Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. More »

Business Traveller Flying to London? A London City Guide for Getting to the Centre

Business Traveller Flying to London? A London City Guide for Getting to the Centre

London. The vibrant, beating heart of the United Kingdom. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists, and for business travellers too. More »

Travel Pre And Post Internet

Travel Pre And Post Internet

I’ve been travelling for over 40 years – by thumb in my early days, by boots in the Scouts, a Lambretta came next and then my first old banger followed by newer old bangers to the beaches of the Costa Brava. More »

Top 12 Blogs For Travel Bloggers

Top 12 Blogs For Travel Bloggers

This is a list of creative travel blogs that I read and follow. They are written by independent travel writers, the list include those that I consider as heavy-weights in travel blogging. More »

Elements of a Strong Corporate Travel Program

Elements of a Strong Corporate Travel Program

In order to make the most of your corporate travel budget, it is critical to plan for leveraging your program for all it is worth. Telling travelers to select the lowest logical airfare is just not enough. More »

 

Travel Insurance Fraud The Consequences

bf8880.info1Rebecca and Shanti were both honest law-abiding citizens with law degrees from Sussex University, so it came as something of a surprise when they were recently arrested in Brazil for committing holiday insurance fraud. The two girls allegedly told the police that thieves had stolen around 1,000 of their possessions, including a camera and laptop computer. However, officers became suspicious of their calm demeanour and the fact that it had taken the girls days to report the alleged offence.

The police subsequently demanded to see the girls lodgings, where they claim to have uncovered all the possessions which the girls claimed had been stolen en-route to Brazils Iguassu Falls. Rebecca and Shanti could face up to five years imprisonment if they are found guilty of committing holiday insurance fraud in Brazil, and this sentence is actually quite lenient when you consider some of the punishments that they could face if they had committed the crime in a different country.

In England, tourists face up to 10 years imprisonment as a result of making fraudulent holiday insurance claims. This sentence could even be on top off additional penalties, such as repayment of the amount you claimed and compensation to your travel insurance company. You would have thought that the prospect of a ten year prison sentence would put most people of committing travel insurance fraud, but last year 4,300 dishonest claims worth 5million were made through holiday insurance companies in the UK alone.

Overseas police forces and travel insurance companies, have now started to get increasingly more vigilant about holiday insurance cheats, a policy which no doubt led to the arrest of Rebecca and Shanti. Details of fraudulent travel insurance claims have now been kept on an industry-wide database, which will be accessed by the Financial Services Authority and insurance companies. This means that anyone caught trying to commit holiday insurance fraud will now automatically face higher insurance costs and have difficulty obtaining other insurance cover, such as home insurance. On top of this, attempting to commit travel insurance fraud may also impact on your credit rating, which would make it more difficult to obtain goods or borrow money in the future.

It is reported that 75,000 Britons have at some point in their lives committed holiday insurance fraud, either by making a false claim or by exaggerating an existing one. Records from travel insurance companies show that Britons lose more Louis Vuitton luggage abroad than is actually ever sold in the UK.

So many fraudulent claims, however, could see the end of cheap travel insurance, as holiday insurance companies may need to put up their prices in order to make up for the losses that they may incur.

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Travel AgentBooking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

Clever safe private luxury travel, tailor-made worldwide adventures and cultural journeys take experience. Do not settle for less, book only with genuine travel professionals! Life is a journey, and travel inspirations for the discerning traveler begin with top travel leads.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3387032

Useful Tips for Vacation Traveling

bf8880.info3Traveling is one of the best ways to relax, meet new people, and visit beautiful places you have seen in movies. Many people can only dream of traveling to exotic places and seeing breathtaking views. Here are important Travel tips to consider. Get a good deal on a hotel. Unless you are staying with friends or family, you will probably be in the market for a good hotel room. Normally, you can spend your entire budget on hotels and motels. I suggest trying a site like priceline.com. You can name your own price, and get some really great deals on rooms and car rentals.

