Planning an overseas trip online can be easy with so many helpful websites and deals available. Is it ever worth using a travel agent?

I was recently looking online to buy flights between New Zealand and Ecuador. I needed to book one fare from Ecuador to New Zealand return and another one-way ticket from New Zealand to Ecuador on the same return flight.

I tried websites like Expedia and Webjet, but found that even using the multi-stopover cities option, while I could get return airfares for around $3500 it was actually cheaper to use only half of a return flight for the one-way option. This was because the one-way flight on the matching New Zealand/Ecuador leg of the cheapest return flights was going to cost me the same as or more than a return trip.

This is why I went to a travel agent. I got quotes from several agents who offered me flights which were more expensive than what I ended going for in the end, but would certainly have saved me time and hassle.

One helpful agent suggested that I went to the individual airline websites – so I simply booked directly through the airlines’ websites. I ended up getting a return flight for about $4000 and a one-way for $2100, saving me time and money compared with trying to do it myself on a website like Expedia or Webjet.

What about accommodation?

We went to Trip Advisor and it provided hotel reviews and easily comparable quotes from other websites like Hotels.com, Expedia, Booking.com, Olotels.com and Venere.com.

It is difficult to know much about the reviewers, but it is very helpful to know how others have found the hotel and what kind of deals you can get from various websites.

Don’t just automatically sign up for travel insurance offered by travel agents. While there are usually some excellent policies offered by travel agents (often tagged on to the bottom of your travel quote) these can be more expensive than policies you can buy separately online.

Do you use a travel agent or book your travel online yourself?

About the author:

Scott Donaldson is technology novice compared with some of the other Consumer bloggers. He still has fond memories of Sonic the Hedgehog on Master System 2 and Alex the Kidd built in, but has generally put his fascination with technology behind him since then. He studied sociology, marketing and journalism and is intrigued by social situations - how people behave and why they buy what they do.

Scott has written for several sports and personal blogs and websites, allowing him outpour his passion for the Southland Stags rugby team.