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To use a travel agent or not to use a travel agent - that is the question

To use a travel agent or not to use a travel agent - that is the question

Old Mar 19th, 2007, 08:17 AM
  #1  
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To use a travel agent or not to use a travel agent - that is the question

Hey guys - Anyone have any advice on using a travel agent?
knor0177 is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 08:39 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
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A lot depends on where I am going (don't need one for Bermuda, was glad to have one for Peru) and what my budget is. Could you describe your budget, interests and travel style?
cmcfong is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 09:30 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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If you are using frequent-flier miles, then it's probably pointless to use a travel agent.

However, if you are hopeless with a computer and don't have the time to do your own searches and bookings, then definitely use a travel agent.

But keep in mind that some hotel/air packages to the Caribbean can't be booked independently; they MUST be booked through a travel agent. And also remember that Expedia and Travelocity are travel agents, just ones on the web.
doug_stallings is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 09:35 AM
  #4  
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I have two trips that I am going on. One with my mother in January. On that trip I need in order from most important to least:

1. All inclusive resort - Moderate in respect to budget - My mom will ONLY do all-inclusive. We dont need luxury but the rooms need to be clean and service needs to be relatively good.
2. Perfect Beach - clear water and soft white sand with places to sit in the shade and someone to bring me a drink.
3. Snorkeling
4. Fun places to go out and eat
5. Nightlife and shopping is totally unnecessary

**Can't go to Aruba, St. John or Turks and Caicos with my mother - she has already been there.

I am going on a honeymoon next July. For that we are looking for:

1. All inclusive resort that is romantic and no more than 2 stories high - no high rises - lovely grounds -we can splurge a little more especially since it is off season
2. My fiancee and I love snorkeling
3. Beach is key - must be clear water and soft sand - I keep hearing that Aruba doesnt have clear water
4. Not a lot of children around - but we dont want to end up at one of those weird hedonism places
5. Places to go out for dinner - we dont mind splurging outside of the all inclusive - we really just want that for drinks
6. Low risk hurricanes if possible

***Can't go to St John we went there last June. St John has exactly the beaches we are looking for. However, we would like to be on a beach this time. Also, I read somewhere that Mexico is ridiculously hot in the summer without a breeze. is that true>. St. John was hot but there was always a breeze and if you were in the shade you were fine.
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Old Mar 19th, 2007, 10:32 AM
  #5  
KVR
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I have a travel agent that I've used for years with great success. I usually find what I want on the internet and e-mail it to her. She usually meets or beats it. I prefer her personal service and being able to speak with her when I need to. However, I have also booked travel packages directly from www.beachdestinations.com without any problems. In our area we a very constricted on airlines, so for far out of the way places it's best to use a TA.

We've gone to Mexico (Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Cancun) in April, July, August and November. No problems and we didn't find it too hot. On a return trip to Cozumel in November '05 was when Hurricane Wilma hit and our TA re-routed us to St. Lucia instead. That's when we were really glad we had a TA.

Grand Cayman is a good choice, but there are only 2 AI hotels and they are not luxurious. 7 Mile Beach is fabulous and the snorekling great.

We really enjoyed Aruba. Yes, we thought the water was not a clear as Gand Cayman, Turks & Caicos, Cozumel or St. John, but the snorkeling was really good. Saw lots of fish and the other things to do on the Island we're great. Nice AI hotels, good resturants and nightlife.

Nassau, Bahamas has a few AI hotels. The beaches and snorkeling are good. We didn't find much to do on the Island though. We stayed at Sandals and enjoyed it.

Might look at Antigua or Curacao. Antigua has several AI hotels including Sandals. I understand the beaches are nice and the snorkeling good. Curacao has 2 AI hotels. Their beaches are made of crushed coral, but the snorkeling it supposed be really good. Those Islands on our our list for next year.

We prefer AI also, but going AI with the other criteria you listed is going to be a hard find. That's why we keep returning to Mexico.
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Old Mar 19th, 2007, 10:47 AM
  #6  
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Hey KVR - I am just curious when you went to Mexico in the summer months was it unbearably hot or was there a breeze? For instance, St. John was hot but there was always a breeze on the beach and as long as you were in the shade it was not miserable at all. Also, at the Royal Playa del Carmen what was the beach like? Was the sand soft and water blue? Were there sand bags on the beach to avoid erosion? Did all the rooms really have a bar and a jacuzzi? Wow!! What was the snorkeling like around there. Were there any day boat trips? My fiancee really wants to do a fishing expedition. I would like to go on a boat to different beaches and different snorkeling sites.

Please forgive my crazy questions. I am so worried that I have been spoiled by St. John. I really want to enjoy my honeymoon. Thank you for all your help KVR! I have feeling that we might do Mexico and use a travel agent. Is there a such thing as hurricane insurance?

