The Value of Time

Based on my experience planning this trip, a simple excursion with just one person is easier to book and plan for personally than to outsource the work to a travel agent. Though I appreciate the expertise of a travel agent and the possibility of insider discounts, I appreciate the value of my money more. I have experience tracking flights, am naturally thrifty and am not afraid to make decisions. 

I’ve been using Google for several months to track flights so I was very familiar with using those tools to plan a multi-stop itinerary. Google has great tools for planning a trip: from tracking fares to things to do in the destination city, even when you only have one day. According to Google, “We already show you whether prices for a flight route are high, low or typical. Starting today, you may see the same insights for your exact itinerary.” 

There is still value in using an experienced travel agent to plan certain types of trips. As per Nomadic Matt, “That is because they still offer value for certain types of travel (they’re heavily used for luxury, corporate, and group travel), as well as for their expertise and special business relationships — not to mention their time-saving, stress-relieving, and problem-solving skills.”

A lot of things can go wrong on a trip with as many stops in this itinerary: an advocate working on my side would be added insurance against unforeseen mishaps. A travel agent who can rebook missed flights, upgrade inadequate accommodations or give guidance on the required travel documents is an asset to any trip. Another advantage of using a travel agent is that you can pay for the trip in installments: when you plan it yourself, you have to pay for the trip up-front.

However, current technology is catching up and replacing the experienced insider. Though Google can’t give you a “personal” recommendations, you can review those of previous travelers, view pictures and video and get all the information about your destination within minutes, without making a single long distance phone call.

When I was looking for flights, I got a variety of options, even for my multi-city itinerary. I didn’t have to check multiple sites for the best price for my flight or hotel room, or look on another site for popular tourist attractions. 

After planning this trip, having a working smartphone would my main tech gadget while abroad. Because I used Google to plan and book my trip, my itinerary, maps, addresses, flight information, etc. would be synced across all my Google devices. All the hotels I booked have WiFi access, so bringing my laptop would also be advantageous. 

But most important of all? A camera to record all the great memories.

TRAVEL PLAN

DAY 1: FLY TO LISBON, PORTUGAL

Departure: Wed, April 1, 2020 @ 5:55 pm Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Arrival: Thu, April 2, 2020 @ 5:50 am Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS)

Lisbon Cheese & Wine Suites: $119

Hotel Check-in: Thu, April 2, 2020 / Hotel Check-out: Sat, April 4, 2020

Meal allowance: $200 / Travel allowance: $100

Day 2: Tour Lisbon on Fri, April 3, 2020

  • Castelo de S. Jorge
  • Lisbon Cathedral
  • Praça do Comércio
  • Santa Justa Lift
  • Rossio, King Pedro IV Square 

Departure: Sat, April 4, 2020 @ 7:05 am Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS)


DAY 3: TRAVEL TO MADRID, SPAIN 

Arrival: Sat, April 4, 2020 @ 9:20 am Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD)

Hotel Sardinero Madrid: $134

Hotel Check-in: Sat, April 4, 2020 / Hotel Check-out: Mon, April 6, 2020

Meal allowance: $200 / Travel allowance: $100

Day 4: Tour Madrid on Sun, April 5

  • Puerta del Sol
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Mercado de San Miguel
  • Plaza de Oriente
  • Temple of Debod

Departure: Mon, April 6, 2020 @ 8:30 pm  Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD)


DAY 5: TRAVEL TO BARCELONA, SPAIN

Arrival: Mon, April 6, 2020 @ 9:45 pm Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN)

Hotel Barcelona 1882: $181

Hotel Check-in: Sat, April 6, 2020 / Hotel Check-out: Mon, April 8, 2020

Meal allowance: $200 / Travel allowance: $100

Day 6: Tour Barcelona on Sun, April 7

  • La Sagrada Familia
  • Casa Milà
  • Casa Batlló
  • Plaça de Catalunya
  • La Rambla, Barcelona

Departure: Wed, April 8, 2020 @ 10:30 pm Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN)


DAY 7: TRAVEL TO ROME, ITALY

Arrival: Thu, April 9, 2020 @ 12:20 am Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (FCO)

Napoleon Hotel Roma: $117

Hotel Check-in: Thu, April 9, 2020 / Hotel Check-out: Sat, April 11, 2020

Meal allowance: $200 / Travel allowance: $100

Day 8: Tour Rome On Fri, April 10

  • Sistine Chapel
  • Vatican Museums
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Pantheon
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Colosseum

Departure: Sat, April 11, 2020 @ 3:00 pm Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (FCO)


DAY 9: TRAVEL TO INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND 

Arrival: Sat, April 11, 2020 @ 4:35 pm Zurich Airport (ZRH)

Hotel Royal St Georges Interlaken – MGallery: $225

Hotel Check-in: Sat, April 11, 2020 / Hotel Check-out: Mon, April 13, 2020

Meal allowance: $200 / Travel allowance: $100

Day 10: Tour Interlaken Sun. April 12

  • St. Beatus Caves
  • Golden Pass Railway

Departure: Mon, April 13, 2020 @ 8:50 pm Zurich Airport (ZRH)


DAY 11: TRAVEL TO PARIS, FRANCE 

Arrival: Mon, April 13, 2020 @ 10:05 pm Paris-Charles De Gaulle (CDG)

Hôtel Observatoire Luxembourg: $204

Hotel Check-in: Mon, April 13, 2020 / Hotel Check-out: Wed, April 15, 2020

Meal allowance: $200 / Travel allowance: $100

Day 12: Tour Paris Tue. April 14

  • Louvre Museum
  • Tuileries Garden
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Eiffel Tower

Departure: Wed, April 15, 2020 @ 4:15 pm Paris-Charles De Gaulle (CDG)


DAY 13: TRAVEL TO LONDON, ENGLAND 

Arrival: Wed, April 15, 2020 @ 4:20 pm London Southend Airport (SEN)

54 Queen’s Gate: $213

Hotel Check-in: Wed, April 15, 2020 / Hotel Check-out: Fri, April 17, 2020

Meal allowance: $200 / Travel allowance: $100

Day 14: Tour London Thu. April 16

  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • London Bridge
  • Palace of Westminster
  • Big Ben
  • Natural History Museum
  • Buckingham Palace

Departure: Fri, April 17, 2020 @ 5:55 am Gatwick Airport (LGW)


DAY 15: FLY HOME

Arrival: Fri, April 17, 2020 @ 9:00 am John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)


Total for airfare, hotels, taxis and meals: $4101

Hours to prepare: 5

Personal cost per hour: $35

Total cost for preparing travel plan: $175

Total cost: $4,276

Tools Used: https://www.google.com/flights

First Leg: https://flights.app.goo.gl/3TyX4

Second Leg: https://flights.app.goo.gl/vX8Ad

Sources

Holden, R. (2019, May 14). There's an easier way to plan and organize your trips-here's how. Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://www.blog.google/products/flights-hotels/planning-trip-google-can-help/.
Kepnes, M. (2019, October 24). Are Travel Agents Still Useful? Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/using-travel-agents/.

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