Travel Agent or self book?

We would like to visit relatives abroad for about 6 weeks, accommodation would be left to relatives to sort. My question is -'Should we book flights/seats/luggage/insurance ourselves or use a travel agent. I'll add we're not very web-site savvy! Thank you

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  • lisyloolisyloo Forumite
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    I would book a package and not let your relatives sort out the accommodation.

    if an agents cannot provide the provide the whole package then you are refunded.
    so if the border shuts and they cannot get you there then You are covered.

    if you buy your own flights and the flight goes but you are unable to travel e.g. your not allowed in the country, then you’ll have to pay.

    do yourself a big favour and book a package.
    you can still get recommendations from your family on accommodation.
  • WestinWestin Forumite
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    @up_the_brewers - I think whether a ‘package holiday’ or booking independently, much depends on where you are going. Can you tell us?

    It sounds like possibly you just need the flights. Booking direct with an airline would be my suggestion or using a good recommended real UK based travel agent or travel firm.  If you post your destination you might get recommendations.

    Certainly avoid these online ticket sellers which purport to be travel agents, especially if you feel you might need help, hand holding or can’t risk disruption following changing travel plans or arrangements.  Best avoided IMO would be kiwi.com, LastMinute, Opodo, CheapoAir, Go-to-Gate, Travelgenio.  It’s a bit of a mine field so good that you are asking in advance of booking anything.
  • edited 14 January at 8:57PM
    UpsidedownandaroundUpsidedownandaround Forumite
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    edited 14 January at 8:57PM
    If you're not needing accomodation then it probably comes down to how prepared you are to find out important infromation about the flights, what you are buying and what happens when something goes wrong.

    As Westin says there are a lot of companies online who try to give the impression they are travel agents when they are just online ticket sellers and all they do is complicate matters by putting a 3rd party between you and the airline.

    If you feel unable to book flights yourself online then a travel agent may be best but it should be a proper bricks and mortar type agent with a good reputation that you have heard of preferably with a local office and not just one that appears at the top of a google search. They should be able to explain the best options and any risks to your booking from changes due to covid.

    If buying yourself make sure you are aware of your rights to a refund and make any changes to flights and any costs to do so.

    Regarding inusurance I would always reccomend you do this yourself even if you go through a travel agent. It's never a good idea to buy insurance from the same place you are buying a product or service from in my view.

  • edited 15 January at 8:17AM
    bagand96bagand96 Forumite
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    edited 15 January at 8:17AM
    It's true that packages (flights and accommodation) do provide better protection thanks to the Package Travel Regulations. The only thing is a ""package" has a very broad definition and even with the regulations a lot of it comes down very much to the supplier and how they act.

    A package with a proper tour operator like TUI/Jet2Holidays is a very different proposition than a package that's been thrown together dynamically by online agents like Lastminute.com/LoveHolidays. But both are legally packages at the point of sale. 

    That's all academic though if you only need flights. I'd advise only booking direct with the airline, there's no real benefit to booking with an agent (other than maybe saving a couple of quid). Booking direct means there's no middlemman. If anything changes you can go direct to the airline and deal with them. 

    There are online comparison sites for flights. Skyscanner and Kayak are two of the best, Google Flights is pretty good too. These let you compare date ranges, different airports etc. The big caveat to using these is do not just click through and book with the cheapest agent they link to. Use them as a tool to find the best flights but then go direct to the airline to book. 
  • up_the_brewersup_the_brewers Forumite
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    Thank you for your help. We are hoping to visit Costa Rica in May/June
  • WestinWestin Forumite
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    For Costa Rica, if you decide on the package holiday route, I would suggest you look at British Airways Holidays www.BA.com/holidays.  Also call Trailfinders.   You could also see if TUI have any suitable packages but I think much will depend on where you wish to fly into in Costa Rica.

    British Airways, direct or Trailfinders also for flight-only.

    If you feel uncomfortable making plans or booking yourself then a good local travel agent I am sure would help.  Or call Travel Counsellors or look at www.travelcounsellors.co.uk who can likely put you in touch with one of their local to you travel home workers.
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