Remember the days when you just threw your life in a SINGLE backpack and took off on adventures? Sometimes for months at a time!
Now you’re more likely to post a question on a FB page where every mum and her posse will have opinions on the best kids’ clubs, who’s got buy-1-get-1-free meals at the hotel buffet and, no doubt, “my friend’s friend has THE best nanny in Bali”. It takes weeks just to wade through all the advice and by the end of it you need a holiday from the mental load!
There is a very old fashioned way around this though… the TRAVEL AGENT! Remember them? They sit in an office with a head set and talk flights and transfers and hotel s all day, every day. Kinda makes them experts at it.
And before you shout “But I can book everything myself online”, I’m going to make the suggestion of WHY BOTHER? Why bother when someone can do it for you? Rid yourself of one less giant job in your life and just wait for the itinerary and the tickets to arrive in your inbox. Simple.
Still not convinced? Here’s 5 top reasons why you should choose a travel agent over the internet any day:
1. If it all goes wrong an agent will help you.
While the idea of being stuck on a tropical island courtesy of a volcanic ash cloud might be nice for a day or two, the reality of being stranded overseas with your family can be a hugely stressful time and any relaxation you’ve managed will be wiped out trying to get home.
If you’ve been in this situation before, you have probably wished you had a magic phone number to get through to your airline and just get it sorted. Travel agents have this number! Agents deal direct with reservations and it’s their JOB to help you. So sit by the pool, order another drink and wait for your agent to email you back with your new flight details and extended hotel vouchers.
2. You can’t ask the internet what you don’t know.
Most travel agents work in the industry because they LOVE to travel. Find someone experienced and you will get insider knowledge that a Google search is never going to show up. It’s often the personal recommendations that will create the best experiences, so get chatting.
Tell your TA what you like doing, what your children like doing, what their nanna likes doing and let the “perfect” itinerary become their problem! Worst case scenario, if the kid’s don’t like the theme park you can blame the agent.
3. They WILL have the best price.
There are some GREAT websites that can search multiple airlines at once and show up all sorts of too-good-to-be-true prices. But buyer beware of hidden stops and horrendous fees should your kid get an ear infection 3 days before departure and you need to change everything.
Most travel agents will not only price match what you’ve found online, but they will be able to beat OR find you an even better fare to suit your needs.
Airlines deal direct with the big agencies and offer them prices that you will never find yourself when it comes to international travel.
4. Whoops I meant July this year.
We’ve all got that “friend” that turned up the airport on the wrong day, or realised at their hotel check-in that they booked the 5th instead of the 15th and now there’s no availability, or spelled their own partner’s name wrong on the booking because the kids were screaming and the cat had just used the bath as a litter
tray and now at the airline desk they are being refused boarding! These mistakes happen ALL THE TIME.
Now travel agents aren’t perfect, but they DO have exceptional attention to detail and in the unlikely event that they DID mess up something in your booking, it’s up to THEM to fix and PAY for it – hello room upgrade!
5. You no longer have to sit in their office to make a booking.
It’s 2018, travel agents now work remotely AND some are even mobile! They can come to your home, at a time that suits you and get everything done like some kind of fairy godmother or father.
Or you can phone and email a retail agent through every step of the booking process. No need to drag the whole family to the shopping centre. You can just stay in your PJs, drink wine and type up your dream holiday wishes for somebody else to fulfil. It really IS that simple!
Good travel agents are like hairdressers – once you find the right one, one that understands your needs and that you trust, you will build up a relationship that will last YEARS. Then all you have to do is pick a destination, start dreaming of the swim-up bar and count down the days until departure!
Anthea Riskas is an ex-travel agent and Melbourne mama to one little fire cracker. Even though she knows how, she’d never book her own holiday.