I remember when I was a child, my parents had their favorite travel agent who they would use for booking airfare and hotels whenever we had to fly across the country to see our family. And then I really never thought about travel agents again.
For years, I have booked our travel, created itineraries, and planned out reservations. It was always stressful to make sure I knew the most I could about the hotel we were staying out, making sure we weren't in a weird part of town, and getting the best deal.
My husband and I traveled a lot before we had kids, but it was just us, and we could always figure it out. And we've stayed in some interesting hotels, to say the least. When you add children or others to vacation planning, it heightens the level of stress involved.
It wasn't until I planned our children's first trip to Disney that I ever considered travel agents as still being a thing. Disney trips are not for the weak nor are they spontaneous. If you don't plan, you're going to end up not having anywhere to eat, staying too far away from the parks, or worse, everyone having a meltdown because no one knows how to book fast passes (now lightning lanes).
You can try your best to get the deals, watch all the emails that come out with new promotions, and check daily for that dining reservation that you need to have. What about all the smaller details - airport pickup times, to rent a car or not, the best time to eat at quick service restaurants, or the best location to watch the fireworks/nighttime spectacular show from? You'll be reading countless blogs and watching hours of Disney Vloggers to come up with a list of these.
That's where a travel agent (or advisor as we like to call ourselves now) comes in. Instead of you spending all those hours researching the best location, restaurants, seats, rides, and times to do everything you want to, a travel advisor can provide all those tips and tricks for you, with little to no cost to you.
If you book a vacation package directly through Disney, Universal, Sam's Club, AAA, Costco, Ticketsatwork, or any discount retailer, you are already paying the agent commission. For no support.
I know, I know, you are as shocked as I was when I found this out. The companies keep those monies for themselves rather than provide personalized service to you. I've heard horror stories about people booking with Expedia, getting an amazing deal, only to get to the hotel and their reservation is nowhere to be found.
Say you have a question, super simple, just want to find out if you can check in earlier than the 4 pm check-in time. You'll need to call the provider's 800-number to ask the question, and in many cases, they will not provide you an answer - they'll reiterate what the reservation email says. Where working with a travel advisor comes in, you call us and we can answer that question, and provide additional information you may not have known. Like you can drop your bags off at the hotel, and head to the parks directly. Or you can have groceries delivered, and they will hold the cold items in a fridge.
In October 2021, we were coming home from an amazing vacation at Walt Disney World. We had booked a later flight so we could walk around Disney Springs before heading to the airport. About 10 minutes before our plane was about to board, I got a text message saying our connecting flight was going to be delayed. And the airport suddenly was buzzing. I could hear almost everyone around us freaking out because it wasn't just that one flight. We got onboard the plane and got the text message that our connecting flight was now canceled. And there were no options - I looked up the next flights, and there was nothing available for three days. While we were enjoying our last few hours in the Disney bubble, the flights around the country were being canceled, and I had no idea.
This event spurred me to look into what I could've done differently. If I had used a travel advisor, I would have known probably right when we woke up what was happening, and had someone to help figure out what to do. Instead, we ended up stranded in a motel next to Houston Hobby Airport for an overnight and had to pay an additional $1200 to get a flight on another airline.
That experience was very frightening and frustrating, and I learned so much about what to do and what not to do. We'll talk more about what to carry on with you when traveling by plane next week. But all of this I learned through experience. After traveling the country by car and plane, over 150,000 miles flown, these are tips I pass on to you. In addition, you get additional services when booking a vacation package such as special offer monitoring so you maximize your vacation budget. After our first call where I learn more about what you are looking for, I also narrow down the numerous options to ones that fit what you are really wanting when you take your next trip.
So yes, travel advisors are still a thing and can help you save a ton of money and time, elevating the stress that always comes with planning a getaway. When you're ready to look for your next vacation, let me know. I can help. :)