Regardless of what your vacation goals are — relaxation, adventure, time with family, educational, etc. — there is one thing that will cut your stress, avoid confusion, and keep you in vacation mode: confirming everything related to your vacation. Flights, accommodations, rides to and from the airport, park passes, dinner reservations, excursions and other activities, rental car, and health and safety protocols. Every. Single. Detail.
Advertising has made booking your next vacation online look simple, inexpensive, and safe. What most people don’t realize is that when you book online you’re using a travel agency and you’re paying a commission (and by the way you’re not getting the service you’re paying for.) Same thing when you book direct with a cruise line, resort, or even a hotel down the road — you are paying a commission. The point is, when you book a vacation without the assistance of a travel agent there are multiple middle-men in your purchase and once you enter your payment information, it’s you’re responsibility to babysit your reservation by confirming everything because nobody else is going to.
The exception to the rule: JJTravelAssociates.com where you can book online (or just call 844-483-6669) and have me (Joel) and my business partner Jen personally managing the details of your reservation at no cost to you.
When you book a vacation yourself you receive an email containing the details of your vacation. Flight numbers, times, and seat assignments along with every other detail about where you’ll be staying. Particularly when using an online booking site, there are multiple layers of companies involved in the different parts of your vacation and a lot can happen — fall through the cracks — that you wouldn’t know unless you’re diligent about confirming everything.
If even one reservation system is down or glitching when you click “go” poof … one of the pieces of your reservation is incomplete. It happens. A lot. And the worst part is not knowing there’s a problem until you find out there’s a problem. Just a few of the things I’ve seen:
- Flight upgrades that were paid for and don’t exist at the gate
- Rides from the airport to a hotel, resort, or cruise terminal that don’t show up
- Room reservations that don’t show the upgrade — or don’t exist at all
- Flight changes that were never passed along to the people traveling
- Excursions that were paid in full but reservations were never made
Another common problem for people booking online or without the assistance of a travel agent is “user error” issues. When entering all the details for a reservation, things like travel dates, names and birthdays of travelers, passport numbers, and even email addresses and phone numbers there is always a chance for a spelling error or what I call a logistical error.
Years ago a name spelled incorrectly on a plane ticket wasn’t the end of the world and people were given the benefit of the doubt if their passport and reservation didn’t match up exactly. Today that is not the case. A simple mistake can cause a lot of stress on travel days. Travel documents must match every travelers identification. Another example? What happens if in your search the dates reset and you didn’t realize it or you chose flights that leave from one airport and arrive in another? I’ve also seen people not realize their flight was arriving the next day — when they were supposed to be at work — or have connections that were so close together they missed one. All things that would be caught if you book with a travel agent or spend the time confirming everything yourself.
Simply confirming everything can be confusing and complicated when you book a vacation yourself using an online booking site. Even knowing how important it is — and doing it — has potential problems. For example lets say you book a hotel stay in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and you decide to call a day or two before to confirm that they have your reservation (and a room available) and know you’re coming. You go online, search for the phone number, and call only to find out they don’t have any record of your reservation. You hang up, frustrated and stressed, then decide to look at your reservation and realize that the number you called was different. Same hotel chain, different town. Calling the correct number, everything is OK but woah, those few moments of anger and panic took years off your life.
Lets say you choose to book your vacation online (somewhere other than JJTravelAssociates.com), and now understand the importance of confirming everything relating to your vacation. You begin by calling the hotel, except they won’t confirm anything because you booked online and they can only confirm with the site you used. Think it can’t happen? Most of the properties you book online won’t confirm with you until the day of your arrival. Instead, choosing the most simple thing to ensure you have a great vacation will require you to call the site you booked at (and that comes with a whole other set of frustrations.)
These are simple mistakes that would not be caught until it was too late unless someone was confirming everything. It’s frustrating, time consuming, and Doing this one simple thing, which most travelers don’t do, can be the difference between a stress-free great vacation and vacation horror stories.
About the Author
Joel is a co-owner of JJ Travel Associates (a Dream Vacations franchise), blogger-in-chief at JoelKnowsTravel.com, lover of all things travel (especially UNESCO World Heritage Sites), wannabe comedian, and the person you should call if you're thinking of planning a vacation.