Frequently Asked Questions
Can’t I just find all the information for free on the internet, or get advice from friends, or have ChatGPT plan my trip for me? Why should I hire you?
Sure, you could do any of those things. But here’s the truth: doing all the research yourself takes a lot of time and effort, and the results of any of the above options would still be unvetted. I mean, who knows if that guy on Reddit has good taste, or whether that star rating on Google Maps is telling the whole story? Also, your friend probably had a great trip, but she likely isn’t a travel expert. And in my experience, sometimes GPT-4 just makes shit up!
If you want an amazing trip, you need guidance and great recommendations. And if you were already planning to splash out on this trip, then all the more reason to hire an expert. You want to make sure that money’s well spent, not wasted on poor logistics, crappy hotel rooms, or mediocre restaurants.
Okay Steph, but are your services right for me?
I’m not for you if…
- … you want a lot of hand-holding and someone to take care everything while you’re on the ground. I recommend a private tour operator instead.
- … you want someone to book flights, hotels, and activities for you. In that case, you should look for a good travel agent.
- … you’re looking for deals or hacks. Check websites like The Points Guy, hotels.com, Expedia, and Viator.
- … you want a “fly and flop” vacation where you don’t leave your resort. Then you don’t need me!
But my services are perfect for you if…
- … you’re an independent traveler but you don’t have time to do all the research and planning.
- … you’re fine making your own reservations but want vetted recommendations, as well as guidance on the logistics.
- … you’re culturally curious and want more than just a beach or resort trip.
So, are you a travel agent?
No, I’m not. Travel agents receive commissions on the bookings they make. Because of this, many specialize in things like cruises or business travel. These days, many agents also charge additional planning fees for their work.
Think of me more like a travel coach. I’m leveraging my deep destination knowledge to craft a great itinerary for you. I make recommendations, but not reservations. As such, I charge a flat fee for my expertise and services (similar to an agent’s planning fee), rather than working on commission.
If you need someone to handle reservations for things like flights, hotels, rental cars, or tour packages, you should contact a travel agent. I recommend looking at a consortium like Virtuoso to find quality agents.
Why should I hire you if you don’t make reservations for me? Also, why don’t you make reservations?
I’m guessing that you’re perfectly capable of making reservations yourself. In fact, as a strong and independent modern woman, you don’t need that hand-holding. But you could use some help knowing what reservations to make. And how to put them all together into an amazing and efficient itinerary.That’s why I would rather focus my time and energy on finding, researching, and vetting the very best places and things for you to see and do (and eat).
Here are some other benefits to booking directly:
- It keeps things more flexible for you. If your mood changes while you’re traveling, you don’t have to go through a third party to cancel something or make last-minute changes.
- If you’re loyal to particular airlines or hotel brands, you can use or accumulate points and take advantage of any loyalty benefits they offer.
- It’s more secure for you, since I would need your credit card details to make reservations. Making your own bookings minimizes the number of times your card is out there floating in the ether.
All that said, I want to make it as easy for you as possible. When you work with me, I’ll provide all the direct booking links and exact steps to make any reservations. I’ll also tell you when to make them, and how to keep everything organized so it’s easy to reference during your trip.
How are you different from that other travel planner I found on the internet?
From what I’ve seen, most other travel planners are people who just like to travel. Their friends started asking them for recommendations, and they decided to turn it into a business. If you know that person and trust their taste and judgement, go for it.
By contrast, I’ve made travel my profession, and have been in the industry for over 15 years. I’ve worked as a tour guide and as a freelance travel writer. I spent 11 years planning private tours for demanding, discerning clients, so my skills, knowledge and resources have had to be on point. In fact, I was named a Top Travel Specialist by Condé Nast Traveler in 2021 and 2022. In other words, I’m an actual travel expert, and this isn’t a side hustle for me. So if you want to know you’re getting top-notch planning and recommendations, I’m your girl.
How does your Fantastic Voyage service work?
- We’ll start with a 30-minute initial consultation call over Zoom so I can get to know you and what you’re looking for
- Once you give me the go-ahead, I’ll send you a preliminary itinerary outline based on our conversation within five business days
- Send me feedback and request any changes, and I’ll send you a revised outline (one revision included)
- Then, I’ll fill it in with details, logistics, and personalized recommendations
- I’ll also send you lots of other tips and destination information
- If you have any more questions during the process or before you leave, we’ll have another 30-minute call
- You have an amazing trip!
I don’t even know where I want to go—is it worth it for me to hire you?
Either way, during our initial call, I can help you figure out the perfect destination for your next vacation. I’ve talked many clients through this over the years.
I’m not looking for the most over-the-top, exclusive hotels. Can I still work with you?
Absolutely! As I mentioned above, I’m not working on commission, so I have no incentive to push you toward more expensive hotels.
That said, please don’t make the mistake of thinking it doesn’t matter where you stay, since all you’re doing is sleeping there (I used to hear this a lot from potential clients at my old job). Hotels have a huge effect on the overall experience of a trip. Imagine a spacious hotel room right in the heart of the action versus a dark and cramped room on the outskirts of the city, with nothing nearby, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
At the same time, luxury for luxury’s sake doesn’t necessarily add much. You might spend thousands of dollars a night on a five-star hotel and be out and about too much to enjoy it, or you might be disappointed by some generic room, feeling like you could be anywhere in the world.
This is why you need good guidance, and that’s where I come in. Whether you want the best of the best of the best, or something a little easier on the savings account, I know what makes a good hotel (and hotel room).
Now, let me be honest with you. My expertise is in the top luxury hotels. I’ve stayed at and inspected some of the top-rated, most exclusive hotels in the world, and this category is what I know best. And for some trips, ultra-luxury is the right choice. If that’s what you’re looking for, I can help you.
But in my personal life, I don’t spend €1200 a night on a hotel room (hello, current rental market!), and I often seek out stylish boutique hotels or charming local options. So if you want something luxurious but not necessarily the be-all-end-all, no worries, I got you too.
What if I already have my flights and/or hotels, or I need to work around specific dates or events?
No problem, I can help you build a great trip around any plans you already have—I have lots of experience with this.
I booked the Dial T for Travel call but now I want to upgrade to the full-service package. Can I do that?
What’s the refund policy?
For my Fantastic Voyage package, if you decide my services aren’t the right fit for you after we talk, I’ll refund the planning fee, minus $50 for the cost of the initial consultation call. No hard feelings—I want to make sure we’re right for each other.
Please note that due to the time and work involved, no refunds will be given once an initial itinerary outline is sent, regardless of whether you decide to continue the process.