Having worked in the travel industry for 30 years I can tell you that a good local travel agent will save you time, money and stress by managing all of the logistics. They will help you avoid the most common mistakes and be your advocate should anything go wrong. They will also have inside knowledge about discounts that you may not be aware of and can use those to your advantage. They will also provide an itemized list of costs and fees so that you can compare apples to apples when comparing options.
There are plenty of online platforms that connect travelers with vetted local travel agents. Examples include Go Ask A Local, kimkim and Zicasso. These are great if you’re looking for a general trip planner but they won’t be able to help you with destination-specific planning.
Another option is to hire a niche travel agency that specializes in a particular region or type of trip. For example, a travel agent who focuses on adventure travel will have expert knowledge about destinations that are off the beaten track. A specialized travel agent will also be able to handle more complex itineraries and deal with unique situations that can arise when traveling abroad.
A travel agent’s primary job is to plan a vacation for their clients. This involves researching destinations, creating itineraries, sourcing hotels and tours and putting everything together. Travel agents often work long hours and deserve to get paid for their expertise and service. How they get paid depends on the travel agency and can be a complicated mix of commissions, hourly planning fees, daily planning fees or a combination of these.