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From finding rabbi-impersonating Elvis impersonators to arranging air-conditioned camping in the Sahara—here are some of the crazy things travelers ask of travel agents.
Weirdest Travel Agent Requests
The Request: Transport a bag of the traveler’s own blood to South Africa, in case there was an accident and he needed a blood transfusion.
The Agent: Diane Hilliard, Hilliard & Olander Ltd., Stillwater, MN
The Results: “I thought it was, at first, kind of sensible,” said Diane. “But when I realized the logistics, it just didn’t make sense.” After discussing the extensive requirements necessary to haul one’s own blood overseas—namely equipment rental to preserve the blood—the traveler decided to take his chances and travel without a standby transfusion. He survived the trip.
Traveling to Chihuahua, Mexico is a perfectly common request for a travel agent. Traveling with one’s Chihuahua? That’s easy, too. But taking the Chihuahua to Chihuahua, Mexico so he can “discover his roots”?
That was the request made of travel agent Steven Greenbaum of Pisa Brothers Travel in New York City. Greenbaum’s been an agent for 29 years, so he’s had his share of oddball requests—but this was a new one. He even managed to receive the explanation without a flinch. “I’m good at keeping a straight face.”
Most requests that agents handle every day are pretty cut and dried: booking a long weekend in the Bahamas; finding the best animal-spotting retreat in Africa; finagling an affordable-but-luxurious excursion in Europe. But every once in a while, travelers push the boundaries of what’s normal—or even possible.
And it’s often difficult for them to stifle a laugh. In fact, that’s what Lynn Garfi of San Diego–based Protravel International had to do when a traveler called and asked for an oceanfront room—normally a no-brainer request—in the decidedly landlocked city of Orlando.
So how do travel agents deal with these odd asks—especially when, in the Orlando case, they can’t be fulfilled? Garfi explains that with these types of requests, the only option is to help the client understand that it simply cannot be fulfilled.
Some off-the-wall requests, however, are do-able, no matter how crazy they sound. Take the traveler who wanted to camp in the Sahara Desert in the middle of August...in an air-conditioned tent. Joel Zack, of Heritage Tours in New York City, made it happen. Of course, it took some effort, including buying a huge generator to power the air-conditioner.
But going to extremes is what it takes to become one of the world’s top agents, like the ones on Travel + Leisure’s A-List. So we asked these super-agents and their colleagues for the most unusual travel requests they've received over the years.
Here are their stories.