Why You Should Ditch Your Travel Agent And Go It Alone

 

Of course I know you can walk into a travel agent, have your entire trip booked in under an hour, walk out with a massive wad of receipts and paperwork in your hand, and head straight to your local for a nice relaxed beer knowing everything has been organised for you.  

 

Well, there is always another option.

 

And do you really feel happy with someone else planning a dream trip for you?

 

greece

 

The Lowdown on Why You Should Ditch Them

 

Travel agencies work on commission. They receive a cut of everything you spend, which means…they will only recommend their partner companies.

 

And of course they will try to push the companies that pay a higher commission.

 

But it’s not just that you may pay a little more, it’s that your options are immediately limited to the companies affiliated with that particular agent.

 

 

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

 

 

This is not to say that the airlines, hotels or tour companies that are being offered are not good. They probably are. But it may not be the best product for what you want.

 

That’s the first reason.

 

 

new zealand

Lake Rotoiti, New Zealand. Photo: Flickr creative commons

 

 

The second reason is: it is so much more satisfying.

 

One of my closest friends recently returned from an amazing trip to New Zealand and she organised the entire trip herself. She has two kids and a husband.

This is the first time my friend has ever done this…and now there’s no turning back!

She has a taste for how much you can tweak your trip if you organise the entire thing yourself and she has already begun arranging a tailor made month in Croatia!

 

 

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy.

 

 

Admittedly, planning a dream trip on your own does take a lot more of your time. But it is definitely worth it.

 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are organising your own trip:

 

Research

 

Do loads of it: research tour companies, airlines, accommodation, destinations…the lot!

 

Trip Advisor is a travel review site and is great for researching and reading what other travellers have to say about accomodation and tour companies.  I have found it especially useful for finding accommodation and some of the best places I’ve stayed in were found there.

 

Homestead Guest Cabins in Glacier View Alaska

Homestead Guest Cabins in Glacier View, Alaska – one of the best places I’ve ever stayed!

 

 

Flights

 

Check prices of flights on several the flight search engines: Expedia; Kayak; Skyscanner; and Momondo are all good.

 

Having a little flexibility with your dates could help you find a better/cheaper flight and you can sometimes get a good deal by purchasing directly through an airline.

 

I saved $1000 on my return flights to Europe earlier this year by doing some painstaking research and refusing to accept that the cheapest flight I could get was going to cost $2700!! Needless to say, the savings was worth the extra research!

 

 

Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

 

 

To save money on flights use budget airlines when you can, but keep in mind that what you save in dollars may be cancelled out by the frustration of delays, flight changes, and cancellations that budget airlines are notorious for.

(Note: I fly budget airlines regularly and have had very few of these things happen. A couple of delays and only ever ONE cancellation. Ironically most of my bad luck with flights has been with the non-budget airlines – go figure!)

 

 

Greece

 

 

Don’t forget Travel Insurance!!

 

And yes, you absolutely do need it. I am a firm believer in the old mantra:

If you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel.

 

An acquaintance of mine will be paying off close to $200,000 worth of medical expenses incurred after a rock climbing accident in the USA, because he neglected to buy travel insurance. Not fun.

 

 

Paris

 

 

It is easy to overlook travel insurance when you are organising your own trip. I have got into the habit of booking my insurance right after I book my flights so it’s all done and I don’t have to think about it again.

 

Make sure you read the fine print and ensure that any adventure activities (rock climbing, skiing etc) or any expensive equipment (cameras, laptops etc) are completely covered under the policy you choose.

 

 

Do you usually book all your trips through an agent?

Have you ever considered trying to do it on your own?

 

 

 

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Comments (8)
  • Avatar

    Capricorn Nov 19 2012 - 12:43 pm Reply

    Wow! These are amazing ideas. I’m about to plan a trip for 2013 – and will give some of your tips a try. Thank you! Great article – cool pics :)

  • Avatar

    Peripatetic Eric Nov 20 2012 - 5:29 am Reply

    We have always traveled independently. We tend to make a lot of last minute decisions and changes in plans so trying to organize it all up front wouldn’t work. Great tips and I love the photos of Italy. Have never been there but the photos make me want to go!

    • Avatar

      Quiet Wanderings Dec 12 2012 - 4:19 pm Reply

      Thanks, Eric! Italy is wonderful! I am always changing my travel plans too – hate the thought of being locked in to too many things. Independent travel has way more going for it.

  • Avatar

    Nico Nov 26 2012 - 6:03 pm Reply

    In principle I completely agree that you should ditch the travel agent, however occassionaly they do have there uses. For example my friend recently booked two flights from Germany to Indonesia from a travel agent. The rate they were offering was actually €100 less per ticket than the next cheapest option, which was direct from the airline. Skyscanner and the rest were actually significantly more expensive.
    Nico recently posted..The Best Little Village in UruguayMy Profile

    • Avatar

      Quiet Wanderings Dec 12 2012 - 4:17 pm Reply

      My philosophy is…if you can save money on flights etc, do it however you can! And I agree that there are times when a travel agency can offer the better price. I guess my suggestion is more to avoid just going for the ‘packages’ that agencies offer in their glossy magazines. At least not before looking at all the alternatives. I too, have found Skyscanner to be a little on the pricey side at times.

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    Budget Jan Dec 3 2012 - 1:20 pm Reply

    Hi Cherina,
    I always plan and research our trips myself, basically because I like to do it the cheapest way. After I have found the cheapest flights I can, I usually book direct with the airline. When we wanted to do a RTW trip I checked prices myself, but booked it through a travel agent friend.
    The beauty of planning our own holidays is we can spend as much time in each place as we want. I think I would be seriously annoyed if we had to move on when I really wanted to stay. Travelling in Asia was great because we could afford not to book internal travel in advance and have real flexibility.
    Budget Jan recently posted..Mass in the MosqueMy Profile

    • Avatar

      Quiet Wanderings Dec 12 2012 - 4:12 pm Reply

      Absolutely! I love the freedom of being able to stay on in a place you love, or moving on sooner if it doesn’t take your fancy. If I am not using my air miles, booking direct with the airline is often a winner for me too. The way I see it is…the more money you save, the longer you can travel. A no-brainer 😉

  • Avatar

    Hemant Joshi Feb 4 2013 - 9:28 pm Reply

    your tips are very helpful,, plz keep updating after every travel

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