Travel agent vs DIY

Old Feb 7th, 2014, 04:57 AM
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Travel agent vs DIY

I'm planning a trip to paris December this year. I'm just curious on opinions of travel agents vs doing it yourself. Any better savings? Maybe a better itinerary? My travel agent has lived and will retire in France.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 05:03 AM
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I'm not sure what a travel agent does for you, are you so time poor that you need someone to sort stuff out for you. In this case a TA sounds like a great idea.

On the other hand, if you have a little time and know what the sort of things you like to do on holiday (and things you don't like to do) then I'd use a place like fodors to modify your structure to get the best out of you trip before you place any orders.

I don't think it is about what the TA can offer but what your own issues are.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 05:09 AM
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I thought ta's were extinct.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 05:18 AM
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The agency where I worked (had 10 employees) in Madison, WI is defunkt. There are still two agencies in town, I think. Maybe cruise companies still pay a commission (airlines stopped years ago - - they used to pay 10% on every ticket sold, then dropped it to zero). And then there is always AAA.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 05:22 AM
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If you want travel advice from someone living in Paris, I and many others who post on this board live in Paris and we will charge you absolutely nothing, no fees, no commissions for what will most likely be the same advice your TA will give you.

If there is one destination on the globe where you will absolutely not need an agent´s advice or assistance, Paris is it.

What you do need is a good guide book. Your local library will have them, resale book stores have them (you do not need one published this year), and a wealth of information is available on line.

You certainly may use a TA but it is very unlikely to save you any money at all and it is much more likely to cost you money.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 05:38 AM
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I have a dear friend who has travelled extensively and was a travel agent at a large medical facility. I would trust her implicitly for finding things within a price range that I want. Most travel agents will only book top star hotels, and they may or may not really know diddly about a place first hand.
If you are going to France and want to use your TA, fine. Personally I would check here or a guide book to compare what he/she is suggesting with what others might.
France is certainly DEAD easy to plan a trip to--as are most other places you might be considering.
I planned trips to Europe long before the internet was available by using guide books. It is fun and easy, especially now.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 06:56 AM
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It really was just a time and money saving thing. I'm not someone who finds joy in planning vacations because I either feel like I try and do too much or end up doing too little. Shrug. I just wanted someone to plot the itinerary for me, I get easily overwhelmed.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 07:38 AM
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Why would you want someone else's itinerary? That seems really lazy to me, and hazardous in terms of the potential consequences. No one should need a travel agent for Paris or France; information abounds everywhere. Why would it save you money? As for the TA having lived in Paris/France...big deal. Lots of people right here, who charge nothing, do that.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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Actually I suffer from mental illness and it does affect the fact that I get overwhelmed and fixated on things which causes me stress not to be a sob story or anything but you know that's the truth of the matter

If anyone here would like to email me and help I'd be glad to hear from you.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 08:12 AM
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>>It really was just a time and money saving thing. <<

Just so you understand -- the TA will save you time - but won't save you any money at all. If you REALLY don't want to do any of it yourself - OK. But don't do it for budget reasons.

Plus - are you simply going to Paris? If so what do you expect the TA to do? Just book your flights and hotels? There isn't anything else you need to pre-plan/pre/book really.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 08:37 AM
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I don't think there are any flat answers to this, I think travel agents can make sense and save money for some kinds of people -- people who have a lot of people and expensive tastes and stay in expensive hotels or what very specialized, exotic itineraries. Or just unusual itineraries. I know Conde Nast Traveler has a least of very specialized agents for every country they publish annually and it is clear they can make sense for some people.

If you are going budget and just wanting train tickets, bus, and budget hotels, no, they won't save you money.

And plenty of people cannot plan a trip, either, not at all. They can't assess information or use a computer very well. I happen to have a relative like that, and not elderly, either. If one has no idea what to do, a travel agent could maybe come up with a better itinerary than they could on their own.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 08:52 AM
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sundaymorning...I was a travel agent for many years. Normally I would tell you that you can just do it yourself but some of your comments would lead me to think you may very well benefit from having an agent help you organize the best trip for you. Dec. is a long time away and you don't need to stress that long which you indicate is what you may do...also to get help here implies that you have done some research and then you can come here and ask questions. No one here is going to email you and plan your trip...planning even a simple trip requires some work with hotels and airfare and being prepared with the right passes etc. People here are knowledgeable and helpful but they don't personally know you and depending on your questions you may get one reply or 40 replies which will just confuse you. Just do remember agents don't make any money booking you in some of the more charming and interesting smaller hotels...but some people prefer the bigger ones agents deal with. I would check with your agent and see if she has a reasonable fee (some charge alot to sell you anything but a pre-fab package which I would not suggest) and see if it seems like a good option...or you can start here after some reserach (you need to do research no matter how you book) and ask some questions and see if forums work for you. Good luck
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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Well, she does say "Paris". REally, I think you can do this without getting overwhelmed. And it can be YOUR trip. How about telling us what you like to do--museums, sculpture, are you a shopper, do you enjoy food and cooking, do you like to walk a lot--that kind of thing. How about photography==like it?
Paris is a great city for any and all of that--or just sitting in a café and watching the world go by--which you also MUST do when in Paris!!
So, maybe some information and we can help you see the path!!
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 09:11 AM
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It's a toss between paris for 8 days or paris for 5 and london for 5.

