Travel agents can help you save money, book canceled flights

With the chaos of flight cancellations and skyrocketing travel prices this summer, a travel agent can help you organize a smoother trip.

When travel booking websites like Travelocity and Expedia emerged, many travelers began researching prices themselves and booking their own trips.

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But using a travel agent can also help you find deals and get you rebooked if your flight is cancelled.

The 4th of July weekend started chaotically. Flight tracking site FlightAware says about 3,300 US flights have been delayed and more than 300 have been canceled, as staff shortages continue.

But a travel agent can take the stress out of trying to book a canceled flight yourself, by booking it for you.

“Most of the time we are available 24/7. I had a client who left for the Philippines last night. I was up until two in the morning to make sure that ‘they were on their connecting flights,’ travel agent Diana Wong told Travel Chefs.

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Travel agents maintain relationships with airlines, hotels and suppliers and can help you save money or get more for your money.

“Working with a travel consultant allows you to find some of the best deals, deals that aren’t available to the public. You can get upgrades and additional travel benefits to save money,” said Josh Zuber of AAA travel services.

“I have a client traveling to Peru, and I can work with a general manager at the hotel where they’re going to stay, just trying to make sure they have a good stay,” Wong said.

Travel agents usually know secrets for things like finding hard-to-find rental cars.

“They’ve been there, they’ve done it. They’ve traveled a lot, having experienced the destinations they recommend to travelers,” Zuber said.

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Using a travel agent will usually cost you nothing, as many are paid for by airlines, hotels, and resorts.

To find a reputable travel agent, ask people you know for recommendations and check online reviews. TravelSense.org can also help you find a travel counselor.

Many people buy travel insurance, especially cancellation for any reason policies, with so many canceled and delayed flights.

Travel insurance can help you get reimbursed for canceled non-refundable flights or expenses such as hotels and food. It usually costs 4% to 8% of the trip cost. Many insurers also offer travel medical coverage.

“I highly recommend getting travel insurance just because if there are changes or they have to cancel, the only thing they have to pay is the cost of travel insurance,” Wong said.

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Airlines are required to refund your ticket if they cancel or significantly delay your flight.

If not, keep in mind that many credit cards will also help cover expenses if your trip is delayed. So check your credit card first for travel protection.

Another insurance expense is rental car insurance. Most car insurance policies cover the driver for rental cars, so additional insurance is not necessary. However, Wong recommends getting the rental company’s insurance if you’re renting a car in a foreign country.

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