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Adrenaline junkies, wilderness explorers, luxury buffs, culture vultures — whatever kind of traveler you are, everyone craves for nothing short of the perfect trip. But perfect trips don't just happen, they're planned. Sometimes, no matter how independent-minded you are, the best trips are the ones that are the most hassle-free. Here's where your travel agency comes in! It might be daunting to avail of a travel agency's services, and you might have a whole plethora of questions already populating your mind even before you step foot inside their wanderlust-inducing offices. GoBear has read your mind. Here are just some of the questions you absolutely must ask your travel agency before taking the plunge!

#1 What kind of travel destinations does the travel agency specialize in?

Not all travel agencies are created the same. Some hold cruises as their area of expertise, some are more experienced with setting up trips within Asia or Europe, and some are better at booking local destinations. Choose the travel agency that's the best at your preferred destination, and you'll get the best deals for your budget with less unexpected complications. Just like in restaurants, you wouldn't order burgers in a place that's known for serving the best seafood, right?


#2 Has the travel agent been to (insert desired destination here)?

Travel agents that have experienced first-hand what it's like in your dream destination are arguably a better resource than travel sites from a random Google search. They can give you tips on everything from the best season to go and things you need to bring, to the nicest hole-in-the-wall eateries and tourist spots you'd be better off skipping. They can let you know exactly what to expect when you get there. It's practically an extra service you're not being charged for!


#3 In case of emergencies or cancellations, does the travel agency offer refunds or travel insurance?

Since you're already getting yourself a travel agency, go ahead and make sure if they've got everything you could ever need — including a safety net for unforeseen circumstances. Better safe than sorry! While shopping around for travel agencies, don't get too caught up with the exciting activities, cheap hotel deals and other package inclusions. Before availing, make sure to ask first if they have refund policies or trip insurance, and how much they charge for these.


#4 Does the travel agency have relationships with the hotels or airlines included in the package?

Wondering why your travel agency chose this particular airline or hotel? Why did they book this tour guide among all the dozens of tour guides in Paris or Rome? Just be straightforward about it: ask them if they have partnerships or agreements with these service providers. If they're truly the best option for your trip, then there's no problem. But if there are better alternatives for your budget and for your overall experience, let them know that you'd prefer those.


#5 Are there any fees during or after the trip that you need to know about?

Though it's important to always allow some leeway in your budget, suddenly getting charged for something you weren't prepared for can be such a royal pain. Know all the transaction fees the agent is charging you for and make sure you get a breakdown from your travel agency on all the expenses included in the package. At the same time, ask about everything that's not included, whether it's a gondola ride in Venice, breakfast buffets you thought were par for the course, or entrance fees to certain tourist sites.


#6 Does the travel agency have cheaper alternatives for the package inclusions it chose for you?

Your travel agency should not just be there to make bookings and create itineraries for you — they should also help you save your hard-earned moolah! Give them a budget they can work with and test how great they are at finding the best deals for your money's worth: have them book cheap flights on dates and times when rates are lowest, ask for less expensive hotel rooms, have them check for promos. Maybe there are other tourist spots or activities that will give you the best experience for less the price. You won't know unless you ask!

Thanks to the Internet, it's become a lot easier for us to book flights, hotels and other services from travel sites such as Agoda, Expedia and Skyscanner. Travel tips abound as well in websites like TripAdvisor, not to mention the dime-a-dozen travel blogs out there. So why do we need to fork over our extra cash for a travel agency? It could be because they have unique resources that can get you exclusive hotel discounts, cheap flights, resort credits, upgrades and tours at better prices. They simply have loads of connections that you don't have. Let your travel agency sell themselves to you and prove why you need them. In the end, only you who can decide how to best spend your money for a trip that's close to perfect.

Confused about which travel insurance to buy? Compare travel insurance with GoBear — Asia's only meta-search engine for financial produts like insurance, credit cards and personal loans.