A personal touch

Mar. 18—After several years of travel uncertainty and staying at home, people are once again ready to book vacations. Local travel agents are a great source for making sure vacations are seamless while adding personal touches not experienced through travel websites.

Local travel agent, Dana Henry, with Athens Cruise Planners says there are many great benefits when booking through a travel agent or advisor versus doing it on your own.

"You are paying the same whether I book it or if someone else does. If you book direct through Expedia or through a website, the commission is already built in. You are not paying extra to use a travel advisor," Henry said. "We are going to help make sure you are taken care of."

A travel agent can help prevent long layovers in airports, forced overnight hotel stays, and other common problems travelers may face when booking on their own online.

"I can make sure your flights work. I am going to look at the bigger picture and see what your better options are. I will help advise you as far as the best way to get a place, the best pricing. I have resources to check out the resorts versus what you might have just read online. I have actual travel advisors who are experts on particular resorts in particular places that can help guide you through the process," Henry said.

There is a lot of misinformation to be found on the internet, and Henry can help guide a person through that misinformation as they plan their perfect vacation.

"Right now, everybody is freaking out about Mexico. 'Everybody who goes to Mexico gets killed.' No, actually, where the murders took place a week before last was only about an hour and a half away from Houston by driving and a 20 hour drive from Cancun. So, you are pretty safe," Henry said.

Another service a travel agent offers is a payment plan for your vacation. When booking a trip, a small deposit, air travel, and insurance must be paid up front, but the remainder can be paid in convenient payments until your pay-in-full date.

"If you want to wait and pay for your pay-in-full, that is fine. However, if you come to me and say, 'It's March, and I am booking this December trip.' I will figure up what your monthly payment is, and I can actually go in with your credit card and make your payment for you," Henry said.

Other personal touches that Athens Cruise Planners offer clients are trip notes and what to expect and look for, how to navigate various airports, travel hints and tips, resort vouchers, and goody boxes for travel.

"The goody boxes come with personalized luggage tags, lanyards to put their key cards in, airplane snacks, goodies, and fun things that help you go on your trip," Henry said.

As an extra thank you, Henry, who also owns Hyatt & Sims, asks for a photo from clients as they return from a trip. She frames an 8X10 photo for them to keep as a beautiful memory from their vacation.

Henry said, "Also, when you book with me, if you run into a situation, I am going to try to help you navigate it through the best I can. I can help and have resources to give you the best experience. I can book excursions, I can handle your air, insurance, and all that sort of stuff. You just really tell me where you want to go. I submit ideas for you; you pick it; I get it all booked. I got the paperwork, and you don't have to fool with it."

Athens Cruise Planners is owned by Dana and Scott Henry and is located inside Hyatt & Sims on the south side of the Square in Athens. For more information call (256) 777- 6362.