With the availability of the internet and online booking sites, many people are fast becoming their own travel agents, and with my next overseas adventure approaching, I am busy organising documents and making sure everything is in order. I became my own travel agent after a couple of mishaps in my earlier days of jet setting. With the support of my friend Kelly, and some great websites, I now plan and book my own adventures. Kelly, like me, has a stubborn 'do it yourself' attitude. I spoke to Kelly recently about her own experiences in being her own travel agent.
Kelly remembers back when she first began to travel, saying
It was several years ago and both my husband and I wanted to visit Borneo. We wanted a unit in Kota Kinabalu. We wanted to hire a car and with day and overnight trips, we wanted to explore all this land had to offer. After many hours of internet homework, I created a rough Itinerary. Then off I went to the local travel agent.
Kelly recalls the response she received from her local travel agent.
There is not that much to see in Borneo. It's very hot and very humid and most people choose a 5 star resort.
What do most people do all day? Kelly asked inquisitively.
Well! There are some basic tours to see the Orang-utans and a couple of markets organised through the resorts. But apart from that, most people sit around the pool, read their books and drink beer.
Dissatisfied with what seemed to be a very boring approach to travel, Kelly's 'do it yourself attitude' kicked in and she booked the whole adventure herself. She quite literally became her own travel agent.
Kelly knew that as well as being a little daring, booking this kind of travel herself was quite a big job, especially with her limited vision. But with the confidence she had in her own computer skills, and the support of her husband, the trip turned out to be a huge success.
My first experience of arranging a holiday to a remote country was even more exciting than I could have imagined. Our unit in the centre of a bustling city and close to the market allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the culture and hiring a car gave us the freedom to come and go as we pleased. We explored all this 'land beneath the wind' had to offer, and even though we were lost and found on many occasions, every minute was pure adventure.
Great advisory websites
She explains that over the years, a great selection of advisory and booking websites have become easily available to the average home computer user. Many of these sites also specialise in traveller's reviews. And these reviews include services provided by website bookings and accommodation options, airlines and flights, organised tours and anything else you could think of. There are also websites with great overviews of disability options.
From here a draft itinerary began to take shape. Many ideas from other travellers' combined with Kelly's thoughts and ideas and before too long; a rather adventurous travel plan was ready to be put into action. Kelly says the last thing to fall into place was a quick email to arrange transfers with the chosen accommodation. This also doubles as a booking confirmation.
Daring to be different
I asked Kelly if there has ever been time when everything didn't quite work out.
Only once, says Kelly.
I remember we had driven all day to get to a remote jungle resort. Through no fault of our own, there was stuff up with the bookings, but the staff couldn't be more obliging. Our accommodation was upgraded and all our meals were free of charge. Kelly laughs,
Sometimes it just pays to be a bit different.
Like Kelly, I also find organising my own adventures can be a lot of hard work. And also like Kelly, I love experiencing my own daring plans coming together. I think more travellers with a disability should dare to be different!
Some interesting and helpful websites: