Ok, so there seems to be a lot of confusion about Travel Agents and how they make money!
Let me explain, When you decide to use a travel agent they do all the research, booking, take care of all the documents, help handle any problems that arise during the trip and welcome you back wanting to hear about your travels. At least this is what I do!
You are not charged directly by the agent, sounds awesome right? They may charge you a research fee that would be applied to your payment when you book. This helps make sure you are truly interested and they aren't putting endless hours into something you don't intend to book in the end.
So how do they get paid? The company they book you thru gives the agent a commission for bringing in a customer. This is not added to the price but is already built into the price of the package whether you do it yourself or use a agent. If you book directly with them they just get to keep that much more of your money, and you do all the work. So why not help out the agent who will do all your leg work. In some cases an agent can even get you a lower price.
The way I see it, Ill let a agent do all the work and just relax and enjoy my trip. Otherwise spend countless hours online making sure I am getting a good deal, or the right hotel etc. Sifting thru web site after web site. We all know how stress full that can be.
As with anything there are horror stories, but a good agent will always do their best to take care of their customers.
In some cases it pays to do it yourself, but most of the time its just more headaches!
Anyhow you decide and I wish you all happy travels!