We're independent travellers by nature, often scoffing at the idea of participating in group tours or using travel agencies. But a recent experience has caused us to be more open to getting professional advice from time-to-time.
We had already booked accommodations in a remote resort in Drake Bay, Costa Rica, so the next step was finding out how we would get from San Jose to our resort. We tried booking with two regional airlines, Sansa and Aerobell. In both cases, we encountered websites that didn't work and phone lines that rang and rang before going dead. Extremely frustrated and a little nervous, we decided it was time to look for help. We contacted four different companies, but none were willing to help us with the single task of booking a flight. They wanted to book our entire itinerary or have no involvement at all. And then AnyWhere.com came to the rescue. They were happy to help us with our domestic flights without making any additional demands. We handled the whole thing using their website chat service and email. They assigned us an individual agent and promptly booked our flights. The experience was so smooth we decided we'd reward their good work by letting them know which beach town we wanted to visit after Drake Bay and leaving it in their most capable hands to choose our accommodations, as well as requesting they schedule a food tour for us. Everything about the process increased our confidence with them. Responses were always timely, and if they encountered any problems they let us know, then worked to resolve them as quickly as possible. When our assigned agent wasn't available for a few days, they sent us a note and let us know who would be taking over until our agent returned.
Once everything was in order, they gave us a printer friendly itinerary with confirmation numbers. Flight information included check-in time windows, baggage weight limits, and possible additional fees the airlines might apply. Hotel confirmations came with check-in and out times, an official phone number, GPS coordinates as well as a Google map link. Tour information was equally helpful, providing contact information, a quick breakdown of what to expect, what was included in the fee, and what we should bring (such as a swimsuit and towel). After reviewing their website in more detail, we added on two tours from our small beach town: a Night Rainforest Tour and Hanging Bridges and Waterfall Tour. While we chose to do the whole thing electronically, we did have the option of scheduling a call to talk to a representative at any time. They provided us with a toll-free and local number to use during our time in Costa Rica, as well as a 24 hours emergency email and toll number for any problems we might encounter.
Our trip happens in December and stretches into January. We have yet to see what the real-life on-the-ground experience will be like, but booking with them has been an absolute delight.
*Update: with our trip completed we can report that everything that Anywhere.com booked for us worked flawlessly. We even had to use their Costa Rica contact number to address a wee glitch in our ground transportation at one point, and they responded promptly and resolved the problem immediately. These folks are just great to work with! While we continue to be independent travellers, we may start leaning on agencies to augment our experiences, especially when to busy to research, or when we find we're hitting a wall of frustration trying to arrange things ourselves.
Countries covered: Belize Costa Rica Cuba Ecuador Guatemala Indonesia Myanmar Nepal Panama Peru Tanzania Vietnam
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