Like many fellow backpackers on a budget, I plan a lot of my travelling first hand. With the increasing popularity of online booking websites, travel blogs and social media influencers, it's no wonder that the need for travel agencies is now questioned.
Sure, travel agents are not as common as they once were, but the insightful expertise they provide is still highly demanded by Millenials. Here is why you should still opt for a travel expert:
Knowledge - If you have never been to the region you are traveling to, a travel agent can recommend the best flights, hotels and attractions throughout your journey. Often or not, the agent has already ‘been there, done that, got the postcard to prove it’. With the use of their personal experiences, your travel professional can highlight the most reliable plane companies, the safest regions/hotels/hostels to stay in, what attractions are going to fulfil your adventurous needs, which activities are suitable to do alone, and which would be safer to participate in a group for.
Accountability - Imagine…you’re backpacking around South East Asia, your transfer has been cancelled, but you have a 3 week tour around Vietnam starting in 12 hours which you are likely to miss. Panic and stress start to kick in! However, your travel agent is there for you to turn to in these times of chaos. They are accountable not only to their employer, but to their clients. Your travel agent is someone who personally knows your travel plans and can therefore tackle the dilemma immediately. Not only will this relieve you of stress, but also they can help you reach your final destination - safe, sound and in one piece.
Itinerary - It’s a rarity to find people who want to wing everything whilst travelling. If you’re that laid back, then I’ll admit you might be better off organising your travel plans yourself! A travel agent can set out a concise schedule showing what is included in your trip and trust me, this will make you feel at ease in an unfamiliar environment.
Insurance - Whilst travelling, it's almost guaranteed something is going to go pear shaped, whether that’s illness, cancellations or items getting lost/stolen. An agent can insure you have the correct insurance policy to cover the duration of your journey, plus the activities and adventures you’re participating in. Additionally, travel agencies have the contacts and resources to get their clients the urgent attention needed when problematic situations arise. When you are stranded, the online booking system won’t call you back with a plan!
Sustainable Tourism - Travel agencies delineate which tours or voluntary programmes etc. are the most sustainable and are causing the least harm to the host country/community. Not only that, but travel agencies have to guarantee all organisations they use are reliable, well known and highly praised by your fellow travellers.
Yes, you could book your travels from the comfort of your own bed, but I would definitely recommend considering travel agencies if you want an easy, stress free, quality adventure.