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Guest Review from Susan Fossum

An editor asked our guests for comments on whether they felt that travel agents are still relevant.  For us this is a bit of an existential question, but our guest and ambassador, Susan Fossum, sums it up very well – thank you Susan!

Dear Editor,

I am someone who has used the services of a travel agent and since I heard that you were looking for information on the subject of whether the use of these type of services were still relevant I thought that I would respond to you.

Honestly, until this past year, I have not use the services of a travel agent, but I must tell you that the services that I used this past year with Journeys Within were invaluable and I would use their services again.  In fact I have referred them already and they are being used by friends of mine as they also are impressed with what this company offers.

I am a frequent traveler -as not only do I love to travel- but I am also an RN who goes on frequent trips with 2 non-profit organizations, traveling throughout the world providing free reconstructive surgical care to children with cleft lips/palates and burns.  This past year I traveled with teams to Bangladesh, Cambodia and Tanzania.  I also am involved in organizing and putting on international nursing conferences around the world, last year one being held in Glasgow, Scotland and previous ones in Canada, Ireland and Denmark.  So lots of travel to the dismay of my 3 dogs and horses!

This past year my surgical trip took me to Takeo, Cambodia – a small village in the southern part of Cambodia.  My husband wanted to join me at the end of my 2 week surgical trip for a vacation in Southeast Asia.  As this was a different part of the world that we had not explored before, and the fact that I would be very busy up until the final day of surgery, we decided to look at using a travel agency to help us plan our trip.  Our plan was to travel not only to Cambodia but also to Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.  My husband happened on information in a travel magazine that mentioned Andrea Ross and her company Journeys Within.  In reading about this company we found that Andrea had spent many years in Cambodia, was familiar with the land and culture and also was supportive of the people and agencies that helped the local towns and villages.  This was impressive to us – so we contacted Andrea to find out about her travel agency and whether this would be a good fit for us.  As I mentioned, we have done most of the planning and organization of overseas trips for many years – over 20.

We came up with an itinerary that we were looking at and then sent that off to Andrea – our goals included not only sightseeing, but adventures out in the countryside that would allow us to mingle with the local peoples and cultures.  The itinerary that we ended up with was perfect for us.  All aspects of our tour were covered – we were met at airports by our tour guides, movement through the airport was smooth, all transportation, cultural events were taken care of.  Our accommodations were beyond what we had expected and supported the local communities.  And – a plus – Andrea and her staff worked with me to coordinate my surgical 2 week trip schedule so it would coincide with flights and lodging for my husband.

Using Journeys Within saved me (us) much needed time and energy.  In looking at costs, which are always relevant, for the time in country, airline flights and the experiences that we had – our trip was within a budget that we had expected.

This is a long letter and probably more that you were expecting – but I wanted to get across the point that for someone who has not used a travel agency in more that 20 years of travel – using the expertise of Andrea Ross and her staff of Journeys Within exceeded my expectations.  Thank you for the opportunity to write you and provide feedback on my experiences.

Susan Fossum

Photos provided by Susan Fossum

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