To Travel Agent or not to Travel Agent

My last two posts have followed this same theme so I thought I would talk about whether one should use a Travel Agent or plan their trip themselves. I have very high standards and am an organisation queen so, personally, I have come to find that it is much more pleasurable, and in my case always, cheaper to plan a trip yourself. 

My first trip overseas was to the United States, and because this was a lifelong dream I knew everything I wanted to see and how to get around. That trip was planned by my travel companion and naturally I am really grateful that she planned all of the trip as it is a real overwhelming task., especially for a maiden voyage. Next up Thailand to which I sought the assistance of a travel agent for planning our accommodation. Spite their promise that the hotel we stayed at in Koh Samui was just “delightful”, it was not. The airport in Koh Samui was a million times better than the hotel. For any of those that have been to Koh Samui you know exactly what I am talking about. Everything else that I had researched using all of my favourite travel sites (which I will list at the end) were perfect. I have been to a few countries afterwards and all of those trips have been planned by either me or my companions. 

Now those lovely sites I use:

Accommodation 

  • http://www.agoda.com     They offer a large range of hotel options with various filters for the search. I often find they have the cheapest option and the staff are incredibly helpful! They have a reward system so if you are an avid traveller and sign up you can earn points. I recently scored myself a free nights accommodation in Bali from my points.
  • http://www.trivago.com.au    They compare a majority if all accommodation sites and deals for you clearly and take you to their website direct for you to book.

Flights

  • http://www.skyscanner.com.au   They allow you to compare nearly all airline options and take you to the website direct, they also do not charge any fees.

Tours

  • http://www.viator.com   They offer a vast range of tours at very competitive prices, allow for reviews, photos and mostly air conditioned transport.

My virtual Knight in shining armour is   http://www.tripadvisor.com.au     which allows you to view personal ratings of hotels, tours, attractions, restaurants and much much more. This website is solely the reason why I have never been disappointed when booking my own trip.

Yes it is time consuming, Yes I have spent entire days planning some trips, but the satisfaction when things work out is unbelievable, knowing all your hard work paid off. Let’s put it this way: Every time I have sought the assistance of a Travel Agent I have paid more money (my upcoming honeymoon saw me paying an extra $200 just in Credit Card processing fees and commission), and been disappointed in a “highly recommended” selection. Whenever I have planned a trip for either myself or a loved one, there quite simply has never been disappointment. 

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Why Viator is my trusted friend

I have only recently acquired the “travel bug”, making my first trip overseas in 2012, since then and to this date I have travelled to 8 countries. I invest a lot of my waking moments planning trips and like to stay two or three trips ahead planning wise. For example, I am heading back to Bali, Indonesia in April, Europe in June, and will be heading to the Maldives and Singapore for my Honeymoon in December. This is not including at least two domestic trips to Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast this year also. Now I am not here to brag. I am here to discuss my virtual best friend and travel buddy http://www.viator.com I would like to take this opportunity to make it very clear that I am not paid by the company to promote them. Believe me when I say they are always my first AND only port of call when planning tours and activities when I travel. 

Why? Quite frankly they never disappoint, and offer a really competitive and cheap price. They have 24/7 support and communication in a majority of languages. Their website allows for user reviews on all tours and include, when possible, a detailed schedule and photos of the tour. 

Viator offer on a majority of tours Hotel pick up/drop off and transport by coach. To some, they think why would I pay more just to be transported somewhere when I can catch public transport? Well let me tell you a story: I like to think I am pretty smart, in fact so smart that I spent hours planning a way to get to Warner Bros. Studios for my upcoming trip to London, working out costs and various transport options. I thought I was so clever because I was saving money, turns out I am not as smart as I think I am. All I saved myself was a mere $4 and now I have the stress of trying to catch the London Underground during peak time, to a place I have never been before. If I had just booked through Viator.com I could have a convenient pick up and drop off in air conditioned coach.

I suggest if you do one thing today, check out the website http://www.viator.com or download the App, you can browse the App or website and save tours to a Wishlist for any upcoming trip (or for later if you ran out of time).

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