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Old Mar 19th, 2007, 11:21 AM
  #7  
 
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This may seem really obvious, but all travel agents are not created equal (or even close), so a big part of the decision process is whether you have someone who is good at their job, knowledgeable about the areas you want to visit, and are responsive/helpful. I live in a major metropolitan area (outside Washington DC) and have not had much success in finding a good travel agent for Caribbean travel. In planning three separate trips, one TA got annoyed when I wanted her to check rates at a few different hotels, another completely messed up my package booking leaving me with no trip to the Caribbean (in February), and a third knew so little about the destination I wanted to visit that I was educating her about which airport was on which part of the island. In addition, she was slow in responding to questions and even had the audacity to suggest that I pay her a research fee that would be refundable if I booked through her. So, my feeling is that I wouldn't use a mediocre to poor TA unless it was a package I absolutely had to do book through a TA, which was the case for the first trip I mentioned. If I were to plan a more complex trip (e.g., touring Europe with a lot of different hotels and transportation options that I was not familiar with), I would find a specialist but for booking an air/hotel vacation to the Caribbean, I prefer doing my own research and booking with either an on-line agency (e.g., Expedia) or directly with the hotels/airlines.

In response to another question, hurricane coverage is included in some travel insurance policies, but you need to read the fine print. Also, if you use a TA (brick and mortar or on-line) you don't have to buy your trip insurance through them (although they probably will not volunteer this and will push their insurance). I usually use insuremytrip.com to compare and purchase trip insurance.
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Old Mar 19th, 2007, 02:35 PM
  #8  
 
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It's good to use a travel agent that specializes in a particular destination.

They can often save you money and help plan your itinerary. It's nice to have a one on one relationship with someone booking your trips and if there's a problem you have someone to go too. (Often not the case when you book online)

You should also book with a well known, reputable travel agency.

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Old Mar 19th, 2007, 05:41 PM
  #9  
KVR
 
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knor0177, we went to Cozumel for our honeymoon in July 2000. Returned to Playa del Carmen for our 1st wedding anniversary the last week of August 2001, went back to Cozumel in April 2002 on a cruise ship and then went to Cancun in November 2002. Since then we've been to several Caribbean Islands and Hawaii. We are returning to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica next month on a cruise. Then we plan on going back to Playa del Carmen the first week of in Sept. to stay at the Royal Playa del Carmen. Hoping for good weather then. We always buy trip insurance with Travel Guard through our travel agent. Some on-line booking companies offer it also. My husband has had some major health problems over the past 2 years, so we get insurance to cover trip interuptions for health problems as well as hurricane insurance. It costs a little more, but it was worth it, especially when Hurricane Wilma canceled our trip back to Cozumel in Nov. '05. While everyone else was scrambling for refunds, new flights or rebooking, my TA took care of us. We got a refund to our credit card for Cozumel and then she re-booked us to St. Lucia all within a few days.

For an idea of things to see and do in Mexico go to www.bestday.com. www.locogringo.com, or www.playinfo.com

If your interested, we have all of our vacation pictures on-line at:

http://community.webshots.com.user/kvrlvn
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 02:46 AM
  #10  
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Hey KVR, I have a feeling that we might try the Royal. Do you remember if they had sandbags on the beach? We are just curious. Thank you for all the help. Honestly, we never thought of Mexico and it is becoming more and more appealing. Thanks for all your help.

Also, I think because of my hurricane and bad weather paranoia I will purchase some sort of hurricane insurance. We will probably shop around for a Travel Agent until we find one that seems good.

If anyone knows a good travel agent in New Jersey - Please let me know!
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 03:02 AM
  #11  
KVR
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I live in Texas and my travel agent is in Illinios. We communicate through e-mail and phone. I met her on-line and been doing business with her since 2003. If you would like her info, send me an e-amil.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 07:03 AM
  #12  
 
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Playa del Carmen - Paradisius Beach - we stayed with our family and although it is not "in town" everything is there for you. It was great.

Head down a little on the coast and there is Tulum. (well over an hour from the airport) There are beautiful and romantic AI's there as well.

Cancun is hardly worth it in my opinion - but that is just an opinion.

I have heard great things about the DR as well - check with an agent who knows the DR.

We honeymooned in Aruba and Puerto Rico and loved it.

A GREAT honeymoon? Bermuda. $$$ but check out Cambridge Beaches, the Reefs, Pink Sands, Horizons and Cottages and Elbow beach. Many hotels have meal plans and some are interactive (Reefs, Pompano Beach and Cambridge beaches). July is their high season

Good luck!!!
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