The engrossing work in planning for the future...Do we use a travel agent?...


Oughterard Shrubbery is a lovely spot to stop and enjoy nature.
"Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland"
"A law was enacted in 2009 that makes it illegal to be drunk in public in Ireland."
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As we conduct research for visiting our next country, we're amazed over how much more work it is now compared to almost seven years ago when we first began traveling.
This is a stream in Oughterard Shrubbery.
Why is this the case?  It appears there is 10 times the number of websites advertising the same information for the same venue.  Sorting through them to ensure we're in the correct place with the best pricing, requires diligent efforts by both of us.

Once we get on a specific site simultaneously from each of our laptops and carefully peruse it, we're more able to determine if we should seek out another site.  
Steps to the stone footbridge over the stream.
It's a time-consuming process, often taking several hours a day for a week or more, to decide on what we'd like to do, which site we'll use, reviews from other users, and the details of the booking, it's only then, we'll go ahead and book the venue.

It's not as if we have a travel agent.  With the complication of the nature of our lives, it wouldn't be prudent to leave the many facets of our travel in the hands of a stranger.  
As in most areas of Ireland, there is a tremendous number of stones.
Yes, we use Vacations-to-Go for most of our cruise bookings after having worked with them since mid-2012 when we booked our first cruise.  We've been shifted from one rep to another over the years, as they've come and gone or been promoted in the company.

In a few cases, we felt the rep assigned to us couldn't handle our needs leaving us to diplomatically contact a manager for a suggestion for another more experienced rep.  Right now, we're very happy with Heather at Vacations-to-Go, our knowledgeable rep with years of experience.
Pretty flowers in the park.
Now, as we research plans for early 2020, we're finding the best route is to use a travel agency when we know so little about the country and the places within that country that appeal to our tastes.  Even so, this still is a complicated process.

At times, particularly on cruises, other passengers have described how much work they put into booking a single cruise, considering transportation to and from the airport or pier, public or private transportation while in the country, tipping policies, hotel bookings, and the many nuances of the cruise itself.
It's interesting how most of us are drawn to water scenes.
When booking a cruise, the cabin number and its location within the ship can require hours of research and contemplation, let alone the choice for dining times; excursions either through the ship or privately; WiFi availability and costs; drink packages and the various pricing;  pre-booked spa services, if desired; and specialty restaurant packages often offered before sailing.

For an inexperienced traveler, this task can be daunting, if not overwhelming.  For us, it was a trial and error process since we were traveling non-stop. For many travelers, this is a once-in-a-lifetime or once-a-year trip, for which they expect relative perfection.
An onlooker on the bridge over the stream.
Nothing is more frustrating than discovering a cabin is located above or below the disco (this happened to us once and they moved us after three days of requesting a change).  I could hear and feel the vibration of the music in my pillow at 1:00 am.  (The disco often stays open until 3:00 am).  Early on, we certainly learned a lesson after this experience.

But, these particulars are often unknown to the average traveler and we often see long lines at the ship's customer service desk with disgruntled passengers wanted to change to a different cabin.  Additionally, more experienced cruisers will wait in this queue for hours to request a free upgrade.
Sheep running away when we stopped for photos.
There's no way we're interested in standing in line for two hours to upgrade our cabin.  We strive to book the best possible cabin for our budget, thus far always with a balcony (this could change down the road) and if everything is working, clean and safe, we're happy to stay put.

So now, as we work to book the next country we'll visit, we do so with the utmost of care and consideration.  Soon, we have some details to share.
May your day be filled with wonders.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2018:
Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle.  It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park.  It was on December 7, 2013, that we'd spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact same vehicle at this exact same property, looking at himself in the window of the vehicle.  Click here for that post. Please click here for the one year ago post.


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