“Out with the old and in with the new!” That may be good advice for spring cleaning, but it may not always be the best money-saving counsel for travelers.
Consider the once ever-present travel agent. It used to be that you could hardly imagine planning a trip of international import without the help of a world-wise agent and their trusty travel brochures. Then came the internet and suddenly we can plan our own itineraries and book our own hotels in Rio or Rome while based in Reno. Travel agencies shut down right and left, at least where the Internet was easily accessible. I know. I too went from calling my agent to online with a sense of global pride.
But sometimes, talking to a true travel professional is just the ticket. So, when I get ready for a trip with several destinations in mind, I go to back to my trusted travel agent. Sure, if I’m planning a trip from LA to Chicago, I’ll most likely book the flight on my own. But I’ve found that after doing several hours of research online, a call to my agent will often save me money, and give me peace of mind. Consider a recent experience. I went online to several “discount” favorites to check international flights and prices. I’m a frequent flier so I try to stay within one of several airline groups. The cheapest flight on my preferred airline from LAX to Bangkok was over $1700—too much. So I looked up the same flight on the airline’s dedicated site and found a seat available for about $1450—feeling much better. But then I made a call to my travel agent who is a flight specialist. She returned the call an hour later with a ticket for $1220 plus a $40 service fee.
My do-it-yourself spirit keeps me checking for savings online. But now that I’m on my fifth international trip in eight months, I’m becoming a new believer in an old stand by… Travel Agents!