Do It Yourself or Hire?

“What would happen if you gave yourself permission
to do something you’ve never done before?
There’s only one way to find out.”
― Gina Greenlee, PostCards and Pearls:
Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road

My friend Harriet baked all of her own bread for more than a year.  She enjoyed the sense of satisfaction, knowing exactly what was in her bread, and the superior taste of her own work. Then one hot August day she decided “I don’t have to do this anymore.” She had done well and had proved that she could, but whatever satisfaction she had originally received from this knowledge was eventually outweighed by the bother. Harriet went back to buying some breads and making some herself.

Photo by Dmason2006 |

Photo by Dmason2006 |

I have heard similar sentiments from clients who used to make all their own travel plans. One said essentially, “We have done that and done it well, but we are ready to let others handle the details now.”

What do “do it yourself” travelers and demanding cooks gain from their personal involvement? Satisfaction of knowing exactly what is included or omitted. The confidence that all the details (which they know about) have been taken care of. The knowledge that options have been considered and either accepted or rejected. Usually there is an assumption (valid or not) that they are saving money. There is a feeling that they are taking care of themselves and being independent.

What do self-planners miss? They miss the luxury of having someone familiar with the landscape deal with the bothersome details such as making sure that schedules mesh. They might not get the lowest price or the best value (which are not the same thing!). It is easy to assume ‘since I did this myself it must be cheaper than it would be otherwise.’ It might cost less but it also might only feel like the cheapest alternative. At the risk of sounding like a former Secretary of Defense I must say, “They don’t know what they don’t know.” There might be issues about locations, neighborhoods, vendors, and local practices which inexperienced visitors would not know about.

Photo by Joanne Zh |

Photo by Joanne Zh |

A related but slightly different conversation would ask “Would you rather spend time or money on a task that needs to be done?” Certainly that would depend on what the task is, how much time, how much money, and what else you could be doing with both your time and money. People have sincerely different baselines of this multi-point balance. A friend recently said “Do I “want” to paint my deck myself? Not really, but I would rather do that than pay someone else to do it.”

As a person who does (for a modest income) what many people feel confident doing themselves, I urge you to weigh all of these factors when you consider arranging complex travel.  Give yourself permission to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Each of you probably has an expertise which would totally confound me, and I wouldn’t dream of trying my hand at your specialty.  Keep your family trips to visit the grandchildren or your timeshare. You really can do those as well as I can. But let me help you with more challenging plans where, frankly, I know more than you do (or can find answers for you quickly).

If you think you are preserving your “independence” and “taking care of yourself” consider this: Unless you are personally drilling the oil, refining the fuel, and flying the plane to an airport you built, you can’t even get to your destination with “independence.” We are all taking care of each other whether we notice it or not. So let us all be gracious about that and take advantage of services offered.

Boundaries divide. Travel unites.

9 July 2015

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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