This Is How We Do It: Outsourced Travel Planning

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The Story

I have a really complicated trip coming up at the end of June. I will be competing in Ironman France on June 26th, something I will have trained for for over a year. After the competition, my wife and I need some time off. So we decided to stay in Europe for almost a month. We knew that there were some key places we wanted to visit to see friends and family, but we didn't have a specific itinerary in mind, to the point of not caring how many days we were in each place. The only goal was to relax and enjoy. Unfortunately, with so many options and flexibility, it would take a lot of time to figure out which was the best day to travel from Italy to France, or what event might be going on in Marseille on a particular day, as well as the logistics of actually getting there and making the reservations. I needed to outsource it.

The Process

I put a post on Elance explaining roughly what I wanted to accomplish. I three in some specifics like I'd be travelling with a bike box so I needed an airline that would accept that and transportation from the airport that could accomodate. I also wanted to throw in some random spa treatments because lets face it, swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running a marathon in one day warrants at least one massage right? I got about 12 bids from several virtual assistants as well as dedicated travel agents. In the end I chose a British woman living in Holland who had been to all the places I wanted to go so she had local knowledge and she had experience planning travel before. It was perfect, I basically gave her the list of six cities I wanted to see. What I got back was a spreadsheet with a day by day broken down itinerary including train times, car rental, hotels, spas, sights and activities along the way, and even a couple festivals that will be taking place. The whole thing cost me $70...I saved so much time not having to call or search the web but more importantly, I took advantage of somebody with a better knowledge set than I have so the overall quality of the trip should be much better as well. My favorite were her restaurant reccomendations for places she had dined with friends.

If You Only Walk Away With One Thing

Sometimes a specialized skill doesn't have to come at a high price. Also, travel planning is a perfect example of something you could do yourself but someone else can do it better, so let them do it and use the time for something you ARE better at.