Travel Agents

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Travel Agent

    Mar 30, 2024

    Our long term travel agent retired so we would appreciate recommendations of some very talented ones who could take her place. This year we want to go to Barcelona as well as the southern part of France so it would be helpful to work with someone who has a good knowledge of these two areas. Many thanks.

    I have had great experiences with Kiron at

    I know the website says Asia specialist, but she set up amazing trips for me in Cuba, Galapagos, and Alaska. I know she has arranged European trips before, so I would give her a try!

    Highly recmmend Mary at MasterpiieceTravels dot com.   She has created amazing vacation experiences, including cruise options, for our family, and my siblings’ family.  She has extensive travel experience personally, and will work with you to make it ‘just right’.

    Reply now  »
  • I book a flight for a large group (~40 people) to Guatemala once a year. The previous travel agent I worked with retired during the pandemic--does anyone have a recommendation for an agent that will do group ticketing? I'm open to working with a large organization though I'd love to partner with someone local. Thank you!

    Skyluxe. I booked a team trip using this service a few months ago and thought they were solid. 

  • My wife and I will be going to Egypt first then to Southern France next year. We would like to engage the services of a highly experienced and qualified agent to assist us in planning the trip. The modes of transportation will include long distance and medium flights, high speed rail and a car rental in France. We would be very grateful for any personal recommendations for people who would be able to help us. Many thanks.

    i used Lady Egypt for a trip to Egypt, Jordan and then Israel.   They were wonderful and handled everything.  They provided drivers when ever we went someplace.  We were there on the week the ex president verdict came in and the anniversary of a shooting of a group of tourists in Luxor.   They kept us completely safe.  I recommend subscribing to the state department travel board for updates.

  • We are a Berkeley-based family with a student heading to a New England college next year. The school is nearest to a small airport with several, all imperfect options to access from OAK or SFO. Since we, and our child, will be making this trip several times a year for the next four years we are hoping to find someone who can help us sort through all the possible routes with the typical variables involved - duration, cost, transportation, etc - since each trip will require two planes or a plane and a car/bus/train - and it might vary each time. 

    Can anyone recommend a travel agent who is efficient and knowledgeable about sorting through options and presenting you with a menu of choices? I haven't used a travel agent in years. 

    Thank you. 

    Recommend Going Places in Berkeley. Booked a trip to Japan with them - leaving in March. Last summer they were very helpful in trip to Europe. competent, honest. Don't fly through Denver or Chicago in the winter - weather can cause plane delays. 

    I don't have a travel agent to recommend but I do have experience getting from the Bay Area to small-town airports and back. Your #1 problem is if you have to use two different airlines.  Then, if one of your legs gets canceled (and it will be the flight into or out of the small city that is most likely to be canceled) you are stuck till the next day, or you have to take a bus to the connecting city, or worse.  Some suggestions: 1. Is there is an airline that serves the small city that also serves Oakland or SFO?   That would be your best bet, since they will arrange an alternate flight should one of the legs be canceled.  2. If not, pick the most stress-free outbound route.  Is BARTing to SFO just as convenient as Oakland?  SFO will have more flight options, so often cheaper, but SFO on BART from the East Bay adds an hour to your trip, so in that case Oakland might be worth it.  3.  Once you decide SFO vs. Oakland, figure out what city to fly into.  Is there a big city airport within a couple of hours so you could rent a car? Is there a train with multiple trips per day from a big city airport tot he college town?  Consider airlines like Jet Blue, which flies from OAK to NYC and Boston. Can you get a train from there?  4. Is there a mailing list or helpline for parents at this college?  If so, post now and ask your question!  Or wait until fall and have your kid ask around other students how they get home. 5. Maybe make a test run this summer for family vacation.  Doing it a couple of times will tell you pretty quickly what works and what doesn't.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Travel or tour agent for family trip to vietnam

May 2014

Hi BPNers! We are thinking about planning a family trip to Vietnam for later this year... we've never been but have long wanted to go. Plus the kids like Vietnamese food and are excited at the prospect of visiting the birthplace of Pho. Since we're novices to the area we are looking for recommendations of travel agents or tour companies who could help set up a 2-week trip for a family of 4, including 2 adults and 2 kids (ages 12 and 9). Thanks in advance for any recommendations bc

