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How do you book your trips, TA or yourself. please share your experiences.

How do you book your trips, TA or yourself. please share your experiences.

Dec 5th, 2010, 11:48 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 149
How do you book your trips, TA or yourself. please share your experiences.

Hello all,
Investigating and planning a trip to Paris for this May. Long story short, I invited 2 friends along and one of them wants to book with a TA. Her reasoning is that if we encounter problems, there will be a point person to help.
This will be only my second trip to Europe but all trips state side have been on my own. I love it.

The local travel agency is liberty travel which is turning out to be as flexible as a piece of granite. Every suggestion has been met with an attitude.

How do most fordorites book their vacations, do you use a Travel agent or go it alone? for those who have book themselves have you encountered any snafus that you couldn't handle yourself?

Thanks,
Eliza
eliza61 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 11:56 AM
  #2  
 
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I have been doing all my own trips for the past 10 yrs. The internet makes it super easy to research hotels, plan itineraries, book flights, rental cars, etc.

We have yet to encounter any "snafu" big enough that we couldn't handle on our own or that a TA would have been any better at solving anyway.

The key is good planning and where you think could might be a problem, have a Plan B.
bettyk is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 11:58 AM
  #3  
 
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You got lots of response on your other thread. Even though it was on the other forum -- the answers won't be much different here. I know you were advised to re-post, but you got a lot more activity on Travel Tips than most threads do over there.

Basically, as most said on your other thread, for an easy peasy itinerary -- like your trip to Paris there is no reason at all to need a TA.

Remember - you will be many time zones from home when you are in Paris. If your TA is uncooperative now, just imagine what it will be like when you phone at 03:00AM her time to get something fixed.
janisj is online now  
Dec 5th, 2010, 12:19 PM
  #4  
 
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IMO most travel agents book "set" trips. It is not worth their time and usually do not have the expertise to do individual trips. If they do book specially planned trips where they know the area, they charge significally for it. That is well worthwhile if they are experts on the area and will find hotels, towns, restaurants better than the standard tour books and general knowledge. I doubt that someone at a franchise travel agency would fill that requirement. Go on Expedia, or an other web booker and based on your research, book for yourself. My only requirement is that I can cancel without penalty at hotels. Sorry, that is not possible with cheap airline tickets.
Elainee is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 12:23 PM
  #5  
 
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On my own always. Started in 2003 with Ireland for 15 days with my 15 year old daughter. Paris 3 times (once with the 3 kids). Italy last year for 18 days with my husband. This year in March we are back to PAris for 2 weeks because we just love Paris. Planning is half the fun for me.
lrock5 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 12:31 PM
  #6  
 
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Usually on our own including getting FF award tickets, travel insurance, car rentals, rail reservations, etc....haven't used a TA for years
Dukey1 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 01:49 PM
  #7  
 
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I have used a TA a few times when traveling with someone who really wants to use theirs. IME, even a personable TA is an exercise in frustration because, as Elainee said, they operate with set partners and trips. The one area where I occasionally have found a TA useful is in purchasing airline tickets - but that's because I have a limited amount of patience to find the best fares!

Paris especially is quite straightforward to do a self-planned trip. And you'll find loads of helpful information by searching the Europe forum here, and Fodorites will be happy to provide more!
ggreen is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 01:56 PM
  #8  
 
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I would use a travel agent if I could find one who was interested in travel. I certainly wouldn't use Liberty or Carlsson Wagon Lit, whom we used when I was still traveling for business. They can do an ordinary business trip faster-better-cheaper than a business executive or his AA.

But there are interesting independent travel agents who do everything from booking standard stuff to putting together their own packages.

For some travel, they are just about the only way to go since they can handle odd places. I want to go to Iran, for example. I want to go to Iran a lot, and it seems that certain London travel agents can book Americans there and to Libya. Actually, I want to go to Persia, but it isn't available any more.

So now I will have to spend time finding these folks rather than surfing on my own!
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 02:01 PM
  #9  
 
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You're writing on a travel forum. In my experience the people who write on travel forums are not the people who generally use travel agents.

