I was working with my succulents the other day and one was just not doing well. It didn't have mites or a fungus. It wasn't too dry or too wet. I finally just loosened the soil around it and started to talking to it. I am sure my neighbors were highly amused once again. I told my little guy that he was special and just because I had another Bear's Paw that didn't mean he wasn't just as fabulous. I told him it was perfectly fine to grow at his pace and in his style.
This got me thinking about travel. There a plenty of people who really don't mind being on the big tours or big cruises where they just blend in being part of the crowd. At one point in my life I was that person. Now I want more. Not diva picky I have to have my own way, but I want a richer more complete experience.
My mission when traveling is to be immersed in the culture, the lifestyle, history and foods of that destination. As I have gotten older and become a more confident traveler my goals changed. For me it is all about the experience. But it took me a while to discover to get that rich experience. My travel habits had been mostly arrive, go on the stock standard tours and find a new restaurant. I wanted more but didn’t know how to make it happen.
Then I moved to Chile on my own. It was complete and utter cultural immersion and quite frankly it was terrifying. Imagine being picked up and dropped somewhere where you don’t speak the language. Can’t read the signs. You go into the grocery store and if there are no pictures on the box or can you have no idea what you are buying. Yes, I should have learned some Spanish first. But to my defense Chilean’s speak Spanish but mostly they just speak slang. Trust me their everyday conversational Spanish is confusing to even their neighbors in Peru and Argentina.
These experiences taught me several lessons. One is that I am braver than I ever thought. You are too. Another lesson learned was that pantomimes and drawing pictures is a pretty effective means of communication. So when you are stepping out of your comfort zone remember that little thought.
However, the biggest lessons learned were that with a little planning you really can do whatever it is your heart desires. This is what I bring to the table as travel agent. It all about helping you have an amazing experience. Making memories that last a lifetime. Your trip should be all about what you want to do and experience.
It should be a special time where you feel like you are happy energized and thrilled with what you are doing. Being made to feel special isn't the same as being a Diva, it is being heard and listened to so that your dreams can be fulfilled.
So the nitty gritty here is how do you find one of those travel agents who can get design your travel so it gets your from being a number to personalized service. First you need to interview your travel agent. They are not all created equally.
Do they specialize in what you are interested in?
Do they do FIT trips? (FIT is customized itineraries)
When you are speaking with them are they really listening to you?
Ask for references
Read Reviews (some agents do not have many as it is often hard to get a client to slow down long enough after their trip to complete one)
Ask if they can work with your budget and timeline
Now here are some tips to help the agent help you
Give them as many details as you can (destination, time frame, budget, what type of hotels you like to stay at, what hotels you really dislike, what activities are must haves, do you want free time or to be very busy)
Give a realistic and honest budget
Allow them to discover as many options as possible. You might be surprised that they can find you something perfect but you never would have imagined it.
Be honest. If something is really not to your liking speak up. Plans are flexible until paid in full.
Remember they are spending a great amount of time in the planning process. They may ask for a planning fee. The reason is that if you choose not to use their service after they have created an itinerary for you, they will have spent hours of work time with no pay. We as travel agents just ask that you treat us with the same respect you would any other professional. (This also gets you white glove top notch service)
Are you team “I love being part of the crowd” or “I love being special”? If you are the latter then you definitely want to contact me today to help you find that specialized trip you are dreaming about. My mission is to help you have experiences and magical memories that will last you a lifetime.