Hi there, Saw that you're looking for a travel agent and wanting to recommend someone we had a great experience with. We took a family trip to Bail and she planned our entire itinerary for us. She did a great job of finding excursions that satisfied my children ( 7 and 13) as well as my husband and I. She was professional, helpful along the way and fun to work with. I highly recommend her. Here's her name and contact info: Isabelle Choinierre (510) 532-8806


Need help sorting options for S America trip

Oct 2009

We are planning some travel to South America that will involve multiple points of embarkation/debarkation and need a good travel agent to help us sort out our options. jody

We've traveled internationally a good deal for 30+ years and never had a better agent than Ellen BenShalom, of Albany Travel. Smart, and creative. One example of many: Last minute need to go to Washington DC. Last minute fares were outrageous. She knew of an Air Haiti deal: round trip SF to Port Au Prince for under $300, last minute tickets OK. It was a United flight to Washington, then Air Haiti on to Haiti. Simply took carry on luggage and walked off in Washington, tossing out the DC-Haiti coupon. Worked well coming home too.

When it was clearly growing impossible to maintain a 'typical' walk-in agency, in times of diminishing commissions, Ellen closed her Albany offices a few years ago and became an on-line and by-phone travel agent. Seems to work just fine. Tell her Marina and John recommended her.

Phone 800-903-4723 Email ellen [at]
John B

Complicated European travel plan

March 2009

We're planning a trip to Greece and Europe and need a recommendation for a good travel agent. We usually do everything ourselves but this got complicated with family members coming from different places, trying to connect in the middle, and then going on to various places. Cathy

We've been using the same travel agent for many years and recommend her enthusiastically. Her name is Ellen Garwood, and you can reach her at egarwoodtravelquest at Some of the trips she's booked for us have been like what you described -- several travelers, all with different itineraries that needed to be coordinated. She's been great with her attention to detail and follow-up. For example, when the airline won't assign seats at first or if we have special requests about our hotel rooms, she keeps on top of it for us and keeps checking back with them. Over the years, she's gotten a good sense of what we like and has given us great recommendations for hotels. There's an agency fee for booking tickets through her, but on some trips she's been able to save us that much and more by going through a wholesaler for flights or finding a deal combining air and hotel. Ricki

Travel agent for trip to Italy

Jan 2009

Before the holidays, someone posted a recommentation for a wonderful travel agent to help with flights to Europe. But I can't find the message now. I'm hoping to book two tickets to Italy in June, and would appreciate any leads (from that poster, or anyone else). Many thanks! Elizabeth

We recently used Moraga Travel for the first time, and were very happy. Moraga Travel Services 1550 Viader Dr Moraga, CA 94556 (925) 376-2700


Debi White is a terrific travel agent. She can help with all aspects of your trip - tickets and all. You'll save money, time and frustration by calling Debi - 925-708-7523 deb2travel [at] Christina S

Jean Pierre is at Witmore Travel - email is: lahondere [at] Work phone 866.771.9300. I have a friend who uses him every summer for her family trip to France. Lisa

Travel agent for China + India trip

July 2008

Can anyone recommend a good international travel agent? I usually book airline tickets online but I need to go from SF to beijing, then to kolkata, and then fly home, and can't figure out the cheapest way to do this since it's not just a normal roundtrip ticket. Globetrotter

I would suggest that you use one of the many Indian travel agents in the Bay area, particularly in the South Bay. We use Mercurytrip in San Jose to purchase consolidated tickets in Kolkata You can also check out the Singapore airlines website, as they sometimes have great deals, although I am not sure if they go to Beijing. Many other travel agents are listed in a publication call India Currents that is available at any Indian shop on University Ave in Berkeley (Milan, Vics, etc) Betsy

Travel agent specializing in cruises?

