To package, or not to package. This is my question.

Jan 27th, 2004, 01:39 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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To package, or not to package. This is my question.

Hello all-

I am trying to plan a honeymoon to Australia and all of you have already been VERY helpful. But here I am again....

I have dealt with several travel agents and travel companies trying to get help with my honeymoon. I can't figure out if I should get a "package" or pick what we want individually.

Problem 1: As far as cost, if I price what we want, it is very similar to packages that are being offered. Is this a problem?? I mean should I plan it and get exactly what I want versus someone else plans it and we get some of the things we want with some discount and more luxory.

Problem 2: No one calls me back. I have contacted about 5 travel agents and/ or travel companies. I call and email. I say here is what we have in mind. They either don't call back or say "I'll have something for you today" and I never hear back. (By the way I feel guilty for contacting multiple places. Should I? Maybe they know?)

Problem 3: They yell at me. I was talking to a reputable travel company and the woman had a fit because I said we found a "Bed and breakfast" we liked - as opposed to a resort. She said this was not good, we'd have to rent a car, get our own meals, be in danger because we'd be all alone. We are on our honeymoon though....alone is bad??

To summarize... I am getting tired of all this and just wondering if I should find someone to book my plane tickets and do the rest myself. Or continue to locate a package which may be cheaper but may not be exactly what we want.

How you could possibly answer this, I don't know. Maybe I just want some sympathy.

: (
-Amanda
Amanda_Chicago is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 02:10 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I think you can easily plan your own trip to Australia without doing a package. I ended up using a package last summer for our family trip to Australia (and I don't usually use them) on the theory it would save us a bit of money. To tell you the truth, I don't think it saved us that much and I lost flexibility in that any changes we wanted to make later would have been charged for. (We didn't end up making changes, but I missed having the freedom to, say, change hotels three weeks before arrival. With a package, you are usually locked into whatever you chose at the onset.)

One area where we did save money using a package was airport transfers by private car to and from our hotels. Those transfers were included for free and because we were a large group and stayed in quite a few different locations, it was a meaningful savings for us. Of course, if you are going to rent cars everywhere anyway, you won't care about paid airport transfers.

I'm not convinced I got better hotel and air rates than I could have negotiated on my own. (Packages seldom give you the cost breakdown so you never know for sure what you paid for what.) And I don't feel I got better advice using a package either --- I basically planned the trip myself anyway (with some great help from here and some guidebooks).

A final caution on packages --- do think about taking out insurance to cover you if the company goes belly-up. It happens, even to highly regarded companies.
Miranda is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 03:07 PM
  #3  
 
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Hi again, Amanda. I don't know if it will help to apply a bit of reverse reasoning, but when we visited the US we decided to travel independently and never regretted it. We did book a few hotels and a couple of rental cars before leaving, but otherwise did our own thing with a mix of planes, trains, automobiles, buses supplemented by one-day Gray Line and similar tours in and around various cities.

With the exception of adapting to driving on the "wrong" side of the road (no great challenge) we found so many similarities between the two countries that we felt at home pretty quickly, and we valued our freedom of movement. I don't see why this shouldn't work just as well for Americans in Australia.

If you opt to do your own thing, I suggest you get hold of a good guidebook, exploit the Net, and research particular regions and attractions that interest you.

As for that last travel agent - what dangers did she think you'd encounter in Darkest Australia? Did someone tell her about the bag-snatching cassowary?

You can go to resorts all over the world, and you won't learn much about the countries they're situated in - but it all depends on what sort of vacation you want to have. You might just want to chill out - but then, you could do that much closer to home and more cheaply.

Maybe the agent was worried about the dangerous urban wildlife? Well, of course Australia isn't the bucolic rural paradise inhabited by quaint-speaking crocodile wrestlers that the American media might lead you to believe. In fact, we're one of the most highly urbanised countries on earth, so we have all the things that come with modern cities, good and bad. As a Chicagoan you'll have no problem dealing with that, though.

