Travel Agents in 2016?
September 19, 2016 8:01 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a good online travel agent for vacation planning? Yes I have fingers and an internet connection and have self-booked many flights and hotels in my lifetime. But plotting itineraries, finding cool places to stay, navigating transportation schedules and local attractions, etc requires time and energy I do not have.

I think my preference would be to find someone who charges a flat fee, rather than someone who makes their money on commission from getting people to go to certain hotels. But I'm open to any service that involves a living human being listening to my preferences, doing research, and mailing me recommendations. Right now the stuff I'm finding online gives the illusion of personalization, but is really just faceted searching of pre-populated options. I'm also finding a couple of "luxury" options -- but while I'm fortunate to be able to travel pretty nicely, I'm not in the market for a $50,000 safari.
posted by pocketfullofrye to Travel & Transportation around Scotland (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know a lot about it but some credit cards come with concierge access where you can call a number and have someone help you with Travel options among other things. I used to have a job doing that sort of thing for Amex black card members, but I think some of the less super-rich cards might have something similar.
posted by manderin at 9:56 PM on September 19, 2016

I live in Hong Kong and the vast majority of people here use travel agencies for the exact reasons you describe. Flight Centre has a HK branch and is probably our biggest Anglophone agency. Shoot them an email?
posted by mdonley at 11:19 PM on September 19, 2016

Have you checked out Blck Tomato? I used them a few years ago for a three week long trip in India. They also gave me a great itinerary for South Africa before I settled on India. I ended up swapping out most of the hotels for ones I had found on tripadvisor that had better reviews, but their choices were pretty solid and I'm very picky. The flights, trains, cars, sights, etc. we're great.
posted by n'muakolo at 2:24 AM on September 20, 2016

I have a friend who does exactly this, and she started an online magazine about travel planning as well: Galavante.
She helped me pick places in Morocco and her advice was spot on for our needs.
posted by rmless at 9:10 AM on September 20, 2016

I think you are looking for something like Zicasso its basically a site where you enter what you are looking for (ish, as vaguely or precisely as you want) and then they put it out to three travel agencies that specialize in what you are looking for, they create itineraries and then you can pick one (and modify as need be)

Full Disclosure: I work for a travel agent who is on Zicasso, but I'm not related to Zicasso at all/get no benefit from suggesting them. I will say they actually do what they say, and if you are ever unhappy with the travel agent you work with they will step in to make things right, and do get rid of companies that do not meet their satisfaction standards. Each of our clients get absolutely what they request and we do not just do prepackaged.

Feel free to memail me if you have any questions
posted by zara at 3:35 PM on September 20, 2016

Oh, and now that I think of it, this is almost exactly what the agency I work for does, especially if you are considering anywhere in Europe. I could recommend someone that could plan you a great trip (I'm not an agent). Memail me if that interests you. (Also, mods: if this totally isn't allowed I'm sorry and please delete!)
posted by zara at 3:40 PM on September 20, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks all! Appreciate the help.

I ended up going with someone who specializes in Scotland. You can hire him to plan custom itineraries but his site is an amazing resource for planning your own trip. If I were less lazy I'd do it myself just using the suggested itineraries he lists on the sidebar.

I also found a couple of general-vacation-planning services that seem less oriented toward "luxury" and "5-star" vacations, in case anyone comes across this question later via search:
posted by pocketfullofrye at 11:13 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

You should check out Journy! $15/day is not bad.
posted by doctordrey at 11:19 PM on September 21, 2016

Oops -- didn't realize you already mentioned it!
posted by doctordrey at 11:20 PM on September 21, 2016

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