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Sure, you can book your own flights, hotels, tours, and activities in a destination new to you, but before facing the list of possible issues with connections, availability, itineraries, visas, park permissions, and other details you may not know you need to deal with in advance, maybe what will really make your vacation all the more enjoyable is peace of mind. Let’s review the advantages of booking a package.
One way to think of a tour package is as an all-encompassing means for a travel agency to address the details of your visit to a new destination. Just like the name implies, everything you want to have taken care of for you is bundled together in a convenient fashion. A tour package, built around your preferred travel dates, offers an itinerary that ensures you have ample time to arrive at your destination and explore it at a comfortable pace.
Maybe you have an idea of what destinations you want to visit in a particular country or region of the world, but what if there are some new spots that are still not heavily visited, yet are very much worth exploring? A travel agent can present these options to you and integrate them into a package. They can work with trusted, local guides to set up a scenic, cultural, and/or culinary experience as part of a day tour, and arrange the transportation you’ll need to get to and from different activities.
With a tour package, details such as airport transfers, accommodations, sightseeing activities, and passes to different attractions, among other things, are coordinated with your feedback and approval in a time-saving fashion, eliminating the need to stay up late and spend hours putting together your own vacation, saving you the stress of arriving in your host country and missing a connection or trying to convey a question or concern across a challenging language barrier. Better yet, a tour package can be a great way for you to stay on top of requirements such as visas, fees, and other not-so-obvious preparations.
Tour packages are generally designed to accommodate varying lengths of time and a wide range of activities catering to a client’s interests. They often include transfers to and from the airport to the hotel, cruise ship, or other type of accommodation. Additional ground transportation, scenic tours, and other activities require further details, which the travel agent generally handles, providing you with the specifics in advance of each day.
When contacting a travel agency for the first time, the base price for a particular package is often advertised or sent to you as a quote. These packages are almost always customizable. If you want to spend an extra day or two in a particular destination or if you need to arrange for a guide or a driver to escort you to and from an activity not included within the package itinerary, an agent can coordinate the details and make sure you have trusted, licensed personnel available to assist you. In fact, as they are the ultimate guarantors of your vacation package, a good travel agent only works with insured, registered, and trustworthy providers.
A travel agent can also serve as a great resource for booking convenient, international and domestic flights to and from the various destinations along your route. The added value of this extra service is the attention you receive, especially with regard to checking in for your flight and making sure that your luggage is handled with priority care, (as we’ll review in the next section). Also, if there are any hiccups along your journey, you can rest assured that a team of people will be working to resolve them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Tour packages, like those offered by MetroJourneys, can cover every detail from the moment you arrive in your host country until the time you leave. Let’s take a look at the basics included in the tour packages offered on their site:
Some packages include additional items. As an example, let’s look at the Finch Bay Complete package, which also provides you with the following:
Additionally, the brand guarantee that comes with booking a package through a good travel agency includes responsible, trained, and reliable providers (as referred to above), as well as having a team member there to assist you with every transfer, check-in, check-out, and connection you have on your itinerary. Not to mention the fact that every guide on your journey is skilled, trained, and passionate about what they do.
If you need to make any changes or modifications to the itinerary, dealing with one person (a travel agent or destination expert) allows for direct communication between the guest and the agency, who acts on the guest’s behalf in coordinating services with each provider. Your message gets across much more efficiently than if you were to have to coordinate everything yourself. This can provide enormous peace of mind and can be a huge timesaver.
In the case of the Galapagos, for instance, due to cargo weight restrictions, it is not uncommon for an airline to bounce checked luggage from a particular flight. If you purchase your airfare from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands via an agency like Metrojourneys, they take the additional step to make sure that your luggage does not get bounced from your flight, or, if your flight gets canceled, they work diligently to minimize the inconvenience and get you to your destination as quickly and as safely as possible. Dealing with these issues on your own, in a foreign country, and in a foreign language can prove daunting.
One of the biggest inherent risks in booking your own vacation itinerary is exposing yourself to a variable rate for different activities, lodging, and tours. It is not uncommon for some providers to not honor an agreed-upon price, whether it be for accommodations, activities, day tours, or meals. Sometimes, they might even forget to inform you about additional costs, hidden fees, or any other restriction or requirement. If you’re dealing with them on the ground, in real time, this can be extremely frustrating, not to mention challenging because of the language barrier. Think of booking a package as a way to filter out this sort of experience. The biggest advantage, or perk, to booking a package is the preferential treament you receive at every turn; at the airport, at the hotel, on the cruise.
When you book a tour package, you’re generally paying a fixed rate. One benefit to this is that your reservation is guaranteed, and your rate won’t suddenly jump. You pay a little more, but you ensure that your experience will not feel like a cheap one. Another value you get from having an agency take on an even more active role in your tour experience is the guarantee that your vacation will be as smooth, safe, and stress-free as possible.
Metrojourneys, as an example, boasts Destination Experts with a first-hand familiarity of each product. It also strives to always enlist eco-friendly technology and practices as an integral part of their packages and this means you receive the highest quality experience with the lowest environmental impact. Further, in an age where global awareness around environmental conservation is increasing, this gives you something to feel good about. When you look at it this way, certainly, booking a tour package, like those offered through Metrojourneys, reflects a true quality experience at a very fair price.