Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Travel Agents?
Old 06-06-2012, 09:38 PM   #1
Full time employment: Posting here.
flyfishnevada's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Smith
Posts: 743
Travel Agents?

I'm starting to plan a trip to England/Scotland. We're a ways out since were paying off my DW's gall bladder surgery and likely my back surgery soon.

Anyway, never used a travel agent before, but this is likely to get complex. Flying from Reno, NV to London. Trains, hotels, possible tours, etc. Educate me. They are free? Charge a fee? Really necessary?
__________________

__________________
Retired July 4th, 2010 at age 43
Trout Bum, Writer, Full-Time Dad and Husband


flyfishnevada is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 06-07-2012, 03:48 AM   #2
Recycles dryer sheets
warrentalbot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Beijing, China
Posts: 58
Send a message via Skype™ to warrentalbot
We spent 3 months in the UK last year and absolutely loved it. I'm so excited to hear you all are heading there are you are sure to fall in love with the history, people, and the experiences you will have. I hope your trip includes Edinburgh which remains one of our favorite places in the world and some of the friendliest people we've met.

As for travel planning there are so many resources available today that I struggle to consider recommending a travel agent for such a trip. Obviously this is a matter or personal preference and the time you want to spend. For me, I love the planning and enjoy researching the options as it gets me excited for the trip itself.

The airfare is likely the easiest since there are some excellent sites available now. One of my favorites is Cheap Flights - Compare Airline Tickets with Skyscanner.com. It lets you select your destination and then you can see all the fares for an entire month to see which is the cheapest. I suspect you'll be flying in/out of Heathrow, but may want to look at Edinburgh as well just to see if you can save some money that way.

As for hotels, there are more resources than we can imagine but I suggest using TripAdvisor as you can see the reviews and then launch into booking sites. There are dozens of alternatives, but this is the closest to a travel agent you can find. Though it does require researching each location.

I believe if you were to provide an idea of the length of your trip, what you want to see/do, types of activities you enjoy, and the primary goal (history, food, culture, etc) then tall of us here would love to help. We may not be travel agents but I know we're passionate about travel and love to help.
__________________

__________________
warrentalbot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2012, 05:49 AM   #3
gone traveling
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Eastern PA
Posts: 3,851
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfishnevada View Post
They are free? Charge a fee? Really necessary?
Are they free? Yes - they get a kickback from the tour, airline, hotel on your booking.

Charge a fee? We've used them for over two decades and never payed a thing. In a lot of cases, they were able to get a cheaper air seat than the discount on-line sites, since they book the entire trip - not just a portion of it.

Really neessary? That's your call. There are a lot more "assets" available on line today compared to many years ago, and if you feel comfortable with that, fine. However, we've been using them (actually only two people all these years) so we've gotten quite used to the personal attention we get. Also, it's good to have a single number to call "back home" if things go wrong with your trip, especially if you are travelling internationally.

For instance, our current agent was running multiple 24-hour days to take care of getting hotel rooms, ground transportation, and re-booking air/cruise during the Iceland volcano "situation" a few years ago for both the people who were to travel, and those that were "stuck over there" when the volcano started to make trouble. How do we know? Because we were going on a Baltic cruise a week after the planes started to fly again, and he constantly kept us informed of the situation and was ready to rebook all accomodiations if needed. Just an example of the reason we use an agent rather than just do it ourselves.

BTW, we'll be back to Scotland in September. I'm sure you will enjoy it (regardless of who makes the arrangements). This time it's an escorted tour rather than a "drive your own" tour as we had done in the past. Getting too old to worry about driving "on the wrong side of the road" as I have done several times in the past ...
__________________
rescueme is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2012, 06:09 AM   #4
Moderator
Sarah in SC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 13,456
We had a few threads about travel agents I seem to recall. I think that for a trip like you've described, I would DIY with the resources available on the 'net.
But, if you wanted to find an agent, I'd start in your hometown. Usually they get paid by the hotels and tour companies (commission) which means they will be recommending nicer upscale places that can afford such commissions. Not a bad thing, just how they are paid. And they will likely want you to make your own flight reservations or just do it as a courtesy if your trip is expensive enough.
__________________
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

Sarah in SC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2012, 08:26 AM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,871
It depends on what kind of a trip you want to take and how much hand holding you would like. I set up all my trips (usually to South / Central America) myself over the internet and I believe that in the UK their English is even better.
__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2012, 09:09 AM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,988
Things can still go awry when using a travel agent.

The last time I used an agent was in 1996 for a February trip to Key West.