When you make your reservation, double-check that pets are allowed. An important advantage of reserving online is that you can see – in writing – whether or not pets are permitted and any restrictions. Online, you can print out your reservation receipt that includes the “pets allowed” information. Verbal reservations leave more room for misunderstanding and miscommunication. If reserving by telephone, ask the reservation person to mail you a confirmation receipt that includes the -pets allowed- information. Special Promotions “- Cruise Lines sometimes offer cabin upgrades as an incentive based on a qualifying factor. The qualification may be membership in a past passenger group, a group promotion, payment with a certain credit card, frequent flier promotion, or other qualification. Check with your agent at the time of booking to confirm whether any of these promotions are available.
Make other travel concomitant arrangements on time:

It is important that you make the arrangements for transport, that is, taxis or cabs on a prior basis so that you do not have to wait unnecessarily when you reach your travel destination. In fact, you should also book your accommodation previously so that you are saved of running around in an unknown territory looking for places to find a shelter at. Your travel agent can help you out in both these areas very easily as travel agents have contacts with all good accommodation keepers and transportation companies in various travel destinations. Travel mugs come in a variey of volume sizes too. If you only drink a small amount, consider a smaller 8 oz. travel mug. On the other hand, if you want a large amount of coffee or tea to drink, consider a larger 16 or 20 oz. travel mug. Online discount travel sites are websites that proffer valuable cheap airfare information. You can get cheap airfare by comparing and contrasting air prices on travel websites. Travel websites have one of the most exhaustive lists of cheap airfare information. Set your itinerary. Choose exactly the places that you want to visit. List your itinerary in a piece of paper and also, do not forget to book and reserve your visit especially if you want to go to museums etc.

If you plan to hire a car at your favorite destinations here are the tips for a safe and happy travel. During holiday driving spending hours together behind the wheel may cause fatigue and end up in undesired consequences.
Youssef Edward is an Electrical Engineer and he is the owner of tips-made-easy.info site. Learn more about Traveling below:
Tips For Traveling With Rover

Tips If Traveling To An Area With Bird Flu

A Travelers Guide To Wearing Hair Systems

Just like packing your suitcase, take the time to prepare for wearing your hair systems or hair extensions away from home  perfectly!

Hair replacement specialists agree that you really must take care of hair you wear  especially when on vacation or while traveling because things could go wrong. Whether you are traveling for business or for leisure, you definitely want to avoid any bad hair days or emergencies. A great rule of thumb is to have your hair serviced and styled as close as possible to the time you leave for your trip. This way you get to learn any limitations of the hair system you have and make adjustments, advises Lisa Lewis, certified Hair Replacement Specialist and owner of Wiggit II in Clovis, CA. I always give my clients a prescription card with every purchase or service that instructs them on the limitations of their hair systems as well as how to care for them and what to do in case of emergencies, says Lewis emphatically. Jeanne Sheldon, owner of Allusions Hair Restoration Studio in Cincinnati, OH agrees that clients should get advice from their hair replacement specialist on the type of attachment they have depending on the activity level of their trip, too.

Be hair-aware!

Hair replacement specialists agree that you always have to be mindful of your hair, how it is attached, and what type of hair and hair systems you use when travelling. For example, explains Lewis, If you have synthetic hair, you cant just jump into a Jacuzzi or lounge around in a sauna because your hair may melt! And with hair extensions, its widely known that a lot of water activities and/or washing puts stress on the attachments because of the weight of the water. Mimi Miller, a Hair Enhancement Specialist at Evolve Salon in Las Vegas, NV, actually prefers to use synthetic curly or wavy hair extensions for clients with that type of style who are going on vacation because they dont need to be styled, they hold their shape well, and theyre so inexpensive that they can be discarded when the client returns from her trip.

Jeanne Sheldon advises sunscreen for your hair systems. Hair color can oxidize under sun and chlorine exposure faster, so pack a sunscreen hair spray to prevent any possible color fade. Lewis advises clients to protect their long hair systems and style by braiding it together or putting it all into a pretty bun and to protect it from the sun by wearing a hat. And Miller adds, I also recommend that my clients wrap their heads in a scarf to prevent lift and tangling while sleeping, especially in humid climates. And, if they will be swimming in the ocean I advise them to apply a leave-in conditioner and a detangler both before AND after swimming in the ocean or pool. The experts agree that you have to be careful around the ocean because activity and salt content can activate tangling and pulling on the hair system.

