Thursday, 28 February 2013

Return of the Travel Agent...

...so this is going to be a wordy post - I haven't done this in ages!

So I booked our honeymoon. Japan it is, and we are going to see all that can possibly be seen in 2 weeks (we can sleep later - it's once in a lifetime). We started to investigate ourselves: looked into the Japan rail pass, tried to find a beach on the mainland (as flights to local islands were over £1000) and after 3 hours we hadn't really got anywhere.

Amami Oshima, an island off the South Coast of Japan our travel agent recommended to us
I have never used a travel agent, I have always associated them with package holidays of my youth and selling you extras you don't need. I've always been one to cut out the 'middle man' and book directly with Hotels after checking tripadvisor, assuming I must be saving money. I think this is fine when planning a minibreak in France or a week in Europe, but a 2 week holiday of a lifetime where you speak not even a smidgen of the language?

I called upon Unique Japan Tours after seeing an article in The Telegraph (and at this stage, I'd like to point out I got no discount whatsoever for writing this) and within a few days of speaking they had put together a unique, customised itinerary for us which included all the ingredients for the perfect honeymoon - a little bit of relaxing, a lot of local cuisine and private tours of both Tokyo and Kyoto. 

Kyoto, a must-see place on our trip
Travel Agents, unlike us, work closely with tourist boards, know the areas, know the distance between places and the flight schedules etc. They also know their Hotels, they recommended a Hotel in Tokyo (Hotel Claska) which had independently been recommended by my Travel Editor at Red. We could also suggest some hotels we wanted to stay in as well and could change the itinerary if there was anywhere we wanted to stay longer or cut out. They even booked our Japan rail pass for the bullet train and a metro card for Tokyo.

And all for cheaper than we could have ever booked ourselves through their knowledge of the country and relationships with hotels and tourist boards.

The stress it has alleviated? Priceless.

16 comments :

  1. Wow it sounds amazing, I'd love to go to Japan! I've never used travel agents before last year when my boyfriend and I wanted to go to Eygpt but couldn't find cheaper hotels and flights than the package deals - they just sorted everything so easily! x

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    1. I used to think they were so old-fashioned but now they are more 'bespoke' than package - I should do their marketing....:)

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  2. I went to Japan once, 1998 but it was amazing, you will love it. Mine was a business 10 day trip (yes I once had a life and a great job) I think the hotel I stayed in was called the New Otani and I was lucky enough to get some time to look around and a few good nights out.

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    1. Oh I am so excited! I went to Tokyo once about 5 years ago and loved it, but so excited to see more of the country. 10 days on business sounds fabulous - I do hope you got to see some of the city. I know from my work trips, I often don't get to see very much at all!

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  3. Totally agree Stedders; my dad works regularly in India and had to recently make a trip with lots of internal flights and journeys. Bearing in mind his usual return flight to Delhi costs around £5,000 (don't ask - he has high taste!), he ventured into Thomas Cook to arrange his various stop-over trip around the country. They put it all together with about 5 flights in all (including return to London) for less than £4,000. They are definitely brilliant for tricky journeys and pass on their advise and discounts as they are flighting for business from online retailers. Don't ignore the travel agent, they've come a long way!

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    1. Ooh India....this is a place I would love to visit!! They really have such expertise and when I tell people how much my trip actually cost for whet we're getting - they can't believe it. All breakfasts included, too!

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  4. Japan is so unique and you are going to love it! the food culture people - really is mesmerising - also hope you bring a phrase book bc sometimes English is not really widely used and if you have problems - always remember to write it out so they can read it bc they are funnily good at written and reading english as opposed to hearing and speaking it.

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    1. Funnily enough my boyfriend (I feel weird saying fiance!) bought me a phrasebook for valentines! Although I get worried if I'm too good at speaking...they'll reply in Japanese!!

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  5. Japan is one of my dream destination (we were supposed to go last year, but decided to go to South Korea, which BTW I highly recommend)! Glad you have your honeymoon plan sorted and please take a lot of pictures! Caterina

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    1. So much f Asia s still on my list, would love to so South Korea, too

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  6. Ohhh I'm desperate to go to Japan! Too right to use an agent for your honeymoon. We also did a mammoth trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam with a couple of days in Hong Kong. We couldn't have done it without the help of Audley Travel. We gave her a budget and bobs your uncle she did it cramming in as much as possible in 3 weeks! Enjoy xx

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    1. I love the sound of everyone's mammoth trips! And too right to have a once in a lifetime extravagance !

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  7. Wow, this is great to know - we've chosen Japan for our honeymoon too and I've not even starting looking into it yet but you've inspired me to get cracking it! When do you go?

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    1. How funny! We go July 15th, what about you? Have you decided where you want to go, yet?

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    2. We haven't decided when yet - we get married in October so not sure whether to straight after or wait until the spring. After something similar to you really, a mix of city and beach time and lots of good food. I'll definitely get in touch this company though!

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  8. So great you're going to Japan! If you can, do try going to Outback Steakhouse; they have great food, huge portions and fairly easy on the pocket. Also, if you're into electronics go to Akihabara; you will not be disappointed!
    PS People are really amazing and the Ginza district will drive you crazy!

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