A few months ago, just before the last ski season I decided that I would like to join some friends who travel to Japan in January and/or February for an extended ski holiday. This was fuelled, partly because I am fascinated by Japan and partly because I love skiing and the snow in Japan looks amazing.
Fast forward to my annual ski trip to Perisher and a re-think. After three days of skiing I was totally worn out so how would I survive two weeks in bigger mountains? My standard of skiing is nowhere near as good as the folk I was planning on going with so I would mostly be skiing on my own. Do I love skiing enough to spend much money skiing alone and relying on good weather—no I don’t think so.
Back in Canberra, telling my lovely partner Ann all about the week up at the snow and I had an ‘ah ha’ moment. ‘How would you like to go to Europe next year for a month?’. In a heartbeat she said, ‘Yes’. So the planning began.
Half the fun of these kinds of odysseys is the anticipation and the fun of preparing. Where to go, when to go, how to go and other equally as perplexing questions.
Watch this space.
Travel Agent or … ?
When Ann and I decided that we were heading to Europe in Sept 17—not really being well versed on travel of any kind—we decided to head to a travel agent. First stop was Flight Centre where we spent an hour with a very affable chap who took our proposed itinerary and turned it into a quote.
Well, quote was rather a loose term for what was a list of our proposed flights, car hires, ferries and trains. There was an even bigger list of statements such as, ‘This price cannot be guaranteed …’, or ‘there may be penalties associated with …’, etc,.
Alarm bells rang. How do we avoid these penalties and still keep to our proposed itinerary. The answer was simply, ‘you can’t’. One of our proposals was to pick up rental cars at a certain location and drop off at a endpoints; sometimes even in different countries. This is not difficult in Europe where a 5 minute drive can take you to several countries.
Oh well, another rethink.
What we decided to do was just book our over and back flights at the moment and handle the land content ourselves when we fine tune the itinerary.
So, back to another travel agent.
With this plan in mind we asked for a price for fares over to London and out Rome 5 weeks later. Simple enough and the quotes came back rather quickly. There was a glaring issue though and that was one of our connecting flights only gave us 40 minutes to get from Sydney Domestic Terminal to the International Terminal, a reasonably lengthy journey with little room for error. Indeed we were actually required to be at the International Terminal 50 minutes before our next flight.
Back to the drawing board.
We decided to check if there was an earlier flight directly with the airline. This is where we experienced a remarkable epiphany. We decided to put in all our flights according to the quote and came up with, not only a correct connecting flight but a better price.
So why bother with ‘experienced’ travel agents.
TA – ‘Well, if you have a problem while you are overseas you can just call us’.
Me – ‘Are you available 24 hours a day 7 days a week’