Why You Need a Travel Agent

Let me start by premising this article with the bold fact that having a travel agent has actually saved me money on my travels. Let alone headaches, mistakes, and so much more. Let me also state that this is not a sponsored post. I’m just writing about the awesome service I’ve received from my travel agent, Julio, at TomFlies.com 

There are SO MANY reasons booking travel with a travel agent is a better route (no travel pun intended) than planning it all on your own, but instead of creating a mundane list – I’m going to paint a picture of my recent time spent in France.

Why You Need a Travel Agent - Get Lost With jackieFlying over France.

I arrived in Paris on August 25 on a direct flight from JFK that cost me $319.12 (I had seen this same flight online advertised for $329). In addition to the actual flight itself – this price also included my checked bag (advertised on norwegian.com’s UK site as 40 GBP – about a $48.95 charge in USD for a checked bag on an International flight).

Total Savings On Flight: $58.83

I then had every intention to purchase a two country train pass from RailEurope. I informed Julio as such, to which he told me to let him do some research before moving forward with the pass. After he did his research he found out that I’d essentially be throwing away my money.

The cost of a Eurail Pass for France and Italy was a base price of $490 and on top of that I would have to make reservations – which vary depending on the length of the train travel as well as the destination. All in all, the grand total I’d be looking at was $598. Julio was able to accommodate me, on all the same trains, all in first class – for $422 – including insurance – without my booking the Eurail Pass.

Total Savings On Trains: $176.00

Now, things don’t always go as planned. I was having such a good time exploring Paris with a few friends that reside there that I didn’t want to leave. Instead of trying to figure out how to exchange my train tickets, refund or recycle them – all I had to do was call Julio (or in my case, shoot him a WhatsApp message) and explain to him “I think I’m going to skip Strasbourg and Colmar and head straight to Lyon from Paris” and he handled the rest. I originally had him book Paris – Strasbourg, Strasbourg – Colmar, Colmar – Lyon and now I was looking for a completely different trip of just Paris – Lyon.

Had I booked my tickets without Julio, I would’ve never purchased the insurance which means that I would’ve been out $207. But, thanks to the expert advice from a professional, I had the insurance and was able to refund two of the tickets and exchange the other and get a refund of $78.

Total Savings on Trains + Refunds: $254

Why You Need a Travel Agent - Get Lost With jackieExploring Montmartre in Paris.

Why You Need a Travel Agent - Get Lost With jackieRoaming Rue Crémieux in Paris.

Why You Need a Travel Agent - Get Lost With jackiePistachio éclair? Yes, please.

Why You Need a Travel Agent - Get Lost With jackieWhat trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower?

What trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower?The old town of Lyon catered to everything that I love about Europe!

After Lyon I traveled down to Nice, on the French Riviera. What a GORGEOUS slice of earth the French Riviera is! I wined and dined and swam and sun bathed and explored and explored some more.

Why You Need a Travel Agent - Get Lost With jackieEnjoying the scenery in Menton, on the French Riviera.

Why You Need a Travel Agent - Get Lost With jackieEnjoying the sun in Nice. Crispy forehead, and all.

I mentioned before that things don’t always go as planned. Well, it turns out that the entire country of France was experiencing a stomach flu epidemic – which I caught, the day after getting food poisoning in Nice. F. M. L.

I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy. I wasn’t able to keep anything down and besides not wanting to switch hotels and cities every two days (via lifting my heavy luggage on and off of trains) – I also didn’t feel physically up to the task of traveling. I needed to go home. Stat. Enter, once again, my awesome travel agent – Julio.

I informed him that I wanted the fastest route home (aka no stopovers) from the closest city to Nice and he was able to book me a flight to JFK from Milan (a 4 hour 30 minute, $45 – first class, train ride from Nice) on a non-stop ticket, as well as a return flight to complete my Italy trip the following month, for $424.92.

I’ve paid more than that to fly to JFK from Fort Lauderdale. I couldn’t believe that this was the cost of roundtrip, direct flights to/from the states and Europe. When I went on delta.com to look up the same flights he had booked me they were priced at over $1,200 and on Skyscanner (typically the ‘cheapest’ way to book) they were over $650.

Total Savings on Return Flights: $226

On top of the extreme savings on flights Julio was also able to acquire me refunds on all the remaining train tickets I had booked – without my even putting in any claim with my insurance company!

Total Savings on Trains (including all refunds and booking a new ticket from Nice-Milan) $209

A lot of people are under this awful misconception that travel agents charge you more than booking sites like Expedia or Booking.com but the truth is that a travel agent not only can save you on initial booking but they have knowledge and expertise to assist you in planning the best trip possible and in doing so – they also save you money with that same knowledge and expertise.

