(This is first in the series which aims to capture all resources to help plan your own travel trip – ‘COMPLETE GUIDE FOR PLANNING YOUR OWN TRIP )
I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to visit some amazing places around the country and a few international. And at all those times, have never hired a travel agent (except once). I strongly believe that planning your own trip is as much fun and a learning experience as undertaking one.
Yes, most people do feel a little intimated by all the pre work required for a trip. But I can tell you that if done in a systematic manner, planning your own trip and doing everything is really lots of fun and satisfying than leaving it to some travel agent (however reputable they may be).
So this series of post is all about breaking the elements that go into planning a trip and the resources which would help you do it efficiently and effectively. I must confess that I don’t have any bias for any particular resource and everything posted here is based out of my own experience in planning trips with the intention that it could help those who would like to plan their own trip but may not be sure how to go about it.
This is not just one off post but a series of a post each one addressing one important question.
So this post answers the basic question
Why is planning your own trip better than hiring a travel agent?
Not that I am against travel agents. Unfortunately we don’t have real travel advisers in our country who can really accentuate a travel experience like they do abroad (Of course they come at a price). Here we have to do with travel agents who are only money minded and don’t really care for the experience offered to their customers. So with this scenario the best way out to have an enjoyable experience is to plan your own trip.
(I am not comparing against group tours arranged by travel agents. They are a strict no no. They only work if you have elderly people going on a tour who want a safety blanket. Even the customized tours offered by the travel agents are best avoided for reasons mentioned below. Any travel agent who claims to offer the below four points in their customized tour would end up charging you 50% more than what you can do on your own. And that is a reality)
Listed below are some advantages of planning your own trip.
Enjoy at your convenience
The biggest advantage DIY (Do It Yourself) trip offers you is the flexibility to decide your own trip itinerary. You can actually create a detailed itinerary, hour by hour as per your preference, based on research. You are not at the mercy of the travel agents to decide where to go, when to go and how to go. After all, how can they really know what you like? Sometimes you reach a place and like it a lot and would like to explore more of it, while some other place, you may want to leave as quickly as possible. But with a travel agent you don’t have a choice you have to listen and follow what they have planned or they will charge additional. Yes some argue that travel agent knows more than you. To which my reply is – Not Really! He may know the best, but may not necessarily include that in your package because of cost, or effort involved. However with some research you can actually know little things about a place too. So you end up having a much better experience.
Have a Better Hotel Experience
Most of my friends who have traveled through tour operators have mentioned that the quality of hotels is not really up to the standards expected, considering the amount paid. These travel agents have tie ups with hotels who give them most commission and may not be really good from customer experience point of view.
I can guarantee that by planning your own trip, you can have a better hotel experience simply because you can do your own research about where to stay, what location, pros and cons of a particular hotel etc. Believe me you can even know the room number you should book. I remember for a hotel in Zermatt, I liked a particular hotel and while doing research came to know that there is some construction happening behind the hotel now so there is a lot of noise to be expected over the next 1 month. So I changed my hotel. Now that kind of micro relevant information would never be provided by your travel agent. That could have ruined my stay there. But doing your own research helped me with this vital information. Another search provided me with a great info that in a particular hotel Room No., 2XXX has the best views and is recently renovated. Now that is really useful information, so ensured we stayed in that same room and it was indeed the best room in the hotel with awesome views .
More bang for the buck
I am not saying it’s cheaper to travel on your own (which it is) as being the reason for planning your own trip. It’s just that you can have a much more luxurious experience if you spend the same amount planning your own thing. For the same budget, you can get much more packed into your trip. It’s like almost 30% additional money you have to spend. Why you may ask? Because you book directly so all the hidden charges are gone, also the travel agents commission is saved which can be reinvested in making your own experience worthwhile. Just imagine you can actually spend 2 extra days free of cost when you plan your own trip instead of 7 days through the agent!
Nothing can beat the Satisfaction of discovering things on your own
In the course of visit to Paris, we came across some lovely locations which were not part of any standard itenary but some local had suggested in his blog. The immense satisfaction you get in visiting a place which is unique, not been visited by many and discovered through your effort is a different experience.
The biggest advantage of planning your own trip is the satisfaction you get of doing everything on your own and realizing it worked so beautifully and that you ended up having a richer experience. Believe me nothing beats that! Only those who plan on their own would appreciate this particular advantage.
I’m sure the above reasons would have sufficiently charged you up to plan on your own for your next trip! But now the question is how we handle the various aspects of planning a trip, from booking tickets efficiently to hotels, to itinerary, visa etc. After all you don’t want to go wrong and end up looking stupid by paying more.
The answer is you don’t have to. If you plan in an organized manner it should all be fine.
So my next few posts intend to break down the entire travel planning aspect into sub topics which would help you plan your own trip with no gross mistakes. My intention is to make this a one point stop for resources for planning your own trip. I hope to work on this and be useful to travelers around the world.
Until next time see ya!