There’s a lot to love about using a travel advisor to help you plan a trip: you save endless hours researching travel options and get to rest assured that the details are figured out for you. You’re treated like a VIP with access to exclusive perks and upgrades that you couldn’t get booking online. You have a direct line to a whole support team if you need anything. And it doesn’t cost you anything extra. No surprise: once you start booking with a travel advisor, you’ll never want to go back.
But as much as you’re already an insider when you book with a travel advisor, there are some tried-and-true ways to get even more out of your advisor experience. Most of that happens with just a little planning ahead and an understanding of what you want.
If you’re looking for the best tips on how to use a travel advisor, check out some of our favorites, here, straight from our travel advisors themselves.
1. Have a plan – or at least a continent – in mind.
“I have people who call and say ‘I want to go away for Thanksgiving,’”said Boulder-based outdoor enthusiast and travel advisor Gaya Vinay. “And I’ll say, ‘great, where do you want to go?’ And they’ll respond, ‘Anywhere.’”
It’s great to be open to your destination and to be willing to be surprised, but we all have limitations. Having a sense of what those limitations are early can help you and your travel advisor narrow down a great destination for your next trip.
Here are some questions that could help you narrow down your options:
How many days do you want to travel?
Do you want a direct flight?
How many hours do you want to fly?
Do you want to leave the country?
Do you have a certain climate or temperature in mind?
Are you looking for something more relaxing, or more adventurous?
Is there a particular region of the world that intrigues you?
Knowing the answer to as many of these questions as possible makes it easier for your travel advisor to help find the right destination for you.
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2. Not sure what you want? Think about past trips
Kerry Boyd, a teacher and travel advisor based out of Boston, has a special trick to help her clients figure out their next trip. “The best question I’ve asked my clients is what their favorite trips in the past have been,” she said.
“What kind of properties have you enjoyed? What do you love about travel? That helps me to make your next experience even better.”
Whether your past trips were planned by a travel advisor or not, sharing some of the favorite properties you’ve stayed at in the past and what made them special to you is a great way to give your travel advisor a sense of your travel preferences, even if you can’t put your finger on your exact travel style. It’s also a helpful way to highlight some of the things you didn’t like about past stays so that your travel advisor can be sure to avoid them when crafting your travel plan.
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3. Try stepping outside your comfort zone
Have you ever thought about using a travel advisor to not just plan the trip that you want, but the trip that you need?
Working with a travel advisor can be an amazing way to step outside of your comfort zone, challenging you to try something you might not have ever done before.
“My job is not to be Amex. I’m not Expedia,” said Deb Swacker, a travel advisor based in the Washington, DC area. “My goal is to get the right fit of location, hotel and experiences for everyone in the family, and to push people if they want to be pushed out of their comfort zone, in a way that's safe.”
If your teenage daughter has always been asking to go zip-lining and you’ve always been dead against it, bringing in a travel advisor can provide a helpful perspective and a compromise that will ultimately make everyone happy. And you might end up trying something new!
Connect with Fora Advisor Deb Swacker for your next getaway:
4. Let them know your restrictions early
Travel isn’t always simple or straightforward. There are streets to be navigated, and hours of operation to be considered. Showing up to that Michelin-starred restaurant that you’ve been eyeing only to find out they’re closed for lunch is one thing; having to carry your stroller back down a flight of stairs while you search for another lunch option is quite another. If you can anticipate some of your travel needs early, your travel advisor can help weigh in with recommendations to make your experience as smooth as possible.
“Be really forthcoming about any sort of restrictions you might have,” Gaya said. Maybe you’re traveling with a child with sensory sensitivities, or you have a need for enhanced wheelchair accessibility. Communicating those needs early can help your travel advisor smooth out your transitions so you’re not sacrificing comfort while dealing with the details upon arrival.
5. Be upfront about your budget
Ah, the number one question: “How much do you want to spend?” As much as we may deny it, everyone hates talking about money, especially with people we might not know very well. But the reality is that everyone has a budget, too, and knowing yours and communicating yours will only get you closer to actual places you want to stay at. “Be very upfront about your budget, because it helps your travel advisor to narrow stuff down,” said Gaya.
While some travel advisors focus on luxury accommodations, many work within a variety of budgets. Knowing yours will help your advisor share helpful recommendations that are worth considering, saving you both precious time and energy. If you’re not sure what your budget is or should be, just ask. Your advisor is likely to give you some ballpark expectations to help you decide what you should be spending.
6. Consider using your travel advisor for more than just your hotel
Oluwaseyi Aladeselu, a travel advisor based out of Maryland, keeps her advice simple: “Utilize us!” she said. Travel advisors can assist with more than just booking hotels. They can also help with travel insurance, tours and even restaurant reservations.
Book a your vacation with Fora Advisor Oluwaseyi Aladeselu:
“Have an open mind and be honest with your advisor,” said Caroline Lewis, a travel advisor based out of Boston, noting that travel advisors are often associated with Disney or ultra-luxury trips, and travelers often don’t realize “how valuable we can be for everyone.”
Contact Caroline Lewis to help you plan your vacation:
7. Think of your advisor as a long-term relationship
The best advisor relationships aren’t one-time experiences, but long-term relationships that are here to stay. Just like having a favorite hair stylist that you return back to again and again, once you start establishing a relationship with your travel advisor, they’ll be able to plan trips you would never have considered before (but love beyond belief), as well as keep an eye out for new offerings that could pique your interest.
“Establishing a relationship with an advisor will help make future travel planning easier as your advisor becomes more in sync with your wants, needs, and travel style,” said Nicole Sansone, a travel advisor based in Connecticut.
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“They can send ideas for travel destinations that might not be on your radar yet, or hotel deals and promotions that may be a perfect fit.” If your advisor knows that Paris has been on your bucket list for a while and then a special promotion pops up, they’ll be able to flag it quickly and get you in, helping you avoid the everlasting “where do we go next?” question.
“Trust your advisor and lean into the process,” added Natalie Kurzman, a Boston-based travel advisor and mom of two.
Chat with Fora Advisor Natalie Kurtzman to plan your travel:
Feeling inspired? Learn more about how you, too, can turn your passion for travel into $$$ with Fora.