Whether you’re a seasoned traveller, or thinking of taking a holiday for the very first time, it’s always worth asking the right questions before your trip so you’re well-prepared.
It’s not only what you ask, but who you ask when it comes to planning your holiday, says Otto de Vries, CEO of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA).
“Whether you’re looking for a new and unexplored local destination to surprise your beau, or an affordable trip abroad for the whole family to enjoy, having an accredited travel agent on your side is always a step in the right direction.
“A supportive and knowledgeable consultant can make all the difference between a just good trip and an outstanding experience. Often times, they’ll supply vital information that you wouldn’t have even thought about, and more importantly, be able to effectively assist if you find yourself in a tricky situation while on your trip.”
To help get you started, here are a few standard questions compiled by ASATA that you can ask your travel agent.
#1 When is the best time of the year to go?
Depending on when you can take leave, or want to travel, your agent will suggest destination options, or similar alternatives if the weather in your chosen destination is unsuitable. If you don’t mind more people, go for peak season. If you prefer privacy, cooler temperatures and paying slightly less, the off-peak season is the way to go. Most travel agencies have deals depending on the time of year, so keep this in mind when thinking about your dates.
#2 What documentation do I need?
It depends on where you’re going, but some countries will require visas which means there will be some added paperwork involved. Your travel agent will know, or refer you to a visa agency who knows what documents will be required, how much it will cost so you can budget accordingly, but also how far in advance you will need to apply so that it can be processed in time.
#3 What do I need to pack?
If you have a destination picked out already, you’ll want to be prepared for the weather. Your travel agent should be able to supply you with a packing list to help, with info on which plug adapters you will need, and if towels and hairdryers will be supplied at your accommodation. Try not to overpack and ask your agent about luggage restrictions if you’re thinking of checking-in luggage.
#4 How much should I budget?
Your agent can work with your budget, tailor making your itinerary according to what you can afford, or what you might like to spend a little extra on. He/she can quote you according to what’s included as well as giving you an estimate of what you might need to budget extra per day, and how much you should pay as part of a deposit to secure your booking.
#5 What travel insurance would you recommend?
It’s always important to stay safe whilst travelling, and travel insurance provides security in case something goes wrong whilst travelling. There are various insurance providers to choose from, so don’t worry about going in circles trying to find the right one. Your accredited travel agent will be able to recommend a suitable option.