Monday, August 24, 2015

Why you should use a travel agent for your Disney Vacation

I have been to Disneyland once, and Disney World twice. I have been planning my own vacations for several years, the last time I used a travel agent was almost 8 years ago. I am very confident in my ability to find good deals and plan a vacation perfect for me.

However. Disney can be confusing. There, I said it. If you are an expert, kudos to you, but there is a lot of information out there. I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted for our Disney vacation, but I thought it couldn't hurt to reach out to a travel agent, so I went online and found Small World Vacations. I had no intention of actually using them (I'm so rude), I just wanted to see. Well, I got such amazing customer service and it was all so easy that I decided to book my vacation through them and I am very happy with my decision and wanted to share it with you.


Why should you use a travel agent, when everything is so easy to do yourself online?

I have used a travel agent a couple of times (London 2007, US 2009 & 2011), although I had never used an American travel agent before, I'm sure they are very similar to ones at home. It was a lot easier for me to say what I wanted and have the travel agent book everything and tell me when to show up. However, once I flew internationally a few times, I started booking it on my own and haven't looked back since.

Although general travel agents aren't needed as much anymore, especially because the internet makes everything so easy and accessible, destination specific agents are definitely invaluable because they provide such detailed information and guidance for a specific place. I love to plan, reading and researching for a trip is my favourite part. However, even I started to get a bit overwhelmed, which is why I turned to an 'Authorised Disney Vacation Planner'.

I had heard of Small World Vacations from Mousesavers so that is who I turned to first. They sometimes offer discounts exclusively for Mousesavers newsletter readers, so sign up for the newsletter to make sure you don't miss out.

Small World Vacations


So, why use a travel agent?

It's free: This is the most important reason. A travel agent is free to you, so why wouldn't you use it? I was a little weary of this so I tallied up all the costs myself and came to the exact same price that I was given by Amber from Small World Vacations. Not a penny difference.

It can save you money: it can also save you money. As noted above, Small World Vacations sometimes offers discounts for Mousesavers newsletter readers, and any discount is better than no discount. I also got a bunch of other discounts, like for Downtown Disney restaurants and such. On top of this, a Disney specific travel agent will know the best time to go (for discounts) and they'll know of discounts that you won't.

They can retroactively add discounts: shortly after I had booked my vacation, I received an email from Amber about a discount that Disney had received that day. It wasn't available at my hotel, but if I wanted to change my dates or hotel, it could be. I didn't want to, but still. It was nice that it was offered.


They can book reservations: apparently they can book your dining reservations and such for you. I don't know this for 100% sure because I didn't ask Amber to do this for me. I did ask her if she had any secrets to getting dining reservations after 180 days that were already booked, but she was unable to. She did say something that made me do some googling and such, and with that I was able to get those hard-to-get reservations (post coming soon!).

You don't relinquish control, not really: I am a super planner freak, as I have mentioned, planning makes me happy. Someone noted that using a travel agent is not for control freaks, but I disagree. The reason I don't use travel agents / tour type vacations is because I don't like when something is out of my control or not my choice (for example, if I go on a guided tour around Europe and can't choose the city or how many nights, I would flip - I could never do that). With Small World Vacations, I got every single thing I wanted so it never felt like I had relinquished control. If you want to make changes, you do have to go through your travel agent anyway, but I didn't mind.

They have all the knowledge and experience: I like to plan and read like crazy, but not everyone does. My travel agent still shared a lot of information that I was not aware of, even though I'd been there before and Megan is somewhat of an expert herself. She always responded quickly and always had an answer, no matter how many questions I asked - and I asked a lot.

They can be a sounding board: you all know that KC doesn't love to plan. He also doesn't love when I talk about it - not in a mean way, just in a 'whatever you want!' way. So it was so good to ask questions and have someone give me their opinion.


They can book Non-Disney things: Amber also handled the Universal Studios portion of our vacation, including the transfers, park entry and hotel. They don't handle flights because they have to charge a fee and they are honest about the fact that you can book it cheaper yourself. Other travel agents might be able to book your flights, but because airlines no longer pay a commission, they will likely charge you a fee.

They are super helpful: this is obviously a vague point, but my travel agent, Amber, was ridiculously helpful. I changed so many things, constantly asking questions and asking for help and she never batted an eye (or maybe she did, but she handled me very professionally!). I wouldn't have even known where to start with the changes I wanted to make, and she handled it super efficiently.

