Why I Use a Travel Agent

the resurgence of luxury travel planners
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You might be wondering why someone with a solid 28 out of 28 years of travel under her belt is writing to advise you to use a travel agent? (Yes, I had my first passport picture taken at age 1 when we moved to Maracaibo, Venezuela – the first of 20-something moves). I was skeptical myself. Had I written this post a few years ago, I would have shared with you all my "pro" travel planning tips based on my life in constant flight. But A LOT has changed in a few years. Rapid technology advancements, apps for everything, privacy breaches, fake news, let's be real – the internet is the wild west right now. Fact and fiction are blurred and the amount of information coming at us is overwhelming.

Think about the last trip you planned or maybe a trip you're planning right now.... How did the planning process start? Did it look something like this?

  1. Open your favorite search engine (i.e. Google.com)
  2. Type "best boutique hotels in Dallas" and click search
  3. 1.06 seconds later, you're looking at page 1 of 17,200,000 results
  4. Skim the results page (trying to avoid the first few results labeled "Ad"). Look for familiar/reputable travel sites with decent headers
  5. Right click on several viable links and open each site in a new tab
  6. Compare the sites. Look for repeat hotel recognition and some degree of credibility and consistency in the lists. Narrow it down to the top 2-3 hotels.
  7. Search each of the top 2-3 hotel names individually and start reading the reviews....

As if the 17,200,000 results or biased paid ad results weren't enough to cause distrust, for some reason it usually takes me until Step 7 to lose hope. 

With endless search results on the internet, the joy of researching "the best" of anything has become a futile activity. This once joyful process now leaves my head spinning with doubt and indecision. We've all wasted countless hours online sifting through good, bad and ugly reviews, reading acclaimed travel publications and blogs, comparing sites for best prices and almost always end up feeling defeated. LUCKILY, just before my wanderlust turned into wandercrushed, a gift landed in the WE THE BIRDS inbox.

A reliable resource; a travel agent

Abby Murray, a good friend from our Singapore high school days, reached out to extend her luxury travel planning services for any upcoming WE THE BIRDS trips. As a travel planner for Journeys Yacht & Travel, Abby specializes in planning and executing dream bucket list vacations, once-in-a-lifetime trips, and honeymoons. *SPOILER ALERT* she is a rockstar at what she does and takes care of everything you could dream of and more at virtually no cost to you.

It was April – an exceptionally busy time for WE THE BIRDS. We were moving into our new home and building out our HQ. I had no time for anything outside of work, especially not to plan a two week getaway my boyfriend and I had booked for a friend's wedding in Europe. With less than 3 months to go, all we had were flights booked.

I immediately responded to Abby's email: "How soon can we get started?"

We started planning our Europe trip right away. After a brief 20 minute phone consultation – where I shared my desires for the trip and interests/dislikes when traveling – I received a follow up email from Abby with an overview of our conversation including my trip summary and travel dates.  That was it.  As I sighed a huge breath of relief, the excitement for my trip (that I had lost due to stress) started to creep back in. I quickly received another email from Abby with a perfectly curated list of options for hotels, restaurants and activities all within budget in the cities we planned to visit. Not only did the list match our every desire, but there were added perks included that only industry professionals could access – gifted bottles of wine and champagne, free room upgrades, spa credits, VIP experiences....  Who knew that talking to a real human would be so rewarding and easy? Who knew that travel planners and travel agents were even still a thing?!  Well, I didn’t. I had no idea how liberating or valuable it would be to delegate my laundry list of travel needs to a true travel expert until now.  

Why I use a travel agent:


It's the travel agent's job to take the stress out of vacation planning. They take care of everything from sending ideas, coordinating logistics, and booking all your hotels, flights, activities. It's truly that simple. So don't worry about calling the hotel in Spain to request early check-in when you arrive after an 18-hour journey. Don't stress about finding the best dim sum restaurant in Milan or calling to get a sought-after dinner reservation 3 weeks in advance. Don't worry about anything. Let the travel agent do her job.


Doesn't working with a travel agent cost a fortune? 

False. Working with a travel planner costs practically nothing.  Besides a small planning fee of max $250 (and sometimes this is waived), it won’t cost you extra to entrust a travel agent to plan and book your next trip.  Whether you book a hotel on your own or use a travel agent, you will get the same rates – only a travel agent might get you a better deal or score you free amenities and exclusive perks that you could never get on your own. Not to mention, your time is money.  Which brings me to my next point... 


I can just do it all myself using Google and booking sites for free.

Unless your time has no value, this is false. I can assure you that our business made more money by me NOT planning a two week vacation than had I spent countless hours stressing over researching and booking the best spots for my trip. Had I NOT enlisted the help of a travel planner, my "vacation" would have been a major cause of anxiety and distraction from my real work. Instead, I was able to focus on my job and look forward to my upcoming vacation with genuine excitement. 


A travel planner has industry relationships that trump any promotion you might find on the internet. Abby told me about exclusive hotels and villas, private tours of designer fashion houses, and local cooking experiences that I never would have discovered on the internet. There's no gimmick here. Leverage the relationships your travel agent has with all the top partners and hotels around the world! You will gain access to one-of-a-kind experiences, exclusive discounts, and free amenities.  


Travel agents are better at their job than I am. Weird, I know. Call me arrogant, but this was the hardest part of the process for my 'well-traveled self' to come to terms with. Thanks to Google, we all think we're capable of anything and experts at everything…. but I’ve been humbled. I am not better at finding the most luxurious, adventurous or chicest, undiscovered travel spots. I do not receive insider news or have connections and relationships with the industry's finest. I have Google and a few credit card reward points. Leave the experts to their job while you do yours :).

So now I ask, why don’t you use a travel agent?

xo N

Get in touch with luxury travel specialist, Abby Murray, to book your next getaway! 
email: abby@journeysatc.com | phone: 910-685-5590
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Barcelona, Spain | city views from one of the towers in Gaudi's Sagrada Familia
Barcelona, Spain | The ABaC Hotel
 Barcelona, Spain | The ABaC Hotel
Ibiza, Spain | View from our hotel La Torre del Canonigo
Ibiza, Spain | El Chiringuito Ibiza restaurant
Ibiza, Spain | ‍El Chiringuito Ibiza
Milan, Italy | Navigli District street grafitti
Milan, Italy | The Bvlgari Hotel Milano - Superior Suite 
Milan, Italy | The Bvlgari Hotel Milano - Superior Suite balcony overlooking the private garden
Sinalunga, Italy | welcome cocktail reception at our friend's private home in Siena
Sinalunga, Siena | The wedding!
Roma, Italy | The finale at Imàgo, Michelin Star restaurant. Incredible food and unbeatable sunset views of Rome.

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Abby Murray | Luxury Travel Agent

email: abby@journeysatc.com

phone: 910-685-5590

Journeys Yacht & Travel | affiliate of Travel Experts, a Virtuoso Agency

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Prior to founding WE THE BIRDS, her professional experience was in accounting/finance. After being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, she fell in love with French macarons (because they are a naturally, gluten-free dessert). She spent several years mastering the delicate art of making macarons and developing her own unique recipe. Natalie fancies herself more of a "foodie", than a baker. Nonetheless, she is the founder and creator of WE THE BIRDS | Macarons recipe and is known for creating innovative flavor profiles. In her role as Macaron Director, she leads the our team of talented bakers.


BA International Business; Asian Studies Minor
College of Charleston, 2012

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