The trip of a lifetime can take a lifetime to plan unless you know how to pick a travel agency.A common misconception is that travel agencies add to the cost of your trip. In truth, finding and using a good travel agency to plan your trip usually saves you time, money, and frustration. So how do you pick a travel agency?Ask around!The best way to find a good travel agency is through word of mouth. Ask your family and friends who they’ve used and then ask them about their trip. How did they travel? Where did they stay? Was their trip enjoyable? Getting a few referrals from friends helps you to know in ahead of time what to expect from a particular travel agent and helps you weed out the good from the not-so-good as well.Are you a member?Many clubs and organizations offer travel services for their members and many corporations have established relationships with travel agencies that their employees can use. “Members only” travel plans frequently offer the best values.CompareShop a couple of experienced firms. Travel agencies come and go like any other businesses. The ones that stay in business add experience and know-how to each trip they plan. Make your first inquiry with a travel agency a listening experience; judge how well the agent listens to you and how comfortable they make you feel.A good travel agent will ask you to outline your trip. They’ll ask where you’re going and why, how you’d prefer to travel, how long you plan to stay, and what your travel budget is. Be open and honest with your answers. A good agent will readily put together a sample itinerary that describes availabilities in transportation, accommodations, and estimated costs.If you feel like you’re getting the “hard sell” or the travel agency tells you there’s only package available, keep shopping. You can always go back if you find that they’re right!In addition to finding the best rates in lodgings and transportation, an experienced travel agent can also give you some helpful tips about your destination and here’s the bonus– generally it costs nothing to use a travel agency! Because they can buy in volume, travel agencies get discounts on prices for both tickets and lodgings!For travel made easy, use the services of a travel agency to make your outing a time to remember well!