A travel agent can take care of everything from hotel rooms and airfare to cruises, tours, and rental cars. They’ll make your reservations, provide you with documents and itineraries, and advise on activities based on your travel goals and preferences. You can still be involved in dreaming up ideas, providing your wish list, and giving feedback — but the details are in the hands of the professional.
A good travel agency is a wealth of information on a variety of topics, including frequent flier programs, visa requirements, areas prone to political instability, great places to eat and sights to see. Many have a specialization, such as luxury or adventure travel. Others have certifications, such as the Certified Travel Associate (CTA) from the Travel Institute. These credentials demonstrate that they have a solid base of knowledge, and the certifications themselves require additional training and an exam.
In addition, a good travel agent can often get you deals that aren’t available online. For example, a cruise line may offer onboard credit or other booking perks to an agent that aren’t available to the general public. Additionally, a good agent will keep an eye out for discounts that you qualify for, such as group or senior rates, and apply those to your bookings when possible.
When you’re planning a big trip, or even a weekend getaway, the time savings and peace of mind that an expert provides can be worth the fee. The key is to choose a travel agent that will listen to your needs, have the tools and connections to find the best prices, and who will work hard to ensure you have a fantastic vacation.