While we may not be travelling much right now, someday (hopefully) we’ll be able to safely hop on planes and visit other states and countries with some regularity. In pre-pandemic times, you may never have thought twice about using sites like Kayak or Expedia, or simply googling to make your own travel arrangements or find a great deal. But navigating mid- and post-COVID restrictions may be harder to DIY, which may explain why travel agents are seeing more demand for their services.
Travel agents have a wealth of industry expertise and relationships. Not only can they plan an itinerary, but they can also help you find great deals and advocate for you when things go wrong. And their services are often free to use — some are paid by suppliers, and others may charge a fee that’s deducted from your trip cost.
So should you use a travel agent? And if so, when?
- You’re travelling at the last minute. If you have limited time to get your plans in order, a travel agent can take care of details on short notice.
- You’re travelling to a remote location. Travel agents have expertise and connections, so they can identify details that you may not think of.
- You’re planning a complicated or expensive itinerary. If you’re heading to a new place and you don’t know where to start with planning, a travel agent can help. Similarly, if you’re dropping a ton of money on your trip, a travel agent can make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.
- You’re travelling with a large group. Booking a bunch of tickets, tours, and transportation on your own can feel overwhelming — this is what travel agents specialise in.
- You’re going on a cruise. We may never go on cruises ever again, but if you do, travel agents’ relationships with cruise lines can net you a good deal.
- You need help navigating travel restrictions. This applies to COVID, but it’s also helpful to have guidance when you’re dealing with visas and other entry requirements.
Travel agents likely aren’t worth looping in if all you’re doing is booking a domestic flight and a rental car. Likewise, if you’re heading to a place you’ve been before or that’s easy to reach. But if you’re looking for an extra-special experience or a great value, a travel agent may be able to help.