Travel Agencies for deals to Europe

Aug 11th, 2003, 09:21 AM
  #1  
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Travel Agencies for deals to Europe

Several weeks ago, I posted advice to an older woman who had never been abroad before to consider visiting a travel agent. My idea was immediately SHOT DOWN IN FLAMES by many responders in favor of advising the woman to get a deal on the internet. I must say that at age 30, I have been able to negotiate my way around the web to get some pretty great prices on hotels and flights in the past; however, I must still advocate travel agencies for the VERY inexperienced and elderly. STA, Council Travel and other college-town travel agencies specialize in getting students and teachers like myself fantastic deals to Europe and South America. I went to London for $268 round trip a couple of years ago, Frankfurt for around the same price... hotels gotten through consolidators same thing. An agent experienced with Eurorailing can explain the routes for trains, what passes one needs and can sell day trip tickets in advance. As web savvy as we are, don't give up on the agents!
teachersue is offline  
Aug 11th, 2003, 09:35 AM
  #2  
Degas
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teachersue, what motivated you to post this out of the blue? Are you still angry at getting your advice rejected?

Looks like the teacher in you wants another go at "educating" a tough sell audience. Do what works best for you and press on.
 
Aug 11th, 2003, 09:48 AM
  #3  
cd
 
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Ummmmmmmmmmm So only the young and experienced are smart enough to use the net to their advantage? I think you're going to get shot down again.
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Aug 11th, 2003, 10:01 AM
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well, I basically agree that's a good idea for the elderly who may not even have a computer or be used to searching or using it a lot -- some do, however. As for the very inexperienced, such as students, I think it's ok for them to get railpasses and special student fares from STA but that's not the same thing as just going to a travel agent in general. Also, STA has a lot of offices right around college campuses so it is convenient to drop in. My niece, who is a travel agent, used STA for a few things, but they didn't really do much of anything special or give any advice -- they were just a source of the railpasses. They might have explained use of them, but not very much -- I had to tell her about trains, couchettes, advice, etc even though I don't even take overnight trains or use Eurailpasses (I have used France passes). Of course, being young, she ignored me assuming I didn't know anything and then was crying and sick because she couldn't sleep and got disgusted on the overnight trains with the couchettes and worrying about getting stuff stolen, etc.

I also told her about hostels, which the travel agency didn't either, and again she ignored me and then had more unpleasant experiences with not being able to sleep, filth, etc. I told her all this but of course she wouldn't believe me.

So, I don't think they really did much, myself.
Christina is offline  
Aug 11th, 2003, 10:06 AM
  #5  
 
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if anyone read above, and was confused -- I had some mental lapse in writing that. My niece was NOT a travel agent, but a college student who went to the travel agency STA for some Europe traveling advice. In addition to above, I also advised her on booking rooms in Paris ahead during Fall, which she ignored, and then got put in a highrise in the suburbs by the tourist office and didn't really enjoy Paris very much as a consequence. Again, STA doesn't give much advice on lodging, if any.
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Aug 11th, 2003, 10:10 AM
  #6  
 
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He, don't we all post "out of the blue?" Personally, I don't like using travel agents because I love the preparation and figuring out for myself what I want to do. To me, that's half the fun.

That said, I know other people who just don't want to take the time to figure everything out, and they have used travel agents to secure flights, trains and hotels. They aren't old, but just don't want to hassle with arrangements. I have friends who did this last year and they had a great time.

teachersue, even though I don't use travel agents, they can certainly provide a service for people that need them. Unfortunately, it seems hard for people to find agents that are very knowledgable about Europe.


maitaitom is online now  
Aug 11th, 2003, 10:17 AM
  #7  
 
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My only experience with STA is that they gave me a higher price on a ticket than I found with a couple minutes of web searching.

My other experiences with travel agents in the last few years is that they continually quote higher ticket prices than I can find on my own, sometimes by several hundred dollars. They are not up on the latest deals (either for the US or Europe). If you don't know how to find these deals yourself (it's not very hard - just use a couple search engines), then a travel agent might help. They do not know about the best hotel deals. They certainly don't suggest using Priceline (which is great in many circumstances).

If you don't mind being given a package that will be some hundreds of dollars more expensive than you can find on your own, then by all means use a travel agent. Maybe there are some exceptions where a travel agent can save money, like for round-the-world tickets.

In my experience with eight or so hostels, I have not found hostels to be filthy and noisy, but I'm sure such hostels exist. The key to getting a good hostel is looking very closely at available reviews and seeking out hostels with good recommendations (best done by using the web and various travel forums).

The package holidays offered by airlines are generally fairly good deals (although you can usually do better on your own). So if someone does not want to do a lot of research, I don't think you will go wrong with those, for the most part, and it's a rare travel agent in my experience who will help you do better.
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