If you haven’t seen the April issue of Western Horse Review yet, you must! In it we have reinvigorated our Getaways column, a regular feature that highlights adventurous equine-related travel ideas. With insight from Travel Professionals International consultant, Patricia Blanchard, this month’s installment features a riding safari in South Africa for the trip of a lifetime.
“There are many beneficial reasons to use a travel agent vs. booking online,” says Blanchard.
Primarily, a professional agent should be with you (theoretically) from the minute you step out the door until you return home safe with your luggage intact.
There are no real hard-and-fast timelines for booking specific vacations but it stands to reason that most things are based on availability.
“If you have a group that is traveling together, the earlier you book is better than later. There are people who book last minute too and in this case, we can usually find something wonderful for those clients as well. If you have something specific you want to do however, then waiting for last minute could leave you disappointed and settling for something else,” she says.
“There are many things we can help clients with – we can assist with all types of travel. If a client wanted to book a trip to a dude ranch in Canada for example, I could help with that and help to cultivate the very best experience possible.”
Or if a client wanted to book a destination wedding with horses involved in some way, that’s possible too.
A travel professional has first-hand knowledge of the places you are wanting to go. He or she has also likely been there in person, or has a friend who has. Here are a few more reasons why a professional can help you with your next vacation:
1) Convenience and Time Savings – You can surf the internet all night or you can make one call to a professional to source the best deal. This way, you can spend your time on more important things.
2) Peace of Mind – A professional has your back and works for you! And actually cares about you having a wonderful holiday / vacation. “We are here and are available to assist you throughout your vacation,” says Blanchard. “If you book on the internet there may not be anyone to assist you in an emergency. To them, you are just ‘data.'”
3) Expert Advice – A professional has invaluable knowledge and expertise about destinations, documentation, immunization, insurance, etc. They also have access to a multitude of airlines, hotels, tour companies and cruise lines to provide you with the best value!
4) No Cost – “Not only does it not cost more to book through me, I can also usually save you money with my Virtuoso worldwide travel connections,” Blanchard states.
5) Insurance – Travel insurance should be the first thing you pack when going on vacation. It’s the #1 item you can take with you and a professional can guide you to obtaining the best coverage for your situation, before you head out.
“Unfortunate things can happen to good travelers and they can happen anytime or anywhere. They can be also be expensive to deal with, especially if you need unexpected medical care. Travel insurance can pick up where your government plans or credit card coverage leave off, and offer up to $10 million to get you back in the saddle, (so to speak!)”
Whatever your fancy, there are many benefits to utilizing a professional on your next holiday. A pro can help you achieve that once-in-a-lifetime experience because everyone knows – memories, “Me-Time” and mental tranquility are precious commodities.
BIO – Thank-you to Patricia Blanchard for providing us with the research and details for this trip. Blanchard is an independent advisor with Travel Professionals International. She moved to Calgary in 1993 from Newfoundland and has always had a passion for travel and helping others. She made the leap to being a travel agent and is now doing travel full-time from Chestermere, AB. Blanchard has contended in both reining and western pleasure since moving to Alberta but now has just one retired horse. She loves to ride her Harley and travels at any opportunity. For more info please visit: tpi.ca/PatriciaBlanchardTPI/