Since this is fodors you'd probably recommend their guidebooks no? . I have london but not paris.

My TA recommended rick Steve's which I've never used and have heard mostly bad things about.

I use to like planning but like I said these days it's easy to get overwhelmed and stress due to health, I'm only 26 though so I'm comfortable with research and computers.

I like to eat but I'm not a foodie by any means and wouldn't splurge on an expensive meal, I love photography and pictures are one of the best parts of travel, I like museums and art but not too many to become fatigued. I especially like Monet. I've been to london twice and for me it's just walking around taking pictures seems to be the best part honestly. I love looking at the buildings and churches can be really pretty too. I love pictures
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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For a high budget trip a good TA can get you all sorts of extras that you might not get on your own - but you would have to use expensive hotels and other resources that will pay the TA a commission and/or pay them for their time.

My DH has a corporate travel agent and we have gotten wonderful upgrades, free use of spas, champagne and fruit on arrival, even free meals by using them - but only at the high budget hotels they have relationships with.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 09:14 AM
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Oh and I also really love parks even in cold December.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 09:26 AM
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>>My TA recommended rick Steve's which I've never used and have heard mostly bad things about. <<

Please clarify -- a Rick Steves tour - or just a Rick Steves guide book?

Rick Steves books aren't very good for the UK -- but are OK (sort of) for France.

If you really don't feel up to planning it yourself - have the TA book just your flights and hotel(s) (plus the Eurostar train IF you decide to visit both cities) and leave it at that. You really don't need any sort of tour for either of those cities. And if you are feeling slightly 'emotionally frail'/overwhelmed, having a low key/non regimented trip might be better than a tour w/ perhaps not-so-compatible members.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 09:29 AM
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"Since this is fodors you'd probably recommend their guidebooks no? ."

Never in a million years. I won't have them in the house (even when Fodors have offered me them for free).

One of the things this forum is good at is recommending guide books. For these two cities, there are thousands (I'm serious). Describe what you want from a guidebook first though.

For eight days, I wouldn't personally include London. If there's something specific you want to see there, there's nothing wrong with popping over for a few hours - but book the train as far ahead as possible (the kind of tip agents won't give you).

Nor, personally, would I (or do I) preplan a trip to a proper European city too much. Get a hotel as central as you can afford, spend your first day wandering around almost aimlessly (jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, you can't do much else), then work out the next six days once you've got to grips with the way the city works.

Remember to take your laptop or tablet with you, unless you're comfortable doing complicated research about opening times and walking direction on a smartphone.

Both cities (like Rome, Florence, Venice, Berlin, St Pete....) are far too stuffed with stuff you'll like to trust any third party (except a boy/girlfriend who knows you well) to decide for you what to see. The real reason everyone here's unanimously anti-agent isn't just the cost but the fact that they'll almost inevitably send you to the wrong places
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 10:10 AM
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Sunday, IMO about the best guide book you can get for Paris is the old green Michelin one. it's really easy to use and has great ideas for itineraries, and groups together places which are close to each other, or easy to get between.

in your situation, if you have a TA that you trust, by all means see what s/he can offer, but as your trip isn't til December, that's not a decision that you need to make yet. Take your time, decide where you actually want to go, and don't forget that if you decide on just Paris, you can always do a day trip [or an overnight] to London on eurostar. both Paris and London have great parks, wonderful galleries [Paris rather shades it when it comes to Monet] and shops with super Christmas displays. both have skating rinks - in Paris the one in front of the Hotel de Ville looked like fun but london has its own at Somerset House [which is the home of the terrific Courtauld gallery].

let's face it - either Paris or London, or both, would be terrific places to be in December.
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Old Feb 7th, 2014, 11:47 AM
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You cannot get an unbiased answer to your question, because you have asked it on a forum that is based around people who self-plan their travel... and love doing it.

For your own personal reasons you've stated, it sounds like a TA could be a good idea for you, to ease your stress and reduce any anxiety about the trip planning portion.
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