This will sound like a paid endorsement, it isn’t. It’s heartfelt thanks to Martina and also Gitte. Thank you!
I’ve been very humbled by the help we’ve received on our travels.
I’ve briefly mentioned Martina from The Travel Brokers in other posts, but now it’s time to sing her praises. She is our ace in the hole. She came highly recommended and I’m so glad we started talking with her. She helped Nat and I see possibilities that we didn’t know existed and has given us so many ‘insider tips’. What we love about her most of all is her accessibility and that she truly loves what she does.
When we left New Zealand we thought we’d be able to ‘take it from here’, but as we’ve quickly discovered there’s more to this kind of travelling than we expected, and finding the best ways to get from place to place is a fine art. Enter Martina (again).
She has been very clear about helping us no matter what, if there was an emergency or if we needed some travel assistance or help with our insurance. I always thought that once a travel agent made the sale they were done. Not with Martina. She genuinely cares about our adventure, and truly wants to make it as painless as possible, especially when things get sticky.
It’s actually very humbling for us, we’re not used to that kind of ‘star treatment’. It’s what Nat and I have always wanted in terms of support but have never really received. Martina we’ve happily discovered, takes the next step and thinks a little further down the track without even asking. It may not a big deal to her, but it’s a huge deal to us. We feel ‘safe’ on the road, knowing she can help us no matter where we are. She’s told us stories about her clients and where she’s stepped in to help and it’s that level of support that made us feel that we could do this.
I also need to mention that when we were in the early stages of picking flights, and freaking out, she talked me off the ledge once or twice. I’m so grateful for that. She’s travelled with her son long term so knows what it’s like travelling with kids, she told me stories about her son’s resilience and confidence. That made me realise what we’re doing wasn’t child abuse, but child enrichment.
Most people think having a travel agent will cost an arm and a leg… but we haven’t notice the price at all, most of her commissions come from the airlines, and if we do have to pay a fee (rarely) it actually works out to be less expensive for Martina to book it, including the fee, so we’re happy.
Something I thought was that being “real” digital nomads meant booking tickets on the fly, finding those amazing $20 flights and just going… Doesn’t always work like that I’ve quickly discovered. It will be easier when we head further south, but I’m so glad we didn’t try and do this ourselves. It’s not like buying a ticket from Auckland to Los Angeles, there’s a ton of other considerations.
So why am I talking about Martina?
We were having trouble getting from Estonia to Belgium. Weird I know. Trains aren’t that plentiful from Estonia, flights are expensive and we didn’t have too much time to play around. We have to be in Belgium on the 4th August and we need to leave Estonia on the 1st. Which sounds plenty, but when there are so many options it’s hard to choose. We needed help getting to Belgium… but we’ve had fantastic input and we wanted to take that into consideration.
Gitte, who’s a fantastic friend I’ve known since we were pregnant together, reached out when she heard we’re going to Brussels. She lived there for five years and knows the area really well and wanted to offer her suggestions. She’s given us so much great stuff to think about, places to see and avoid, the low down on the people and culture, even this most random website of Belgium Architecture called Ugly Belgium Houses. Truly very funny, and weird, five or six houses in and you’re like “what were they thinking?!”
She suggested we drive from Estonia to Brussels, but that wasn’t going to work, but she mentioned the Moselle Valley and the drive from Kolbenz to Trier. Hooked. From Roman ruins, to fairytale castles we really wanted to do it. Martina is making it happen.
So the plan is to fly to Frankfurt from Tallinn and then rent a car (excited to have wheels) and then drive to Brussels. We were thinking of driving to Cologne and then taking the train from Cologne to Brussels, but it works out to be better to rent a car – even with the crazy ‘drop off fee’. We will have more flexibility and freedom. Yay. Plus we’ve decided to take those days off work/school and just enjoy it.
This is yet another example of why this trip is ‘unfolding’ rather than being planned. I LOVE it. I love that with the influence and help of others we’re taking us where I never would’ve thought to go. We thought of many options including flying to Prague and train from Prague or ferry to Denmark then fly from Denmark to Brussels…. so many options, so confusing. But I love our plan now.
I mentioned to Martina what we were hoping to do after Brussels and she’s already looked at options for us. I wish I had a photo of Martina, but you’ll just have to look at us doing weird things in Daugavpils.
If you are looking for a travel agent, use Martina. Also don’t discount the advice of people who’ve lived in the area, I’m feeling more comfortable about Brussels thanks to Gitte.
Oh and yes we know where we’re going in September. I am so excited. So very excited! I’ll tell you next time…
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2 Replies to “Having a travel agent is amazing!”
Hey sis, I’m curious – September? .. how so exciting to plan your next move even before you have the chance to explore your next move .. Estonia let alone Brussels. Sounds to me Martina has been an amazing gift to help you all make your dreams come true .. cheers to Martina !!! I want one 🙂
I highly recommend having a ‘Martina’ it’s pretty magical. It is strange planning a couple of moves ahead, but we have to to ensure we don’t get tangled in visa issues as well has getting housesits. The good ones are really competitive.
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