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.
Flying 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
Exploring Montmartre in Paris.
Roaming Rue Crémieux in Paris.
Pistachio éclair? Yes, please.
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.
Enjoying the scenery in Menton, on the French Riviera.
Enjoying 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”.