Mother/daughter trip to Spain - should we plan the trip ourselves?

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Feb 15, 2018
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#1
Hello! My first post here. My 24-yr-old daughter and I are travelling for 12 days to Spain in early July, 2018. I got on the Zicasso website and filled out the profile with budget, where we'd like to go, and our travel style. An agent in Madrid contacted us and until now has been communicative and gave us a proposed itinerary. I've read Rick Steve's Spain 2017 and I'm wondering if we really need to use this agency. I'm curious if it would save us a significant amount of money if we do this on our own. We'll be in Madrid initially for 3 nights with a day-trip to Toledo (private guide), two nights in Granada, two nights in Seville, one night in Ronda. Then take ferry from Tarifa to Algiers for two nights. Fly from there back to Madrid for one night. Thoughts and input appreciated!!!!!!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,315
13,021
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
How experienced are you booking international travel? Can you book all airfare, trains, transfer and hotels on your own? Do you know how long to leave for connecting flights? Passport and visa rules?

Travel agencies package these tours and often get discounted prices from the hotels because of the volume that they do. You probably can’t do it for the price they are giving you.

If you are very experienced traveling in Europe- yeah you could give it a shot and see what you come up with and compare it to what the agency charged you. It will be a few days of work on your part vs what you already have.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
To add to what Neil has said, if you experience difficulties along the way, are you able/willing to accept the consequences and attempt resolution on your own? This is a common occurrence seen on this site and a good travel agent/agency can assist you when trouble comes.

For a trip this complicated (and important I assume), I would strongly lean toward the agent/agency ...
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#4
I am going to side with it depends on how flexible you are and what your discretionary budget looks like. Back in my youthful days, I spent 10 weeks in Europe for a summer school program, and I booked ALL my travel on my own with no help or input from a travel agent. This trip included multiple flights, trains, buses, and even an hydrofoil. I did make a few mistakes, but overall had a great time and did not exceed my budget. Luckily my big mistake (got on the wrong bus) was at the beginning of my trip and I could make up the lost money throughout the rest of the trip. I did quite a bit of research, but stayed mainly at B&B's and a few non-chain hotels. I did stay at one hostel and while great for me, it would really depend on your mom. My mom has vetoed hostel stays on our trips to Europe.

If you think you can book everything and go with the flow on the off chance something happens, then book on your own. It is a great learning experience. If you need help and are on a tight time table, then the travel agent will be the way to go. Just be careful and make sure the agent is staying in your parameteres and has many awesome recommendations, a great TA is worth their weight in gold.

The one time I attempted to use a TA for an European trip, I gave him a budget and he came back with hotels that were 3 times what I wanted to pay. He also royally messed up our travel companions hotel reservations and then took almost a year paying them back for the additional hotel charges they incurred due to his error. This was a local brick and mortar TA who had been recommended.

There are many great travel destination books out there, such as Frommer's, Fodors, Rick Steves that really give excellent descriptions and are quite helpful when planning. You have to decide where your comfort level is on planning out your own trip vs. utilizing an experienced travel agent. There is also a time element here. How much time do you have to peruse the guides and make up your own mind vs. the TA already having done their homework and going with their recommendations.
 
Feb 15, 2018
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#7
Thank you all for your input! I have done research on Zicasso and it does appear to be legit as far as matching tailored, small trips and getting one or more travel agents to contact those that fill out the profile info. I also checked on all the hotels on trip advisor that the Spanish T.A. has on our itinerary and they seem decent. 3 and 4 star places. I researched organized tours (including Rick Steves, Kensington Tours etc. Most of those are with larger groups and use tour buses. Not our cup of tea.

We are going to Tangier (not Algiers). If any of you have had experience there, I'd love to hear about it.

Based upon your replies, we will probably go with the Madrid-Based Travel Agent (Spain Top) as they say they are available to support us on the trip "24-7". I'll probably get travel insurance and look at that forum as well. as the Spanish Travel Agent will want 30% down before booking things.

Muchas Gracias!
 
