Questions to ask your travel agent

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Hiring a travel agent to take care of your holiday plans is much like hiring a plumber - you are trusting someone to do a job you would otherwise do yourself (if you had the time and the skill!) This is why it is useful to have a checklist of questions you would like answered ahead of your holiday.  We chatted to the team at Club Med Southern Africa and have compiled some questions that may be useful:

When is the best time of the year to visit which destination?

If you are someone who likes being surrounded by a lot of fellow travellers, you may want to vacation during peak season. And if you like privacy, off-peak season would work best for you.  The weather is also another factor, if you want to visit Europe, their winter  is from November to April, and summer is from May to October. In Mauritius, winter is between May and October, and summer is from November-April. Asia has various weather patterns depending on where on the continent you want to visit, so it’s always advisable to do your research into each respective destination, and to look into “when is monsoon season” across the continent.

Are there discounts depending on whether its peak or off peak season?

Some travel agencies have deals depending on the time of year. It is always advisable to book your holiday early so that you have a wider variety of destinations and to get the best discounts on your holiday.

What are some destinations South Africans are loving at the moment?

  • Mauritius
  • Val Thorens Sensations (French Alps – a snow holiday)
  • Kani (Maldives)
  • Bali (Indonesia)
  • Cervinia (Italian Alps – a snow holiday)
  • Cancun (Mexico)
  • Bintan Island (Indonesia) 

What documentation do I need for my trip?

Depending on where you’re going, some countries require visas which in turn require personal documents like medical certificates, marriage certificates, and bank statements. The travel agent will know what documents are required for your preferred destination. Visas are an extra cost and so they need to be factored in to your holiday budget.

What is the weather like?

If you have a destination picked already, you definitely want to be prepared for the weather. Nothing worse than packing for summer when it is winter or vice versa. It’s also useful to know just HOW hot or cold the destination is so that you can pack proper attire.  We always suggest you layer your clothing.

What is the luggage weight limit?

Airlines are increasingly strict about this policy so it is important that you know how much you’re allowed to carry in the aircraft hold and on the plane - both size and weight. Imagine having packed all your favourite outfits only to have to leave them at the airport. No bueno!

How much time will I spend in transit?

Whilst your flight time might be relatively short, it’s always good to know exactly how long your trip will be from the airport to your destination. Those few hours’ difference could even dictate which hotel or accommodation you go for when making your booking.

What excursions and/or activities do you suggest?

Chances are your travel agents have visited the destination and if not they most certainly know clients who have so they will have insight on activities available. From unusual activities such as scuba diving or trapeze, right through to cultural days out or evening trips - each destination has its specific attractions and may even offer something that you never expected.

I am travelling with kids, are there any kid friendly activities?

Some resorts have specialised activities designed for kids - and luckily Club Med caters for kids of all ages. Some examples include: learning to trapeze,  little tennis, golf, nature activities and so much more!

What sort of travel insurance would you recommend?

It’s always important to stay safe whilst travelling, and travel insurance provides a security in case something goes wrong whilst travelling. There are various packages to choose from.

What is the currency and exchange rate of your destination?

This will help you plan better financially. Knowing the currency will also prevent against people who may scam you. We would suggest going on a holiday where you don’t have to worry about the exchange rate – which is why you should choose a Club Med holiday as it’s exchange-rate-proof! Once you pay the deposit for your trip, your price is locked in and won’t be negatively affected if the Rand hits a few bumps.

What is it that they say? “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. By asking your travel agent a few basic questions, your holiday will be what it should be - a memory making, relaxing experience of a lifetime!

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