The value of a great travel planner

As one who’s traveled internationally for business over many decades, I’ve always taken control of my trips and managed the details. But recently when planning a vacation trip to Argentina, I tried an entirely different approach – I used a local Argentinian travel company, MacDermott’s Argentina, to do most everything.

I took that approach for several reasons: it was a country where I had never been and wanted the advice of local experts, and I wanted to avoid the stress of attending to all the details leading up to and during the trip. It was time to let others take charge.

The results were well beyond my expectations. I never had to deal with payments at restaurants, hotels, on tours, at airports, or with drivers. I just showed up and everything was prearranged and paid for. The key to all this working so well was MacDermott’s and their travel planner, Mariana Luna de Bettin.

When my wife and daughter decided six months ago to go to Galapagos, I knew that was not for me. I get seasick and would only impinge on their enjoyment. Instead, I decided to plan a trip to Argentina to enjoy their famous steak and wine, and contacted MacDermott’s based on their perfect review scores and recommendations.

I described to Mariana what I wanted to do: tour Buenos Aires and Mendoza and enjoy the best steak experiences and wineries. From this general description came a detailed proposal for an eight day trip covering all my objectives. We went back and forth over the next couple of months to make some adjustments based on my preferences and discussions on how much time to stay in each location.

Her proposal included an unusual boutique green hotel and a stay at a working Mendoza winery that was a real find. She came up with a list of restaurants that would clearly meet my need for great steaks, all very highly rated and some including cooking lessons. Then she recommended a number of daily tours, all done using drivers in a private car or van. Finally, she sent a complete itinerary including interior flights between Buenos Aires and Mendoza. As my plans were developing, I shared them with friends, four of whom immediately said they also wanted to go.

Mariane took all changes in stride, adjusted the details of the trip, and came back with a single price that included everything: hotel, domestic airfare, private tours in the two cities, winery visits, airport transfers and dinners. The final price was a modest $3300 and $3800 when I was the only traveler.

I just completed the trip and everything went smoothly. The hotels were special, the meals simply amazing, the tour guides were excellent, and the airport transfers showed up right on time.

Throughout the trip Mariana or another from MacDermott’s was available 24 hours via WhatsApp, useful when we had a question or wanted to change or make a new reservation. She even checked us in on the domestic flights and emailed us our boarding passes.

I could never have created a trip like this on my own and, even if I did, it would have been all consuming and stressful, checking my notes constantly to remind me of what’s next and who I need to call. In all my millions of miles of travels, I’ve rarely experiences such as enjoyable time where I left the details and the worrying to another, and benefitted from all their knowledge and work. Travel agents may be a dying breed, but knowledgeable travel planners like Mariana are invaluable and a wonderful resource for traveling the world.

by Phil Baker

2 thoughts on “The value of a great travel planner

  1. John says:

    Phil: How did you find an agent/ agency in a foreign country as well as locate reviews on that agent/ agency Would appreciate any intel so we may employ on future trips to other foreign locales. Glad to hear you had a great time and all went well. John

    • Phil Baker says:

      3 ways:
      1. Check Google reviews by going to the loaction and searching for travel advisors.
      2. Check their reviews in TripAdvisor
      3. Use, a great resource that will connect you with 2 travel advisors/companies you can use to create 2 competing trips and choose the best.

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