Hairspray is the worst. Avoid wearing a lot of hairspray if youre going in the ocean because saltwater and hairspray combined cause the worst tangles, cautions Miller. Another issue is your destination. Many times if you are travelling from a cooler climate to hot, youll notice your hair system begin to lift, or adhesive can melt and drip out a little. Luckily it can be removed with a little alcohol on a toothbrush or orangewood stick (Never use a cotton ball which just sticks to it more!) and adhesive is tacky so it will re-stick if you just push down on it!

So take precautions to enjoy your vacation and your hair! But experts agree, see your hair replacement specialist as soon as you return to clean, freshen, repair, and re-attach any loose ends!

The Hair Replacement Emergency Kit

Always carry these four essentials to avoid hair disasters whenever you travelling, says Lisa Lewis:

1.A Prescription/Care Card for your hair system.
2.Bobby pins to hold hair extensions up if one comes loose.
3.Tiny rubber bands if braids come undone or to hold hair extensions in place.
4.Adhesive, tape, and/or clips in case hair system repairs are necessary.
5.If you have to bring alcohol, liquid adhesive or other solvent, be aware of the airport rules for carrying these liquids. Many airlines do not allow liquids to be stored in glass.

If you wear hair systems or hair extensions and you travel, make sure to look up hair replacement centers that are close to your destination. Call in advance and know their operating hours and contact information in case of an emergency.

Have Excuse, Will Travel Best Excuses To Go On Vacation

Do you recognize yourself in these situations?

1. In the last few years you’ve never been away from your home or your office any further than 5 miles. The most enjoyable experience you’ve had for 2007? Bowling with the officemates.
2. You’ve just signed your divorce papers or you’ve just moved out of your partner’s apartment.
3. You look like a ghost you’ve never been under the sun in the last 2 years.

Is that you looking pasty white? You are in serious need of a vacation. What? You don’t want to? Well, here are a few excuses to go on a vacation, and I’m sure after reading them, you’ll be raring to book the next flight out of town.

Poseidon resort in 2009

an aquatic fantasy teeming with life and beckoning adventure..

So maybe you need a year to save up for it, but if you’re going to be splurging on a luxury vacation, Poseidon Resort in Fiji is one resort you cannot miss in this lifetime. What’s so special about this? It’s the world’s first sea floor resort! Remember when you used to watch sci-fi movies about living under the sea, elevators from the ground going down to the depths of the ocean? Well live your sci-fi fantasies my friend! This will open in 2009, and they’re already taking reservations for their underwater suites. Now if you’re not exactly excited at the prospect of living underwater, they have five-star island villas to suit you.

Because you’ve worked too hard, and you deserve a break

Admit it, you’ve been working too hard. In fact, when people ask you how’s life, all you can talk about is work. Before you sleep, you think about work. Dedication to work isn’t bad, but too much of anything is a recipe for disaster. As much as possible, it’s recommended to take a break once in a while. Too much stress at work can lead to heart related problems, ergo, it can be deadly. For people who are about to reach the point of burn out, or hate their job, a vacation can do a whole lotta good: realize the important things in life, renew your love for your work – see it in a whole new light.

Death valley’s Spring Flowers

According the NYTIMES, a lot of bloggers have been speculating about the beautiful spring flowers to come out in Death Valley this year, due to the heavy rains of the past year. Death Valley is home to 1000 kinds of plants and flowers. The net is teeming with groups organizing events, photography sessions, etc., in the area to capture the dazzling display of flowers that only Death Valley National Park can produce.

Luxury travel is just a bid away

You’ve worked hard enough to earn yourself a vacation and not just any vacation a luxury cruise amongst the finest cruise destinations in the world. Or maybe you’d like to sip a little wine under the Tuscan sun? Well you don’t have to lose an arm and leg just to have the luxury travel experience of a lifetime. Luckily, there are luxury travel sites offering auction bidding on travel packages that’ll normally cost you several thousands of dollars.