I use them for one purpose - to help me gather the information I need to plan my own travel. I pick their brains, read their brochures, marvel at the prices others are prepared to pay, then do it myself. On rare occasions I have purchased air tickets through them when that proved to be the best choice.

If you want security, maybe they are better, I can't really say. But sometimes security comes with rigidity.

Actually, I usually spend many months planning my trips. I enjoy the planning nearly as much as the travelling

Cheers, Alan
http://loraltravel.blogspot.com/
Trav_Eller is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 02:12 PM
  #10  
 
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Her reasoning is that if we encounter problems, there will be a point person to help.

For the reasons janisj indicated, this sentiment may be false security. I'd also add that TAs aren't the only resource if you need help. I have found the customer service at hotels.com to be very good when I've spoken to them on the phone - including when we had to reschedule our entire trip this spring because of the Icelandic volcano eruption. And my experiences with Expedia and Travelocity over the years have left nothing to complain about...

IMO, one other reason to use a TA is when your travel is imminent and you don't have time to research and book for yourself. That is clearly not the case with your trip - and I too am in the camp that planning is half the fun! Certainly makes the waiting for vacation to start that much easier.
ggreen is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 02:23 PM
  #11  
 
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After trying to work out a Round the World ticket by myself (Cairns, Queensland to Italy to Canada to home), I gave up and went to a travel agent. She got me sorted in no time, and with a less expensive fare.

Aside from that time, I usually book my own return flights to Italy or Canada, and definitely do my own research for accommodations.
YvonneT is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 03:38 PM
  #12  
 
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Hello Yvonne

Next time have a look at these two sites:

www.oneworld.com

www.staralliance.com

I haven't used the latter because I tend to prefer Qantas, but I've used oneworld three times. The first and third were a one-world-explorer ticket and the second was a Global Explorer ticket.

We wanted to see lots of places, so they were perfect for us. For example, the air sections of first trip were Coolangatta-Sydney-LA; San Jose-Nevada-St Louis-New Orleans; DC-NYC-St Thomas-Madrid; Granada-Madrid-Nice; Paris-Dublin-Edinburgh-London-Singapore-Melbourne-Coolangatta. All for under AU$3000. The price would be about AU$4500 now for the same trip.

If you don't need that many legs KLM, Continental and others have cheaper rtw trips. Air Canada are part of Star Alliance but AA, which is in the one-World group, flies into most major Canadian ports.
Trav_Eller is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 03:49 PM
  #13  
 
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The last two times we used a travel agent for a portion of our trip,the only problems we had were with their bookings. That was years ago. We book everything ourselves as it's so simple to do online. Paris is incredibly easy to plan and book. This Forum can be a great help to you.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Dec 5th, 2010, 05:06 PM
  #14  
 
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Liberty Travel is very useful for booking trips to Disney and basic package trips abroad. I think if you ask a few questions of the "TA" you are working with you will find s/he has never been to France - and really knows nothing about it. Additionally - since air, hotel and rail don;t provide commissions to agent you are left to pay for the time of the agent yourself.

If you want a mid priced trip you are much better off doing the work and making the decisions yourself. You will get what you want and pay less in the end.

If you want a very upscale trip and guidance from an expert I would go to the web site of Travel & Leisure or Conde Nast Traveler and get the name of an expert TA. They will charge a fortune - but will get you special deals at very upscale places and may be worth the money.

In the olden days I had a great travel agent at the main AmEx office in Manhattan. She had traveled extensively in europe, provided wonderful advice for our independent trips, found us great hotel deals, car rentals, restaurant recos, etc - but this was 20 years ago. those TAs no longer exist. (In her case she was getting divorced and needed to get a job with a salary that supported her - not just paid for her clothes.)

We now often use a corporate TA - who has never been anywhere but has access to long lists of deals that we couldn;t get anywhere else. We do all the work upfront, then shop their list of bargains before we finalize the trip. They don;t do any planning at all (no experience/never been out of the country).
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 05:49 PM
  #15  
 
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What exactly does your friend want a TA to book? Flight and hotel or other things?

