Travel

Are You Confused by All the Travel Information Available on the Internet?

You can find so many information on the internet about travel right now. Online travel websites are available for all types of travel, including air, rail, and hotels. What is the best product for you? Is the hotel in the right location? Are you satisfied with the room or cabin that you have chosen? Are you sure that the cruise line is right for you? All products are not created equal. How can you tell the difference? Contact a travel professional.

Do travel agents exist?

Multiple articles have been written, and even the President has stated that travel agents are not going anywhere. They are correct in a sense. In the past, a travel agent was someone who booked a trip on behalf of someone who called or visited a storefront agency. These days, there are very few storefront travel agencies. Most of the “travel agents”, however, have returned to work. The term “travel agent”, as they are now called, is being relegated to the background.

Travel Counselors/Travel Professionals

They are more of a counselor than a adviser, so they are now known as Travel Professionals or Travel Counselors. The term “travel agent” is being dropped by the travel industry. They don’t just book a trip, they also know more about the available options for their clients. Travel professionals are now constantly learning and traveling. They also get input from other professionals about their travels.

You can use online travel agencies like Expedia or Travelocity. You don’t have anyone to protect you if you use an online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity, etc. You are responsible for booking the travel and you will be on your own. If your flight is canceled, who will book a substitute flight? They are not. You can use a professional travel agent to do it. Who will make sure that your trip goes smoothly, and that the room you have booked is exactly what you expected, even if something happens? The travel professional will also monitor for price drops and determine if a new promotion is more advantageous than the one that was paid with a deposit. These things can all be addressed before final payments.

From the moment you meet them, a travel professional will work with you until you return home safely and sound.

A Travel Professional Is more expensive

However, this is not always the case. While some travel professionals do charge fees, not all do. Because some vendors, such as hotels and airlines, don’t pay commissions or have reduced the commissions paid to travel professionals, this is true. Some travel professionals charge fees to make ends work. For domestic airline reservations, I charge $50 per head and $100 internationally. Sometimes, I may charge a fee for hotels if I’m putting together the entire trip myself. As the vendor earns a commission, I don’t have to charge any fees for booking a cruise or tour. The commission, regardless of whether you are using a travel professional or another vendor, is still being paid. Why not save time and hassle by using a professional travel agent?

Travel rules are always changing. It is the professional who can keep their clients on-track with them.

Passports

Did you know, for instance, that domestic travel will require a passport starting January 2016? The REAL ID Act is the law that makes this possible. All travelers must have a REAL ID-compliant ID that includes the following fields: full legal name and signature, date of birth, gender and unique identifying number. There are still some states that are not compliant. Are you aware of which states are compliant? Your travel professional does. American Samoa and Louisiana are the only states/territories that are outright non-compliant. Minnesota and New York offer an option for an Enhanced ID, but it comes at a price. Many residents don’t have one because it is optional. Some states have requested additional extensions. However, it is not clear if they will be granted. Technically, four states are currently non-compliant (Louisiana and Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, and American Samoa).

We don’t yet know if January 1, 2016, will be the deadline or if it will be later. This law will affect passport processing times for everyone. All 2006 passports that were issued to meet the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative are now expired, which means there will be a lot of renewals. Because of these renewals and the possibility of REAL ID enforcement, passport waiting times are likely to increase. The current wait time for standard passports has increased by one week to four to six weeks, and for expedited passports it has increased to three weeks. Based on your travel needs, expedited in person can take up to eight days.

Passports are also recommended for cruises, just as they are required to fly out of the United States. A passport is required to return to the United States from any foreign port. You are technically traveling internationally even though you are on a cruise that leaves the United States. Most ships are registered in other countries.

Example: Visas

An experienced travel professional can help you determine whether visas are necessary to travel to the destination you desire. They can tell you where to get that information if they aren’t sure. You don’t usually need a visa for most cruises, if you travel to and from the U.S. ports. This is known as a “closed loop” travel. However, this is not the case for most cruises. Double-check to make sure one is required.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is not all created equal. Do you need travel insurance? Absolutely!!! Absolutely! Third-party policies offer more coverage. Travel insurance does not cover cancellation, lost or damaged luggage. Travel outside the United States is not covered by some health insurance companies. Medicare does not. Your primary insurance for travel is your insurance that covers you from the moment you depart to the moment you return home. It provides emergency evacuation for medical reasons, and covers you for any other items. To see the details covered, make sure you read the policy. You can find out which travel insurance company is best from your travel professional.

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