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My travel agent quit! Desperately need help with honeymoon plans.

My travel agent quit! Desperately need help with honeymoon plans.

Old Mar 7th, 2001, 11:16 AM
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My travel agent quit! Desperately need help with honeymoon plans.

We are getting married on June 3, and our travel agent just quit after doing NOTHING about our travel plans to Europe. The agency suggests a "tour" which we really don't want. I have a Fodor's book and lots of sites I just copied from many of your wonderful suggestions to other travelers. Now where to start! Is it safe to get a flight through one of the consolidators on line? Do we have a chance of getting reasonably priced hotels in Rome, Florence, Venice, Munich, Switzerland (somewhere south of Lucerne), Tuscany, and more Rome? Our departure would be June 25. Any and all help you can give will be appreciated. I am hysterical, naturally. Thanks.
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 11:40 AM
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Oh Lorraine,
Sorry to hear woes.
First things first.
Take a deep breath.

I can not advice you on a consolidator, try doing a search here, by typing in some key words, in the text search box, (and wait a couple mins, it is slow)

Also, you can search on hotel info from the Text search.

You may have to revise your plans, and be more flexible as to how long you stay in any one place.
Posters have been mentioning hotels filling up.
Make some reservations ASAP that will cover some #1 choices, that way you will be sure of being SOMEWHERE that you want to be.
Then as you can fill in, you can do finetuning of your plans.

Please, keep us posted as to what comes up, and how your plans are coming along.
And also, I know you want your honeymoon to be perfect, but remember, it is only a trip, and hopefully the first of you will take with your husband.
Look at it as a big adventure.
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 12:06 PM
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Too much going on at once, isn't there! Another thought, since it doesn't seem like you've been to Europe and considering how exhausted you may be (and I was) after the wedding, you may want to consider an "Untour". Their web site is www.untours.com. Basically, (we did this in Switzerland 2 years ago), they set up your airfare, meet you at the airport, escort you to an apartment you have for 2 weeks in a nifty village of some sort, they hold an informational meeting the next morning to teach you how to get around and use the local currency, they usually have a couple of escorted tours if you would like to go (like cheese making in Switzerland), an optional dinner is included with the entire group (there were around 100 people in this area of switzerland through untours the 2 weeks we were there) and then they make sure you get back to the plane. What is provides is security, a great place to stay, someone local to contact in case of emergency and 2 weeks of peace and quiet and the ability to do what you want when you want. Another site to check out regarding Switzerland and Italy is www.twenj.com. This really neat couple have this huge website with lots of info and links. I've learned a lot. Good luck to you and your almost hubby!
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 12:17 PM
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You probably have to decide the flights first, they tend to get sold out first esp they time frame you mentioned -- although it is sort of cart befor the donkey things, how you can book flights before you have good ideas of where you are staying, etc.

Regarding reasonably priced hotels, it is unlikely that the travel agent could have done well in this area; they only book hotels that pay commissions. The nice reasonably priced hotels do not have to pay commission to attract guests, you'll have to contact them directly anyway. Many of these hotels have email accesses and even if you have to make international calls and faxes, it only will costs you few dollars / hotel (presuming you are from US), and you'll end up paying less than those hotels with US 800 numbers.
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 12:46 PM
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Lorraine, the above poster is correct travel agents, generally speaking aren't very good at finding quaint hotels usually they book you into some impersonal hotel or chain that offers incentives to agents. IMO you are much better off booking yourself.
First of all, are you planning to drive or train? IMO you will be better off taking the train since it's much MUCH less stress.. frankly after my wedding all I was good for was being "poured' onto a plane , placed in a cab, dropped off at a hotel door and strolling aimlessly . Which luckily for you is one of the nice things about Europe.
Thank G-D for the Internet!!! It's very easy to book most everything yourself based upon your priorities... I know you are busy right now, but tonight or tomorrow, sit down with your fiance, and decide which places you want to explore the most..Have you decided on your itinerary?
I would narrow your trip, (depending upon time) to 3 or 4 places to explore... ordinarily I would do more, but since you just went through the wedding, I think a more relaxed pace is better.
One tip, don't even THINK about leaving for Europe directly from the wedding.. or early the following day.
Plan an afternoon or evening flight either the day following or if possible 2nd day after your wedding, trust me on this one.. you will thank me.
Go to the Rants and Raves section of this forum also for some great first hand impressions of hotels in the cities you suggest and try to relax. Just between you and me.. the very best thing I did the day of my wedding was have a 2 hour massage that morning! Bliss**Nothing sends you into honeymoon mode like that!
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 12:47 PM
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Check with airlines like Alitalia and AirFrance; they often offer an airfare/hotel package, and the rest is up to you.