You don't have to pay for it all up front: I am an extremely firm believer in not going on vacation unless you can afford it. If you cannot afford to pay for your Disney vacation right now, then you probably shouldn't be going. However. Although we had the money in our accounts, I didn't want to part with it all so soon after Europe, and KC wanted to build a new computer, but I wanted to book Disney before the prices went up, plus I'm just plain impatient. With Small World Vacations, I put a deposit down (the quote you are sent is valid only for a few days or so) and then I had a due date that was 45 days before the start of my vacation. I didn't want to be a pain in the butt, so I asked Amber if I could make payments or if I had to pay it in one lump sum, and she said I could make payments, so I did.

When I was ready to book, I called Amber and gave her my info, which she kept on file and I would just shoot her an email when I wanted to make a payment. Like I said, I don't think you should be going on vacation unless you can afford it, but Disney is so freaking expensive so it really helped to spread the financial burden out.


Just FYI: This is not a sponsored post, I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies listed, I just wanted to share my experience. There are lots and lots of Authorised Disney Vacation Planners, but I cannot vouch for those I have not used, therefore I highly recommend Small World Vacations.

Have you ever used a travel agent?

40 comments:

  1. I pinned this article! My husband and I are wanting to go to disneyworld before we have kids {funny, I know?! but we're big kids ha!} and I know I'll be thankful that I pinned it when we begin planning!

    Have a great Monday!

    Linds @ Not A Mom

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  2. Twice - for my destination wedding and when my mother and I took a trip to... DisneyWorld! I agree with you, going through a travel agent made the Disney planning experience so much more enjoyable. DW is such a behemoth of a place with so many options in terms of parks, passes, resorts, and dining (just to name the basics). My travel agent took care of it all. Even though I like to travel planning process, I was glad to hand over the reins for that trip.

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  3. i haven't used a travel agent in years but when we were thinking of our disney cruise, i was all over mouse savers and was ready to book through small world. that said, since we switched cruise lines, we booked through an agent and it was a decent experience.

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  4. Thanks for sharing- I've definitely wondered about this!

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  5. I had no idea travel agents were free! This is amazing. I'm a control freak, like you, but there have definitely been times trying to plan a trip that I felt overwhelmed. Especially other countries! I'm going to look into this in the future.

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  6. I dont think I realized that it was free!! My sister has done Disney a few times with the kids so I'll make sure to let her know about this for the next trip! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  7. I so want to go to Disney sometime soon and I will definitely be using a travel agent! I love to plan but the idea of planning for Disney sounds crazy... better leave the crazy to someone else :) Plus, I loved our trip to Europe that was planned out by a travel agent. It makes life so much easier.

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  8. I havent used a travel agent in years but I totally would for Disney - its so much easier! Love this. Pinning :)

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  9. I 150% agree that using a travel agent for a Disney vacation is a must, especially if it's your first time! My grandparents used to live in Orlando so I've seriously been like 20 times - probably not an expert, but I do know enough to book my own trip - and there is even new things I'm finding every time we go there! Which we may be doing in October :) Excited for you for your trip!!

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  10. this post is so timely - I really want to start looking this week about a Disney vacation & get some rates

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  11. Very interesting. We just went on our first ever Disney trip back in April and I didn't use a travel agent but it probably would have helped! I did get lots of advice from bloggers who travel there frequently.

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  12. I've never used a travel agent but for somewhere so popular like Disney, I can totally see the advantages. I'd imagine they have all kinds of ins and little secrets that just aren't available to the rest of us. Very cool that they can get retroactive discounts! It makes me so mad when I think I've gotten a good deal on something and then an ever better one comes along.

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  13. I had no idea this was even a thing-- but it sounds like such a fun job! haha One of my friends goes to Disney at least 3x a year if not more, and is an expert, but if we didn't have her and were planning a trip I would definitely look into this.

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  14. Disney is one of the best places to use a travel agent for, hands down. I've used one quite a few times for Disney trips.

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  15. Good post, friend!! I am Disney crazy and absolutely love booking everything on my own for the most part simply because I LOVE reading every little thing out there and deciding our best options. A couple times we've called Disney reservation people and they've been helpful with a couple changes or last-minute planning questions, which is also nice! I am excited to hear about your hard-to-get reservations and if my tip is the one that worked for you!!!! :)

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  16. FREE! That is awesome! I love hearing about how other people plan travel- how much they want to spend, relaxing vs. action packed, and reviews. It makes me want to pick up and go someplace excitinG!

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  17. Great idea to use a travel agent for Disney! I'm a planner like you, but I think sometimes it would be so much easier to have it all done for you! And now I want to go on another Disney vacation. :)

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  18. I've heard amazing things about the Disney travel agents and you have totally convinced me to use one for my next trip! This is great information...now I'm itching for another Disney vaca...