A top of that – many travel agents are also passionate and avid travelers themselves which means that they enjoy making your trip as pleasurable and pleasant as possible! Without Julio I would’ve wasted over $900 on my trip to France. NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!

It also is extremely convenient to have someone who is accountable for your traveling while you’re abroad. Someone that you can WhatsApp message in a pinch because you’re so sick that you just want to go home – and that kind of human-to-human service is just not something you can acquire from a website that “guarantees the cheapest fares for booking”.

Why You Need a Travel Agent - Get Lost With jackie

28 comments so far.

28 responses to “Why You Need a Travel Agent”

  1. Jamie says:

    Terrific article. After reading this, I think I will consider a travel agent a type of travel insurance. If something goes wrong, or you need to change your travel schedule, the agent can do all the ‘fixing’ for you.

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      I couldn’t agree more! It’s much easier than going through major booking sites – plus you get a human-to-human experience!

  2. Honestly, this article has opened my eyes to a service I didn’t even realize was still relevant and could actually save you money! Definitely going to bookmark the guy you used, this service is pretty great for when you’re on the road and can’t/don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of changing things around.

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY TO READ THIS! My main mission in writing this post was to open peoples eyes to what they feel might be “archaic” or “a thing of the past”. Saving money is always in style in my mind LOL.Having him to help me make changes mid-route is just an added bonus!

  3. Delilah says:

    I definitely agree—working with agents saves you a lot of hassle and can definitely save you money. It sounds like you had a pretty extensive trip. How long did you end up spending in France?

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      I spent three weeks in France 🙂 it was a wonderful trip and I can’t wait to go back! I love France. 🙂

  4. Jess says:

    I’m so with you! I book all my own travel, but I’ve worked in the industry for 10 years and hubby is a pilot. Whenever friends or family ask me how to plan a big adventure I point them straight in the direction of a travel agent. They’re the ones who can navigate the system for you and save you the big bucks 🙂

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      Yes, exactly! Recently he was able to acquire me a $2,300 upgrade (on top of an inital $150 savings compared to what I found online) that I would’ve never gotten if I had booked through a major booking engine!

  5. And how much did it cost to have Julio help you out?
    The few times I’ve gone to travel agents for help they’ve given me flight options more expensive than the ones I found myself so my experience isn’t that good. Possibly I was just unlucky! Or I’m one hell of a flight deal finder 😉

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      Maybe you were just unlucky! Every person I’ve sent to him has been able to see some sort of savings. 🙂 The prices I posted in this post were reflective including any fees he would have charged. A lot of people get hung up on “travel agency fees” but for me – it wouldn’t bother me even if he was taking 100% commission, if I was still saving money!

  6. Kiara says:

    I’ve only dealt with a travel agent during my travel in South Africa. And I’ve never really considered getting one when I go to Europe but now after reading this, I’m thinking about it.

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      It definitely can’t hurt to see what kind of pricing they can get for you before booking on your own!

  7. Allison says:

    I haven’t used a travel agent in decades so its interesting to see a different perspective. Great savings you made!

  8. Awesome post! As a tourism student, I love when people appreciate real professionals of the industry. You got really great savings, I was pretty surprised about the numbers.

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      Every time I go to him – I’m shocked by the savings! I also, personally, believe in supporting local, small business before automated or outsourced services but it’s just a bonus when they can show you savings, also!

  9. Kelly says:

    Wow, that’s some pretty incredible savings! We’ll have to try out an agent for our next trip!

  10. Serena says:

    So interesting – I had never considered it in this way before. It’s amazing what you saved! I usually just use Skyscanner
    PS: I love your amazing mid-flight shots 🙂

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      Thanks so much for my photo compliments! I can’t believe how much he was able to save me off of what skyscanner was finding! Definitely worth checking with him before booking!

  11. Leo says:

    Thanks for the excellent advice, it really is useful.

  12. Lorri says:

    Really excellent post, I definitely adore this website, keep on it.

  13. Erna says:

    Hi there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He consistently kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.

    Quite confident he’ll have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Rebecca says:

    Holy crap, you were able to save so much! I’ll definitely look into using a travel agent for a family trip to Italy in April. As much as I have traveled solo and navigated cheap travel before, I’ve never planned a trip for 4 people abroad so I’ll definitely have to take a look at a travel agent to see if they are able to help me save money!

    • Jacklyn Shields says:

      You totally should, Rebecca! Check out my friends at tomflies.com they’ll totally hook you up with expertise, advice and most importantly – savings!

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