Here are 11 recommended travel consultants and agencies. Most are known for higher-end vacations; many are part of Virtuoso, American Express, or Signature Travel Network, all of which are well regarded.
These consultants work mostly on leisure trips. Some highly reputable agencies in the area, including MacNair Travel Management in Alexandria and HRG Executive Travel Associates in DC, specialize in corporate travel—though they often plan personal vacations for business clients.
Connoisseur Travel, Foggy Bottom; 202-223-1001. This 25-year-old firm, which used to book primarily corporate travel, has in the past two years built up its leisure business. Approximately ten of its 45 agents focus on vacations, and they include specialists in everything from European river cruises to exclusive-access experiences, such as behind-the-scenes tours of Versailles.
Cruise Vacations International, Rockville; 301-217-9474. A member of Virtuoso, CVI knows cruises—from small ships in Alaska to canal barges in France to luxury liners that ply the seas. There’s probably not a major cruise that a CVI agent hasn’t taken.
FAB Travel, Potomac; 301-299-1055. Fay-Ann Brodie isn’t a travel agent—she doesn’t buy airfare; she calls herself a “land operator.” But she’s an expert on Israel—it’s all she’s booked for 15 years—and her customized packages cover travelers “from the minute the plane touches down,” she says. “We hire the driver, the guide, the hotels. We book the meals.” Her best clients are those who don’t want something cookie-cutter: “It’s not just a trip; it’s a journey.”
Frosch Travel, Georgetown, 202-337-7718; Van Ness, 202-966-4111. Besides its DC offices, this travel-management megafirm—headquartered in Houston and New York—has branches in Ellicott City and Baltimore. Most of the counselors have many years of experience. For example, Jackie Rush, in Georgetown, is an expert on Africa—she’s been there 41 times over her 37-year career.
Greenloons, Vienna; 703-752-6270. Irene Lane’s three-year-old company connects travelers looking for fun but also for educational and environmentally and socially responsible trips with tour operators who specialize in nature travel and adhere to strict environmental standards. Offerings include rainforest adventures in Costa Rica, hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, and wilderness lodge vacations in Alaska.
McCabe World Travel, McLean; 800-747-8401. Among the 150-plus people on Travel & Leisure’s 2012 list of Top Travel Agents, four are with this agency. Anne Morgan Scully, the president, was named one of 12 “super agents”; her specialties include luxury cruises, villa vacations, and private jet and yacht tours. Jessica Griscavage handles a lot of honeymoon and family travel. Michelle Bemis is a specialist in adventure travel, while Beth Jenkins has expertise in South America and Spain. The agency even offers space travel.
Memorable Costa Rica, Rockville; 301-217-0158. Planning trips to Costa Rica is all this 11-year-old company does. There’s a sister office in San José, the capital, so someone is on hand to help when you’re there.
Perfect Honeymoons & Holidays Travel, Vienna; 703-748-3000. Jim Augerinos’s mother, Beth, started the business in 1989. A Bride’s Choice Award winner on WeddingWire, the agency specializes in honeymoons. Jim Augerinos is a certified specialist in some of the world’s most romantic locales, including Tahiti and Hawaii.
Poshbrood, Bethesda; 202-536-2848. Full disclosure: Elizabeth Thorp’s family-travel website grew partly out of an article she wrote 11 years ago in The Washingtonian, about luxury hotels and resorts that also catered to children. Now Poshbrood not only can suggest where to take your brood but can book everything for you—whether you want a family vacation in the Caribbean or a grandmother/granddaughter trip to Paris.
Travel Place, Bethesda, 301-656-4060; Potomac, 240-387-4160; Beltsville, 240-387-4633; Manassas, 703-368-8757. These American Express Travel affiliate offices are staffed with seasoned agents. In Bethesda, the largest office, Mindy Milliron is an expert on Italy, Barbara Dove knows the United Kingdom, Lisa Burton Van Alstine is the person to call for France, and Tony Abell is the go-to for golf travel. Other agents in the four offices specialize in Disney trips, Caribbean cruises, “soft” adventure, and the South Pacific. See travelplaceinc.com to read bios.
WorldTravelService, DC, 202-728-4040; Reston, 703-620-3001; Centreville, 703-830-3966; Rockville, 301-816-8991. A member of Virtuoso, WTS has four offices in the area and two more near Baltimore, with 140-plus agents. About 25 percent of its business is leisure travel. Its travel-planning fee, typically $100, is applied to the cost of any trip booked.
This article appears in the May 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.