'DIY' Travel Disaster: A Lesson Learned

Written by: Maralee Striker, Owner of Magic Mouse + Off to Anyland Travel

I had checked in for our flights, our bags were packed and we were ready to go. Our long awaited Mediterranean cruise, midway through our European vacation, was the next day! We were scheduled to fly from London to Barcelona where the ship was ported. We headed to Heathrow in a taxi as I clicked off a mental checklist in my head; boarding passes – check, money – check, passports – uhhhh, passports…where were our passports?! 

Panic began to set in as I saw the airport signs ahead and realized our passports were in the safe at the hotel! Our driver, Tony, was exceptionally calm when I tapped him on the shoulder and told him my fear in near hysteria. In a matter-of-fact voice he said, “Lass, I don’t think you’ll make it, but can you call your agent?”  

My brain was racing and I realized that was my only hope; to call my travel agent.   

For many years, I had been one of those 'do it yourself' travelers. After all -- I have skills! I can search the Internet like anyone else and I’m super organized. Besides, I LIKED planning my family vacations. 

But, what do you do when something goes unexpectedly awry (or even if it doesn't), how do you know you are getting the most up-to-date information and receiving the best information for your personal needs?

Our agent, who facilitated our trips for the past several years, had provided a 24-hour helpline, which I frantically called and to my amazement, an agent phoned the hotel, spoke to the manager who retrieved our passports from the safe and arranged for a car service to bring them to the airport! Forty minutes later, I had our passports safely in my (shaking) hands and we made our flight in the nick of time! 

Fortunately, this is an unusual situation. But, it taught me a huge lesson. LEAVE THE TRAVEL PLANNING TO THE PROS! They can help wade through the muck and mire of the Internet and provide the best information for your personal travel needs.

Working together, you can plan the perfect vacation and prevent (or solve) many issues you didn’t even know could happen before, during and after your trip.  

After we arrived back in the states, I called my agent and thanked her for her help. She was sincerely humbled by my profuse gratitude and told me it was her job and she was very happy to help. I could tell she was as relieved as I that all went well.   

Travel agents today are markedly different from what they were in the past. Before the age of the Internet, you had to go to an agent to purchase an airline ticket or even book a hotel room. 

Now, anyone can do that on their own. But, why would you?

Qualified travel agents know the 'ins and outs' of most destinations AND much like the Farmer’s Insurance commercials which warn, 'don’t let this happen to you', they know what can and sometimes does happen and most importantly, know how to fix it.    

Agents today know details of your destination including what to expect from the moment you get off the plane to the best places to eat or the best places to visit during your trip. The best part is, in most cases their services are complimentary.  

By sharing my story with others, I realized what happened to me in England happens more often than I thought under varying circumstances. During the planning stage for a subsequent trip, our agent told me she came up with an idea to prevent the same thing from happening to clients. 

She told me to put a single shoe in the safe with our passports, documents, money, etc. Then, when you are packing up, you realize you only have one shoe and you remember to open the safe! It sounds silly, but I can’t tell you the number of times I have done that and breathed a sigh of relief and silently thanked my travel agent.

Where do you want to go? Contact Magic Mouse/Off to Anyland Travel here to avoid your own travel DIY disaster!

Remember, book a trip between now and the end of September and you are eligible for our 'Favorite Things' giveaway!

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