Which is Better: Planning My Own Itinerary or Booking with an Online Travel Agency?

By Alex Tran

Travel planning can be a myriad of things. It can be thrilling, or it can seem like a daunting task. For
people who have tried both, you know what the differences are when you book on your own versus with
an online travel agent.

By The average American visits 140 websites before booking their travels. This can mean a lot of time spent on research. The same report indicates that in the six weeks prior to booking, Americans spend an average total of 22.95 hours of digital travel media. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, the average hourly wage in the U.S. as of Aug. 2017 is registered at $26.39/hr, which means that it costs American travelers an average of $605.65 of work time spent researching and booking vacations.

Considering the value of your time, let’s talk about which option is better? Better is a relative term, so we’ve listed the benefits of either process so that you can decide which path to choose when planning your vacation.

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What are the benefits of planning your own travel?

Planning on your own can be great for many reasons.

1. You have control over your entire itinerary. If any changes need to be made, you have the authority to adjust your schedule as you see fit. Feel free to extend your travel a few more days so that you can spend more time in a particular part of the country.

2. You can often book for the cheapest price. If you’re great at finding deals, you can often travel on a budget. Travel does not have to be expensive, and putting in hours of research is sometimes worth it when you can travel to far off destinations for only a fraction of the cost.

3. You gain the knowledge of booking on your own. One of the most valuable things in life is learning how to do things on your own. You learn from your mistakes and become the expert after a good amount of experience.

What are the benefits of using a online travel agency to book your travel?

You work hard for your money. Maybe it’s time you treat yourself to the stress-free service of an online travel agency. You might be surprised at all the perks that come with using a third-party planner to book your trip. Here are some benefits of booking with a travel agent.

1. Insight and Expertise – Travel agents can help cut down the amount of research you need to do to plan the perfect trip. It can take hours and even days to sift through various blogs and forums looking for “the best things to do.” Instead of having to learn and research everything on your own time, a travel agent can give you insight about places you want to go. A travel agent is considered an expert in the field and have worked with clients or even traveled to the destinations on your list. They will leverage their knowledge of the best airlines, tours, hotels, excursions, cruises, and more. You’ll need to provide them with some details about your trip and your budget. A travel agent can use the information to create an itinerary specifically tailored for you and your family.

2. Access to the Best Insider Deals – Because travel agencies specialize in planning trips, they have established incredible relationships and access to wholesale pricing with some of the best travel brands in the industry. These relationships mean that your travel agent will be able to provide you with insider pricing in a variety of destinations. You’ll always receive preferential treatment, exclusive savings, behind-the-scenes access, and complimentary extras when you book through an online travel agent. If you were to try securing these discounts on your own, it would be darn near impossible.

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3. Saves You Time – If you’ve ever planned any type of vacation, you know just how time-consuming it can be. Not only does it take time, but trip-planning also requires patience and perseverance. And this gets even more complicated when your planning for a large group! Starting your vacation stressed out is no way to spend your time off. Let a travel agent take care of it all. Your travel agent will organize all the logistics—from coordinating your friends’ and family’s itineraries to finding the best guides in a foreign country to mapping out complex airline routings. You would save so much time letting a travel agent do what they do best and take care of it all for you.

4. Personal Travel Concierge – Your travel agent understands your preferences and interests are unique, and that your vacation should be a one of a kind experience. Travel agents design your vacation with you and your family in mind. A travel agent will handle all the little details to so that your trip matches your expectations. A travel agent will ensure the accuracy of your booking details, advise with visa applications, assist with travel documentation, and provide valuable travel hints and tips. You’ll feel like a VIP with all the trip personalization!

5. Worry Free Experience – Lastly, there is perhaps nothing more valuable than the peace-of-mind that comes with using a travel agent instead of planning your own vacation. If you experience a problem while travelling, your agent will act on your behalf, and is there to correct any travel snafus. Travel agents are equipped to handle every aspect of your travel – from booking airline tickets, ground transfers, tours and activities to arranging travel insurance. Go ahead and explore new places worry free! Travel agents anticipate your needs and have experience and relationships so that they can solve any problems with ease. Even if your trip is problem-free, simply knowing that your travel consultant is available for you is enough reason to go with a travel agency. As your advocate, your travel agent is there to support you every step of the way– from the planning stages til time you return home. The last thing you want to happen on your vacation is for something to go wrong and being unable to fix it!

A professional travel agent is trained to make your entire experience – from start to end – hassle free. They also tailor the itinerary to suit specific requests and find packages and products that suit your unique wants and needs.

So are travel agents still useful? It depends on the type of experience you want. If you are traveling in a group or spending way too much time planning your trip, we highly recommend booking with a travel agent so that your vacation is exactly that, a vacation! If you’re a budget traveler, maybe a travel agent isn’t for you. People have used travel agents to plan a honeymoon, a complex itinerary, corporate travel, or an expensive trip. Travel agents will make life easier and probably get your group bulk discounts. We recommend consulting with a travel agent just to see if it works for you. You may even get a better deal. You won’t know unless you try!

Want to see what we can offer you and your family? Please contact one of our agents today and we will work with you to get your dream adventure planned!