One of the best tips for enjoying your trip to Europe is to use a travel agent to book your trip. Even with the proliferation of online booking sites a professional agent is still the best choice you can make.
So why use a travel agent?
1) They can help save you money. They have more information available than can be found by simply searching on the Internet. Travel agents have access to promotions and specials, which arenít available to the general public. They have developed relationships with airlines; hotels, cruise lines etc. and these relationships can help them secure you the best trip for your money.
2) They are knowledgeable about planning your trip. Many of them are specialist in cruising, specific hotels, or destinations. Large travel agencies may have someone on staff that is well versed in the destination you are going to. While you may not think this is necessary, would you know when to book a European River Cruise? How to avoid going during the flooding season or the drought season? Would you know to even think ask when these seasons are? Specialist in this area can help plan your trip for the best time of year.
3) Travel agents can help if you run into problems on your trip. A quick phone call and they can get you on a new flight, rebook your hotel or help you with any other concerns that may come up during your trip.
So how do you find a great travel agent?
1) Ask your friends for referrals. Just like finding a new doctor, dentist or pet sitter, you can trust your friends to give you the truth about whatís good or bad about a local travel agent.
2) So what if your friends donít know any travel agents? Check out some of the larger travel agencies that are available. AAA (Automobile Club of America), Costco are two places you may already have memberships that offer travel services.
3) Search the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) website for their members in your area.
Once you find an agent schedule an appointment and go and meet with them. While not crucial to you having a wonderful trip, it is always best to find one that you have a connection with. The agent should spend some time asking you about what you are looking for on your vacation. They will ask how many people (adults and children), are there any special accommodations that need to be made, how long you will be going, and what is the budget.
As you can see, planning a trip is not as easy as simply pointing and clicking. While Internet travel sites are great for booking simple flights and car rentals, a professional should handle a true vacation.
DISCLAIMER: I am not associated with, nor compensated by, any group or organization mentioned in this article.