Today I heard the news—on the radio, in the papers, and on the Web—that Hobbit Travel is (temporarily, they say) shutting down. As each news outlet broke the story, I felt a pang of complicity.

I used to be a customer of Hobbit’s. When Esteban and I went to Britain for the first time in 1994, we booked our airfare through Hobbit. Hobbit also booked our first trip to Paris in 1997.

But shortly after that, Esteban and I discovered the Internet. We found that it was just as fast and convenient to book our own flights directly with the airlines, or through sites like Travelocity and Expedia. As our confidence grew, so did our itineraries. Soon we were dabbling in Eurail passes and regional airlines.

Every so often, I’d guiltily think of our former travel agent. But I’d assuage my guilt by reminding myself that not everyone is comfortable with booking their own trips online. Surely, there would always be a need for experienced travel agents who could maneuver the logistics between Point A and Point B?

Now I’m not so sure. And I feel complicit in the (temporary) shuttering of a small local business.

I sincerely hope that Hobbit Travel can find the capital it needs to stay in business. I’m sorry I left … and I promise to come back.

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