Perhaps no segment of the marketplace has been swept more significantly by the do it yourself craze than is than has been the travel industry. Indeed, many travel itineraries can be developed taking the do it yourself approach.

Understanding the ubiquitous nature of do it yourself travel resources, there remain situations in which you simply do not want to take the DIY travel planning avenue. The reality is that there exist a number of major pitfalls if you try to pull together a complicated travel itinerary on your own.

A Complicated Travel Itinerary Case Study: The African Safari

Mac Weatherby had been on an African safari in the 1970s. He decided he wanted to experience such a travel adventure one more time in the 21st century, in the age of do it yourself travel resources. On his first Safari, some 40 years earlier, Mac utilized the services of a reputable travel professional. On the second go-around, Mac decided he would go it alone and develop a travel itinerary on his own. As Mac fully admits after the fact, that decision proved to be one of the biggest mistakes he has ever made.

The first mistake made by Mac was breaking his planned safari down into its component parts. He made separate arrangements for airfare, lodging accommodations, and for the safari itself. In the end, Mac obtained a decent deal on airfare between New York City and his destination in Africa. On the other hand, his lodging costs proved more expensive than he would have liked. He received no special price accommodation with the tour company at his destination that arranged the safari itself.

What Mac didn’t understand, and was unable to take advantage of, were some special comprehensive safari packages that are accessible by professional travel consultants, but not through DIY portals. Mac could have saved money across the board if he had engaged the services of an experienced travel professional.

If that had been the extent of Mac’s problems, the DIY yourself course wouldn’t have proven to be a disaster. Sadly, the negative aspects of Mac going it alone did not end with cost issues.

Mac ended up having an issue with obtaining a visa. He misunderstood an element of that process, which resulted in a delay in the processing of his visa application. Indeed, he did not catch his error immediately and having to go back and correct the situation resulted in Mac having to postpone his trip. He ended up paying an additional fee to both the airline and the safari tour company to reschedule his adventure. The hotel change proved easy, at least for Mac.

Another issue cropped up regarding immunizations. Mac needed to obtain them, but obtained inaccurate information about what was necessary. After the visa mishap, Mac went back and revisited the major things on his checklist and discovered that what he had initially done in this regard was not appropriate when it came to the requirements of his destination country.

Finally, Mac didn’t obtain suitable travel insurance to cover an issue like a weather development preventing him to get to the location of the planned safari as scheduled. Due to a significant weather delay in New York, and a terribly tight itinerary from the Big Apple to the safari site, Mac ended up arriving a day later than scheduled. In other words, he missed the start of the specific safari group he scheduled and paid for in advance.

A full refund was not available. He was able to reschedule, but had to pay an additional fee to the tour company to accomplish this. He also had to adjust his return air travel, at a cost. He ended up spending more time at the hotel than he originally anticipated, increasing that cost as well.

The Importance of a Travel Professional

If you are planning a more complicated trip, you need to carefully consider whether you want to try and develop your itinerary on your own, or seek the assistance of a skilled, experienced travel professional. Of course, you may not be contemplating an African safari. Nonetheless, what happened to Mac needs to serve as a cautionary tale to you.

Anytime your trip involves a foreign destination, or a unique destination activity like a safari, be cautious about going the do it yourself route. One seemingly minor misstep can have a cascading effect. Your entire planned trip can end up upended. You can end up spending an inordinate amount of money both in arranging the trip in the first instance and in correcting problems you created along the way.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Documents International LLC, a leading apostille service for individuals and businesses.

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Cheryl Posner is the owner of Winey Mommy. Of course, she loves wine, her family, and writing about it all (in no certain order).

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