the trip and plan for anything i need without the assistance of a travel agent.

if you are visiting a place you have been to several times or a place you have done extensive research on, then forgo the travel agent and book it yourself!

2. if you are looking to save a little bit of dough

you don't outright pay the travel agent but they do earn a commission on your booking so even though you don't physically see it, you are spending a little extra to have the convenience of the agent's assistance. when you book it yourself, you can put that little extra cash you save into the activity fund or save it for the next trip.

3. if you are a control freak

okay - don't be shy. who out there is a total control freak and must let their flag fly? i'm definitely one of them. i've done travel with an agent and without an agent and if i had a choice, i would always rather plan the trip myself. i like to be in total control of what is happening and where my money is going. i know i'm not alone in this. so if you are like me and want to plan down to the last detail then don't use a travel agent. just make sure you are willing to do the research and pick up the slack if something goes wrong.

use a travel agent when:

1. if your trip is complicated and has lots of stops

if you are traveling to several different locations via several different methods then i would recommend a travel agent. they will most likely be able to group all of the travel plans together and get a lower rate. they also have access and knowledge of different modes of transportation that you may not even think to check on (like an amtrak, a lake ferry or a group travel bus).

2. if you need the assurance of having someone to be able to "fix things"

if you are traveling out of the country where it will be hard to communicate with the locals, having a travel agent as backup to fix things like missed flights, lost luggage or hotel reservation mix-ups can be invaluable. if you need the comfort of having these on your side then a travel agent is the way to go.

3. if you need something very specific on your trip

do you need a hotel that offers child care? what about a hotel near a restaurant with gluten-free menu items? or do you need to book a care with wheelchair access or a hotel that will take dogs? a good travel agent will know these things about locations or will have the resources to find them for you when you might not be able.

here are a few more resources:

what does a travel agent do?
101 reasons to use a travel agent
when should you use a travel agent?
travel agent v. online booking

i've had a lot of fun and learned SO much from cailin during this series!! thanks so much to everyone for chipping in and don't forget that we are giving away a $50 gift card next week to put towards your summer travels! make sure to head back over!

6 comments:

  1. Great tips! We have always used "BIY" when it comes to in the US trips - but I think if we traveled out of the country - we would be looking up a travel agent! ;)

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    1. Thanks Kristina! I have only used a travel agent once (for our honeymoon) and I figured it was so worth it since I was planning my entire wedding. I left our HM up to the agent and she took really good care of us!!

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  2. Very good tips. :-) I always plan my own travel, but I think you're right about the multi-leg trips. It would be bliss to have someone else resolve that headache. :-)

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    1. I used to book travel for the guys I worked for and multi-leg trips were a pain in my you know what! Flights, cars, hotels... UGH! I wish I could have used an agent for them!

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  3. I've never used a travel agent. I use travelzoo and pretty much find all of my deals there. Plus like you said it is a control issue. I think we are planning on Hawaii next year if we don't have kids so I may have to look into a travel agent for that one.

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    1. I have only used a travel agent once (for our honeymoon) and I figured it was so worth it since I was planning my entire wedding. I left our HM up to the agent and she took really good care of us!!

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