Holiday getaways: It's not too late to book—and stay on budget
Call a travel agent: In this Internet age of do-it-yourself online booking, calling a travel agent for help might seem a retro, and unnecessary, thing to do. But agents still book around one-quarter of all air trips, according to industry estimates, and American Express has found that about 1 in 5 Americans earning at least $100,000 a year still routinely turn to agents for their travel needs.
Given agents' familiarity and relationships with destinations, hotels and cruise lines—not to mention the complicated air travel landscape—it may be worth plunking down a fee of $25 or more to ultimately save on time, money and headaches.
"If everything goes right and you think you bought [your trip] for the lowest price, good on you," said Scully at McCabe World Travel. "But let one thing go wrong and you're just a number." By contrast, McCabe World Travel clients, Scully said, "are known on arrival, thanks to our relationships. We're their advocate."
—By Kenneth Kiesnoski, Special to CNBC.com