Written by: Sandra Martin
As a travel agent with over 20 years of experience, I’ve seen my fair share of travel planning mistakes. Many clients come to me after booking their travel themselves, only to realize they could have saved time, money, and stress by working with a trusted professional from the start. Here are some common mistakes I see, and how to avoid them.
If you have a destination in mind, before you ever speak to to a travel agent, or book a trip yourself, do a lot of research on the destination.
One key mistake is not using Google Flights to search for all available flights on a route. Google Flights is an incredibly useful tool that allows you to compare prices and routes from multiple airlines at once. It can save you time and money, but many travelers aren’t aware of its existence or don’t know how to use it. As I always advise my clients, “Take advantage of technology!”
Another mistake is not checking the tourism board’s site of the destination they want to visit for deals or discount coupons. These sites often offer great discounts on hotels, attractions, and tours that you may not find elsewhere. For example, in Japan, the Japan National Tourism Organization offers a Japan Rail Pass that allows unlimited travel on Japan Railways trains at a discounted rate. It’s important to do your research before you book anything.
When it comes to booking travel, many people make the mistake of using online travel booking sites. While these sites can offer competitive prices, they often don’t have the ability to provide personal assistance if something goes wrong. As I always tell my clients, “You get what you pay for.” If you choose to book your own travel, book directly with the airline and hotel. This way, if something does go wrong, you have a better chance of getting assistance from them directly.
One of the ways a good travel agent stays on top of their game is by going on Fam (familiarization) Trips to various destinations. These trips are designed to give travel agents a firsthand look at hotels, attractions, and activities in different locations. Fam Trips are invaluable for travel agents because they allow them to gain firsthand knowledge and experience of a destination, which they can then pass on to their clients. During these trips, agents can assess the quality of hotels, the range of activities available, and other details that can make or break a traveler’s experience. By taking the time to visit these destinations themselves, travel agents can offer better advice and recommendations to their clients, making the trip planning process smoother and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
My philosophy is simple: You either book an entire trip through a trusted, experienced travel agent who can be there to help if something goes wrong, or you book travel yourself.
If you do decide to book travel yourself, take advantage of all available resources and do your research. And book directly with the airline, hotel and car rental agency, because if something goes wrong you’ll be in better shape than if you went through a booking site.
Travel should be an enjoyable experience, not a stressful one. As I always tell my clients, “Leave the planning to me, and let’s make your travel dreams a reality!”