This article was originally published on Beyond the Hutch.
Our world is becoming smaller – and easier to travel. Technology gives us access, not just physically, but virtually as well. Instagram has become a digital postcard, the web is an endless library of guides and reviews, and you can buy a flight across the globe in one click.
Travel is still a luxury, but with all of these advancements, it’s one that virtually everyone can (and should) have access to. But, as with all things tech, it’s not always that simple. Information overload and infinite options can be overwhelming – and make you feel like you need a vacation just from planning your vacation.
So when it comes to travel planning, look to these old school hacks that feel totally new…
Not Your Grandma’s Travel Agent
When it comes to life’s big investments, you’ll hire an interior designer for your home, or a wedding planner for your big day. So why wouldn’t you hire a professional for the trip you’ve been saving all year for?
Okay, okay. When you hear “travel agent,” you’re probably picturing a woman named Janet that your parents hired to book your family’s cruise in the 7th grade. But (pun intended) that ship has sailed. Today’s travel agents (AKA travel . advisors/designers/consultants) are a new breed of experts. They are experienced tastemakers, there to curate all that excess information and design bespoke experiences that are tailored to each individual traveler.
Think you know it all, or love to plan? Working with a travel advisor goes beyond that. They have personal relationships with hotels around the world (at the end of the day, if there is one upgrade available, do you think it will go to the guest who booked on Expedia, or the one who the GM received a personal phone call about from an advisor the day before?). And while they’re not “deal finders,” they’ll often provide extra value on top of the best rates (think free breakfast, $100 restaurant or spa credits, airport transfers, or a bottle of champagne in your room).
Many young people don’t realize how accessible this service is. Travel advisors come in all styles (make sure to find one who matches with yours – Instagram is perfect for that). They work with a range of budgets, and can help with anything from a weekend staycation to a 3-week luxury safari. And most travel advisors charge only a small fee (if any at all), so for an extra $100 or so you could have the trip of your dreams planned from start to finish.
Disclaimer: as the writer of this piece and a luxury travel advisor, I may be a bit biased, but hey – facts are facts.
Insurance Isn’t Just for Squares
Trip insurance is so affordable, and can save you so much. Especially if you’re booking anything non-refundable, take the option! Yes, your credit card probably has some coverage. But read the fine print and you’ll want to upgrade to the real deal.
Things happen. People get sick, bosses change their minds about time off, blizzards take airports by storm in the middle of spring. Vacations are expensive. So when you think about the risk of losing all of that hard-earned money, an extra couple-hundred dollars is totally worth it to protect your investment. (And if you’re absolutely sure that nothing will stop you from going on this trip, there are super-inexpensive “zero-cost” plans that will protect you if anything happens while you’re traveling.)
“I’d Like to be Connected to the Concierge, Please”
Hotel concierges hold the keys to the castle – literally. These professionals are dedicated experts on their location. And they are there to help (the French definition of the word is actually “caretaker”), so take advantage of their wealth of knowledge!
Especially in countries with a language barrier or cities that are less technologically advanced, going through a concierge can save you a massive headache when trying to confirm restaurant reservations or transportation.
And pretty much every concierge can be reached by email, so you can access their services before you even check in.
Pro tip: you didn’t hear this from me, but oftentimes concierges will help you out even if you’re not staying as a guest in their hotel.
There’s An App for That
Having an actual “itinerary” (like having a “travel agent”) sounds like a bit of a dated function of travel. But itineraries too have evolved beyond that laminated binder you got before your high school grad trip.
There are tons of apps that can help you keep things organized before and during your trip. They keep everything (tickets, confirmation numbers, contact info, restaurant reservations, you name it) in one central location, so you don’t have to toggle between your airline app, Gmail, and notes just to figure out what your day looks like.
Many also have built-in maps, weather forecast, messaging tools, and photo sharing options. And the best ones will work offline too, so you don’t have to worry about roaming to access your important documents when you’re abroad.
P.S. Another perk of working with a travel advisor is that they’ll often include a premium itinerary app as part of their service.
Tags: Travel Hacks