Travel Agent or No Travel Agent?

When I first started thinking about my big vacation, I absolutely thought I wanted to plan it 100% myself.  But after talking to some folks, I was convinced to try a friend’s travel agent.  She seemed fine, maybe a bit scatter brained, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and to see what she had to offer.

At this time, we had no idea where we wanted to go.  We knew one thing, we did not want to go somewhere generic, and it COULD NOT be a Sandals resort.  We wanted something warm in December.  That was pretty much it.  We hoped a travel agent might be able to provide us with some direction.

We never even got to that.  We went back and forth in emails about scheduling a time to meet, then we spoke on the phone once, and she seemed great.  That was  the last I spoke with her.  Several emails later, she apologized and said the snow storms kept her busy and when she was done re-routing folks she would get back to us. Five months later, still no word.

Needless to say… we moved on from her.

We are currently working with another travel agent, and so far I can’t say she is much better. She has been equally non-interested, or I guess “busy” working on travel emergencies.  She never gets back to me when she says she will, and she never has anything all that great to show me.  I seem to keep finding more information and better deals myself.  I keep comparing what she finds to what I found weeks ago while I was waiting for her response, and nothing is ever better. Ohhh… and she has called me the wrong name numerous times.

I want to ditch her, but feel bad.  Should I?

This isn’t all bad though.  In this time trying to do better than a travel agent, KA and I have found about a million different travel websites which have been helpful, each in their own way.  Some worth mentioning:

  • Luxury Link – this website sort of acts like eBay for hotels.  They only represent hotels they consider “luxury”.  I have never purchased any trips on there, but I like to go to it for hotel recommendations.  The prices also seem fantastic compared to the actual hotel’s website prices.  So if you find a hotel on this site you like, it’s probably a good deal.  It’s easy to sit on here for days just to see whats out there.
  • Kiwi Collection – Similar to Luxury Link in that only has hotels they feel fit the standard.  Again, I’ve mostly used this to find places.  I like this one because you can search based on what things you’re looking for like beach with bungalows and plunge pools, rather that just by date and place.
  • – It’s the Ideeli/Gilt Groupe/etc. of hotels!
  • Fare Compare –  This site is very helpful with flight costs.  They give you a ton of useful information on when to book and when to get the best discounts.
  • Fly Here – This website is super helpful when you need to find out what airlines fly to which places and who flies direct etc.  You actually are able to search on a map and just put in your destination airport and it will show you who flies on what days into that airport.  For remote locations, this is incredibly helpful to see where you need to fly through to get to your destination.
  • Wiki Travel – If you haven’t found this yet, you’re really missing out.  You can search any destination and it gives you a quick run down of things you need to know.  As with anything on wiki, do some backup research, but it’s a great place to start when your looking at destinations.

[Has anyone else found totally useless lately?]