Weirdest Travel Agent Requests
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.
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.
Book a Cruise with a Room Near the Elevators
The Request: Book a cruise with a room near the elevators. The reason? The traveler explained that sometimes she drinks too much, and that’s the only way she can find her room at the end of the night.
The Agent: Francine Dumont, Plaza Travel, Encino, CA
The Results: “I didn’t really react,” Francine said. “I kept my feelings to myself, but I thought this was really, really strange.” Feelings aside, Francine’s client was given her elevator-adjacent room and was able to spend her trip hitting the bottle with nary a concern about finding her way back.
Book a Trip with a Pet
The Request: Book a trip with a pet Chihuahua. The destination? Chihuahua, Mexico, of course. The reason? To help the pet discover his roots.
The Agent: Steven Greenbaum, Pisa Brothers Travel, New York City
The Results: “I’m good at keeping a straight face,” Steven informed. “I’ve seen it all.” Showcasing a well-rehearsed stoicism, the canine-centric trip was planned with only the dog in mind. Both a pet-friendly flight and hotel were booked, and the dog finally received his opportunity to delve deep into his heritage.
Sneak a Candy Bar
The Request: Sneak a Snickers candy bar into a destination spa to fulfill a craving.
The Agent: Heidi Schwartz, Protravel – The Zenith Group, New York City
The Results: The agent purchased a single bite-sized Snickers bar—just enough to take off the edge, and not too much of a rule-breaker during a trip intended to focus on health and wellness—and sent it via FedEx to the client, who was able to satisfy her craving between treatment sessions.
Weirdest Travel Agent Requests
Get Married in Vegas
The Request: Get married in Vegas. The catch? To be married by an Elvis impersonator impersonating a rabbi. Yes, you read that right.
The Agent: Paul Gilbert, Linden Travel, New York City
The Results: Anything can happen in Vegas. Gilbert—who laughed when the request was made—made several phone calls and managed to track down a few wedding factories that assured him they would be able to procure a kosher King of Rock 'n’ Roll. However, the client eventually canceled his request.
Ocean View Room in Orlando
The Request: To book a room in Orlando. A room, that is, with a view of the ocean.
The Agent: Lynn Garfi, Protravel International, Inc. San Diego
The Results: As Orlando is a good 40 miles from the coast, this one took a little extra effort. When Garfi said that oceanview rooms weren’t a possibility, the client replied, “That’s not true. I looked it up on a map. Florida is a very skinny state.”
Green Gatorade Cruise
The Request: To go on a cruise, but due to some gastrointestinal complications, the traveler could only drink green Gatorade.
The Agent: Ellen LeCompte, Sterling Brownell Travel, Richmond, VA
The Results: Always aiming to please, this agent gave the ship several weeks notice and informed them of this special circumstance. Six cases of green Gatorade were flown in, and by the time the client boarded, every bar and restaurant aboard the ship was fully stocked with the fluorescent beverage.
Summer Camping in the Sahara Desert
The Request: To camp in the Sahara Desert in the middle of August. The traveler also wanted to make sure his tent was kept nice and cool, to shield him from the desert’s intense summer heat.
The Agent: Joel Zack, Heritage Tours, New York City
The Results: Temperatures in the Sahara that time of year can easily exceed 130 degrees, so to fulfill this request, the agent had to purchase a massive generator from nearby Casablanca. It was used to power an air-conditioning unit that had to remain full blast at all times, because the cool air easily escaped through the tent’s walls.