So you’re all excited after discussing major plans for your first adventure abroad. You’ve organised with a few friends, that travelling Europe is the thing to do after finishing high school, and you’re determined to enjoy yourself whilst still young enough with no children to keep you back. I remember planning my First trip to Europe, it was a little overwhelming. In fact any first overseas trip requires planning.
But you’ve have relatives that have left home to live in another country, and you are longing to see them after years with no contact. (Apart from Skype or FaceTime of course!)
Whatever your reason for travelling, you need to plan carefully so that your trip runs as smooth as possible. Believe me, things can turn sour very quickly. Here’s a summary of the booking process you will have to go through with a travel agent.
Booking with an Agent
Oh yeah, walking into a travel agents to book a major trip abroad is one of the greatest moments one can have, the excitement and apprehension of leaving home to take on the world. However, this can be a little daunting for those inexperienced in the process of travel. Here is a general guide to walk you through.
- Not all travel agents are the same; some are more helpful and knowledgeable. Others may be more experienced in a particular type of travel, tours, student travel or senior’s tours for instance. My first recommendation would be to ask your friends or family if they have ever had a great experience with a particular travel company or individual agent. If not, search online forums to get an idea of popularity for a travel agent. Otherwise shop around a few agents and get a feel for their helpfulness.I’ve been travelling for years and was given a recommendation in 2013 which was a great help. I paid so much less for flights and car hire than ever in the past.
- Your first interaction with the agent would be to pick up some brochures and ask for some advice and recommendations. Take everything home and mull over your ideas, your brain will be spinning with all the options you have, and you will change your mind over and over. You do need to settle on a plan though; your agent will not be too impressed if you keep changing plans, although they will understand the first couple of times.
- Let the travel agent know your budget, this is a starting point and will give the agent an idea about whether you’ll be travelling in luxury or not. Generally the more you are prepared to pay, the better adventure you will have. In some cases though, you may enjoy a budget tour better, as half the experience is the people you meet, and you could be with an awesome tour group.
- Now, in regards to airline flights & car hire, try to book close to a year in advance to secure ‘Early bird’ deals. Yes, they have ‘Early bird’ deals for car hire also. This can save you thousands of dollars, seriously. In fact my last trip from Australia to the UK return for 2 adults & 2 children would cost approximately $9,500-$10,500 by searching individual online airlines. (This price is with well-respected airlines such as Emirates, Singapore, and Malaysian etc).The new agent I was recommended booked us with Singapore Airlines (Early bird) for $7,800. He also booked ‘Early bird’ car hire at a great rate also, so if you are in a position to book early, do so, it will pay off big time. You then have extra cash for eating, drinking and being merry!
- If you are unable to book early and want to book car hire, check with your local motor insurance company for discounts. Your local roadside assistance companies may have deals with a particular car hire company, this can help greatly.
- Another tip when booking your flight, is to request the individual seats. This is a more common thing these days, than it used to be. Your travel agent can get the seat location up on their computer screens and you can see the seats already taken and the ones still available. Obviously this is another benefit of booking early.
- One thing to remember with booking your seat though, it’s only a request. Generally you’ll get your seats if it’s in cattle class (Economy), however, not always. I had requested seats on the top level, at the rear of an A380 which was an economy section. My family and I got to the airport well before anyone else for our flight and we’re given other seats.My demands for my requested seats were heard on deaf ears. My suspicions are, that if a family member or close friend of somebody in ‘the know’ decides they want to fly on this aeroplane; they will get preferential treatment, hence, taking my seats! So just be aware, it is only a request.
When I was planning my first trip to Europe many years ago, I didn’t have the knowledge I do now, and as a result spent more dollars than I need to. Hopefully my advice here will give you some ideas to ask your agent when you walk in for the first time, looking as nervous as a first day school boy.
Even though booking your travels through a travel agent is the best option, you do have alternatives such as booking flights online. More about that in another article.