They made our flight, car, and hotel reservations. When we landed in Miami, I went to pick up the rental car (with my reservation number) only to find out that there were ZERO, ZIP, NADA rental cars available in town (due to a huge boat show) and the closest rental cars available were in ATLANTA!

Multiple phone calls to the agent still did not generate a rental car. I forget all of the sordid details. But eventually, we ended-up flagging down a white van that was going to be picking up passengers at another gate and taking them to Marathon Key (about 50 miles from Key West) and explaining to the surprised driver that we needed him to drive us to Key West.

This delayed us several hours and we still did not have a car when we got to KW. Our hotel was far from the heart of KW, so we spent a lot of time and money getting taxis to go anywhere.

omni
__________________
omni550 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2012, 09:15 AM   #7
Moderator
ziggy29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 15,612
My wife did some travel agent work a few years ago. Basically, if you want to book travel for which agents still receive a commission -- such as cruises and tour packages -- they will generally work for "free" to the client, since their compensation is paid by the tour company or the cruise line.

But these days, there is increasing pressure on what few commissions remain. The airlines were among the first to eliminate agent commissions and hotels and car rental agencies quickly followed. If you need these things, most likely you will be charged a fee by the travel agent since they receive no commission in booking these.
__________________
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
ziggy29 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2012, 11:46 AM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Katsmeow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 3,392
We went to London last year and didn't use a travel agent. We did a lot of complex planning before going including setting up and buying tickets to various tours and buying a ticket to go to Paris for the day.

What ended up really helping the most was using the great forums at Trip Advisor. Every tour we considered we checked there. When we were planning to go to Paris for a day we considered paying for a tour to go there so someone would handle the logistics. With the help of the fine folks at Trip Advisor we just ended up buying our Eurostar ticket online and printed out very detailed advice as to which subway to take in Paris to go to our first destination and then how to get on one of the daily tour busses.

The point being -- my travel agent was Trip Advisor which was sort of like having a 100 travel agents.
__________________
Katsmeow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2012, 08:34 PM   #9
Full time employment: Posting here.
flyfishnevada's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Smith
Posts: 743
Yes, we are going to Edinburgh. I am of Scottish decent (McMartin of Clan Cameron) and always wanted to go. Then I saw Edinburgh on Ghost Adventures and was like wow! We want to stay near the vaults and do a lot of walking around and maybe some tours to other areas of the country. We will do a few days in London too.

My original plan was all that plus Paris, Disneyland Paris (bucket list includes visiting all the Disney parks) and Normandy (WWII buff and bucket list item), but that was getting either too long and expensive or to cramped for time. We'll do France next time.

Lean towards no agent. It's just a major undertaking and so many details. I just need to get organized and do some research I guess. I've screwed up my own plans (made flight reservations for Feb instead of March. Same dates each month messed me up), reserved a hotel through Travelocity with a confirmation and all and neither the hotel or Travelocity had a record of when we checked in and been screwed over by third parties. I'm sure TAs are the same. They make mistakes and third parties screw up their plans.

I really like Kayak for comparing stuff and now they incorporate TripAdvisor reviews and info. I have a feeling I'm going to need a new camera body when I get back from Edinburgh cause I'm going to wear it out. That and the extra suitcase for the memory cards
__________________
Retired July 4th, 2010 at age 43
Trout Bum, Writer, Full-Time Dad and Husband


flyfishnevada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 12:25 AM   #10
Full time employment: Posting here.
ShortInSeattle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Seattle
Posts: 517
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfishnevada
Yes, we are going to Edinburgh. I am of Scottish decent (McMartin of Clan Cameron) and always wanted to go. Then I saw Edinburgh on Ghost Adventures and was like wow! We want to stay near the vaults and do a lot of walking around and maybe some tours to other areas of the country. We will do a few days in London too.
Love love love Edinburgh. You'll have a wonderful time. The mercat ghost tours are a fun diversion.
__________________
ShortInSeattle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 09:55 AM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Lsbcal's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: west coast, hi there!
Posts: 5,673
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfishnevada View Post
Yes, we are going to Edinburgh. I am of Scottish decent (McMartin of Clan Cameron) and always wanted to go. Then I saw Edinburgh on Ghost Adventures and was like wow! We want to stay near the vaults and do a lot of walking around and maybe some tours to other areas of the country. We will do a few days in London too.
...
London, Bath, York, Edinburgh are nice destinations and reachable by train if you don't want to drive. I'd recommend checking out the Rick Steve's England book. We used this some years ago and he was quite accurate about his itinerary. Libraries generally will have a previous year's copy and if you like that then buy the current one. Haven't looked at the recent editions though. We rented a car in Bath and got used to driving on the opposite side of the road -- a bit scary though at first.

