I’ve travelled quite considerably more than the average Kenyan. And on the other hand, when you put Kenyan ‘travellers’ on a list, I don’t rank so highly. But compared to all my friends, except one or two( minus those older ones who got travelling jobs in their lives), I rank highly. Yet almost all my friends claim to love travelling. But do they travel? Not as much.
So after a close friend of mine being surprised yesterday when I mentioned that I travel mostly using Travel Agencies, I’ve decided to do a piece on it.
Previously, before I heard of travel agencies, I used to wait on chance to help me travel. Like once in a while I would ask my friends that we go somewhere, they would agree, but no one could agree on the date and if we did, something else would come up. So that mode of travelling ( relying on my friends and I to plan that is) didn’t work for me.
But that could be because when we say we love travelling, maybe the degree of ‘love’ differs. Like for example, would you sacrifice buying that dress, eating at that expensive place, just to save up money to go to a new place? If you can’t sacrifice or inconvenience yourself to travel, then probability is that your love for travelling isn’t much.
This is because I’ve heard of people who together with their friends always travel often. Like its a must. You know the way there are people who whenever you call them for a drink or an event they will turn up even when you give them an hours notice? Well, there are people in this world who react the same way to travelling. They never pass up an opportunity.
Which brings us to the next point. Cars. Vehicles. Things that move when fueled. Vehicles are second to travelling.. the way cleanliness is second to godliness. If you love travelling and you have a car, unless you are a sanguine or an extrovert, you have the ability to be up and about by your own. And if you have the ability to hire a vehicle( financial and driving competence), then you are sorted. Kwanza when you have friends who are always willing to tour new places..and there is a car in that mix, you guys are sorted.
And neither is this post for you( those who have cars that is or have friends who have cars and love travelling.)
So how do you travel when you have limited money and have no car and lack overly enthusiastic-travel friends?
That’s how I ended up finding travel agencies. These are people who form their own tour Safaris to assist people in anything related to travelling. Previously, most were involved in booking hotels and organizing travel options for foreign tourists. But with local tourism budding, travel agencies have come up that take people to local destinations.
This is how they work, let’s say an Agency called “SafiriSalama” opens up. They plan that on Saturday the 15th of January they shall be taking people for a hike on Mt. Longonot. They then use Social Media to advertise that package. If Njeri sees it on Fb, and she wanted to go to Longonot, she calls them up and books a slot.
On the other hand, if Mercy feels like she needs a weekend out, all she has to do, is go to social media and Google ‘events coming up on 15th of January”. Due to the high number of Travel Agencies, she’ll find many of them taking people to various destinations on that Saturday. An average of 10 if my social media last search was anything to go by. Then according to her pocket, and liked destination, and most importantly, the quality of services offered by that agency, she’ll chose one and run with it.
So how do you know what agency/tour company to travel with? Is it a hit and miss game? That’s where I come in. Slowly by slowly, I’ve come up with my own set of rules I follow when selecting which agency to travel with.
There are people who once they’ve found an agency they like, catch them dead travelling with another. If that works for them, then by all means. My only issue on why that wouldn’t work for me, is because, I rarely go back on a place I’ve been. Like unless its unavoidable. If I’ve gone to Longonot, then why go back? I love travelling to new places. And only Mombasa is an exception to the rule for me.
This then means that on a certain weekend when I want to go out, if my preferred agency is taking people to a place I’ve been to, then i’ll look for an alternative. Anyway this is how I go about it…even when people send me travel packages on WhatsApp, I follow the same procedure.
1. Are they active on their Social Media accounts?
In this time and age, surely, you can’t be selling anything to the Kenyan youth when you don’t have Social Media accounts? But it doesn’t end there. One, I don’t know this people, neither do they know me. We are doing business. An active social media account, means I can get more details maybe not entailed in the package information I gave out. It also means, in case things go wrong, I have a place I can come and air my grievances.
What have people said about that travel agency? Are there any reviews done on their page? If yes, I go through them and see. Some obviously might be from family members and their spouses but at least out of a 100 reviews some will be from genuine strangers. And in case a travel agency doesn’t have any reviews, unless its a new one, that raises a lot of questions. Like out of all journeys they’ve had, no one saw it fit to post anything on their page? Like at all?
3. How they interact with me
When I first see a package I want, I usually contact them about maybe something they left out of their package. My aim is not usually the answer. Its to see how responsive they are. How does the person on the other end answer my questions? Is it one word answers or they actually engage me to see if i’ll buy. Something that I’ve noticed in common with the ‘good’ ones, is they’ll handle me patiently and even invite me to take on their package by the end of the conversation. They don’t assume that because I’ve contacted them, then i’ll just buy it.
The above 3 tips aren’t fool proof, that if you follow them things will be okay..but they’ve made my travelling scouting easier. Especially social media. I don’t compromise on that. In this age and time, someone must be on social media and interactive on it.
Hope this article opens your eyes a bit to travel agencies and how to travel with one.
What other tips work for you?