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  19. Awesome advice! And now you just got me all nostalgic for my Disney annual passes that may need to be renewed soon. Can't wait for you to be here, hoping we get to meet up :)

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  20. But I want to go to Disney!!!!!!!!! My mom's best friend literally takes some kind of Disney trip just about every year or every other year. She has stayed nearly every where there is to stay and knows that park in and out. She has already told me she is planning my trip when I finally do get to go haha! I know nothing about the park and area around it, so I would totally use a travel agent if I didn't have her. That money gif is freaking epic!

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  21. This is really good to know! I haven't booked any travel with travel agents in a very long time just because I enjoy obsessively planning things. It's awesome that it's free too, I guess people assume that using travel agents is always more expensive than just doing it yourself.

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  22. Thank you SO much for this post. Ryan and I are determined to get to Disney World at least once before we have kids to experience it the "adult" way (I've been three times, Ryan only once when he was a kid), and I have found looking at all the information so confusing. I totally am going to take advantage of this service now.

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  23. If you ever need info about Disney, let me know. I can't even count how many times I've been! So awesome that you were able to find a great (and free) resource to help with your booking! I haven't reached out to a travel agent for trips, but based on your experience, it sounds like a great idea!

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  24. Yep, sometimes you wanna plan your vacation and sometimes ya don't! We got an agent for our honeymoon and it was great to get their discounts! As for Disney, we'll go one day and will consider this agency since they were so helpful. Good customer service is so hard to find. And while the internet and friends can offer up tricks and tips, it's sometimes easier just to go to one person with all the answers.

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  25. When are you going to Disney again? Zack and I are talking about going in November!!!!

    I've never used a travel agent. I've thought about it for when we eventually go to Europe...

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  26. Ooh this post has me itching for a Disney trip! We used a travel agent to book our honeymoon and had an awesome experience!

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  27. We used a travel agent to book our honey moon and it took so much stress off! We already had so much to worry about with the wedding (and buying a new house!) that we had zero time to plan our honeymoon. It was great!

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  28. Thank you so much for this. Trying to figure out the best way to have the most fun for the least money for a spring trip to Universal and Epcot is a part-time job and completely not something I have time for BUT also not something I want to let fall by the wayside so I'm scrambling to do it in a few months or whatever. So...thank you! Bookmarked, going to come back to it in a few weeks for sure :)

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  29. The retroactive discount may have been the best part of this post. That never happens! If/when I book a Qantas flight, you can guarantee ain't nobody from Qantas emailing me to say that the flights are now cheaper. I'm probably a lot like you. I've used travel agents before, but more of my travel, I research and book it on my own. I do think that a travel agent with specific knowledge about a specific location would be really helpful and useful.

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  30. I want to go to Disneyyyy!!!! I've never worked with an agent, that sounds so perfect! What a great idea.

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  31. We've used a travel agent a couple times, but mainly for specific parts of our trip! Glad you had such a good experience with yours!!

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  32. My brother is going to Disney for Halloween and he had a hard time with reservations so I will share this info with him for sure!

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  33. I love hearing about genuinely awesome experiences with customer service. it gives me hope after all the crappy ones I have. thanks for sharing

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  34. That's awesome you had such a great experience with them! I've never used a travel agent because I've honestly always thought that it would cost a lot more. I never bothered to price it out, though. Part of the fun of traveling for me is definitely all the planning, but sometimes it'd be nice to share that responsibility and be sure I'm not missing anything. Thanks for this, girl!

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  35. We used a travel agent for our honeymoon and I actually never thought of using one for a domestic vacation. Great idea! Also I didn't realize it's FREE!

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  37. what kind of random spam is that above my comment? lol
    i've never used a travel agent for disney but this sounds like an awesome idea!

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  38. I've heard of these before and I think they're so great! Disney is huge and there's so much to see/do - so I can see where this would be a big help. We go so often we pretty much have the park memorized lol but still - there's so much we still haven't done!

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  39. We use a travel agent (he specializes in mission trips) to book our flights to Rwanda and he always gets us the best deals. I'm like you and like planning our vacations but when you are already shelling out $$$ for plane tickets, I want the lowest price. On Cory's first year, he pulled some major strings, lined up two different flights and got them a major deal. Plus, it's really nice to have that contact when we are in Rwanda in case if something goes wrong with our flights. His office has a 24 hour number and will help find new flights if yours gets canceled. Huge plus!

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  40. Shannon@HotSpotsPro.comOctober 26, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this! You said it perfectly. Many people don't know that most Travel Consultant services are free and we LOVE to help plan your trips! Our job is to help you make the most of your vacation and get the best value. Many trips for people are Once in a Lifetime experiences. Enjoy your travels everyone :)

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