Arranging flights, car rentals, walking tours, and more has never been easier for the average traveler, but there are times when working with a travel agent can save you money on your trip.
- Good travel agents are travel experts. They often can get better deals than average travelers, since they have extensive knowledge of current or short-lived sales and discount options. Travel agents are especially helpful finding deals for group travel or arranging for perks (like onboard credit for a cruise). Some travel agents have expertise on certain destinations, which means they can find deals you won’t find on your own.
- When something goes sideways on a trip (and, let’s face it, that happens more than we’d like), a travel agent becomes a travel superhero. If a flight delay means you’ll miss a connecting flight or a hotel check-in deadline, a travel agent can step in to make alternate arrangements for you. Having your travel agent handle these issues might save you extra re-booking or late fees, not to mention your sanity.
- If you’re a member of AAA, your membership means working with one of their travel advisors is completely free. But even if you’re not a member, or you want to work with a non-AAA agent, chances are you won’t pay extra for the service. Most travel agents make their money from tour companies, cruise lines, or hotels they book for you, but you should always ask up front whether you’ll need to pay an additional fee.
Finally, it’s important to recognize that your time is worth something. If you’re busy, the weeks (or months) needed to feel confident that you’re getting a deal is just too long. Outsourcing the legwork to an expert gives you time to focus on other things while they take care of all the details. Look for agents who are members of the American Society of Travel Agents (www.asta.org) or certified by the Travel Institute (thetravelinstitute.com/find-a-travel-agent).