Likes: VoR61

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,315
13,021
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#8
Thank you all for your input! I have done research on Zicasso and it does appear to be legit as far as matching tailored, small trips and getting one or more travel agents to contact those that fill out the profile info. I also checked on all the hotels on trip advisor that the Spanish T.A. has on our itinerary and they seem decent. 3 and 4 star places. I researched organized tours (including Rick Steves, Kensington Tours etc. Most of those are with larger groups and use tour buses. Not our cup of tea.

We are going to Tangier (not Algiers). If any of you have had experience there, I'd love to hear about it.

Based upon your replies, we will probably go with the Madrid-Based Travel Agent (Spain Top) as they say they are available to support us on the trip "24-7". I'll probably get travel insurance and look at that forum as well. as the Spanish Travel Agent will want 30% down before booking things.

Muchas Gracias!
Good researching and I highly recommend travel insurance. 30% down is a fair down payment . And the 24/7 coverage can be a life saver.
 

Carol Phillips

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 28, 2014
1,233
1,688
113
Coastal South Carolina
#10
I wrote this last evening but never hit POST :oops:. Am sending it now in case any of the thoughts help you:)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Some random thoughts:

I agree that you should research the agency thoroughly to see any issues or complaints. Esp when two women are traveling by themselves (and moving from city to city and more than one country), the possibility of having problems overseas does increase. If the agency is available to assist in that case, that's a bonus.

Do you or your daughter speak fluent Spanish? If so, that will help immensely.

Do you have a firm price quote from Zicasso? That's probably the only way to compare expenses.

Are you considering trip cancellation/interruption insurance and medical insurance for this trip? There is also the more-expensive "Cancel for Any Reason" insurance which can be a blessing if needed.

@Neil Maley mentioned, there are many elements to this type of travel .... I'll arbitrarily say 35 different suppliers: air, train, hotels, guides, ferries, etc etc. If Item #14 doesn't work out, it might be wonderful to have an agent behind you to help make sure that items 15+ can be modified to accommodate the change.

Ultimately the choice is yours, of course.
 
Feb 15, 2018
12
3
3
62
#11
I am going to side with it depends on how flexible you are and what your discretionary budget looks like. Back in my youthful days, I spent 10 weeks in Europe for a summer school program, and I booked ALL my travel on my own with no help or input from a travel agent. This trip included multiple flights, trains, buses, and even an hydrofoil. I did make a few mistakes, but overall had a great time and did not exceed my budget. Luckily my big mistake (got on the wrong bus) was at the beginning of my trip and I could make up the lost money throughout the rest of the trip. I did quite a bit of research, but stayed mainly at B&B's and a few non-chain hotels. I did stay at one hostel and while great for me, it would really depend on your mom. My mom has vetoed hostel stays on our trips to Europe.

If you think you can book everything and go with the flow on the off chance something happens, then book on your own. It is a great learning experience. If you need help and are on a tight time table, then the travel agent will be the way to go. Just be careful and make sure the agent is staying in your parameteres and has many awesome recommendations, a great TA is worth their weight in gold.

The one time I attempted to use a TA for an European trip, I gave him a budget and he came back with hotels that were 3 times what I wanted to pay. He also royally messed up our travel companions hotel reservations and then took almost a year paying them back for the additional hotel charges they incurred due to his error. This was a local brick and mortar TA who had been recommended.

There are many great travel destination books out there, such as Frommer's, Fodors, Rick Steves that really give excellent descriptions and are quite helpful when planning. You have to decide where your comfort level is on planning out your own trip vs. utilizing an experienced travel agent. There is also a time element here. How much time do you have to peruse the guides and make up your own mind vs. the TA already having done their homework and going with their recommendations.
Good researching and I highly recommend travel insurance. 30% down is a fair down payment . And the 24/7 coverage can be a life saver.
Thanks Neil!
 
Feb 15, 2018
12
3
3
62
#12
I wrote this last evening but never hit POST :oops:. Am sending it now in case any of the thoughts help you:)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Some random thoughts:

I agree that you should research the agency thoroughly to see any issues or complaints. Esp when two women are traveling by themselves (and moving from city to city and more than one country), the possibility of having problems overseas does increase. If the agency is available to assist in that case, that's a bonus.

Do you or your daughter speak fluent Spanish? If so, that will help immensely.

Do you have a firm price quote from Zicasso? That's probably the only way to compare expenses.