Oct 2007

My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next summer and want to organize a family cruise to Alaska. We think we can get enough people to qualify for a group rate. Does anyone out there have any recommendations for a travel agent who specializes in booking cruises? This will be my first cruise so I don't know where to start. lin

We used Full Circle Travel in El Cerrito years ago for our cruise. As I recall, they specialized in cruises and did a good job. MK

Travel Agent for Trip to France

Nov 2006

My family is planning a trip to the Pyrenees for next summer and we'd really love to find an agent who can help us make sense of lodging and transport in the area. Any suggestions? Teresa, Berkeley

I would like to highly recommend Leslie Masler at 225-0351 of North Berkekely Travel. We found her through the BPN and she was fantastic. She helped us find a cruise with child care for our 15 month old. She also got us a free upgrade to a cabin with a balcolny. lisad

Good travel agent to handle travel plans

March 2006

I am looking for a good travel agent to handle travel plans; would like to receive recommendations. Thank you. Cecilia

I just used patricia caminos [discounts [at]] for my trip to HI and she got me a great flight deal. Juliette

I've used Mary Durantini (mary [at] at Berkeley Northside Travel, when I was having incredible difficulties with buying airline tickets for a friend with a cat. We were in a terrible catch-22 with the airlines about looking for the tickets online, then having to call and OK the cat for each leg of the trip...hours and hours of unsuccessful phone calls later, I decided to try a travel agency.

Within a very brief period of time, Mary was able to secure the tickets we needed at a wonderful price...even though the agency charges a small fee to process the tickets, we found that the fee was definitely worth it. She was the only travel agent I found who would respond to my inquiries about getting help. She is friendly and helpful. I would use her again in a heartbeat First Time Travel Agency User

Travel agent for family SCUBA trip

August 2003

My husband and I are planning a fall vacation with our two-year- old and my mother. We are looking to go somewhere tropical with good SCUBA diving but don't really want to go back to the same old places (e.g., big resorts in Hawaii, Mexico, etc.). We are looking for a good travel agent who can be a little creative in helping us find a destination that may be a bit off the beaten path but is still safe and reasonably accessible. I've reviewed the recommended travel agents in the archives but am looking for additional suggestions. Thank you. In need of a little R

RE Creative Travel Agent Be your own! has an excellent resource for travel queries like yours, it's called the Thorntree - find the link in the menu to the left of their home page. You have to create a username and login, but that takes about 60 seconds. Once they email you your password (instant), you can log on. You'll find discussions on both diving and travelling with kids. It operates much like this newsletter (only easier and faster!), you can post your question and I guarantee you'll get excellent advice from people who know. Lonely Planet specializes in off-the-beaten-track travel information. Check it out! Jenny

This is not a recommendation for a travel agent - but for a website. Check out the ''Kids to Go'' discussion forum at the Lonely Planet Thorntree ( and post your question as to where to go. There are many parents who are experienced travellers there and you may get some ideas you'd otherwise not get. anon

I didn't see your original post, but my friend has a travel 'consulting' service that may be of use to you. He has been traveling to exotic locales his entire life, and has planned many incredible trips for family, friends, and clients: South America, Thailand, Africa, Vancouver... His website is inspiring and informative, and provides many details, rates, and ideas for travel. He is not affiliated with any package tours, and focuses on true consulting - getting to know his clients, and providing suggestions from everything to location, activities, time of year - whatever you need. He does the research and logistics for you. The website is - go and peruse the amazing photographs, if nothing else. nmehta

Travel agent for family trip to Italy


Can anyone recommend a good travel agent in the E. Bay (especially Oakland/Montclair area)? My family and I will be making a trip to Italy this summer, and it won't be a simple round-trip affair, so we could use some help in sorting out the logistics and looking for best prices. Given the dollars involved, I don't mind paying a reasonable commission, if that's how things are done these days. Steven

For a good travel agent, I always use Going Places, located in Berkeley on North Shattuck near Cedar. I work with Carolyn who is always very helpful. Toby

I highly recommend the travel agent Market Travel, owner operated by Jim Nunn, 5550 College Ave., Oakland, 510.654.8411. They only charge a $10 per ticket charge. Deirdre

We have used Leslie Masler for many years. She is great at finding good deals, negotiating with the airlines, etc. I recommend her highly. Rscarmen
(July 2004: This is to update my posting for my fabulous travel agent, Leslie Masler. Leslie has moved to a new location in Berkeley. Her new number is 510/225-0350 (Berkeley Northside Travel). Try her! She has found me great deals, and is delightful to work with. rscarmen)

We're considering going to Hawaii with our baby (will be 11 mo. when we go) Can anyone recommend a good (knowledgable, patient, resourceful) travel agent in the N. Berkeley area, preferably familiar with packages like Sun Trips? Heidi

I highly recommend Carter Travel. They are located in Emeryville, but you can do all your booking with them by phone, mail and fax. Donald Carter is delightful to work with and he's especially expert about Hawaii, available packages and kids friendly locations. He hasn't steered us wrong in over 12 years! Phone 510 652-4788. Have fun and tell him Julie and David sent you!

