One of the topics of conversation this week was ‘what is the value of a travel agent in this day and age?’ I also found myself asking the same question, when I asked for a brochure on the Caribbean, more specifically the Grand Cayman Islands and I was handed this brochure….for the South Pacific!
This trip to Japan is the first time in my life that I have actually used the internet to book and plan my whole trip….flights, accommodation, tours and research and been travel agent free. The WWW has been fabulous.
Thinking back to the times I’ve asked questions of a travel agent about a destination, I’ve usually been met with ‘I don’t know, I’ve never been there!’ I’ve been booked in smoking rooms when I’ve requested non-smoking rooms and I’ve had transfers that haven’t turned up. And I’m sure that when I’ve checked hotel websites myself, they seem to have had better deals than what the travel agent has offered up. Not to mention, you are at the liberty of the agents ‘getting around to your queries’. My trip has been planned and booked by me, at my leisure (all right my speed – right now) and it’s all done and dusted.
Anyway, if you’re ever planning a trip to Japan, here’s a list of the resources that I’ve found invaluable in planning my trip. I hope they can be useful to you too!
http://www.japan-guide.com/ – this guide tells you everything you need to know about Japan – accommodation, entry fees, how to get around, forums etc, etc. In fact, if it’s not on this website, it’s probably not worth knowing!
http://www.viator.com/ – awesome guide for booking tours. Viator also includes photos and reviews from other people who have previously done the tours. Bookings are really easy to make and you are notified of your bookings straight away.
http://www.agoda.com/ – I used Agoda to book about half of my accommodation. What I didn’t book on here, I booked direct through the hotels.
http://www.thebackstreetguides.com/ – Tokyo tour group that do numerous day and night tours, including the one I intend on taking, which tours Golden Gai in Kabukicho. These guys are on Facebook also.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ – Great for checking out other peoples opinions of accommodation, tours, locations etc, etc. Obviously everyone’s opinion is different, and some people are pickier than others. But if a review is generally good, it’s a goer for me!
http://www.japanican.com/ – good resource for booking tours and city information. Has some good deals and links to loads of other websites.
I’m sure there’s others I have forgotten, but from now on, I’m definitely gonna be travel agent free!