I cannot stress enough the need for you to get a reliable, trustworthy, patient Travel Agent. I would advise you try working with luxury travel experts on this. I have experienced so much benefit from this in my family travel. It has made our single-family travel more interesting and stress-free.
Your Travel Agent can be your lifeline when things go wrong; things do go wrong! i.e. If you book a hotel that has advertised kids club and there is none; they have overbooked, or lost your booking etc.
Know the agent’s first and last name – write it in front of your travel folder with their phone number and add their name, email, and their phone number on your mobile phone. You want to be able to call them when things go wrong.
Be aware of time differences. Try to find an agent who is fun, happy, and enthusiastic about your trip. Preferably, they have been to where you want to go, or know a lot about it because you need their advice.
I went to 10 agents before I found 1 who even returned my call or gave me the time of day. Finally, I found a lady who had spent 1 year in South America and told me it could be done.
A few days later she was having the day off, and I walked into the same agency and encountered Miss Grumble bum.
She knew it all – not. What I wanted could not and would not be done by her.
I had to get two one-way tickets with frequent stops to London and that was it. No visa help – nothing. Useless. She really made it hard and didn’t want to help me. I fell in the way and fobbed off. What she told me was a load of rubbish!
So don’t get down if they say no. Just go find someone else who says ‘YES’. Don’t expect them to plan it. They can give you ideas, but you have to do the planning.
I ended up having to buy two intricate maps off eBay for $40 so I could plan my South Pacific Island Hopping. Unfortunately, both maps were pretty useless – do you know how hard it is to get a map that shows both the Aussie and the South American coast?
Very – that is all I have to say about that!
Airfares & tickets
Do your homework BEFORE you book your flight, as most will beat any price with proof.
On-line ticket clearance purchasing
Look online first, and while you travel for unwanted ticket sales. People sell tickets on eBay etc for holidays (including accommodation) they book and can’t use. Remember to check the local country eBay address as some do not show up on Australian searches.
Airlines also have their own specials if you are a Frequent Flyer member. So it is worth subscribing there. Make sure you link them to your travel email address.
Online Travel Agency voucher purchasing
I saved $1000 in airline ticket costs through Flight Centre Gift Card purchases. (Most you can ‘bank’ to the Travel Agent, if near the expiry date and use later – call the agency if unsure of authenticity etc).
One Way Flights
Be advised that you may not be able to get into a country without a forward ticket. More on this later but a good Travel Agents will help you with this too
One way flights cost about ¾ of the price of a return ticket in some cases.
Round the World Ticket
Most say don’t bother – you will lose most of your money, as you cannot possibly see the world in one year. This will, however, work if you have decided a year is all you are taking off -talk with your Travel Agents before you go.
Can be useful in places like the USA where you will hop across the land – but you must go in a forward direction.
No frills Airlines
Check out the web or consult Travel Agents. They come and go like flies. They can be unreliable, cancel flights, fail to offer refunds, only sell tickets if you queue, go bust frequently, charge for each bag, charge for your meals and drinks, have seats closer together, and the list goes on.
However, the savings can be worth it. Nothing wrong with packing your own sandwiches and drinks if allowed.
Mind you as some airlines no longer allow unsealed food, and all liquids can be prohibited, a $10 Cola can lose its appeal. Remember – a hungry child will be soothed at any cost!
Added extra’s from Travel Agents
Travel Agents do get offered deals and added extras or have bucket specials, so worth checking out what they can offer.
In the 1970s ‘bucket shops’ appeared in Britain, selling illegally discounted airline tickets. Although it is still theoretically against the law to sell discounted tickets in this way, no action is ever taken by the government, and it has become an accepted part of airline ticket sales.
The UK and some other places have what is known as ‘Bucket Shops’. Cheap airfares and clearance deals – usually an allowance of so many tickets a day.
Also usually only booked a few days ahead.
Ask around for their location.
In 2012 the Air Travel Advisory Bureau in England (Tel:  7636 5000) will provide you with telephone numbers of reputable bucket shops dealing with your desired destination.
Bumping Off Flights
Some airlines will offer you $$ to sell your seat to someone else. This happened to me one time I was flying to the USA. We are talking many years ago now, and I was given $500 then, so it can sometimes be even more.
They can also offer you $$ (and possibly accommodation if you haggle) for you to take a later flight. If you are not in a rush and can delay the next leg of your trip, it is a great way to boost your budget.
I had a 4-hour delay on that flight, but it can mean you delay for days if you want to stay longer in that country. This happens a lot in the United States.
It can occur if someone has an emergency to attend, a funeral or something else like that.
Consult your child in private and explain that the $$ will mean you can do something they want too.
Just be aware if your bags are already on the flight, you want them off.
I was on my way to be a bridesmaid at a Wedding in Canada once when this occurred, and having to wear the Brides own clothes for two days (including underwear).
It was no joy having my bags misplaced.
I looked a right dork, especially as she is quite tall, and my stature somewhat petite.
Types of Tickets available
Apex/Super Apex (Advance Purchase Excursion)
This is definitely one of the best options for the traveler looking for the best deal.
It is the method whereby airlines offer officially discounted seats.
There are certain restrictions with APEX tickets – they must be booked and paid for well in advance before departure, varying between seven days and a month, a minimum stay abroad is required and there are no stopovers allowed. However, these are minor considerations for the committed traveler with a relatively flexible agenda.
They are well worth the reductions of up to 60 percent. Your travel agent should guide you with this decision.
Pex/Super Pex (Public excursion fare)
Similar to Apex except that there is no advance-purchase requirement. Thirty percent cancellation fee.
Available on some long-haul routes, and with fewer restrictions than Apex.
Flights can be changed, and the savings on full priced economy fares are between 25 and 30 percent.
Cheap seats on the day of departure – available mainly on routes to North America and UK.
Although the tickets can be bought three months before departure, it will depend on the availability on the day.
A reasonable option if you can wait around until a seat becomes available.
Sometimes with these, you just need to rock up at the airport and wait in line. Not always a good option for a child who is impatient.
So with all this information – you can choose – but would you be one to use Travel Agents or to book online?
Questions and Comments
Have you had a bad experience with travel agents?
What measures did you apply next to ensure you had a smooth trip?
We’d love to hear from you. Kindly share your comments below.