Good luck with your plans and enjoy your trip.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 03:11 PM
  #4  
 
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If you have not already done so, you might contact Melodie Kennedy, a travel agent in California who regularly visits Australia. She responded to what I think was your first post here. Her company is Kennedy Kruises & Travel at:

http://www.kennedykruises.com/

From a brief look at the website, I gather Kennedy Kruises & Travel offers some packages. As I understand it, these are not guided tours. In fact, the travellers rent cars and drive themselves. Rather the air fare, rental cars and hotels are pre-booked.

In addition to that, I know Melodie also books totally customized travel for her clients. In various posts here she has stated that she is guided by what her clients want, e.g., she books B&Bs if her clients want B&Bs, and so on.

I'd be surprised if Melodie did not respond to an e-mail or a phone message from you. She has been kind enough to answer some of my questions by private e-mail, even when she has had nothing to gain (i.e., the purpose of my questions was not to book travel).
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 05:04 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hi Amanda,

It is so disappointing to hear yet again that some travel agents, though of course not all, only appear interested in booking clients into the larger resorts and chain hotels, which in turn pay them large commissions!

As Neil-Oz says, much depends on what sort of experience you are looking for. There are hundreds of small B&B's, self-contained cottages, host farms etc. (which do not have the resources to pay huge commissions to travel agents, as we know from our own experience!) where you will discover the REAL Australia - your hosts are more than happy to share all their local knowledge and provide impartial recommendations for whatever attractions are in their area. In many places you can be as private or as 'social' with your hosts and fellow guests as you like.

Perhaps a compromise might be to book your air travel and perhaps some "resort" type accommodation through an agent, but leave part of your time free so that you can hire a car and drive around staying in some of the smaller places. Having said this, it depends what time of year you are coming and you should check for peak seasons, local school holidays and special events, etc. when accommodation may be fairly well booked.

If you search around you will find many websites operated by B&B associations which will give you much information on the areas you are visiting. For instance if you are coming to north Queensland you might like to have a look at www.bnbq.com.au which is the B&B Association of Far North Queensland.

Happy planning, and I hope you have a wonderful honeymoon!
Daff is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 09:01 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Do your own thing - it's your honeymoon and you should be able to make your choices without travel agents causing problems.
Why don't you book your airfares and your first night's accommodation with a travel agent, and then do the rest yourself. It's so easy these days to check out things on the internet and if in doubt, put some queries on this website. This is how we have arranged our last two overseas holidays.
Australia is a friendly laid-back place - you shouldn't have any problems getting around.
marg is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 09:02 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Hello Amanda - I absolutely second everything Daff says here - just book the B&B direct - the owner/s will appreciate it as they won't have to pay agent's commission, even if it is only 10% or so. In the Cairns/Port Douglas area you don't need to rent a car - tours all pick up at accommodation or nearby and your host will be happy to arrange this for you - plus give you the benefit of his or her local knowledge.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 12:59 AM
  #8  
 
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It's a sort of cost v effort equation, I guess. But if the cost of doing it yourselves is no greater, and you don't mind doing the research (maybe u like doing it for its own sake like me) then why sacrifice the flexibility and the opportunity to do exactly what you want?

If u know moreorless what u want to do (and like previous posters said, lots of helpful providers of specific into on this board) - then far better to do it yourselves. Australia is a very easy country to travel in. Loads of ways of booking accomm; loads of helpful websites for checking out tours from wherever u base yourselves; and Virgin Blue for flights that are SO MUCH cheaper than they used to be. (But book early).

Congrats on your wedding and have a wonderful time here.
alice13 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 08:58 AM
  #9  
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Thank you everyone. I always get good advice here. I will stick to it and try to get what we want in terms of vacation accomodation instead of what someone else tells me I want.

I feel much better today, and am ready to get this trip planned!

-Amanda : )
Amanda_Chicago is offline  

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