Whatever you decide, act on it asap; as everyone else has pointed out, June is the beginning of the busy season....
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 01:13 PM
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There seem to be two kinds of answers here. One consists of advice on how Lorraine can take over a job she had hoped a professional would/could do for her. If this was a sewing enthusiasts' message board, would she get the same advice if the person who was making her wedding dress suddenly quit, three months before the wedding?

The second sort of advice is conspicuously absent - - on how to find a professional trip planner or travel agent who can pick up on and meet her expectations. Of course, that's because travel professionals are considered unwelcome here. Even if they never engage in commercial promotion.

Bob the Navigator is someone who helps prepare itineraries, and I think that he has even participated in reserving (as opposed to simply choosing) hotels and the like. You can find him here without too much trouble. Or some good Samaritan could mail you his e-mail advice. Others might be able to think of other helpful names to send you.

Old Mar 7th, 2001, 01:50 PM
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My sentiments exactly (and I love the seamstress analogy)...it's not that hard to get another travel agent to make your arrangements for you. You might want to specify some particular properties to investigate, but they'll be happy to do so. And even the smallest hotels will ususally give a discount to the agent even if the hotel is not generally courting business through those channels. The only town I will offer a suggestion for is Venice and the suggestion is The Metropole. It's a great value for the price (not cheap but not horrible) and they are just plain ole gaga for honeymooners there!
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 02:58 PM
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What is your budget and how many days are you going for? That is step one. With all the places you've listed, I assume this is going to be a LONG honeymoon!

Step two is airline tickets. Instead of flying in and out of Rome, consider an "open jaw" where you fly into one city and out the other. Saves doubling back and sometimes the fares are the same or only slightly higher to do it this way rather than round trip. Call 3 travel agents (just look in the yellow pages) and tell them where you want to fly and when and ask them to call you back with their best price. Then type the same info into Travelocity.com and see if you can beat it yourself.

Don't worry about hotels until you have the airline tickets worked out, unless the travel agents find a fabulous air/hotel package that you can't pass up. For example, sometimes you can get a good price on an air & hotel package to Rome and then just extend it by adding on subsequent destinations and booking those separately yourself. Those are worth looking into.

I agree that for your honeymoon you don't want a tour. You can put the whole trip together yourself if you have to. But a travel agent wouldn't hurt in this particular situation -- you probably have enough on your plate to worry about at this point.

Another idea: delegate the trip planning to a trusted member of the wedding party or a close family member. Only do this if you trust their judgment, or if you delegate the phone calls to them & make sure they know not to book anything without checking with you first. I know several people who have done this for their honeymoons, and in some cases it worked out fabulously and in at least one case it was not so great. That is your call.

Old Mar 7th, 2001, 03:48 PM
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Thank you, thank you for all the responses. I feel a lot better just knowing you are are out there for us. The plan is to leave on June 4 (the evening after the wedding) and return on the 25th. Definately traveling by train, not car. Hotels or B&B, with or without bathroom, are fine as long as they are safe and clean. I like the idea of flying "open jaw". That would work out better for us. I'm going to work on ALL your suggestions - and would welcome any others. Thanks all!
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 03:59 PM
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Hello again, we are here for you, apologies if I didn't respond to your initial post in a way that was most effective. But what do you plan as your per night budget?
I do have one wonderful hotel suggestion often mentioned on this forum
Hotel Casci in Florence: Great staff rooms under $100.00 (But they maybe slighly higher in June) 16th century frescos on the ceiling of the b-fest room and right around the corner from the Duomo it's a terrific hotel. We had a room in the front and had no problem with noise, but if you are sensitive to that sort of thing request a room in the back facing the garden. Do a search on the Casci on this forum.. if the search function works theres a lot of good stuff here on it.
In Venice we stayed at a budget hotel called the Ai Do Mori (found it in Frommer's) Right on the corner of St. Marks Square, under $100.00 per night, but I usually don't recommend it since most people have to have a canal view in Venice and this has no canal view, plus the rooms were small, but the location was terrific, unbeatable, the staff was nice, we had a bathroom in our room (ensuite) and it was the ONLY hotel we could find for anything near our budget in Venice... We loved it, I have more info on it if you are interested.
Old Mar 7th, 2001, 06:14 PM
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Get a new travel agent! Call your friends, fellow workers, relatives and get a recommendation. You have enough to do just planning your wedding and shouldn't be stressed out over a honeymoon that is supposed to be fun.

