Planning and doing the extra research to pull off the perfect vacation can be exhausting and time consuming. Thankfully, that’s where a travel agent can step in and create an itinerary to fit your specific request while you dream about sipping cocktails at your beachfront resort in Cannes. But before Vacation connects you to a travel specialist, there’s a few things you should consider before speaking with an expert travel agent.
We pulled together a quick list of things you should think about before your initial conversation with an agent, specifically the first 7 questions in our list. Checklist No. 8 through 15 are items that will come up to plan your trip, but a travel advisor will inform you of what’s required through this stress-free process.
1. Choose your vacation destination(s). Do you want to unwind on a private island, embark on an outdoor adventure in Patagonia, or plan your honeymoon in Hawaii? One of the most important details you want to lock down before you chat with a travel agent is where exactly you want to go.
2. Know your stage in trip planning. When talking to a travel agents, it’s always helpful to them if you know what stage you are in trip planning. Are you inspired to travel and just dreaming of an amazing vacation? Do you already know you’re going on vacation, but you just need help with ideas and details? Have you already selected a destination, but you need help booking it? All different questions that will allow a travel agent to hit the ground running if they know how they can assist you.
3. Choose a specific time to travel. Have an idea in mind about what time of year you’d like to make your dream vacation happen. For example, do you want to visit Paris in the Spring? And even if you don’t have a specific destination, you can let a travel agent know that you’d like to travel in April. In some cases, it might be necessary to provide a year. Some travelers plan several months to a year in advance for more elaborate trips. So, letting your travel agent know that you’re planning a honeymoon to celebrate your 20th anniversary or big a big retirement trip next year will be essential to the trip-planning process.
4. Set a budget. Be honest with yourself and have an accurate budget amount that a travel agent will have to work with to arrange your luxury vacation. It might be helpful to have an idea as to how much your trip may cost so there’s no sticker shock after talking to an agent. Set reasonable expectations for your budget range.
5. Is this trip to celebrate a special occasion? From renewing your vows to celebrating a milestone birthday to planning a fun multi-generational getaway with your family, it’s important for a travel agent to know if you’re traveling for a special occasion. A travel agent can arrange unique VIP experiences to make an event or celebration memorable.
6. Number of travel companions. The size of your travel party can directly affect the cost of your trip, so having an idea if your friends will be tagging along with you on what was your solo trip makes a difference to a travel agent. In some cases, booking a group of rooms at a resort or hotel can sometimes score cool perks. So, the number of people traveling with you has an impact on how a travel agent tailors a vacation. Have some ideas of where you’d like to stay.
7. Your planning style. A travel agent always goes the extra mile to make sure you have a pleasant trip-planning experience. Before he or she digs in and gets started, it’s also good to know how involved you want to be with the process. In planning your dream vacation, do you enjoy collaborating with an expert for additional ideas and inspiration? Are you more hands-off and looking for someone to lay it all out for you? Or are you looking for some expert advice? Of course, you could be a little bit of all of these but communicating that to your travel agent will help establish a smooth working relationship and set expectations.
8. What would you like to see or do? A travel agent will always make recommendations about what cultural sights you should see as well as local events or festivals you should consider checking out. But this is your vacation, so think about what types of activities you’d like to have as part of your customized itinerary, such as a winetasting tour, a cooking class with a local celebrity chef, a private tour of a popular historical site, or a hiking excursion that ends with a sunset toast.
9. Special travel requirements. Let your travel advisor know if you have special dietary requirements for meals served on your flight or if a beach near your hotel for your family vacation is wheelchair accessible. These types of special requests are important for your travel agent to know so that he or she ensures that your vacation goes well without a hitch.
10. Make sure you have or will have a valid passport. If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you have a passport that’s valid 6 months beyond the period of your intended stay.
11. Consider Global Entry and TSA Pre√. Make your next trip to the airport a little easier by applying for TSA Pre√ and cut down on the amount of time you spend in those airport security lines. You should also consider applying for Global Entry to expedite your entry back into the U.S. And if you apply for Global Entry, you automatically get TSA Pre√.
12. Will you need a Visa for entry into a foreign country? A travel agent will let you know what specific travel documents you will need if you’re traveling outside of the U.S. However, you can check the U.S. Department of State’s website (Travelers section) to determine if you need any special documentation to visit your vacation destination.
13. Determine if you need special immunization shots. A travel agent will inform you if there are specific immunization shots you may need before you travel. The U.S. Department of State’s and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s websites have all the information on vaccinations necessary before you go. And just FYI, it’s always best to get vaccinated 4-6 weeks before you travel.
14. Buy travel insurance. Every good plan needs a backup plan just in case. Don’t be surprised if your travel agent asks if you want to purchase travel insurance. Put your mind at ease and purchase it. You may not take full advantage of it but having that safety net in case of an illness or some other unexpected emergency is a better option than potentially losing thousands of dollars.
15. Find a knowledgeable travel agent that matches your travel style. At Vacation, we make sure you are matched with a travel agent who is experienced and knowledgeable about your vacation destination and your trip style (adventure, honeymoon, cruise, etc.). The more your travel agent knows, the easier it will be to customize an unforgettable luxury travel experience for you!