There\u2019s nothing more exciting than planning for a family trip. But the moment you get down and make your to-do list the responsibilities begin to pile up. From buying plane tickets to booking hotels, the itinerary seems endless. Such is the perils of independent travelling. So, the next time you take your family on an overseas adventure, or even a local one, try considering travelling under a travel agency. They may just save you a lot of hassle and hair-pulling. But for those who may not be familiar with the term, here\u2019s the 101 on travel agencies, and even how to look for a good one. Travel Agencies in a Nutshell A travel agency is any number of private or publicly owned companies who provide tourism services. Whether that\u2019s domestically or internationally. The services provided between each company can vary but a good travel agency should have the basics: travel booking (airline\/bus), car rentals, accommodation (hotel\/resort), travel insurance, package tours, tour guides, logistics and even organising recreational activities. In a nutshell, a travel agency takes away the headache of planning your own vacation. Which any busy parent can relate to. Instead of juggling multiple platforms on your own, you basically delegate that task to a middle-man (the travel agency). Aside from getting exclusive deals, insider recommendations and a great tourism experience, you also ensure the safety of your family, your children and yourself. As per regulations enforced by the ministry of Tourism, the Malaysian government has compiled a beginner\u2019s list on all the legit travel agencies available to citizens. If you\u2019re currently on the lookout for a good travel agency, this may be a good place to start. A great way to learn whether a travel agency is good or not is to look at some reviews. Pros and Cons of Travel Agencies Pros \tConvenience: An obvious advantage of travel agencies is the convenience factor. Managing your travel technicalities is the least of it. If you sign under a travel agency, expect to get the best lodging, tour guide, etc. for the best prices. Depending on the company, you will even get some of the best packages for things like honeymoons and birthdays. This allows you to actually enjoy your holiday instead of worrying about which hotels to book, where to go sightseeing and what\u2019s the cheapest insurance you can buy. \tTreatment: Forget underwhelming tourist traps and overcrowded public buses. Travelling under a travel agency means you get red carpet treatment. Whether it\u2019s travelling in an air-conditioned van, staying at the best holiday resorts for a buck and being privy to some truly breath-taking local gems that solo tourists may not even know exist. \tSafety: Travel agencies typically offer an added layer of protection that you simply can\u2019t get travelling alone. In addition to their extensive knowledge of the travel destination, they may also have connections with local law enforcement. Aside from obvious things like travel insurance and basic security measures, there is no one more invested in your safety than a travel agency. After all, they do want you to leave glowing reviews at the end of it all. Cons \tResearch: So, bad news, you still need to do some research. Including the rates, the quality of service as well as any of the FAQs that come with booking under a travelling agency. But this is still a far cry from having to do research on four or five different companies separately when you're looking to book hotels, flights, and reservations. This is certainly the lesser of two evils. \tControl: Even with the extensive offers and tourism packages offered by various travel agencies you may not necessarily find the perfect one for you. There are of course some who let you 'mix-and-match' your vacation plan (honeymoon\/family\/etc.) but these can't often incur hidden or extra charges. At the end of the day, you need to follow the agency\u2019s protocol, which means following a tight schedule and not straying from the flock. \tStrict: One thing most travel agencies aren\u2019t particularly popular for is their flexibility. Once the dates, venues and travel logistics are set, you typically can\u2019t just pop in at the last minute and request for a change. This is something you need to do some research on as well. Not all agencies offer refundable bookings. Pros and Cons of Travelling Solo Pros \tFreedom: While you can still choose which country you go to under a travel agency (even sometimes down to the city), everything else may be out of your hands. With independent trips, you can easily have more freedom over where you go, what hotels and airlines you choose and what activities you plan on organising during the trip. \tFlexibility: In the same vein as freedom, solo trips also allow for some degree of flexibility. This usually means getting to sleep in, or go on spontaneous trips. Something you can\u2019t really do when travelling with an agency. Most run a tight ship when it comes to schedules. \tPrice: Travel agencies do usually take quite the cut out of your budget. Fair payment for their services, of course. But if you do your research right (as labour-intensive and time-consuming as it may be), you will usually save some money. Cons \tInconvenient: Some people enjoy planning, enforcing and executing travel plans. They are the designated shepherd of their travelling parties. If this is you, you likely haven\u2019t enjoyed a vacation for a long time. Keeping your family in line during travels is important, but it also means someone has to sacrifice fun time to ensure everyone\u2019s safe and on time. \tInexperience: Part of what makes travel agencies so popular is their insider knowledge. If you\u2019re just a regular tourist, you will inevitably end up at those awful tourist traps where the expectation rarely aligns with the reality. Even with any amount of research you may have put in. However, with travel agencies, you may get front row seats to a country\u2019s true treasures whether that\u2019s the local eateries, or naturally occurring landscapes. \tSecurity: There may be some safety issues when you\u2019re travelling independently. Travel insurance helps, of course, but we also want to avoid any potential mishap as much as we can. The thing about travel agencies is that they usually have extensive info on your travel destinations, including those areas to avoid. Whether due to high crime rates like travel scams, or just unsafe locations in general. Make the Most out of Your Holiday There are so many stories of first-time vacationers who have had terrible experiences travelling the world (or even just within their own local shores). This is usually because they go in without proper research or guidance. Unless you\u2019re a seasoned tourist who have had years of experience under their belt, a travel agency is usually your best bet. Not only will they keep you and your family safe, they\u2019ll also ensure you actually experience the best trip of your life, without worrying about all the nitty-gritty details. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!