Finding a good travel agent?

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  1. Hello Everyone

    I'm planning on going to Paris in May. I've never been out of the country before. I was wondering if I should use a Travel Agent? How much do Travel agents usually charge? Can a travel agent find you a good price for a flight and hotel room, too? I'll be flying from Houston to Paris. I prefer non-stop flights. Any tips or suggestions?

    tThank you
  2. I don't use a travel agent. I am a control freak and I prefer to do it myself. You don't pay the travel agent anything. The places that you book pay them.
  3. When I am booking flights, I start with Expedia or Orbitz to see what airlines are charging and who, if anyone flies direct. Depending on where you live, there are fewer direct flights now than ever before because after 911, airlines pulled a lot of routes. But Houston is big so you probably have a good shot. I never book the actual flights through those third party sources because a) they are not any cheaper and B) it just opens you up to more problems. Just as an FYI, the cost of a direct flight is usually higher so if budget is a concern, that's good to know.

    I usually use trip advisor to pick hotels. But again, don't book through them. The prices, especially in Europe, are often cheaper if you email the hotel directly. But you can find the hotel on trip YOu can pick how many stars you want and read reviews, which is helpful. It will tell you all the amenities of the hotel and the rates. It can take a half day for the hotel to email you back but I find they are pretty responsive.
  4. I DIY, exactly like Allison. It's so much easier to spend the time yourself to get your preferred flight times, carriers, hotels, etc.

    Not a smarta$$ question - I'm genuinely curious. Do people use travel agents anymore?
  5. #5 Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
    Yes! When I go overseas I do. Luxury hotels will give better deals through a TA than doing it on you own. (I've compared online) Free breakfast, massages, credit for other meals, flowers in the room, free water, sodas, juices, etc. TA's offer interesting side trips that aren't available on line or to the general public. Those kind of things are worth using a TA.

    Or organized trips like African Safari. I like that they take care of everything, booking airline flights to get around within Africa to different reserves, cars to pick us up etc. They even get the visas some countries need.

    Biggest reason is the peace of mine that my TA will handle any problems that might come up. DH & I've been on trips with them. Even on vacation, they work. In constant contact with office & clients.

    Flights - I'm trying to using FF miles overseas. If that is a fail my TA uses a flight broker. Through her I bought first class united tickets for the fall to NYC at about what I normally pay for coach. He makes no money off of these, just passes it on as good customer service to his clients. I'm sure he makes enough off of the trip he sets up alone.

    OP- If you are just going to Paris, have a great guide book, don't think you need a TA. I believe there is a Paris thread here. Find the one on trip adviser. If you are half way organized you'll do fine.
  6. I travel quite often and I always do my own research and book everything myself but I have to say ... it takes time. The information out there can be overwhelming. I would be nice to leave it to someone else and save myself the time.
  7. Good to know VLL, especially for the nicer hotels and resorts!
  8. It's always a good idea to do your own research first, especially when it's a popular or less exotic destination, so you know if your TA is really giving you some perks or even overcharging you. I consulted with a TA (recommended by a friend) about a trip to Turkey. We needed visas and were going to take a guided tour with a Turkish tour company. The TA was going to charge me $400 per person for visas -- she said she had to courier our passports to the Turkish embassy in Ottawa. :rolleyes: Well, I searched online and discovered that we can get visas at the airport for $60! That's exactly what we did after arriving in Istanbul.

    Then I googled and found the tour company's website, sent them an email, and booked directly through them. I can't remember how much I saved by doing that but it was definitely less costly than if I had gone with the TA.

    So, moral of the story, do your research and then compare with what you can get through the TA!

    OP, there's nothing complex about going to Paris as there's so much info here and in travel forums, so I'm sure you can organize the trip yourself but if you don't have the time or inclination, then by all means use a TA. Now if you're going to Africa or Antarctica, that might be a different story. :smile:
  9. Thank you, Redney. My Mother recommended that I use one because of the fact that I've never traveled international before. I think she's worried about me being in Paris myself. :smile:
  10. Thank you Vegas Long Legs, I've just ordered the Rick Steve's French Phrases and Paris 2014 Travel Guide.
  11. If looking for flight prices kayak will give you more options than Expedia, Orbitz or travelocity.
  12. I like Rick Steve's stuff. I don't think your mother needs to worry. I found Paris to be very safe & it seemed like most people speak english. I asked a waiter about this & he said english was mandatory in his school.

    Learn a phrase of two of French. They appreciate you trying. It shows respect & that you 'get' you are not in the US. Some americans get ticked off when in a foreign country & people can't speak english. Yeah, low awareness.
  13. Thank you for the Information.

    BTW, I'm a only child and my mother is a worrier. Yes, I understand that she shouldn't worry. In addition, I have a new friend at my local starbucks that has family living France. He asked me to let him know when I'm going France and he also recommend that I go to the Tour Montparnasse ( It's the tallest building in Paris) at night :smile:

    The Rick Steve's books arrived today. These books are full of good information. I can see why you like Rick Steve's Stuff.
  14. Parents worry, it's part of the job. Just trying to give you some info to tell your mom to lessen the worry :tup:
    That starbuck's buddy is a good connection!
  15. #15 Apr 24, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
    Oh, Okay. I understand now. Good looking out. Thank you. I'll show her my travel guides.

    Yes, I agree with you about the Starbuck's buddy!! He rocks!! :biggrin: