The Truth Behind Travel Agencies

With the ease and accessibility of smart phones and online bookings, we come across one main question regarding travel agencies – are they really necessary?

We think so!

As a wise man once said –

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”.

When it comes to planning a trip, Forrest Gump’s truth can be re-worded a little differently -  “Booking travel online is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”.

Am I finding the best price? What is the hotel and area really like? Are there any catches to this place? What is actually included? How do I prepare?

When booking on the Internet, it’s often difficult to gauge exactly what you’re getting. It can leave you with added stress and questions, and results that are less desirable.

Here’s the truth behind travel agencies and why we think they’re so important

 

1. We are client-focused.

At Big Adventures, our aim is to provide tailored travel experiences for clients who seek to not only see the world, but to live it. We pride ourselves on assisting our clients in any way possible to have a meaningful travel experience.

The biggest difference between using a travel agency and booking your next trip online is connection. While booking online requires a WiFi connection, it misses out on the greatest connection of all – the human connection. Our team of dedicated and creative travel professionals pride themselves on the ability to provide clients with hassle free, personalized service. When you book your trip online, you aren’t guaranteed the experience you may hope to get from your trip. By connecting with one of our travel specialist, you are able to receive the service and guidance online booking is unable to give.

To us, you are not just a booking number. With our personal approach, you can rest assured that our Travel Designers will work to give you the itinerary that works for you.

 

2. We save you time and stress.

Between flights, car rentals, lodging, excursions and itineraries, planning a trip can be very stressful and take hours of research. Time is valuable, and stress can keep you from fully enjoying your travels. That’s why we’re here. Travel Designers love to take on the planning and managing of your itinerary, dedicated to helping you have the best experience possible. We are available to book airfare, car rentals, and lodging, and design guided or independent adventure excursions for you to enjoy in a number of countries abroad and within the United States. With the assistance of our travel experts, you can be at ease with your travel plans and have confidence that your trip will be both exciting and memorable.

 

3. We have personal experience in 90+ countries.

Big Adventures was founded by a serious group of world travellers, each bringing their own unique travel experiences. Because of those travel experiences, our experts are able to render their insight in order to plan the most fulfilling trip. With our focus being on “off the beaten path” expeditions, our heart is to offer our clients a sense of old world charm and culture by personally recommending unique and rewarding travel experiences to wake up the adventurer in you. Each itinerary is planned with careful detail and tailored to the traveler’s desires. Our experts are also able to guide you through the processes of travelling internationally to ensure you have the best experience possible.

 

4. We handle the hiccups.

If you run into any snags on your trip, working out the issues can seem daunting. Big Adventures provides a 24 hour emergency number for our clients for this very reason. You can be secure in knowing you have someone only a phone call away to lend assistance if anything should arise.

Plus, our experts can handle making any changes to your itinerary as a result, a process that can be extremely frustrating if left on your own.

 

5. We prepare you for international travel.

Preparing for travel overseas is more than just booking a flight and packing your bags. Most destinations abroad have specific requirements regarding passport and visas – requirements that may not be plainly communicated in your online booking process. Our Travel Designers can work with you to confirm any necessary travel requirements. We are available to walk you through the process of securing a passport, and act as your consultant to obtain any necessary visas with through the respective country’s consulate. In addition, our staff can provide necessary medical information, such as required vaccines, or give a cultural introduction for your destination of choice.

 

6. We provide the best rates and payment plans.

Accredited travel agents have unique access to booking platforms that often offer discounted rates, so you’ll know you’re getting the best available pricing.

Certain travel options, like some cruises, tours or hotels, also include payment plans. Typically, online bookings often require you to pay in full when securing your reservation. With a travel agent and in booking one of these travel options, you may be able to pay a small deposit at the time of booking, and the remaining balance 30 to 60 days out from your departure.

 

Next time you start to plan a trip, consider consulting with a travel agent who can assist you through the process from start to finish. Our Travel Designers at Big Adventure Travel Company would be honored to work with you!

Summer Destination Spotlight: Columbus, GA

Our next fun summer adventure might come as a little surprising. This town has not always been known as a place to go visit, but it has really turned a corner in the past few years...COLUMBUS, GA! Columbus is a quick trip, only taking a little over 2 hours to reach from our Moultrie office. 

Photo via Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

Photo via Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

The downtown part of Columbus, which is referred to as "Uptown", sits on the glorious Chattahoochee River. Visitors can walk along the 20 miles of the "RiverWalk" and enjoy watching the river flow, adventure activities, and wildlife along the way. Bike rentals are also available along the River Walk, as well as fishing. The atmosphere is very inviting, and you'll find tourists and locals alike enjoying the water.

Photo via Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau

Photo via Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau

For the more adventurous ones, Columbus offers a 2.5 mile stretch of whitewater rafting entertainment. It was recently named one of the Top 12 Man-Made Adventures in the WORLD by USA Today!

There are options ranging from mild to wild, a lazy river to Class V rapids...something for everyone! Flat water lovers can enjoy a more relaxing kayak ride or give stand up paddle boarding a go. Little Bitties can cool off in the heat by enjoying Uptown's Splash Pad while Mom and Dad enjoy the scenery of Woodruff Park. 

For a new venture, try geocaching around Columbus-it's like a treasure hunt using your phone as a GPS or "treasure map!" Unique birds have come back to the area since the restoration of the Chattahoochee River, also making this a hotspot for those bird watchers out there! 

Photo via Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

Photo via Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

After a day full of activity, enjoy the city with a wide range of restaurants to choose from. Columbus hosts live music, different stores and boutiques, coffee shops, breweries, and unique food! 

