Rights & Money

Travel Agent or Internet? Booking a Trip Online

The Internet lets you be your one travel agent, which is a great idea—sometimes


By Katrina Caruso


Given the growing number of online travel-booking sites and apps, it may feel as though it’s not worth looking for a travel agent anymore. Are travel agents becoming a thing of the past?

If you enjoy the planning process, an app or website might be better for you—and save you money. Most travel agents charge service fees. Travel apps such as Hopper and SkyScanner allow users to watch for deals on flights help you find seat sales, and websites such as Kayak and Expedia can compare the costs of plane fares, hotel stays, and package deals. If the trip is straightforward, such as a flight to Vancouver to see your daughter, and the booking website you use is secure, then there really isn’t much need for a travel agent. (A downside of booking sites is that prices can fluctuate drastically from day by day.)

On the other hand, if the trip involves a number of travellers, destinations, hotels, and/or flights, with perhaps some adventures and excursions included, an app or a website may be more difficult to use. The more complicated the trip, the more useful a travel agent is.

It’s also worth considering your cost in time: a travel agent can save you more time than even the most sophisticated websites. Moreover, a travel agent is likely to think of considerations that you never would.

If you do decide to do it yourself, here are a few best practises:

– Study and understand the cancellation policies for your bookings.

– Consider your needs: do you want to go to an adult-only all-inclusive report or do you need somewhere family-friedly? Are you looking for a hotel with wheelchair access?

– Read travel blogs related to your destination to get a variety of first-hand opinions.

– Always read the reviews (good and bad) for airlines, hotels, and excursions.

– Download an app like Triposo that can help you plan your itinerary and download maps.

– Look into your smartphone provider’s international travelling data options.

– Look into any visas you might need.

And one last, web-related bit of advice: post those great photos from your trip on social media only once you’re back home so that your home isn’t a target for burglars.

Photo: iStock/Canadapanda.