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Travel company vs. planning everything on our own

Philadelphia
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2 posts
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Travel company vs. planning everything on our own

Hello all!

I'm planning a trip to South America and am wondering which option would be better: booking everything through an agency/company or taking care of every detail myself. Macchu Picchu is our main destination but we'd like to incorporate other countries (Brazil, Argentina, Galapagos, etc) in there too, if possible.

Which is more cost efficient? Is it a major headache to take care of everything myself?

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Tucson, Arizona
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for Quito, Ecuador
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1. Re: Travel company vs. planning everything on our own

"Better" really depends on your travel style, budget, and level of independence. Planning everything yourself gets you exactly what you want, and all the responsibility of fixing snafus. You will indeed save quite a bit of money without the middleman travel agent. You do need the planning and logistical skills of a field marshal to pull it off, particularly when visiting several countries. You can plan all your travel, hotels, and sightseeing, or just play it by ear and show up (NOT recommended during high seasons). If you are hiking the Inca Trail or visiting Galápagos that will take some advance booking.

A travel agent doesn't have to plan your every minute. If you don't have the time or organizational acumen she can at least put together the transportation for moving between cities/countries. You can turn it up a notch and have her book hotels, or arrange transfers to/from the airport. My backpacker days of months-long trips are over and I want to make the most of travel time now, so I have someone else figure out transportation and hotels for me, and provide backup if something goes wrong. Once I get there, I can entertain myself. Reading TA forums and reviews can give you a good idea of what kind of hotels and activities appeal to you.

Flint Hills, Kansas
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2. Re: Travel company vs. planning everything on our own

We appreciate the security of having a room, driver, and plan when traveling abroad. This does not mean that you are limited in your choices of travel. We just spent 3 weeks in Peru and worked with Debora at Absolute Latin America to build a custom trip to suit all our requests. It was really done to our great satisfaction. If you have an idea of where you want to go, what things you want to do, a good travel agent will make it fit together to make your trip most efficient. Good luck

3. Re: Travel company vs. planning everything on our own

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california
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4. Re: Travel company vs. planning everything on our own

At least in Peru, it is easy to book hotel reservations through websites and emails, and have them set up your airport transfers and local taxi drivers.

I have not had difficulties booking airline travel, and even train travel from overseas, but some have credit cards that don't work. The tickets for Machu Picchu, on the other hand, seem to be a big problem to buy online.

If you like to do your own planning, the website www.andeantravelweb.com for Peru in general, and www.limaeasy.com are both useful.

There is nothing to preclude hiring a local guide for a private tour for a day or a half day. (many hotels have trusted drivers that they can hook you up with).

For some types of locations such as the Amazon or Galapagos you will be going on a guided excursion, whether a travel agent adds any value (or gets you a better price) is questionable. But sometimes they will get commission and the price to you is the same. It is worth contacting a lodge or excursion company directly and asking what discount is offered if you book directly.

For a complicated trip to multiple countries, I would be more inclined to use an agent, but even then I would have an idea of which hotels I'd like to stay in. Some agencies only work with specific hotels and other are more flexible.

Edited: 04 July 2012, 21:44
Winterset, Iowa
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5. Re: Travel company vs. planning everything on our own

We just returned from Peru and also used Deborah with Absolute Latin America. I have booked all of our trips for the last 13 years. I always enjoyed researching, booking, and double checking everything. This trip we wanted spend several days in the jungle and then Machu Picchu

. I was finding it challenging trying to organize everything but I did know which lodge we wanted and hotels. I contacted Deborah and gave her all of our choices. She quoted us a price with everything included and all transport handled. When I priced it myself with all of the same choices it was only $187.00 per person lower for me to do it. For me it was worth it to have her do it all and be my support person if trouble came up.

Our flights were delayed right off the bat and she was already looking for a plan B in case we didn't make our connection. Everything was as promised and well organized. I couldn't have been happier.

6. Re: Travel company vs. planning everything on our own

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