Detroit travel agents give tips on booking vacations

Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?

Jim Rozelle: "When you deal with a travel agent, you get the benefit of our experience. We can help you compare one destination to another based on real experience."

Janet Czapski: "The experience they get from the travel agent. They have someone they can contact if something goes wrong, rather than like booking online, where they don't have a real person they can call."

Christine Furchak: "A vacation is an investment and people should be able to meet someone face-to-face so they can consider the differences in trips. And if there's a problem, they can come see a person."

How do you charge?

Rozelle: "We're paid by commission by the cruise lines."

Czapski: "I don't charge a service fee because suppliers pay me a commission."

Furchak: "We don't charge a service fee because the companies pay us a commission."

How far in advance should people plan trips?

Rozelle: "Three months to a year is a reasonable time frame."

Czapski: "The earlier, the better: the rates are much less expensive."

Furchak: "Ten months to a year in advance wouldn't be outrageous."

What's the one travel tip you always give customers?

Rozelle: "There are some parts of travel that will always be a hassle – a smile can go a long way."

Czapski: "Carry a copy of your passport and learn some of the local language – it makes things much smoother."

Furchak: "Make two copies of your passport. Carry one with you and leave one at home."

What's your favorite destination?

Rozelle: "Alaska. It's just an awesome place."

Czapski: "I'm a Fiji specialist and I love Costa Rica and Malaysia."

Furchak: "The Mediterranean itineraries: Turkey, Greece, Rome."

What's the best, worst or funniest travel story you've ever heard from a client?

Rozelle: "The most unusual request I had was a family that took Grandpa, who loved to cruise, on a cruise to St. Thomas and sprinkled his ashes."

Czapski: "We were in Fiji recently when Cyclone Jean hit. It was three days with no water or power, but the staff was wonderful."

Furchak: "I don't know how true it is, but I heard of someone being afraid to fly over the ocean to Hawaii, so they wanted to take the bridge."

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