Many people take time in their retirement years to indulge in travel, whether at home or abroad. If this is part of your hope for retirement, consider the idea of using a travel planner or travel agent to make your trip a reality. While the Internet provides a wealth of information, it does not work to keep you on budget or give you direction. Today’s travel planner goes above and beyond the services of booking online, plus s/he can be your advocate if something goes wrong.
Let’s say you have always wanted to travel to Africa. You look at travel sites online with vendors who specialize in that area of the world. You find your perfect trip—including ideal tours and dates—which takes you through Cape Town, South Africa. You plug in your credit card information and you believe you are all set for your vacation. You may or may not take the time to read the tour vendor’s refund policy.
Now consider the same trip using the services of a travel agent. You sit down for over an hour discussing everything you want to see and do in Africa. Your agent puts together the tours, dates, and budget of your African adventure. Before your agent uses your credit card to book the trip, she lets you know that there is a serious water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa. She warns that you will be required to take 90-second showers and you will be expected to follow the same limitations on water as the rest of the community in South Africa. You can still choose to proceed. You simply do so as an informed consumer.
For many people, comfort is important while vacationing. A good travel agent can explain current travel safety advisories so that you can make an informed decision on whether to travel or not. Most of the time, a good travel planner will save you money because s/he has access to vendors who do not market directly to consumers online, so you have more travel choices. Travel agents are also privy to opportunities that are ideal for retired people, who often can be more flexible with time and dates.
You know you have a good travel agent if they ask you, “What is your budget?” They know it’s their job to keep your travel costs in line with your budget.
Travel agents also sell insurance to help protect your travel investments. (Because, let’s face it, some trips require years of saving and budgeting!) Such insurance can assist if your plans get altered or cancelled, or if there is a medical emergency. For instance, travel agents will know to tell you that in order to be covered for pre-existing health conditions, you will need to purchase insurance within 14 days from the day you book the first component of your trip. This is very important.
Look for a travel agent who stays informed on safety issues around the world. Such a person will make sure all of the details of your upcoming trip are covered and will be your advocate. Just like finding a trustworthy financial advisor, lawyer or accountant, find a travel agent who puts YOU first.