Travel agents are always available to help book vacations, but sometimes they aren’t necessary. Here’s how to know when you could save yourself some trouble by using one and when you’re better off booking on your own.

One thing to keep in mind is that travel agents don’t usually charge the customers, so they can be a reasonable option for booking. Their payments on the other hand come from deals with hotels and other places for using their companies.

One time when using a travel agent can save you a lot of trouble is if you are traveling in a group. Coordinating flight and hotel plans for a group can be pretty tricky, but a travel agent will be able to do it as well as deal with any hiccups along the way. Sometimes hotels or other bookings will try to be strict about certain aspects of the process but a travel agent will know when they are being truthful or just being difficult, and be able to streamline that encounter.

It’s also a good idea to use a travel agent when you know the general area that you want to visit but don’t have any idea what resort or even town to stay in. Experienced travel agents will be able to point you in the direction of the type of vibe that you are going for, and they often get great discounts through their connections that rival many of the last minute deals that you could find on your own anyway.

If this would be your first time traveling internationally you might find that it’s easier to book through a travel agent as well, since you can get all of your questions answered in the same place. Of course the internet is a great resource for a lot of travel related questions but the internet is also full of a lot of different opinions, and sometimes it’s best just to hear the perspective of a professional who has the facts.

You don’t need to use the services of a travel agent however if you are simply booking a flight and not trying to coordinate a hotel stay or other travel stops. Most people are plenty capable of finding a cheap flight on their own.┬áIf you are trying to travel with your accumulated points you actually can’t go through a travel agent, since they can not book the stuff using them for you. In that circumstance you’re on your own.

If you want to use deal sites like Groupon you also won’t need the services of a travel agent, although you will need to be a little more flexible with dates than you might be normally since those usually have plenty of restrictions involved like blackout dates or minimum night stays.

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