Pittsburgh travel agents give tips on booking vacations
Who we talked to
Linda Harger, owner
Carlson Wagonlit Sunbeam Travel
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Linda Harger: "We know the best suppliers. We have more information than the average person and can save you more money."
Kathy Toy: "With a travel agent, you get good service, and you'll have someone to fall back on."
Paul J. Busang: "Without a travel agent, you're on your own. It's not just a matter of calling a hotel."
How do you charge?
Harger: "If it's a tour package, then we're paid by the supplier. If we have to piece everything together, then we have to charge."
Toy: "We're paid by the suppliers but have fees on airline tickets. That's 10 percent of the ticket, and that's capped off at $50."
Busang: "Most revenues come from the supplier, but we do charge a fee for airline tickets, event tickets, dinner reservations, etc."
How far in advance should people plan a trip?
Harger: "It's always wise to do it as far ahead as humanly possible. For holidays, it's never too early."
Toy: "It never hurts to book early. If a price drops, we can get your deposit back. The average is six to nine months."
Busang: "Any highly detailed trip should be planned six months in advance. Some popular resorts are already full for the holidays."
Do you have a region or country you specialize in? If so, where?
Harger: "We do a lot of Caribbean vacations, Disney, European travel and cruises."
Toy: "We do anything, including Europe, Caribbean cruises, Disney, and all- inclusive resort trips."
Busang: "We do a lot of trips to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, China, Asia and Africa. Everyone here has their Disney 'ears.'"
How far in advance do people need to get their passport?
Harger: "Right now, at least three to four months. That time will increase through summer."
Toy: "They should have them by now, but people should get them four to six months in advance."
Busang: "We think everyone should have a passport. Try to get it at least three months in advance to be safe."
What's the one travel tip you always give customers?
Harger: "If you have a sensitive stomach, bring Imodium A-D."
Toy: "I share tips on packing and what they should carry. Go with the flow."
Busang: "Leave home with a smile, and you'll come back the same way."
What's one place you recommend everyone should visit and why?
Harger: "Paris. It's wonderful. It's beautiful, historic and romantic."
Toy: "Everyone should have a crack at Disney. It's a nice family trip. I love Colorado for skiing."
Busang: "I'd want them to go to my favorite place - France, and particularly Paris."