In the ever-evolving world of travel, using a travel professional to decode your family vacation options can pay more dividends than ever before.
Here are five ideas to consider:
1. Is it travel time?
Prior to the pandemic, planning a vacation took time, knowledge, patience and perseverance. In the current era, keeping track of changing requirements and potential restrictions can be mind-boggling. This is where a travel agent can become a valuable member of your family’s travel planning team. The pros are up to date on the latest documentation requirements, closures and health-related recommendations. They can get to know your family’s needs, discuss budgets and bucket lists and offer suggestions for trips that fit your current comfort levels. Then, they’ll use their experience and skills to make even the most complicated itinerary your vacation reality.
2. How it works
Agents are compensated for their planning and execution in various ways. Some receive commissions paid by travel suppliers. Others charge consulting fees sometimes determined by the number of people traveling and the complexity of the trip. Still, others rely on a combination of both. Families also benefit from top agents’ access to upgrades, value-added options and other perks they can pass on to their clients. For many busy parents and grandparents, handing off the complicated job of trip planning to a professional is key to avoiding procrastination and getting a long-awaited vacation on the calendar. And should your trip take an unwelcome turn, a good agent will have your back to help with canceled flights, health challenges or the need for a last-minute shift in the itinerary.
3. Choose a specialist
If you are eager to visit a Disney resort; understand the evolving nature of the cruise world; visit a ski resort or explore a specific city, country or region, using an agent with that specialty can pay big dividends. Those pros can sort through the long list of cruise lines for the brand that best matches your travel expectations.
They’ll know how to book the best cabins, sort through meal and activity options and provide insight into how each member of the family might make the most of the sailing. Adventure pros may not be able to predict snow pack, but they can provide insight into which ski towns best fit your preferences. Theme park pros know the optimal weeks to visit, have tips for avoiding long lines and know which lodging options will work well for your crew. Eager to explore the Big Apple? Find an agent who can steer you toward family-friendly accommodations, kid-friendly guides and an itinerary that will appeal to every age group.
4. Travel is educational
A good agent can help incorporate travel into your family’s educational plan. With more families learning and working from home, a good agent can help zero in on destinations and lodging options that can maximize your current lifestyle.
Are you interested in boosting the year’s planned curriculum by adding literary or historical sites to your travel itineraries? Do you want more art, music and theater in the mix?
A good agent can help create a week, month, summer or multiyear plan that marries your family’s educational goals with your evolving lifestyle and love of travel.
5. Time well-spent
Family travel time is precious. Whether you’re traveling with the kids or with the extended family for a milestone birthday or anniversary celebration, you no doubt hope to return with treasured memories rather than tales of a trip gone wrong.
A travel agent’s professional guidance, grounded in research, experience and insider knowledge, can provide the edge you need to avoid potential snags and to experience a long-awaited and rewarding holiday.
(Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com)
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