Most of the posts I write here are pretty general, but every once in a while something comes up specific to destination weddings. This is one such post.
It was not that long ago, really, that if you were planning on traveling, you talked to a travel agent (or so I have been told). But then this crazy thing called the Internet happened, and people were able to research online, look at hundreds of reviews online, book trips online…
I do a lot online. When we have traveled before, we have always used the Internet. We have not even talked to a travel agent before. Even getting a hotel room somewhere; we look and book online. We like the ease of it, and it is usually pretty darn budget savvy too.
But then we decided on a destination wedding.
There was some debate on whether or not to go with a travel agent. On the one hand, not going with a travel agent is generally cheaper. There is no way around it; you can book at your leisure, check prices all the time, score last minute deals…
But for our wedding? That just seemed so stressful. On the other hand was ease of mind – someone taking care of the “what ifs”, and, most importantly, taking care of the “what ifs” for all of out guests. I thought of having to call family members to nag them to book their rooms… no thank you. Then we found out we were coming out of different airports and would need a stopover in Toronto… oh goodness.
Next came the decision – an online travel agent or a local one? This could have gone either way, honestly. I just started emailing local travel agents first, and conversed briefly with those who responded. I did this very early; I figured if they took the time to answer my questions politely and efficiently that far out, they would be a fairly safe bet. One travel agent did just that. We spoke a few times, and I made my – er, our – decision. So we ended up going with a local travel agent.
Has it all been smooth sailing? No, certainly not. But our travel agent has been helpful, and though she has gotten mixed up a couple times, it has not (yet – knock on wood!) been anything serious, and overall she has been very helpful. It turns out we are flying out of three airports – including one in the States. We are meeting up for an overnight stopover in Toronto, and then carrying on to our destination. Coordinating all of that would have been so stressful for me. Dealing with the numerous (read: four) flight time (and day!) changes also would have driven me crazy. So we are happy with our decision to have a travel agent.
We really did not spend anymore than we would have booking on our own (never mind the peace of mind thing). If we were booking on our own, we would be waiting for a deal close (ish) to the wedding date. This would have been a bad mistake. Our resort is updating, rebranding, and changing to adults-only (read: bigger price tag). However, we booked earlier with our travel agent, so we do not have to worry about the price changes.
Plus, the adults-only change was very scary when we heard about it. My sister / maid of honor would only be 17 during our vacation. Not to fear though! After a frantic email, my travel agent got on the phone – er, email – and contacted everyone who needed to be contacted, and got permission for my sister to stay at the resort. That alone made me glad we did not book on our own.
Here are two tips though:
Tip #1: Find a travel agent who specializes in what you are after, if that is possible. While our specific travel agent HAS done destination weddings, she does not specialize in them (though someone at her office does, and in hindsight we probably would have gone with that individual, just for comfort and confidence, but we are certainly not complaining). Someone who has a lot of experience will be able to answer any questions you have, point you in the right direction, and even suggest locations to you when you are starting your search (we came with a place we wanted first, but if you do not know where you want to get married, they know what is required and good locations).
Tip #2: Find a travel agent who does not charge you a fee. Ours does not; otherwise we would have found someone else. This just makes sense: Why pay for something you can get for free?
Again, though, so happy with our decision so far! It is great to have someone “on your side” in the booking and planning process. She is not a wedding planner, but she is very knowledgeable and, for us, has been essential in the biggest part of a destination wedding – getting you to your destination!
Do you ever travel with a travel agent? Are you going through a travel agent to book your honeymoon, or handling the booking on your own?