In early February I planned a trip to Paris with my travel agent. I had done my homework and knew at least 10 acceptable hotels (moderate) where I would want to stay and the area I wanted to stay in. In a half hour by telephone he ruled out (via his internet connection) which hotels had available rooms for the nights I wanted (we must have gone through 20 hotels). He used a consolidator and got me a terrific fare to Paris, and will arrange for transportation, museum passes, etc. if I want.

If you like to research and do it on your own, then go ahead. But, if your energies need to be directed elsewhere toward wedding plans, then do yourself a favor and let someone else handle the stress of the trip.

I personally find something missing in every search engine for airline tickets. I have to commit before I'm ready or I can't choose a non-stop flight,etc. And, it is all consuming time and energy wise.

Do your homework and then get a travel agent!
Old Mar 8th, 2001, 06:36 AM
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If you leave the evening of June 4 you will arrive sometime June 5. From June 5-25 gives you 20 days. Your post listed 6 destinations that you would like to visit. That will mean that you are moving around an awful lot, but it can be done (it may not be very relaxing, however). For example, you could do 5 days Rome, 3 days Tuscany, 3 days Florence, 3 days Venice, 3 Switzerland, 3 Munich. Or another thought would be to consolidate the Tuscany-Florence portion by maybe staying in Siena for, say, 5 days, and doing daytrips to Florence and Tuscan hilltowns from there, and adding an additional day on to Venice. I personally would not want to spend my honeymoon rushing around too much.

One thing you might want to think about is just concentrating on Italy and maybe southern Switzerland and saving Munich for another time. Open jaws are often easier to obtain if you are flying in and out of different cities in the same country. So, for example, you could do 5 days Rome, 5 days Tuscany & Florence, 4 days Venice, and 6 days divided between the lakes of northern Italy (e.g. either Lake Garda or Como) & southern Switzerland (Lugano), then fly out of Milan.

Just a thought.
Old Mar 8th, 2001, 08:30 AM
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Cathy mentioned the possibility of your taking an Untour. I second that suggestion, but want to be sure that you know:
1. In addition to air, apartment, and support services, the price (very reasonable) of an Untour includes some form of ground transportation. In some countries (Switzerland, for example) this is a railpass; in others, it is a rented car.
2. You indicated that you will have three weeks in Europe. With Untour, you can combine two weeks in one location with one week in another.
Old Mar 8th, 2001, 09:07 AM
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Check out Sabena Airlines website ASAP. They supposedly have sale prices to Italy on sale THIS WEEK per an article I read in the Sunday Travel section of Washington Post. You might want to do a flight into Milan and out of Rome (or visa versa). Don't try to squeeze in Munich and Switzerland, but you may want to train from Milan to Lake Como or Verona (?) then into the Dolomites (someone out there, is there such a train?) then you could visit Venice, Florence, and Rome. It's doable....BTW, Hotel Casci may be more like $115/night (what we've got for mid-May). Try Locanda Leon Bianco in Venice, and a lot of people recommend the annex at Hotel Julia in Rome. There are several websites for Italian hotels -- try to get price/availability from several then do a search on the names here to get some fast feedback...ON THE OTHER HAND, you might have better luck concentrating on Munich and Switzerland and Northern Italy and saving Florence and Rome for an anniversary trip? Either trip is going to be wonderful.

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