Identify Your Travel Needs

by Keira on February 4, 2013

in Featured, Travel Tips

Snorkel with Stingrays

Keira is about to snorkel with stingrays.

Everybody wants to get the most out their vacation. A great first step to that end is to identify your personal travel needs. Take a look at these four types of vacations and answer these questions: What type of vacation sounds like bliss to you? Which has you most excited? Perhaps more than one of these options has you salivating and itching to go. Take notes and let your travel agent know!

Are you sport-oriented? Does the sound of hiking, whitewater rafting, hang-gliding, skiing, etc. sound like adrenaline boost you’ve been craving? If you said “yes”, then you should focus on having adventure oriented trips. Tame is lame. Get your heart racing by learning a new sport like scuba-diving or abseiling. Go on big thrills like zip-lining, bungee-jumping, and sky-diving. Swim with dolphins, or like me, swim with stingrays! There are all sorts of highly specialized travel companies with a vacation package designed just for you!

Are you fascinated by history? If you like learning and seeing history in person, you will want to find companies that cater to that. You should seek out museums to wander and take hosted tours. Tour guides will be knowledgeable whether you are taking a historic walking tour, an art and culture tour, exploring a wildlife reserve or touring national parks. You will never go wrong if you visit famous landmarks, world culture sites, and world class museums.

Are you hungry for local flavor? The way to your heart is through your stomach. It is time to expand your palate with food and wine tours, cuisine classes, local fairs, famous festivals, and local famers’ markets. Experiencing an up-tempo night life and parties tastes sweet to you. A great resource for you is Food Reference, which has a comprehensive list of food festivals in the US and around the world, broken down by month. It’s good to plan ahead!

Are you interested in relaxation and leisure? Your ideal way to travel is first class all the way with little to no fuss. You are ready to get away and leave behind all stressors. The best vacations for you would include spa retreats and shopping excursions. If you could soak up some sun, that would be even better! Soft sandy beaches with bright colored and clear waters are calling your name. A cruise, where you only had to unpack once, would be just the ticket allowing you to explore the full amenities of the ship. It’s time to unwind, let go, and say “ahh” as you sip a fruity little number.

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Snowed!

Oh Snowed!

You never realize just how valuable a travel agent is to your vacation until disaster strikes.

A few years ago, I was traveling to South America to take a cruise around the Antarctic Peninsula. This was the first time I had done something like that so my travel companion and I planned for eventualities. We booked our tickets with the cruise line (not recommended, because the travel insurance does not cover weather, which we thought it did) and planned to arrive in Argentina, a day ahead of boarding.

The cruise line booked us to fly north before heading south. It seemed extremely dumb at the time because we started at an international airport (MCO) and there was another south of us (MIA). Weather turned and we got stuck and then stranded in Atlanta as first our flight was delayed and then cancelled. We were shuffled out of the secure part of the airport to rebook and that was when having a travel agent worked to our advantage.

Our travel agent was booking us on flights as soon as one cancelled (and many did). She figured out how to get us out of the US when other travelers were giving up and figuring they’d get refunds on the cruise. Long story short, we managed to board a plane the next day and get to our cruise for a fabulous adventure at the bottom of the world.

I learned from that experience what to look for in a travel agent and the five most important items are:

  1. Knowledge: A knowledgeable travel agent is the first step for any strategic vacation plan. A good travel agent will know basics about areas where you want to travel, but a great agent will recommend places to go, things to do, what to pack, what to expect, etc.
  2. Willingness: If you have a knowledgeable travel agent, but your travel agent isn’t willing to work for you, then you are better off using Google to search the Internet for your travel needs. A travel agent willing to get you the best deal, to ensure you make it to your destination, or to assist in an emergency is worth her weight in gold.
  3. Ability: If willingness doesn’t match ability, you’re sunk. Your travel agent no matter how willing to help you also needs to have experience in her field. She should excel from start to finish concerning all aspects of your booking.
  4. Out-of-the-Box Thinking: When everybody else is stymied by the unexpected, your travel agent should remain cool, calm, and collected. She should be three steps ahead, coming up with alternative solutions while everybody else stews.
  5. Friendship: If you are friends with a travel agent, I would recommend using your friend at least once. Nine times out of ten, your friend will treat you better than any other travel agent you could find. They will go the extra mile for you and these are the miles that count!

If you find a travel agent with all five qualities, do not let her go! I know I haven’t!

Share your best/worst experiences with a travel agent!

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