November weather often brings thoughts and dreams of warmer climates. Vacation commercials seem to increase at this time of year, with images of beautiful, warm, sunny beaches, sunsets and tropical islands inviting us all to visit, leaving the cold dreary weather at home. Should one book online or go the 'old fashioned' route and call up our local Travel Agency? Grab yourself a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, get comfy, and lets discuss a few of our options.
Booking a Vacation Online Yourself
First off, booking a vacation online yourself definitely has some immediate pluses. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home, in fact you can do all your booking in your pajamas if you’d like! The World Wide Web has millions of possible sites to go to in order to put together your perfect getaway. There are many advertisements for cheap all inclusive resorts boasting 3 stars and higher. One should beware that not all you see on the Internet is actual fact, and there could be a reason behind these cheap travel packages. For example, major construction onsite. Some people are willing to take that risk and go it alone. Others might be cautious and feel more comfortable speaking with an expert on the matter. Another plus is there is the chance to save some money in comparison to paying someone to do this work for you. Based on these things alone, I can think of a few people who’d choose this option and holler “BINGO” feeling they’d won the jackpot.
Trusting Your Getaway to the Pros
Travel agents are plentiful and there is at least one agency in every small town, let alone the metropolitan areas, where it seems these agencies are a dime a dozen. Finding an agency shouldn’t be a problem! Some agencies specialize in different destinations, while others offer multiple destinations and various vacation packages either pre-built or customized to your specific wants and needs. Most agencies have agents who will bend over backwards to help you put together your perfect vacation.
While making the choice to physically go ‘to’ the travel agency to book your vacation is there, most agents are also willing to discuss many of your plans over the phone or online and help you when you are unable to meet in person. Travel Agents are also very in tune to the fine details which need assessed when booking a vacation. If you do pop in to your favorite Travel Agency, you’ll find many a brochure with a barrage of possibilities to choose from, which can be a little better organized or at least easier to navigate than the millions of sites online. Then there is money. The almighty dollar which for some is what seals the deal. Unfortunately there’s not much free in this world we live in, so paying for specific services should be expected.
The consideration as to whether to book your trip yourself or go with a professional travel agent is basically a personal preference. Lets take a look at three Pros and Cons related to each and narrow down the information we’ve discussed so far.
Booking Online Yourself
- You can book from the comfort of your home.
- The Internet offers many, many sites to view and can help you make decisions on what you want to do and where you want to go. You may have started with the thoughts of relaxing on a beach with nothing but your swimsuit and a book to worry about, only to find that Trekking through the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is really where you’d like to go. The Internet can widen your imagination, as it should, and give you ideas you’ve never even dreamed of exploring.
- The price of the vacation you choose could end up being less should you decide you’re going to book your trip yourself, but not much less. In Ontario Canada, the Travel Agencies get the same price as the tour company offers the public. The markup, if any, is minute. If money is the biggest object, this may be the way to go, but in all honesty I would think those few extra dollars would be money well spent for peace of mind. Please protect yourself though by doing the appropriate research. In Ontario Canada we have TICO which is an amazing resource for the traveler and protects the consumer in many ways.
- Can you imagine booking the wrong city? What if you chose to book a flight to Hamilton Bermuda, or so you thought, and you actually booked a flight to Hamilton Ontario? From Toronto Ontario, Canada! While writing this article I found an article stating that there is actually 129 cities known in the world named Hamilton! Who’d have thought? Your travel expert will be well attuned to this sort of mistake, or possibility, and will make sure you arrive where and when you’re supposed to.
- Booking the trip online yourself can be a ton of work. Who am I kidding? It IS a ton of work. You could be online for hours and hours upon hours and still not feel that you’ve found what you’re looking for, let alone comfortable enough to book tickets online. If time is of no concern, then this isn’t a ‘con’ per se, but if you have better things to do, then I’d definitely reconsider the amount of time you are willing to take to arrange your vacation yourself.
- Documentation, Insurance, local laws in the area you’re vacationing in. Did you review and cover all this? Is it safe to wander the beach at 5:30 pm on a Sunday? Or is that when the local jail brings the inmates to clean up the beach? Do you have all your up to date documentation? Do you understand the custom laws? Did you book for one hotel or the other? I feel a nightmare coming on, and for me, I think I’d leave this kind of stuff to the pros. But that’s just me.
Leaving it to The Professionals
They know where to go, where not to go, and how to do it.
They will recommend as well as give you honest feedback on vacation packages they are promoting.
The extra cost of booking thru a Travel Agent is worth every penny to avoid the above mentioned disasters ...and I’m trying very hard to not be biased.
- Please see the 'Pros' to booking online yourself. Those are the only things I can honestly think of to suggest you consider.
I've known folks who have booked their own vacations online and reported excellent results. I've also known a few to have had some horrendous experiences and vow to never to vacation without a Travel Agent's expertise again.
All in all, it's entirely up to the traveler. For myself, I would definitely be interested in booking my vacation if I could save a few hundred dollars AND be absolutely guaranteed my trip would be completely trouble-free AND not take me 3 months to arrange myself. Take a good look at what we've talked about and while you're doing that, I'm going to give my local Travel Agent a call. You never know, your local Travel Agent just could become your next best friend!
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