Confused With All the Travel Information on the Internet?

There is so much information regarding travel available on My Update Web right now. There are online travel sites for cruises, hotels, air, trains, and any other type of travel. But what is the correct product for you? Is the location of the hotel where you want to be? Is the type of room or cabin the right fit for you? Is that cruise line the one you should be booking? Not all products are created equal, nor are the products right for everyone. How do you tell? Contact a travel professional.

Do travel agents exist?

There have been multiple articles, and even the President of the United States has said travel agents don’t exist or are going away. In a way, they are right. Travel agents in the past were just someone who booked a trip for someone who called or came into the storefront office of a travel agency. Storefront travel agencies are few and far between nowadays as most “travel agents” have gone home to work. Even the term “travel agent” is going away because what they do now differs from before.

Travel Professionals/Travel Counselors

Even the travel industry tries to avoid using the term “travel agent.” Travel Agents are now more counselors and advisers, now called Travel Professionals or Travel counselors. “They no longer book a trip for someone; they know more than what is available to the traveling client. Travel professionals are now constantly learning, constantly traveling, and receiving input from other travel professionals about where they have traveled. They are a resource for what is required to travel nowadays.

You can’t have someone protect your back when you use an online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity, etc. They book the travel for you, and then you are alone. Say your flight gets canceled; who will book a replacement flight? You are, not them. If you use a travel professional, that travel professional will do it. If something goes wrong on your trip, who will make it right if the room you booked is not what you thought it would be? Who will make it right? A travel professional will also check constantly for price drops before final payment and whether a new promotion offered would be more beneficial than what was booked with a deposit. All these things can be addressed before the final price. A travel professional works with you from when you first talk to them until you are home safe and sound and any problems have been solved or addressed.

It Costs More to Use a Travel Professional

This is not always true. True, some travel professionals charge fees, but not all do. This is because some vendors, like airlines and hotels, don’t pay commissions, or some have decreased the commissions paid to the travel professional. To make ends meet, some travel professionals charge fees. I charge $50 per person for airline reservations domestically and $100 internationally. I will also charge a fee sometimes for hotels for the same reason or if I am putting the various sections of the trip together myself. If I book a cruise or a tour, I don’t charge a fee, as the vendor pays me a commission. Remember, whether you use a travel professional or not, the commission is still being paid as it is automatically included in the price from the vendor. So, why not use a travel professional to avoid the hassle and save time?



The rules for traveling are constantly changing, and the travel professional can keep their clients on track with them.

Examples: Passports

For instance, did you know that come January 2016, you may need a passport to travel by air domestically? This is due to a law called the REAL ID Act. This requires all travelers to have a REAL ID-compliant identification that includes all of these fields: full legal name, signature, date of birth, gender, unique identifying number, a principal residence address, and a front-facing photograph of the applicant. Unfortunately, there are still a handful of non-compliant states.

Do you know which states are compliant and which aren’t? Your travel professional does. By the way, outright non-compliant states/territories are American Samoa, Louisiana, and New Hampshire. The states of Minnesota and New York offer an optional Enhanced ID at a cost, so many residents don’t have one because it is optional. Some states have applied for additional extensions, but it is unclear if those will be granted. Only four states (Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York) and American Samoa are technically non-compliant.

Also, we still don’t know if January 1, 2016, will be the requirement date or if it will be later. Because of this law, the passport processing time for all will be affected. All the passports issued in 2006 to meet the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that took effect in 2007 are now expiring, causing a slew of renewals. So, passport waits are expected to increase further because of those renewals and possible REAL ID enforcement. As of October 11, the current delay has grown from a week to four to six weeks for standard passports and three weeks for expedited. Expedited in person could be up to eight days based on travel needs.

Ultimately the REAL ID Act will require all state-issued driver’s licenses to include “machine-readable technology” or chips to help keep us safe and secure while traveling. For more information on the REAL ID Act, goes to Also, passports are recommended for cruises just like they must fly outside of the United States. If you need to fly back to the United States from a foreign port, you have a passport to do so. Because you are on a cruise leaving a United States port, technically, you are traveling internationally as soon as you step on the ship, as most ships are registered outside the United States!

Example: Visas

A travel professional will help you determine if visas are required to travel where you want. If they don’t know for sure, they know where to send you that information and get confirmation that you do or don’t need one for the type of travel you are taking. For instance, for most cruises, you probably don’t need a visa to visit the ports if you leave a U.S. port and return to the same U.S. port. This is called a “closed-loop” trip. But, again, most of the cruises. Always double-check to see if one is needed.

Example: Travel Insurance

Again, not all travel insurance is created equal. Should you purchase travel insurance? Absolutely!!! I recommend to my clients not to buy travel insurance, for the most part, from the supplier of the cruise or product. The reason being the coverage is not as comprehensive as third-party policies. Travel insurance is not only purchased for travel delays, luggage loss/damage, or cancellation protection. Some health insurance companies do not cover you when traveling outside the United States. Medicare does not. Travel insurance will be your primary health insurance during your travel, from when you leave to when you return home. Also, it provides emergency evacuation for health reasons and protects you from other items. Always read the policy and information the travel insurance issuer provides to see what is covered. Your travel professional will know which is a good travel insurance issuer.