Live it up with some fine wining and dining or cheaper eats - whatever fits your fancy. Enjoy sitting outside with a river view or appreciate the air conditioning after a long day!

This trip can be done in a day, but for the overnighters, there are plenty of hotels to choose from based on your budget.

Give us a call and let us help you plan a lively or laid back weekend in lovely Columbus, Georgia! 

Summer Destination Spotlight: Cumberland Island

Credit: NPS Photo

Credit: NPS Photo

Full of rich history and untouched wildlife, Cumberland Islands rank high on our list of places in Georgia to explore. The Cumberland Islands are Georgia's very own barrier reef islands that are now protected as a National Seashore by the National Parks Service. The island is only accessible by ferry via St. Mary’s, Georgia, and personal vehicles are not allowed. This destination is ideal for either a day trip or weekend trip depending on your desired level of intensity. We'll elaborate more, but let us explain why we love the Cumberland Islands so much.

History

While historians are unsure of when people first began to inhabit the area that is Cumberland Island, there is evidence of aboriginal peoples that made their home in this costal Georgia region as early as 2000 BC. 

Cumberland Island is not mentioned prominently is historical records until the Spanish mission days of the 16th century. James Edward Oglethorpe is credited with the building of two forts on each side of the island, along with a hunting lodge. In the days following the Revolutionary War was when the light began to shine on Cumberland Island due to its natural resources. Nathanael Greene, a major general in the Continental Army, and his wife Catherine, are credited as the first to build a home on the island, which she named Dungeness. The home was lost to fire in 1866

The next shift in the history of Cumberland Island began in the 1800's with the Carnegie family began to establish their presence on the island, eventually owning up to 90% of the island. Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy selected Cumberland Island as the location of their winter retreat. The Carnegies rebuilt a new Dungeness on the mansion’s original foundation, along with several other dwellings. After Thomas Carnegie’s passing, Lucy built Greyfield, now an inn still owned and operated by Carnegie descendants, Plum Orchard, a 20,000 square foot mansion now overseen by the National Park Service, and Stafford Plantation, remaining privately owned by the Carnegie family.

The fate of the islands was uncertain in the 1960’s as Carnegie descendants began to sell off portions of their land holdings. Eventually, Cumberland Island was established as a national seashore on October 23, 1972, with parts of the island still remaining under private ownership.

Plum Orchard. Credit: NPS Photo

Plum Orchard. Credit: NPS Photo

To this day, you can visit some of the original, remaining fixtures of the island, such as the Dungeness Ruins, the Plum Orchard Mansion, and the First African Baptist Church on the Settlement, which was the wedding location of John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Wildlife

Cumberland Island is home to several unique animals that visitors may encounter first hand. Most noteworthy, this includes the island’s population of wild horses, rumored to have been remnants of the previous Spanish occupancy. Wild hogs can also be found on Cumberland, along with loggerhead sea turtles and a collection of diverse birds.

Activities

Credit: NPS Photo

Credit: NPS Photo

Make memories to last a lifetime by participating in hiking, swimming, fishing, biking, and bird watching. Participate in a guided tour of the island in “Lands and Legacies”. Take in the sites and shoot some awesome photographs.

Ways to Visit

To experience Cumberland, you have two lodging options: rent a luxurious room at the Greyfield Inn, or reserve one of the National Park Service’s many camp grounds. This is what we meant by desired level of intensity. Choosing a campground option is not for the faint of heart. You’ll need to carry all of your supplies needed for the weekend – food, water treatment, equipment, etc. (Don’t worry – these items are available at Big Adventure Outfitters). Camp ground reservations must be made prior to arrival online, as you’ll need a printed copy of your campsite permit.

If you’re more interested in a day trip, keep in mind that there are entry and parking fees. The park entry fee is $7 for adults, with children 15 and under free. The ferry fee will cost you $28 per adult and $18 for kids 15 and under, but is well worth it to experience this wonder. 

For additional information about Cumberland Island, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/cuis/index.htm or http://cumberlandisland.com 

Summer Destination Spotlight: Atlanta

Don't disregard this close-to-home destination. Sitting at just over 3 hours from our travel office, Atlanta is one of the hubs of the Southeast United States. Full of southern culture with urban influences, Atlanta offers a little something for everyone. Consider trading the slow pace of the south for the faster pace of the city in a end-of-summer getaway!

Here are our top 10 must-do's:

1. Take in a Braves game at the new SunTrust Park 

2. Try sodas from around the globe at the World of Coke

Photo courtesy of World of Coca-Cola

Photo courtesy of World of Coca-Cola

3. Visit the Georgia Aquarium or the Atlanta Zoo (or both!)

Photo courtesy of Kanyon Bollinger

Photo courtesy of Kanyon Bollinger

4. Take in a show at the historic Fox Theatre

5. Enjoy the florals and greenery at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

6. Immerse yourself in the rich tradition of football at the College Football Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy of College Football Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy of College Football Hall of Fame

7. Relax and take in the skyline of Atlanta in Piedmont Park 

8. Learn more about the city at the Atlanta History Center - also home to a filming site of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Photo courtesy of Atlanta History Center

Photo courtesy of Atlanta History Center

9. Enjoy high thrills or chills at Six Flags Over Georgia and Hurricane Harbor

10. Soak in the atmosphere and shopping at Ponce City Market

Photo courtesy of Ponce City Market

Photo courtesy of Ponce City Market

 

*Big Adventures often offers discounted ticketing to these popular attractions when booked through our agency. For information on rates, please email bookings@bigadventures.us.