Try Nancy Smart at Trips Out Travel on College (in the Elmwood). Her number is 549-0950. She's been just wonderful for us! Laurel

I can recommend Donna Fong at Carter Travel in Emeryville. She's pleasant, efficient, has experience with international travel and gets really good rates (I just flew across country, SF to NY, nonstop for $350). She happens to be a personal friend, which is why I know she has lots of experience (most of our mutual friends use her and book flights to Europe, South America, Alaska and Hawaii) and that she's a nice person. Alison

I recommend Aziz at Travel Specialists of Berkeley, 548-7000. I've been using him for over a year for all my travel arrangements, and he's very good at finding low fares. I haven't worked with him on fun layovers, however. Good luck! Carl

I would like to recommend Detours Travel on Vine and Walnut Streets in North Berkeley. (Across from Peets). They are regular travel agency. But, our travel agent Lena has been very helpful with planning our trips overseas with our infant son. We first used Lena when our son was 6 months old, and then again when he was 14 months. Lena was very helpful in making sure that a bassinette was available on all flights. I should note, that you do not need to pay for this service, though you will need to pay 10% of an issued ticket whether you use a bassinette or not. Regardless, I would also call the airlines to confirm your request, because most airlines do not give seat assignments until you check in. This saves you the hassle of arriving 3.5 hours early to get your seat. Lena was also great in making sure our flights arrived at a decent hour, so our son was not to worn out. When possible, she tried to arrange non-stop flights. Something that is very important. It can be very challenging to wait in an airport for hours with a baby who has been up all day. If she could not reserve a non-stop, she found us a flight that had a close connection. I wouldlike to add that in my experience, making a connection flight in Europe (or wherever you may be) is better than making one in the USA. This way at least you are in the local time zone. Which was more beneficial for my son, and therefore me. Lena did not assist us with hotel reservations for our family, only for my husband when he travels on business. However, I am sure she will be just as attentive to details as she was with our airline reservations.

From: drakes

we have had good experiences, before our child, with char of bay area travel, 845-9561. we are currently planning a trip with our 1yr. 6mo. old with her. she listens to our needs and is easy to discuss things with. hope it works out for you.

More Reviews

Sept. 2002

Re: Planning Trip to Maui
We just planned a trip to Maui for this Thanksgiving. Found super cheap ($300) airfares on Travelocity and also had good luck with a travel agent we found on the internet -- More Hawaii for Less. We really liked the guy who helped us -- Joe. We are staying in a mid-scale condo in South Kihei and it comes with 2 rental cars. The travel agent also sells wholesale airfare but they couldn't beat our surprisingly low Travelocity fare. Good luck and have fun! - candace

Feb 2002

Re: Cruise Ships
As for deals, I would talk to a travel agent who has experience in booking cruises. Ours was able to upgrade our stateroom for a teensy more than we would have paid for the non-balcony one because she received a fax about a cancellation at the last minute and notified us that the room had become available. We went to Dorothy Purdie at Travel Service Montclair. She knows her stuff and was good at following through with things. Her number is 339-7000 Ilana

From: Mary

re: Trip with 15-year-old
I can't say enough great things about our travel agent, Darlene Beard. She helped us get excellent deals on airfare and car rental on our last trip to Ireland and France. She has just joined a new agency that I can't remember the name of , but her phone number is 547-1899.

From: Becky

We like Ken Alborn at Northside Travel in Berkeley. The number is 843-1000. Be sure to specify Ken Alborn, as there is another Ken there too (about whom we know nothing). Ken Alborn has planned several trips for our family over the years.