Plan your Vacation with a Travel Agent by:Jennifer Bailey
Now that you have decided to plan your next vacation using a travel agent, the first step is to actually sit down with an agent and begin the exciting planning process. While you can show up at the agency and jump right into the process, it is usually a good idea to consider a few basic factors in advance. The following are some tips on getting ready to talk with your travel agent, as well as how to work with the agent to plan the ideal vacation for you and your family.
There are a few issues you need to address before you see the agent and begin the actual planning process. First, you should have some idea of what type of trip you want to take. Knowing that you want to vacation at the beach as opposed to taking a cruise to Alaska or a skiing vacation, will save a lot of time on the front end and allow the agent to zero in on the destinations that are most likely to be appealing to you. Just in case, make sure your passport is up to date. This will also speed things up if you find that the beach vacation you settle on is located outside your home country. Also, take along your personal identification, a means of paying for the trip, and your general contact information, including an email address.
Make sure the travel agent understands who will be going along on the trip and what type of activities and atmosphere would be most appropriate. If this is a family vacation, the agent will think in terms of destinations that offer fun activities for the children as well as the parents. Should you and a friend be going away to meet new people, the agent will focus on accommodations and travel plans that will allow you to mingle with other singles. Many agencies can also prepare vacation itineraries and select destinations that cater to niche customers, such as adult theme travel packages. Keep in mind your agent will be discreet and your travel plans will be held in the strictest confidence.
With all relevant documents in hand and a general idea of what type of vacation is desired, you and your agent can get down to the basics of setting up the arrangements. In most cases, the agent is likely to have several travel packages that will appeal to you. While some packages are rigid in structure, others are somewhat more flexible and can be customized to suit your personal needs and taste. Your agent may also show you travel packages that are being offered at a discount if you can be flexible with the dates for your getaway. However, if your time is limited to a specific set of dates, the agent will work to find discounts that would meet your needs.
You may be surprised at how much the agent can arrange in advance. For example, if the vacation is actually a second honeymoon, there is a good chance that your travel agent can work with the hotel staff to make sure there is chilled champagne, soft music, and candles set up in your suite or room when you arrive. Should someone in the travel party have a birthday during the vacation, the agent may be able to arrange something special, such as a clown showing up with balloons and a cake to celebrate the event. Many agents will take the information you provide and offer some creative and interesting extra services above and beyond simply booking the flights and reserving a room.
Never be timid about asking specific questions regarding some aspect of the vacation plans. In general, agents are more than happy to supply any type of information the client requests in regard to hotels, amenities, travel options, local sights to visit and anything else that comes to mind. While a good travel agent will anticipate many of your questions, it never hurts to ask about anything that is not addressed initially. This can include matters like local customs you should know about, general etiquette in social situations at the hotel and surrounding community and other details that will make the trip fun and safe.
Keep in mind that as the client, the final decision about the arrangements is up to you. This means that before the travel agent actually puts anything in motion, you will need to approve the arrangements. In many instances, the agent may verify the availability of accommodations, flight reservations, and other details as you go through the planning stages. This helps to minimize the amount of changes that may be required once the actual booking process begins. By going over each detail and being comfortable with the overall plan, you make the job of creating the plan easier for the agent while also increasing your chances of having a fun and restful vacation.
About the author
Jennifer Bailey is a freelance writer who writes about travel and leisure, often focusing on a particular aspect of vacationing such as working with a travel agent.