I have two trips I’m currently organising: Paris/London in February, which grew out of the need to pop to London to get a bridesmaid’s dress, and the US (again!) in May, where I will be wearing that dress. And recently I briefly fell into the travel research black hole of trying to find the best bargain for these trips to the detriment of all else.
I’m not sure I want to know how many times I checked flight prices and set up Skyscanner alerts for EDI-IAD return trips in the past month because it may well amount to more time that I’ll actually spend on the freakin’ plane. And I wasn’t even thinking about the ridiculousness of this until I called my friend Liam, who I will be staying with in DC, and asked him if he thought it was better to get a train back up north from North Carolina, spend the night and fly out the next day, or fly back up and go from Reagan to Dulles in a few hours. He and his boyfriend pondered this aloud for quite a while, my wifi dropped out, and when I reconnected, he said ‘Well, you could really debate this for ages and find good reasons for either way, so, I don’t know what to tell you. I guess just pick one.’
And this is when I was like, ‘GAHHHH, WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING?’
Getting a good price on flights and accommodation and all that is fairly important, but also, so is my actual time. I can’t really put a price on it or anything, but it kind of felt like those times at work where someone goes, ‘Well, if we have many more meetings about this, given the day rates of the people involved, it’s starting to get more expensive to talk about this thing than just DOING IT and seeing what happens.’
Sometimes money and time ARE good motivators.
So I picked one (train, overnight, flight). Then I got off the Skype and booked my US flight. And the next day I picked an Airbnb for Paris and booked that. And made a list of the other things I need to book and put deadlines on them and forbid myself to do any more than half an hour’s research on each one. And I feel a lot better about all of it now. And I’m pretty sure I will give zero shits if the price happens to drop again, because I got some life going on.
This kind of made me realise this is the exact reason people use travel agents. I like the planning, but the research DOES take time, and you can get carried away. If you can trust that someone else is going to do all the best research for you, then why not? I sued a travel agent when I booked Africa for the first time ever. And they were great! (Trailfinders by the way. Recommended.) But I totally didn’t do it right because I was still researching everything anyway. Not because I didn’t trust they’d get me the best deal they could, but I guess because I just didn’t believe it was possible to get a better deal with a company than on my own. But it IS. And I didn’t find anything better than what they got me. PLUS they had all the knowledge I do not. So maybe I’ll do it again. It doesn’t even cost extra!
But I can’t bring myself to use a travel agent for something as simple as a trip to the US, which I do regularly enough that I should be able to book it in my sleep. So from now on, no endless searching and price tracking. I know what it should cost. I need to just get on with it.