Are you considering trip cancellation/interruption insurance and medical insurance for this trip? There is also the more-expensive "Cancel for Any Reason" insurance which can be a blessing if needed.

@Neil Maley mentioned, there are many elements to this type of travel .... I'll arbitrarily say 35 different suppliers: air, train, hotels, guides, ferries, etc etc. If Item #14 doesn't work out, it might be wonderful to have an agent behind you to help make sure that items 15+ can be modified to accommodate the change.

Ultimately the choice is yours, of course.
Thanks Carol. I have researched the travel agency and have thus far not seen any negative reviews or comments. I appreciate your and other's comments and suggestions.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,315
13,021
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#13
Zicasso is not a Travel agency- they match you up with a Travel agency that matches the trip you are looking for. They are essentially a broker.

If you read this complaint and page down to to comments from Zicasso you will understand more of what they do.


https://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/wwwzicassocom-c405127.html

If you use them when they send you to a travel supplier you need to do a google search and see if there are complaints about the company they want you to do business with.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,852
6,778
113
San Francisco
#14
You're doing a great research job, Cezzy ... if all travellers took this extra time, we'd be out of business! A thought hit me as I read Carol's post. If you have access to a credit card with "concierge- type" service, use it to book the trip. Then you will have a US-based safety net if you really need help during the trip. I've never paid much attention to this service, but I know it's available it through my Chase Sapphire and American Express cards.
 
Feb 15, 2018
12
3
3
62
#15
Zicasso is not a Travel agency- they match you up with a Travel agency that matches the trip you are looking for. They are essentially a broker.

If you read this complaint and page down to to comments from Zicasso you will understand more of what they do.


https://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/wwwzicassocom-c405127.html

If you use them when they send you to a travel supplier you need to do a google search and see if there are complaints about the company they want you to do business with.
Hi Neil, I found out about Zicasso when I did a google search on "Mother/Daughter Trip to Spain". Their website came up and I filled out a profile, with budget and travel style profile with travel destination wish list. A Madrid Travel Agency contacted me within a day or so. I looked into their website and researched to see if there were any negative reviews etc. I found none, so I've been working with them. They seem legit, and in line with other travel agencies. If fact, they seem reasonable and we are not traveling on our own and not with a group of 28 folks on a motor coach. Thanks for the link and information. It is greatly appreciated!
 
Feb 15, 2018
12
3
3
62
#16
You're doing a great research job, Cezzy ... if all travellers took this extra time, we'd be out of business! A thought hit me as I read Carol's post. If you have access to a credit card with "concierge- type" service, use it to book the trip. Then you will have a US-based safety net if you really need help during the trip. I've never paid much attention to this service, but I know it's available it through my Chase Sapphire and American Express cards.
Hi jsn55, thanks for the input! I am looking into getting a new credit card with better travel perks with no Foreign Transaction Fees. Might go with the Chase Sapphire. I do have an Amex, but the Spanish Travel Agency I'm working with charges 2.5% if I use that one.
 
Jan 6, 2015
2,002
1,962
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#17
Unless you plan to use the new card in future years, the annual fee will likely offset any Foreign Transaction Fees. For a $100 (annual fee) card, you would need to spend $3,000 to recoup the cost. Consider wisely ...
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,852
6,778
113
San Francisco
#18
Hi jsn55, thanks for the input! I am looking into getting a new credit card with better travel perks with no Foreign Transaction Fees. Might go with the Chase Sapphire. I do have an Amex, but the Spanish Travel Agency I'm working with charges 2.5% if I use that one.
Cezzy, I've sent you a PC about the credit card thing.
 
Likes: cezzy

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,315
13,021
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#19
Hi Neil, I found out about Zicasso when I did a google search on "Mother/Daughter Trip to Spain". Their website came up and I filled out a profile, with budget and travel style profile with travel destination wish list. A Madrid Travel Agency contacted me within a day or so. I looked into their website and researched to see if there were any negative reviews etc. I found none, so I've been working with them. They seem legit, and in line with other travel agencies. If fact, they seem reasonable and we are not traveling on our own and not with a group of 28 folks on a motor coach. Thanks for the link and information. It is greatly appreciated!
You did a great job doing due diligence to check out that company. That’s exactly the advice we would have given to check them out.
 
Likes: VoR61