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Fewer people booked travel online in 2009

A recent Forrester Research study suggests there's something of a backlash when it comes to booking travel online. It concludes 15 percent fewer travelers used the Web last year, compared with 2007 - a finding that comforts many travel agents who previously saw themselves on the endangered list.

"There is still a place for traditional travel agents, particularly those that have carved out a niche, like adventure travel," says Ginny Mahl, Travelocity's vice president of sales and customer service. "Depending upon the traveler and their needs, a face-to-face meeting with such a consultant could be wise."

Of course, she adds, "higher fees will apply."

So when should you not book on the Internet? Here are seven kinds of trips.

1. CRUISING Two reasons: First, cruise lines give travel agencies access to special deals that you probably won't find anywhere else. And second, because a cruise can get complicated - ship options, airline tickets, hotel rooms, shore excursions.

2. GLOBAL TRAVEL An around-the-world itinerary is far more complex than a round-trip airline ticket. Never mind the hotels and activities you'll want to plan.

3. WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE THE TIME "If you're a busy professional with no interest in doing the research," outsource this task to a travel agent, says Patricia Pinkney, who works for an artisan jewelry retailer.

4. IF YOU'RE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE INTERNET People should stay away from booking online if they've never done it before, says Karina Goldrajch, co-founder of GenMobi Technologies, a security company. "If you think that the Web site looks fishy, or something looks too good, it probably is," she says.

5. TRAVELING INTERNATIONALLY A weekend in London is one thing. But if you're headed off to a country whose name you can't pronounce, find a travel professional who specializes in the place you're going to.

6. DOING SOMETHING EXOTIC Some trips aren't for everyone, such as sailing the coast of British Columbia and Alaska, as those who book Maureen Gordon's Maple Leaf Adventures packages do. (Imagine climbing over the rail of a schooner into a Zodiac boat to go bear watching.

7. SPECIAL EVENTS A honeymoon, anniversary or class reunion. But mostly, a honeymoon. "Engaged couples have enough to worry about," says John Peters, president of Tripology, a New York referral service for travel agents.

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