Geocaching

If you’re more into adventure, then geocaching is for you. Geocaching is game for gps users where participants have a cache hunt – and maximize the abilities of their gps unit – while on their rv’s or other vehicles (but more users prefer rvs as these hunts go far and wide). If you have that spirit of adventure within you, and you have a gps in hand, then this is one vacation activity for you.

So many places to visit, so short a vacation. Now remember, you don’t really need an excuse to go on vacation, you know you just want one – everybody needs a break once in a while. Just make sure you’ve had your shots, you’ve made arrangements for your house, pets (if you have any), and of course your work. We don’t want you coming back to an empty house, hungry pets, and a memo at work now do we? Have a happy trip.

Great Travel Nursing Destinations In The Sunshine State

How many people have said, if they have one regret in life, that is that they didn’t travel more. If you are a travel nurse, luckily for you, there are so many travel nursing destinations for you to explore! Our world has so many exciting destinations to visit…do you dream of exploring the history, museums, cultures and cuisines of Europe? Do you long to spend time Down Under in Australia and New Zealand? Do you want to spend your days in a tropical locale like Hawaii or the Virgin Islands or would you prefer to simply explore everything that our magnificent country has to offer? Today, since we’re heading into the cold winter months, we’re going to highlight some great nursing destinations you should consider in the state of Florida for your next placement.
Spend the Winter In Sunny Florida
Have you ever wondered why the snowbirds flock to Florida this time of year? Florida is one of the best travel nursing destinations to consider if you want to stay warm in the winter months. Couple that with the fact that the snowbirds increase the population seasonally, you’ve also got increased demand for travel nurses during the winter months. The panhandle of Florida’s gulf coast is considered “The Emerald Coast” because of the emerald green waters and sugar white sand beaches.
Further on down the gulf coast you’ll come to the Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Sarasota areas. These popular areas remain warm year round, with lowest temperatures in January reaching 70 degrees for a high and 54 degrees for a low. Beautiful beaches, spectacular sunsets and lots of residents make this are one of the best travel nursing destinations for winter.
Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Marco Island are in the southwest corner of Florida and are popular areas for retired people and vacationers alike. Warmer temperatures make this part of Florida popular with the snowbirds, so once again, it is one of the best travel nursing destinations to consider for the winter months. Spend your days off exploring the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or searching for shells along the wide beaches of Sanibel or Captiva.
Moving over to the east coast of Florida you will find no shortage of travel nursing destinations to keep you warm through the winter. The southeast part of Florida has so many cities to choose from. Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are all serviced with major airports, making them popular travel destinations. Let’s not forget the old-school charm of the Florida Keys!
If you are based in Miami, you can spend your days off beaching, boating or driving down US 1 all the way to Key West for the sunset show! The keys are dotted with funky waterfront restaurants, beachfront resorts, and dive operators. Snorkel or dive the famous John Pennekamp State Park or arrange a swim with the dolphins on your days off. The upper keys are an easy and fun drive for the day!
If you’d like a warm assignment to get you through the cold months, consider these Florida cities! They are fun, warm and tropical travel nursing destinations that will allow you to enjoy the outdoors all winter long. Apply online and let us help you get the best pay with the most benefits in the top travel nursing destinations today!

Contact Lens Travel Guide 5 Easy Tips To Enjoy Vacation With Contacts On

So, all set to go on a leisure trip? Surely, your contact lenses are a part of the baggage. Quite certainly they are a great convenience on a vacation. You can move around and enjoy freely without having to care about the glasses. Whenever you like, you can take a plunge without worrying. That’s the rosy part. However, contact lenses may also be vacation spoilers if you are careless. So, take care of a few things and your vacation will be a heavenly one.

1. Keep a spare pair of contacts with you. Even if you do not wear the frequent replacement kind, you must carry another pair of contact lenses. Say, your lenses get damaged or lost in the middle of the vacation. It would really be a painful spoiler if you had to go from shop to shop looking for a pair of lenses. Better be prepared. Now, if you use disposable lenses, take a good supply of them with you so that you never fall short of them.

2. Lens case and solution are inseparable companions of the lenses. So, when you pack your bags, make sure they are a part of the baggage.