Since you're only going to one location - Paris - I can't imagine what could go wrong. I guess worst case the plane could be delayed (such as happened with the volcanic cloud last spring) but the TA could not possibly do anything about things like that.

I would choose a flight and hotel and book on your own. Let your friend use Liberty Travel to book the flight and the third person could do whatever she wants. I'm guessing you'll be getting a triple room so only one person has to book that. That way your friend can't be upset with you if the flight is delayed.

If the TA has an attitude I'm not sure why your friend wants to use them.
adrienne is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 06:08 PM
  #16  
 
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Earlier this year we were trying to organise a more complex set of flights from Australia, and were tired and in a hurry - and went back to a travel agent who had arranged some business flights for us many years ago.

The fees that the company now charges were high - and added a lot to the costs - so we did not go down this path and went direct to Qantas and then Finnair - no problems at all. I managed to work out the Oneworld site and this made life so much easier.

As we are platinum fliers the airline service was excellent and a lot more flexible - and they listened to our requests.

We also noticed that the agent was not all that willing to take our directions when it came to choices of flight routes or times, even though we indicated we did not mind if this increased the actual fare.
I think this only served to remind us that we can get things done without an agent and unless we decide to travel to more challenging destinations this is how things will remain.

Maybe you can get your friends involved by reading some great trip reports and looking at reviews and the like?
Many of the really wonderful places we have visited as well as great accommodation places have been 'found' on this or similar sites.

I am not sure where you are travelling from but Paris seems to be pretty easy to get to for most of the posters from the USA.
love_travel_Aus is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 11:49 PM
  #17  
 
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I'm with HappyTrvlr, the last time I used a travel agent - and it was years ago and we travel a lot - the bits they booked were stuffed up and the bits I booked were fine. If you do your research and ask questions on this forum you should be fine. Remember to take printouts of all your bookings and any emails, we've found this handy on occasion when the agreed price was disputed.

Just because you book through an agent doesn't mean they will be able to help you with problems anyway and as has been pointed out, they will be on a different time zone. I'd much rather be the one in control of MY booking, not some person with hundreds of bookings and not much interest in my trip.

Kay
KayF is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 03:35 PM
  #18  
 
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KayF wrote: "Remember to take printouts of all your bookings and any emails, we've found this handy on occasion when the agreed price was disputed."

That is a great tip. On each of my trips I prepare two folders using A4 plastic clear sheet protectors. I print out duplicate copies of each hotel booking, each transport booking and any other important emails so that any disputes can be settled on the spot. I also include a copy of the travel insurance details, any medical matters (I carry a doctor's letter noting my various afflictions and meds; useful in security at times) and any similar useful stuff.

I assemble those in cheap plastic covers. One is the "Primary" which travels in my carry-on and the other is my "Emergency" which travels in checked luggage. I've rarely needed them, but on those rare occasions they were lifesavers.

I usually print locality maps on the reverse of hotel bookings; very useful for giving to cab-drivers.

I add printouts of useful info about the places I'm visiting, such as sights to see, local attractions, different country currency exchange rates etc, to the Primary folder.

For a trip of a week or two that may seem like overkill. My trips are rarely that short, but even when it was only a week in New Caledonia or Fiji that folder came in useful

Cheers, Alan
http://loraltravel.blogspot.com/
Trav_Eller is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 04:24 PM
  #19  
 
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No I have never used a travel agent. I have never run into any major snafus or anything I couldn't easily handle myself. That said my trips have been fairly straight forward... going to major cities in Europe (5 times), islands of the Caribbean (6 times), Mexico (20+ times), Hawaii (5 times). Same method each one, book plane tickets, book hotel room & go!

If you were asking about a more complex trip, with lots of destinations or more exotic or less-traveled places, then I could see where a GOOD travel agent could be helpful. But for going to Paris? No.
suze is online now  
Dec 6th, 2010, 04:24 PM
  #20  
 
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Eliza--There ARE trips where I might consider using a travel agent (whether I would actually do it or not is another question). But for a simple Paris trip? No way. There are simply too many resources, even more than this forum, to justify that.

So I think your real question is: Is my friend crazy or is it me?

Consensus: She's nuts.
AlessandraZoe is offline  

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