When not to use a travel agent

Using a travel agent has more benefits than most realize. The only instance when using a travel agent may not be in your best interest is when making flight reservations. Although your agent can save you time, unlike hotels, resorts, cruise lines, etc the airlines do not pay the agent (most of the time) so if the ONLY thing you want your agent to do is make a flight reservation, you’ll probably pay a little more.

Now, that extra few dollars may well be worth it, since the agent is still saving you valuable time and may be able to find a flight or fare that you can’t.

Travel agents have suffered of late with the rise of the internet. The average consumer can go online and book a cruise or a hotel. I will draw an analogy to real estate agents. You can sell your own house or search for one you want to buy, but the real estate agent does a far better job. In both cases you are dealing with professionals whose job it is to serve you and it doesn’t cost any more than doing it yourself.

Actually using a travel agent can save you money by having access to deals that you don’t. In addition a good agent has taken time to learn the products, their pros and cons and learned how best to create a vacation or travel experience that suits you.

The next time you are surfing the web for a cruise or resort and realize that you lost an entire evening with family and friends and still don’t know what to do, call me.

Over the bounding sea

June proved to have a wondrous surprise, a transatlantic journey on the QM2. Having completed and passed Cunard’s educational courses on their ships and destinations I earned a free trip with a companion on the QM2.

My daughter and I boarded the magnificent vessel uncertain of what 6 full days at sea would be like. Although I’ve been on ‘cruises’ there was never more than a day or so at sea, so 6 was going to be interesting.

One might expect to get bored, but we actually did not have enough time to do everything we wanted to do. We did manage to take an acting class with a troupe from RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), learn the basics of playing bridge and take afternoon tea. Besides the nightly entertainment and dancing the RADA troupe performed The Taming of the Shrew, which was great. Not to forget, the lecturers onboard were top notch. John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Dr. John McMichan of the Mayo Clinic and more.

Of course dining is always an experience on board a cruise ship and we made the most of it, with a lunch at Todd English and dinner at the Lotus.

Perhaps the best part of cruising is the people you meet. Most people who cruise look forward to dining with someone from across the country or across the world, and get surprised by connecting with someone in your own backyard. It’s amazing the differences and similarities you encounter with each conversation.

One couldn’t traverse the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Southhampton without taking a least a day or two in London. We did the whirlwind tour from Picadilly Circus to the Tower of London, catching sites like Big Ben, London Bridge, the Tower of London Bridge (beautiful) and taking the river cruise as well. The changing of the guard may be a touristy thing to do, but we were tourists and took in the full half hour ceremony.

Travel continues to be a delightful passion and I can’t wait to do more and help others experience our wonderful world.

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