You might want to just go to a few cities and stay more days in each to avoid travel fatigue. That is what we are leaning towards nowadays.
__________________
Lsbcal is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 02:54 PM   #12
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
easysurfer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 7,883
Watched a story on NBC evening news saying that because nowadays, all these travel sites say "the best deal, bargain, bargain" that the information overload is causing confusion and the use of travel agents to sort out the clutter are on the rise again.
__________________
Have you ever seen a headstone with these words
"If only I had spent more time at work" ... from "Busy Man" sung by Billy Ray Cyrus
easysurfer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 03:16 PM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
2B's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 4,330
If you are going to go on a tour, I recommend you use a travel agent. I've used Affordable Tours (got to their website) for river cruises in Europe. In most cases they have a 5% discount over booking direct with the river cruise company. I've never booked a land tour so I'm not sure if there is a discount.

If you are going to travel on your own, I would suggest you do it yourself. Rick Steves is a good place to start. If you go to Scotland, you want his Great Britain book. It includes Scotland, Wales and England. Some people will dump on RS about his selections but I really think he gives good starting points for new travelers. He actually gives you a workable prioritization of sites and key attractions. When I use the other books, they seems to try to cover everything and everything is "wonderful and not to be missed." They would work great if you're going for a year or two.

Flights are easy to book. You can easily set up B&Bs over the internet or phone. TripAdvisor gives a lot of good information on "everywhere." They rate B&Bs and hotels. I would agree with their ratings whenever I've stayed at a place. It requires a little work but I think you can have a lot more fun than in an organized tour.
__________________
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane -- Marcus Aurelius
2B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 04:09 PM   #14
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Katsmeow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 3,392
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lsbcal View Post
London, Bath, York, Edinburgh are nice destinations and reachable by train if you don't want to drive.
When we went to London last year we took a couple of day trips by train and they were great. We took one to Paris (Eurostar) which was a very long day but a lot of fun.

Then we decided we wanted to go to Canterbury and after reading on TripAdvisor decided we could do this on our own and went by train and then walked around the city. It was also a highlight of the trip and very easy to do.

We did do one bus type tour because we wanted to do the private sunset visit to Stonehenge where you can go inside the stones. Theoretically you can buy individual tickets to do this but they were booked up far in advance. The other way to do is through a tour company. We ended up doing it through a tour company -- we also went to Windsor and Oxford -- and the visit to Stonehenge was the top thing that 3 of the 4 of us on the trip liked best (my teenage daughter loved Paris best).

I know -- big pile of stones by the road -- but going inside the stones at Stonehenge really was very special and was well worth the cost.
__________________
Katsmeow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 04:33 PM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Lsbcal's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: west coast, hi there!
Posts: 5,673
One day trip from London is Hampton Court. Very easy to get to by train as I recall. Lots of history and the last time we were there in 1996 I think, it had been nicely restored. The first time we were there was 1972. If you are into Henry VIII period history, this is a sure thing.
__________________
Lsbcal is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2012, 05:11 PM   #16
Full time employment: Posting here.
ronocnikral's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 852
I've never used a travel agent except when my parents unecessarily shelled out for their spoiled 14 yo son to go to france (with school).

I find half the fun is just navigating through the different cultures. Also, if I find something I like, I may want to spend more time there. If something turns out to be a bore, I like to move on.

I've found this website extremely helpful for navigating train systems across the world. The bloke is british, so a lot has to do with traveling from London, but it has great information. The Man in Seat Sixty-One...
__________________
ronocnikral is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2012, 09:46 PM   #17
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfishnevada View Post
Yes, we are going to Edinburgh. I am of Scottish decent (McMartin of Clan Cameron) and always wanted to go. Then I saw Edinburgh on Ghost Adventures and was like wow! We want to stay near the vaults and do a lot of walking around and maybe some tours to other areas of the country. We will do a few days in London too.
You're going to take an afternoon to fish a loch, right?
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-10-2012, 12:46 PM   #18
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Gone4Good's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 5,381
I think niche travel agents can be very helpful in certain instances, especially when planning a complex intinerary to regions not well served by the major domestic airlines.

For a U.K. trip, I think a regional guidebook + some internet time is all you'll really need.
__________________

__________________
Retired early, traveling perpetually.
Gone4Good is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:27 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.