As explained in the Guardian’s article about travel today, researching and planning trips has become much easier by using a host of websites available to us now, as well as cutting out the middle man (travel agent). We no longer have to rely on hiring and paying someone else to lay out all of our travel plans for us and with sights like Kayak.com we are able to easily check all of our cheapest and most affordable options at the click of a button. As time progresses, people are becoming more willing and trusting to book online as these sights continue to prove their usefulness and reliability. For me personally, I initially planned my entire semester abroad without the help of a travel agent.
My case begins like the average traveler today. I knew I was going to Sydney, Australia and I knew the exact dates I was departing and coming back, so all I had to do was go online to Expedia.com and punch in my destination and my intended travel dates. I was told by many others and I have read in many places that the best time to book online is during the middle of the week. So on a Tuesday in November, I broke out my laptop to check out flights. In a matter of seconds, Expedia pulled up the cheapest flights it could find and I was able to select from an array of airlines that were affordable and fit in best with the times I needed to be in Sydney (we were required to arrive in the morning of our intended arrival date due to orientation activities). I booked my flight and presto! It was done and I did not have to worry about anything else for the next couple months.
Now this is where my story changes a bit. I was traveling down the coast of California for the month of January (I used Expedia to book my flights then too!) and when it came time for me to fly back from Los Angeles to NYC, I had a layover in Detroit. My Detroit to NYC flight was cancelled, however, due to the Jonas blizzard that rocked the east coast at the end of January. I tried my best to get back into the city (it was a stressful three days in the airport trying to rebook my flight many times) and when I eventually accepted that I was not getting back in time for my flight out of NYC to Sydney, I had to reschedule. I called all the phone numbers available on the China Southern Airlines website, all of which weirdly did not work. So I wound up getting in touch with a travel agent who was able to rebook my flight, for a fee of course.
Beyond the whole debacle of me actually getting to Sydney, I also have found a group of friends here who I wanted to travel with during Spring Break. We did not use any travel blogs to decide on our destinations, but did Google “cool things to do in New Zealand.” Once we had a general idea of where we were going to be in New Zealand, we went back to Expedia to find the cheapest flights. We also checked Jetstar, which is a website that focuses on cheap flights going out of Australia, to make sure we found the absolute cheapest options available to us.
Since we have two long weekends coming up, we are also planning on going to the Great Barrier Reef and Melbourne to explore. And when the time comes, we will undoubtedly use travel sites like Expedia and Jetstar to help get us there.