Earlier this week we shared 50 reasons to use a Travel Advisor. Having worked for Brownell for 9-months, I’ve come to truly appreciate how critical an Advisor is. But sadly before working here, I just didn’t get it, and boy do I regret it!
The week before I started, a friend and I headed out on a 10-day Italy trip that we planned. “I lived in Italy for four months,” I thought to myself. “With TripAdvisor and Expedia, I’ll have no problem planning this venture on my own.” I spent many nights researching the best hotels, top restaurants, and train schedules, and I went to bed every night feeling overwhelmed with the pages and pages of search results. But I rolled the dice, booked hotels and tickets, and on a beautiful Friday in May, we set out on our big Italian adventure. And 2 hours later, our dream of a seamless trip melted away faster than a scoop of gelato in Rome in August. Follow along my story of travel hiccup after travel hiccup as I share 5 Reasons Why I SHOULD Have Used a Travel Advisor.
1. This would have never happened.
We boarded our flight from Birmingham to Atlanta knowing we had a tight connection. But the airline wouldn’t link those flights if it was impossible, right? Wrong. The flight to Birmingham was delayed, we made up for lost time in the air, but alas we landed to find there was no gate available. We sat on the runway sweating bullets and counting down the minutes until the next flight would take off. As soon as they opened the hatch, we shot out of the plane like bats out of hell, sprinting to our next gate. Bags waving, shoes clacking, it was a true “move it or lose it” situation for anyone who stood in our way. We arrived at the terminal with 15 minutes before takeoff only to have the gate operator direct us to the ticket counter because they had closed the door. All of that running for nothing. I shared this story with Advisor Debby Denson and, with a sigh, she said, “We would have never let you have a 50 minute connection in Atlanta. The airport is huge and delays are far too common.”
Lesson 1: Travel Advisors know appropriate lengths of layovers. The airline may suggest it, but it may not be humanly possible to get from point A to point B without being an Olympic sprinter.
2. Rebooking a flight would be easy.
Upon being turned away from our gate, we were directed to the airline counter to be rebooked. Frustrated and out of breath, we turned to the lady for guidance. She swiftly said, “You’ll fly out tomorrow evening, no problem,” and began furiously typing.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I exclaimed. “Not tomorrow—tonight. Can we get on the flight to Paris that leaves in 2 hours?” She looked at me like I asked if she could sprout wings and personally fly me across the Atlantic to my destination. “Not. Possible. You’ll leave tomorrow. NEXT!”
If we had used a Travel Advisor, we would have had an advocate. With a 24/7 contact, an Advisor could have secured our seat on the next flight out that evening before we deplaned and set off running. But we were left to fend for ourselves. After being turned away by the oh-so-unhelpful airline agent, we darted from gate to gate begging someone to help us out (we ended up on a flight to Amsterdam).
Lesson 2: With a Travel Advisor, we would have been rebooked before I could say “one vodka tonic” at the airport bar.
3. Forced Overnight: No problem!
So with the later flight from Amsterdam + a 9 hour (NINE HOUR!) layover, we weren’t going to make our train in Milan to get to Cinque Terre and needed a hotel room in Milan. Using our 30 minutes of free wifi (we had not told our credit card companies that we were going to be in the Netherlands), we found a hotel close enough to the train station that looked fine and had good reviews. Well come to learn online, reviews and photos are skewed. Our cute little hotel was missing some major things, like towels, shower curtains (no, there wasn’t even a little divider…bath tub + shower head = water everywhere), and thick walls (some things you can’t unhear). A Travel Advisor would not only know a hotel in a safe location but Brownell Advisors also have personal relationship with hotels around the world. A quick email from an Advisor to the General Manager would ensure that were warmly welcomed and treated like VIPs.
Lesson 3: There would be no worry about the forced overnight. We could have explored Amsterdam (we did have 9 long hours, after all) and arrived to a warm welcome in Milan.
4. Lost baggage would have been under control.
As if stressing over a flight, having a 9-hour layover, and a dud hotel motel wasn’t enough to start off a trip on the wrong foot, the travel gods threw in missing baggage. When we landed in Milan, the lost baggage desk agent explained in broken English, “we don’t know where your bags are.” The next day we discovered they were still in Atlanta! Although we made it to Cinque Terre, we spent most of the time on the phone trying to locate our bags and determine if they would meet us in Cinque Terre or our next stop, Florence.
Lesson 4: A Travel Advisor would have located the bags and arranged for drop off. Meanwhile, I would have enjoyed seeing outside of the hotel lobby and courtyard.
5. You’ll know how you’ll be reimbursed.
I packed extra essentials, but I did not have clothes for 4 days sans luggage. The airline customer service people seemed to think that the airlines would reimburse us. How much, they weren’t sure. How long would it take? No idea. In a small town, there were not a lot of clothing options, and most of them were not inexpensive (there was no H&M). We found items to make due until our bags arrived, but photo after photo in my “Ciao Bella” shirt got old, fast (and the shampoo! Eek! My hair had a mind of its own!).
Lesson 5: Brownell Advisors encourage travel insurance for this very reason. You would know exactly how much would be reimbursed and could get what you needed without worrying.
Despite the trouble in the first part of our journey, we had an incredible trip—that’s the beauty of travel. Just being in a new, exciting place makes stressful moments a little less stressful. As much as you may plan and schedule, things change, and you have to go with it. And with a Travel Advisor helping you along the way, you can rest a little easier knowing you’re taken care of, even when things go bump. After all, wouldn’t you rather enjoy a crisp glass of wine while you savor a sunset over the Tyrrhenian Sea in a tourist t-shirt than watch Real Housewives of (insert city) on your couch in sweats? Me too.