Travel agents. Remember travel agents? There still are a few in the world, I know that, and I’m beginning to wonder whether I would feel it was worth paying someone else a fee to book hotels and trains and so on for me. I just spent three hours arranging train travel and hotels in the UK for a trip later this summer. In theory, I could do this at some point of the day that is not prime writing time. In practice, I have found that when I do that, I wind up booking myself on a train that departs a week after I leave the country.

Seriously. I did that once.

I got lucky that time. The conductor did come round to check tickets, but just before he got to me, he encountered another woman with a wonky ticket: she was booked on a train that left at a different time, and that apparently was a huge problem. By the time he’d finished sorting her out, we were near the next station, so he only glanced at the time, not the date, on my ticket, punched it and moved on.

Probably I could leave the stewing over hotel reviews to non-prime-time, though, and just bookmark the ones that seem to have the best intersection of low-ish price, quiet rooms, and cleanliness, then make the decision later. It can be hard to tell the difference between shabby and unclean, based on some reviews. I don’t so much mind stained carpet, if it doesn’t smell and has been well vacuumed. I do mind the odor of stale cigarette smoke. I prefer the white-noise roar I get from a window that overlooks the hotel’s ventilation system to the intermittent uproar of overlooking a street in a popular area of town. Any hotel where people complain (complain! they don’t know they’re born) about the presence of a cat immediately moves to the top of my list.

Of course, if I felt like spending money on a travel agent, I could probably also afford fancier hotels, and taxis rather than public transport. It still might be worth it for the trains, just to make sure I’m really traveling on the correct date (and if not, it would be Someone Else’s Problem). Do travel agents provide cats?


5 thoughts on “Nostalgia

    1. Yes, that would work. I know someone who has a PA to run those tedious bits of her life like getting estimates for house repairs, running errands, and, no doubt, organizing travel. It sounds good in theory but I expect I would be a bit like Peter Wimsey’s sister Mary, who loves it when the servants go home at night (after she marries her policeman). Having other people around makes me twitchy.

      Have you tried TaskRabbit or any of those services? I never have. I don’t think Sir John would go for them. I’m a bit curious, though.

      1. My office in paradise is right next to the cubicle of someone’s personal assistant. She gets to be the one dealing with travel agents and filling out reimbursements etc.

        We haven’t done taskrabbit– usually explaining a service and dealing with someone not super competent is more stress/hassle than just doing it ourselves.

        We did, at a couple of points in time, have a couple of ultra-competent mother’s helpers wanting to make extra cash who went through our to-do lists and did stuff like take our cardboard to recycling, repaint small areas of paint, and so on. That was quite lovely. But it only works if you know the person is super competent to begin with.

        What’s best, of course, is when DH takes care of my travel arrangements, but that doesn’t happen much now that he no longer has the capacity or desire to just drop everything and accompany me on a business trip.

  1. Oh, I feel your pain. If you don’t live in a major city, it starts with air travel. I spend hours on hipmunk figuring out which is the best way to get from my weird airport to where ever I am going. And Airbnb is a huge time suck. Seriously, type in London and you have hundreds of choices. I spend hours on it, and then just go for one. I’m making arrangements for travel in July, and I still have to do rental cars. Oh, and a couple of train trips in the UK. Sigh.

    But Nicoleandmaggie is right — if you don’t know someone is competent and trustworthy, you don’t trust them with your information/issues.

  2. I sure wish I had help with the trip I’m on right now. Even my traveling companion isn’t helping!

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