We’re aware that a lot of the people who read our travel blog are frequent flyers who know almost everything there is to know about travel. And we get that.
- They have status with their hotel brand(s) of choice (so do we)
- They know which credit cards to get so they’ll be reimbursed for travel purchases, have travel insurance, don’t have to pay luggage fees, and the list goes on and on (as do we)
- They have their lounges of choice and make sure they can get into them (we do too. Well, most of the time.)
But because we often talk about the oddball, not-so-glamorous parts of travel, we know that some of our readers don’t travel all the time.
- They may think TSA PreCheck isn’t worth it, because they only fly once a year (valid point)
- They value credit cards based on how much cashback they get, and where
- They think Holiday Inn Express is just fine (*cough* so do I *cough*)
And a lot of those people, because they don’t travel very often, and realize they don’t know (or care) about the ins and outs of travel as much as our Million Miler Platinum Elite readers, will consider using a travel agent (know how a travel AGENT and a Travel ADVISOR are different? Click here to learn the difference).
Before you think about using a travel agent, you should consider if you really need one. Here’s a good read which, by the way, was not written by a travel agent:
After reading it, you may have another question growing in your head…if you know the ins and outs of travel, you undoubtedly know how to spend money on travel. And if that’s the case, another question might come to mind:
Can a travel agent save you money?
The answer to that question is a little more complicated.
The good news is that you certainly won’t pay MORE if you use a travel agent (“TA” from here on in). And they may be able to save you some money, while you’re at it. How MUCH money they can save you will be a (wait for it) Your Mileage Mary Vary (you see what I did there?) situation.
The TA you use may know of niche discounts or sales that you don’t (i.e. “California Resident Only” discounts and you’re lucky enough to live in San Diego or Chico or something). They may also be able to get some extra money off for you if you combine things, like hotel + flight, hotel + flight + rental car.
A TA may also be able to get you little extras that you might not be able to get by yourself, simply because they’re TAs. If you book a Virgin Voyages cruise with a TA, for example, your TA should almost always be able to get you at least an extra $100 in Sailor’s Loot, which is money you can use for the spa, excursions, at bars, in the gift shops, etc. TAs also get deals directly from hotels and tour operators that you might not have access to, because they’re a TA and you’re not. They may also have contacts with certain resorts and hotels, so they can bargain for better deals.
However one HUGE thing that TAs will save you is TIME. And if, for you, time means money, then you’re going to save a fortune if you use a TA. Because they book travel for a living, they already have a knowledge base that you’d have to go from website to website to learn….which, of course, takes time. They can also do any research that would need to be done, say, for a certain tour or excursion…again, saving you the time of doing it yourself.
That being said, you want to make sure that your TA is knowledgeable about what they’re selling you. We haven’t used TAs a whole lot, because researching all that stuff is Joe’s hobby. But we tend to use TAs for cruises. We’ve had some TAs for cruises who were very good and some who, well, WE had to tell THEM what we’re entitled to (i.e. FL resident discount). You won’t necessarily LOSE any money by using a “not great” TA, but you may not save as much as you could, or get as many bennies as possible, if you’re using a TA who doesn’t know their stuff.
TAs can also make that HUGE, sometimes scary step of knowing what you want to do and making an itinerary out of it. Yep, after you tell them your priorities for a trip, they can use your ideas to create the best plans for you, without taking up your time.
And if you’re planning on getting travel insurance, who do you think is going to have a better idea of what kinds of policies are out there…you, who travels a couple of times per year, or a TA who does it for a living?
Plus, when an unfortunate issue happens? You’re not the one who has to figure out with the airline what your next step should be; that’s the TA’s job.
So a travel agent may save you a decent sum of money…OR they just get you a bunch of extras that you wouldn’t have been able to get by yourself. ORRR saves you hours upon hours of research. Either way, they’re saving you.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary