I’m a diehard DIY traveler—until a travel agent saved me almost $400 on a recent flight to Ghana.
The unexpected discount made me realize I’d been missing out on an obvious (if old-school) way to save time and find better deals. Here’s when to consider closing your web browser and using a pro.
You’re pressed for time. An agent can spare you hours on Expedia—freeing you to plan the fun stuff. And if your vacay is on the short side, a pro will insure you don’t spend your one day in Florence when David is closed.
You’re headed to the developing world. A pro can head off surprises such as like airport tariffs you have to pay in cash or having enough blank pages in your passport. And when things go wrong (say, a typhoon or shoddy accommodations), your adviser will sort it out.
You’re toting tots. An agent can find a babysitter, locate a car seat, or even hook you up with a nursery. “Tell me what kinds of diapers. I’ll have them ready when you land,” says Anne Scully, president of McCabe World Travel in McLean, Virginia.
You’re staying at mainstream hotels. Scully says that, like many agents, she knows hotel managers, and when upgrades are available, she can nab them for you. Even if you end up paying the price quoted online, an agent can get you perks—free breakfast, spa credits, nicer rooms, and the like. Out of the Box
To fine a reliable agent, look for the CTA credential when doing a search for someone in your area. Note that payment is often built into your package—but you should always ask how you're being charged.