FEBRUARY 4, 2022 | KELLY GOULD
Just like with any partnership, the more you and your travel advisor know about each other, the better, and more personalized, the results. A lot goes into planning the perfect trip, from finding the right resort to figuring out what tours best align with your interests, budget, and itinerary. Every detail you provide your advisor gives them a fuller picture of your unique travel needs … which in turn helps them create a truly customized vacation you couldn't get anywhere else.
The fastest way to share your travel story—and realize your advisor's expertise—isn't by showing Instagram photos or reading a laundry list of amenities, though both can be helpful for expressing your preferences. Rather, it's asking questions, and plenty of them. Each question you ask will trigger a conversation that will leave both of you with a deeper understanding of one another: your vacation dreams, and concerns, and your advisor's skills.
Whether it's your first time using a travel advisor or your fiftieth, these are the questions you should ask before booking.
1. What do I need to know before I go?
Travel has changed dramatically thanks to a certain virus, and continues to adapt in response to the latest science. A travel professional will be familiar with your destination's latest rules, including if a COVID test is required for arrival—and which type. But that's not to say health is the only area where you can lean on your travel advisor. They'll also be able to tell you about any local customs you need to be mindful of.
2. What documents will I need to travel?
For destinations outside of the U.S., that might just be your—up-to-date!—passport. However, more and more nations are requiring proof of vaccination, and some countries require a Visa even for short stays. Your advisor will know exactly what you need.
3. What health and safety guidelines does my hotel have in place?
This may be a make-it-or-break-it for you or it may be back of mind. Either way, it's important to find out what COVID protocols your hotel is following. If masks are mandatory or dining reservations are recommended, you'll want to know in advance so you can plan accordingly.
4. Can you work within my budget?
One of the greatest things about booking with a travel advisor is that you'll never need to worry about spending more than you want to, avoiding buried fees, or if you're getting the best value for your money. (You are.) Still, you should be upfront with your budget, and make sure early on that your expectations are in line with what your advisor can provide. If the trip of your dreams seems out of reach, ask about options. You might be surprised by possibilities like Uplift, monthly payment plans offered by ALG Vacations® that can be paid back even after travel.
5. What's included in the cost of my trip?
Avoid misunderstandings that could ruin your vacation with one simple question. Before you book, have your advisor can go over your package element by element to confirm you're both on the same page on what is—and is not—part of the price.
6. Can you explain the terms and conditions to me?
Whether it's your airfare, hotel stay, or excursion, you need to know the fine print. Are there penalties for canceling? Will you get a travel credit or cash back if you get sick? Can you apply a promotion around the holidays? Advisors will explain it all in clear and simple language.
7. How can I protect my vacation?
If you asked the question above, you'll already be familiar with your hotel's, airline's, and other suppliers' policies if you need to change or cancel your plans. Your advisor can go one step further, however, and explain what trip insurance options are open to you. For instance, ALG Vacations offers Travel Protection Plus, which lets you cancel for any reason—not just a list of approved causes.
8. Will you be accessible during my trip if there's an issue?
Even the best-laid plans can occasionally have a hitch. ALG Vacations offers 24/7 assistance during your getaway, but it's always good to know your advisor's availability, and whom you should contact if they're traveling or off the clock.
9. Have you been to my destination/hotel?
In a given year, a travel advisor might visit dozens of hotels, and just as many locations around the world. Don't be afraid to ask if they've personally been to your chosen resort or region. If they have, you'll benefit from their insider intel; if they haven't, odds are they know a colleague who has. And if they don't? Trust in their overall expertise to guide you, then consider sharing details of your experience after you get back.
10. What tours and attractions do you recommend?
There's no such thing as a destination with a shortage of things to do. Although interest will obviously vary from person to person, asking your advisor what their favorite things to do are will give you a good starting point for planning your activities. They'll know all the must-do's and then some, so be sure to say your specific interests. Excursions, museum admissions, and dining or spa reservations can all be booked in advance, leaving less for you to deal with after you arrive—and guaranteeing you don't miss out.