a travel agent working on her couch with her computer

How Much Does a Travel Agent Cost, and Is it Worth The Money?

9 min read

For straightforward trips—think a domestic flight and hotel stay—you might not need an advisor, but lengthy summer vacations abroad often benefit from the expertise and experience of professional travel agents. Travel planning can be time-consuming, frustrating, and difficult—especially when you live far away from your eventual destination. Working with travel advisors allows you to take a step back and focus on wrangling your family or friends instead of organizing the minutia of trip planning. From scheduling activities to offering 24/7 support, we’ll explore the many benefits of working with travel agents in this article. Of course, we will also consider the cons and answer all of your FAQs about using a travel agent—including “how much does a travel agent cost?” and “should I work with a local agent in my destination country?”. Read on to learn more!

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Working with a Travel Agent Vs Planning Your Own Trip

Vacation planning means making numerous decisions, from choosing destinations and booking flights to arranging accommodations and activities. While the allure of crafting an itinerary that adheres exactly to your personal preferences appeals to many, the process can also be daunting and time-consuming. This is where travel agents come in—offering expertise and convenience to ease the travel planning burden. But travelers now have more tools than ever to plan their adventures independently. Let’s consider the pros and cons of working with a travel agent versus planning your own trip so you can determine the best approach for your next getaway.

The Benefits of Hiring a Travel Agent

Travel agents bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, often having insider tips and connections that can significantly enhance your trip. Their understanding of multiple destinations, accommodations, and activities allows them to craft a detailed, enjoyable, and custom itinerary. Additionally, their industry connections can open doors to unique experiences and exclusive opportunities that independent travelers might not have access to, making your journey more enriching and hassle-free. Beyond their expertise and experience, below are a few additional benefits of working with travel agents.


Planning a trip can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task, especially when trying to coordinate flights, accommodations, activities, and transportation. A travel agent can handle all these details on your behalf, saving you countless hours of researching particular destinations and booking hotels. This is particularly beneficial for busy individuals who want a seamless travel experience without investing significant time in planning.

Personalized Service

One of the standout benefits of working with travel agencies is the personalized service they offer. Agents take the time to understand your preferences, interests, and budget, tailoring the trip to meet your specific needs. Whether you prefer luxury accommodations, off-the-beaten-path adventures, or family-friendly activities, a travel agent can create a bespoke itinerary that matches your vision for the perfect trip.

24/7 Support

Travel agents provide invaluable support before, during, and after your trip. This ongoing assistance can be crucial if you encounter unexpected issues, such as flight cancellations, errors when booking rental cars, or emergencies like losing your passport. Having an agent available to resolve problems quickly can alleviate stress and ensure your travel plans proceed smoothly, providing peace of mind throughout your journey.

Access to Deals and Upgrades

Thanks to their relationships with travel suppliers, travel agents often have access to exclusive deals, promotions, and potential upgrades. A travel agent could secure better rates from cruise lines, hotels, flights, and tours, as well as added perks like room upgrades, complimentary meals, or special experiences. These benefits can enhance your travel experience while often saving you money.

Potential Disadvantages to Working with a Travel Agent

While travel agents offer valuable services and expertise, it’s important to weigh the potential downsides against the benefits to decide whether their assistance is the right choice for your travel plans. Below are some drawbacks to consider. Remember, selecting the right agent is half the battle!


One of the primary drawbacks of using a travel agent is the potential cost. Agents may charge service fees, hourly rates, or markups on travel services. While they can often secure deals and exclusive offers, these savings may be offset by their fees, making it more expensive than booking independently.

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Limited Control

When working with a travel agent, you might feel you have less control over your travel arrangements. Agents make recommendations and bookings based on their expertise, which may not always align with your preferences. Additionally, making changes to plans through an agent can sometimes be slower than if you were handling everything directly.

Potential for Bias

Travel agents often have relationships with specific suppliers, such as hotels, airlines, and tour operators, which might influence their recommendations. They may prioritize partners who offer commissions or incentives, which could limit your options or steer you toward choices that aren’t the absolute best fit for your needs.

Communication Delays

Relying on a travel agent means you need to communicate your preferences and any changes through them, which can sometimes lead to delays. Unlike direct online bookings where adjustments can be made instantly, working through an agent can involve waiting for responses and confirmations.


The availability and responsiveness of travel agents can vary. If your agent is handling multiple clients or is unavailable due to personal reasons, you might experience delays in getting your questions answered or issues resolved. This can be particularly frustrating if you need immediate assistance.

Less Flexibility

Travel agents often work with pre-set packages and deals, which might not offer the same level of flexibility as planning your own trip. If you prefer a highly customized itinerary with spontaneous changes, using a travel agent might feel restrictive.

So, Is Working with a Travel Agent Worth the Money?

Still not sure if you want to spend some of your hard-earned vacation budget on travel agent fees? Well, it might be worth the money if planning complex itineraries, attending special occasions, organizing group travel, or heading off to unique destinations.

Multi-destination trips or vacations with intricate itineraries can be challenging to plan independently. Travel agents excel in organizing these complex arrangements, ensuring that all connections, transfers, and activities are seamlessly coordinated. Their expertise can help avoid logistical issues and enhance the overall flow of your trip.

“If you prefer to stay in a house or a flat…[and] really feel like you live there for a week or two, that’s where a travel planner is really helpful.”

