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With a few keystrokes, you can find cheap travel deals on the web.
But travel agents, believe it or not, have access to information unavailable to you to get better deals. They obtain much of their information from the same sources as the booking sites we use. Additionally, they receive daily deals via e-mails and faxes that cannot always be found on the Internet.
Travel agents also can make phone calls and have direct communication with resorts and hotels to bargain for better deals.
» Learn more: Find more tips on traveling smarter
But doesn't the cost of using an agent invalidate the savings?
Not at all! The cost of using a travel agent is generally marginal, and oftentimes they won't charge you at all. Much of their money comes from the hotels and wholesalers they do business with. Before you consult an agent, be sure you first inquire about fees. If you won't miss the amount, go ahead and proceed. Because agents have access to everything on the Internet along with supplemental insider information, you can rest assured they will find you the very best deal to meet your needs.
Should I use a travel agent to book every flight?
Don't be silly. If you're flying from Milwaukee to Cleveland to visit family, it's doubtful a travel agent will save you much, if any, money. Don't waste your time. Hop on Cheapoair and find the best rate in 10 minutes from the comfort of your home.
But there are a number of situations where employing a travel agent actually makes sense. If you're traveling internationally --especially to a country you've never visited -- a travel agent can be an invaluable resource in helping you navigate the unfamiliar terrain.
You can get help booking with foreign services and ask questions to your heart's content. Traveling to other countries can be a tricky business, and arming yourself with information is essential. Online sources can help you to some extent, but remember, many websites are actively trying to sell you a product or a service and their information may not be wholly objective.
Group travel is another common situation that can greatly benefit from an agent's touch. Coordinating bookings across multiple parties can get messy. A travel agent can keep things organized, negotiate with services and personally work out any complications that may arise. Rather than trying to reserve rooms in the same hotels and seats on the same flights with multiple credit cards and names, let a travel agent do the dirty work.
Travel agents are also wonderful for providing destination advice. Many specialize in particular destinations and will be able to provide insight as to how you should structure your visit. If you need help hammering out the particulars, seek expert advice. Agents will direct you to the services, facilities and entertainment that best align with your interests and needs.
How do I find a good travel agent?
Several websites can help you track down and contact suitable travel agents. TravelSense.org, operated by the International Air Transport Association, allows you to search by a number of useful parameters including specialty and geographic location.
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