3. Contacts work well for swimmers. However, it is important that they do not come in contact with water because it contains a number of bacteria that can get into your eyes and cause infection. So, while swimming, wear tight goggles to prevent its contact with water. And if water finds its way into your eyes, take the contacts off as soon as you can and clean them so that the problematic organisms get done away with.

4. There are certain contact lenses that are capable of blocking the UV rays, but that is not enough because the lenses cover only a small area of the eyes and do not reduce glare. So, you’ll still need goggles for better protection against sun damage and sun glare. Better still, wear a sun hat as well for additional protection.

5. When you are on a flight, take the contacts off and put your glasses on because the environment inside the plane makes the lenses dry. On dehydrating, they start absorbing moisture from the eyes, which can leave your eyes dry. Besides, many people have the tendency to doze off in the plane. And sleeping with your contacts on is certainly not recommended. Therefore, it is safer to put the glasses on.

These are very simple precautions that do not take too much of effort but are very useful in warding off unwanted botheration during the vacation.

How to Tell a Good Travel Agent When You See One

You and your spouse have decided to go on a vacation. You’ve always wanted to get really away, and a trip to the relatives just doesn’t cut it any more. How do you plan your trip?

You could go online and dig around for travel tips (which you’re doing right now, unless this article is in a physical magazine). You will find more information online than you can possibly use–and some will be contradictory. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Every place will say it’s the best place to visit. Everyone will claim to have the best discount. No one will tell you the gotchas. (Some places do have negative comments, but how do you know if the comments aren’t just sour grapes?) What if price X changes while you’re looking at price Y? What about hidden costs, problems you might not think of, secret discounts you don’t know about, and pitfalls in processing your documents? Many dangers lurk in planning travel beyond your usual haunts. And don’t forget–all that research takes time. What’s your time worth?

You might visit a travel agent. Travel agents have a reputation for being expensive. After all, they have offices and all those fancy travel books and posters. As it happens, those ads and brochures are supplied by the cruise lines and travel companies. They pay the agents, too, normally. If an agent needs to charge you for a service, they will tell you up front. if you’re in a travel club, you can expect the agent to reduce or eliminate the commission, and have a ready supply of club discounts, further reducing the price. Ask yourself: What’s a travel agent’s knowledge and experience worth? They know the ropes, the pitfalls, the tricks of the trade; they have access to all the discounts, and they’ll save you time and stress–after you get to know a travel agent, one phone call can take care of everything.

Of course, you have the same problem picking a travel agent as you do making travel decisions online: Who’s good? For that matter, what is good in a travel agent? And how can you tell?

Here are a few ways to take the measure of a travel agent.

Are you connected to the agent? (This rule is good when you consider hiring a realtor or a funeral director, too.) If you know someone in the travel industry, they are more likely to want to give you exceptional service. After all, they see you socially. Maybe you know where they live. Good travel agents can be relatives, acquaintances, friends, and friends of friends.

Is the person well traveled? If they have been to where you want to go, all the better, but travel experience of any sort seasons a person. A travel agent who has personally been around the block a few times is a font of wisdom and advice.

Is the person detail oriented? Not necessarily neat (that is a good thing), but notice whether they find your file immediately. They should know where everything is and not have to hunt for things. You don’t want an absent-minded professor for a travel agent. You never (okay, hardly ever) see a good travel agent surprised by something, and they keep their promises about when they’ll have something for you. They are ready when you show up after that first, introductory meeting.

Is the agent you’re working with responsive? Do they answer phone calls and emails promptly? This is a must. Even if all they can say is that they need more time, they don’t make you wait for a reply.

Are they cost efficient? You can tell this by the number of choices they present you with. A lazy travel agent won’t research multiple options, won’t hunt for the best price, won’t spend any more time than necessary working up your vacation. You see them look up one thing and give you a price. A good agent will hunt down good deals, think of options (a nearby nice location that costs less, for example) that you didn’t consider, check with several wholesalers. Good agents give you a lot to choose from.
A good travel agent can handle a lot of that before-vacation hassle, and make your next trip more enjoyable while it’s happening.

Sometimes the best travel agent is one who works for you, not the travel companies. These folks are out of business, but they left behind a pretty good website. Serenity Travel Newark.com