DesignDash Co-Founder Laura Umansky

Planning special occasions such as honeymoons, anniversary trips, or destination weddings can be stressful. Travel agents can take care of all the details, allowing you to focus on enjoying the experience. They often add special touches that make the occasion memorable, from arranging romantic dinners to securing unique experiences tailored to your celebration.

Coordinating travel for a group, whether it’s for a family reunion, a corporate retreat, or a group of friends, can be daunting. Travel agents can manage group bookings, arrange accommodations that suit everyone’s needs, and plan group activities. Their ability to handle complex logistics and negotiate group discounts makes them invaluable for group travel.

If you’re venturing to a less common destination or one you know little about, a travel agent can provide essential insights and recommendations. Their local knowledge and connections can help you navigate cultural nuances, find hidden gems, and ensure a smooth experience in unfamiliar territory.

When It Might Not Be Worth the Money

For straightforward travel plans, such as a single domestic flight and a hotel stay, using a travel agent might not be necessary. These simple arrangements are easy to book independently through online travel sites, and the cost of an agent’s services might outweigh the benefits. If you’re looking to save every possible penny, booking your travel independently can sometimes be more cost-effective.

While travel agents can offer exclusive deals, their fees might not fit within a tight budget. Budget travelers often prefer to find and book the cheapest options themselves, using various comparison tools and websites.

Those who are comfortable with technology and enjoy using travel booking websites and apps may prefer to handle their travel arrangements. These travelers can often find deals and manage bookings easily on their own, making the additional cost of a travel agent unnecessary for them.

Answering All Your FAQs About Hiring a Travel Planner This Summer

What does a travel agent do?

Travel agents plan, book, and coordinate travel arrangements for clients. This includes booking flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, tours, and activities. They also provide advice on destinations, travel insurance, visas, and other travel-related matters.

How much does it cost to use a travel agent?

The actual cost varies. Some travel agents charge a service fee (typically $25 to $100 per person), while others earn commissions from travel suppliers or even charge a flat rate. Some may charge hourly rates ($50 to $200 per hour), especially for complex or custom itineraries.

Do travel agents get better deals than I can find online?

Can travel agents save you money? Travel agents often have access to exclusive deals, promotions, and discounts that are not available to the general public. They can also provide value-added services, such as room upgrades and special amenities, through their industry connections.

Can a travel agent help if something goes wrong during my trip?

Yes, one of the significant advantages of using a travel agent is the support they provide during your trip. They can assist with issues like flight cancellations, booking errors, or emergency situations, often resolving problems more quickly than you could on your own.

Is it cheaper to book directly or through a travel agent?

It depends on the trip and the travel agent. Sometimes booking through a travel agent can be more cost-effective due to their access to special rates and packages. However, for simple trips, you might find comparable prices booking directly.

What kind of trips are best suited for booking with a travel agent?

Complex itineraries, multi-destination trips, special occasions (like honeymoons or destination weddings), group travel, and travel to unique or less-visited destinations are ideal for using a travel agent.

Can a travel agent help with last-minute travel?

Yes, travel agents can assist with last-minute travel plans and may have access to deals and availability that you might not find online.

Do I have to pay a travel agent upfront?

Payment policies vary by agent. Some may require an upfront fee, while others might bill you after booking or include their fee in the total trip cost. Always clarify payment terms before engaging their services.

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How do I find a reputable travel agent?

Look for agents who are members of professional organizations like the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) or the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Check online reviews, ask for recommendations, and interview potential agents to ensure they understand your travel preferences and needs.

Can a travel agent help with travel insurance?

Yes, travel agents can provide information on travel insurance options and help you select a policy that meets your needs. They can also assist with filing claims if necessary.

What information do I need to provide to a travel agent?

You should provide details about your travel dates, destinations, budget, preferences (such as hotel type, activities, and transportation), and any special requirements (like dietary restrictions or mobility needs).

Do travel agents specialize in specific types of travel?

Yes, many travel agents specialize in certain types of travel, such as luxury travel, adventure travel, cruises, corporate travel, or specific destinations. Finding an agent with expertise in your desired type of travel can enhance your experience.

Can you still earn rewards if using a travel agent to book hotels, flights, and activities?

Yes, you can still earn rewards when using a travel agent to book hotels, flights, and activities, as long as your loyalty program details are included in the reservations. Airline frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty points, and credit card rewards are typically still applicable. However, it’s important to confirm with both the travel agent and the specific loyalty programs to ensure that the bookings are eligible for rewards, as some restrictions may apply depending on the booking channels used by the agent.

Final Thoughts on Planning Your Next Trip with a Travel Agent

We will leave you with a few tips for working successfully with a travel agency. When working with a travel agent, it’s important to ensure clear communication and maximize the benefits of their services. Start by providing detailed information about your travel preferences, budget, and any loyalty program memberships you have. Confirm that your frequent flyer numbers and hotel loyalty program details are included in all reservations to earn rewards.

Ask about the agent’s booking channels to ensure your bookings are eligible for points or miles. Don’t forge to inquire about any service fees upfront to avoid unexpected costs. Lastly, maintain regular contact with your agent to promptly address any changes or issues that arise during the planning process.

We hope you enjoy a fabulous trip this Summer! Please share your vacation photos with our EIC at editor@designdash.com.