Q&A: Ask a Travel Agent
Q: Is travelinsuranceworth theexpense?
A: “Yes. Things canand do go wrong.A good policy willset you back about$130, but you’llhave peace of mindknowing you’reprotected in caseof theft, illness, orother unfortunateevents.” —Barbara Gallay, Linden Frosch Travel
Q: What advice do you give for navigating Europe by car?
A: “In the past few years, many European cities have introduced new traffic-restrictedareas. Some are poorly marked, putting travelers at risk for violation tickets, so be sure to lookclosely for signs.” —Andrea Sertoli, Select Italy
Q: Any potential snafus travelers should watch out for when booking flights?
A: “Avoid smaller start-up airlines whenever possible. While they may offer inexpensiveflights compared with larger carriers, they tend to fly fewer routes, are more likely to cancelflights, and could even be at risk for going out of business altogether. It’s worth paying alittle more for reliability.” —Diane Embree, Michael’s TravelCentre
Q: How can you get everyone excited about a family vacation?
A: “One great way to keep family members engaged is to let each person plan a day thatincorporates what they’re most interested in learning about or doing.”—Kay Merrill, Are We There Yet? Family Adventures
Q: What did you learn from your worst travel experience?
A: “After having my luggage stolen from the Johannesburg airport en route to a safari inBotswana, I learned the hard way—pack light, carry on luggage, and travel in dark clothing,just in case. White doesn't stand up well to bush walks.” —Karen Benson,Camelback Odyssey Travel
Whether you are hoping to hit the “Big 3” (Rome, Florence and Venice) with tots in tow, sample phenomenal wines in the alluring region of Apulia, or indulge in a romantic island vacation beside the sparkling Mediterranean, Andrea Sertoli and his Chicago-based agency, Select Italy, can make it happen. From pre-booked museum tickets to private excursions, Italian-born Sertoli manages every travel detail so you can just relax and enjoy the trip. Years as agent 17. Other specialty Croatia. Fee from $100.
Years as agent: 36. Specialties: Indonesia. Consulting fee: Varies.
Years as agent: 18. Specialties: Southern Africa, South America, Family. Consulting fee: $250.
Whether you’re looking for a restorative retreat or just a little pampering, Benson knows where to turn. She has planned ayurveda getaways to India, hikes in Bhutan, and cultural and spiritual experiences in Arizona. She knows not only which treatments to book but also the best practitioners.
Excited about: The 28,000-square-foot spa at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu has an Apothecary Mud and Clay Mosaic Treatment that uses volcanic mud and deep-sea clay sourced on the island.
Specialties: Spas and wellness, adventure
The travel agent of choice for a who's who of notables, including Fortune 100 companies, members of European royalty, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are all clients, Barbara Gallay has a four-decade legacy in the travel industry that's put her on a first-name basis with top hotel general managers worldwide. (When the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company needs advice on its hotels, it's this travel insider they call.) She can get upgrades at the most sought-after properties, secure spots on popular excursions, and book top guides in situations where few can. Trend watch Sri Lanka is back on travelers’ radars thanks to new hotels (Shangri-La and Six Senses are building here) and culture-rich locations. Fee Varies.