How can thinking like a travel agent transform your getaways into unforgettable adventures? We have some tips that may change your outlook on travel forever, all thanks to adopting an agent state-of-mind.
Whether you are currently living the dream as a travel agent or it has long been your dream gig in retirement, it’s just a fact that travel agents see creative possibilities in travel that might be missed or overlooked by others on the very same trip. To a travel agent, all corners of the world are open, just waiting to be explored. To be in an agent state-of-mind is to think outside the box, whether this means thinking beyond a cruise-line itinerary or off the beaten path entirely. Is this way of thinking all new to you? If so, read on for four steps on the journey to developing a new and refreshing view of travel.
Step One: Recognize the Benefits of Stretching Your Comfort Zone
Whether in business or life, research has shown that stepping outside of your comfort zone can bring untold growth and development as a person. The key, according to a Harvard Business Review article, is finding a reliable (and not too scary) path from where you currently feel comfortable doing things that will help you grow. Travel is the perfect avenue for this: you are already, by design, leaving behind what is familiar and everyday to you, but you know it is a temporary condition and you aren’t committing to the unknown forever. Experiencing new food, new people, different living conditions, and maybe even a new language expand your brain’s ability to apply creative problem-solving, according to a University of Southern California Annenberg School professor.
Once you have recognized the rich benefits of pushing beyond your zone of comfort, you will have a new resolve to make it happen. If you already have an appetite for travel, this may be the final push you need to really dig deep on your next trip to find the experiences you’ve always wanted to try. Read on for the second step of putting this into action while you travel.
Step Two: Look for the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
You can plan and plan for an amazing trip (which is great and certainly a key role of any competent and professional travel agent), but, ultimately, spontaneity is where the true magic lies. While you’re on your trip, be willing to set aside carefully laid plans for something even more extraordinary.
Look for unexpected and memorable experiences that only a trained eye may be able to see:
- Where do the locals go for a good time or to really experience the character of their home?
- What are some overlooked places that actually have fascinating histories?
- What can I experience here that others may overlook because of a packed itinerary or something that seems a little too “real” for a tourist?
Step Three: Value Cultural Connection Over Tourism
Another critical part of thinking like an agent during your travels is to look beyond the pre-packaged and marketed idea of a place and value something a little deeper than that as you experience somewhere new. Tourism, although technically an experience, can very easily start to slip into what feels like a purchase of something rather than an authentic snapshot of what life is like in a new destination.
To avoid this trap, think like a travel agent and value authentic experiences over a souvenir mentality. Spend more time outside on the streets of a historic city than inside a museum gift shop; strike up conversations with local store-owners, cab drivers, and restaurant waitstaff to understand what makes the people of this place tick. Ultimately, you will enrich yourself and others much more by valuing cultural connection, conversation, and observation over overwrought tours of must-see and greatest hits in the area.
Step Four: Spread the Word
Don’t keep your newfound sense of wonder and travel bliss to yourself! Spread the word to friends and family. Not only will this benefit them (trust us, they will be thanking you later for family trips that have suddenly become exciting and fun instead of monotonous and drama-filled), it will also help you savor the experience of travel all over again. You may even find yourself building a new clientele as people recognize you as an expert in seeing travel with fresh eyes–your dream of working as a footloose travel agent may be closer than you think!
Here are some great ideas to get started sharing your travel:
- Host a travel-themed game night: The great thing about this idea is it can include all ages. There are many board games to choose from that include maps, travel strategy, or worldwide trivia that would be a perfect fit for this. You can share highlights of your trip in between rounds of game-playing, and demonstrate just how fun jumping into the world of limitless travel can be.
- Host a Taste of Your Travels Dinner with Pictures: Gone are the days of boring slide shows on a projector for what seems like hours of listening to someone else’s ho-hum trip to Europe. Ditch the narrated slide deck and let pictures run in the background as your friends enjoy samples of food from wherever you just visited. A conversation will naturally flow about the trip and what new, exciting things you discovered without making your guests feel like a captive audience. Don’t be surprised if you hear later that many of your friends are now planning their very own trips like yours (and remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!).
Need more help and resources? You can always turn to Outside Agent Link for resources, support, and ideas to maximize your approach to travel and ability to inspire and engage others in their own travel adventures.