Summer is here, and many places are opening up thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination – the summer vacation has returned! As it’s been a little while, it’s important to remember to avoid travel scams.
Use Trusted Travel Sites
Want to book a flight, hotel, or rent a car safely? Make sure to only use legitimate, popular, and sites with a long history and plenty of positive reviews. Sites like Expedia, Airbnb, Booking.com, and Travelzoo are the ones you should stick to. You should also check the site’s status on the Better Business Bureau website and ensure they have 24-hour customer service where you talk to an actual person.
Sadly, some travel scams start before the trip even begins. Websites built by scammers, which look official and legitimate, but end up using phishing schemes to steal money. So always use trusted, well-reviewed websites!
Skip “Free” Trips
Think you found a genuinely free travel trip through a travel group? Remember: there’s no such thing as a free trip! Even if it’s not online, a “free” trip is probably a scam. There’s one exception: winning a vacation as a prize on a game show or at a casino. However, even these “free” trips often have strings attached, and you must pay taxes on them. As always, make sure to do your due diligence!
Check All Policies Before Heading Out
Be honest: do you ever read the fine print? Well, when it comes to vacations, you really should! Whether you are booking a trip through an agent or group, or taking care of every bit of the vacation yourself, make sure to read the terms and conditions for your hotel, car, flights, everything!
“Many airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and tour operators have been flexible regarding revisions, cancelations, and refunds to help travelers cope with the burden of the pandemic,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel at AAA, said. “As travel begins to surge and the demand for space is high, many travel providers are reverting back to their normal terms and conditions. It is advisable to review all terms and conditions when making travel reservations. Travelers should consider working with a knowledgeable AAA travel agent, to help take the guesswork out of vacation planning and enable them to make informed decisions.”
Help Others By Reporting Scams
No matter how much research and planning you do, there’s always a chance a travel scam might happen to you. While it might be a bit embarrassing, the best thing you can do is report a travel scam immediately. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accepts online complaints, or consumers can go to the state attorney general’s office. Unfortunately, the FTC can often only go so far in helping bring the criminals to justice. However, paying for vacations with a credit card is another path: the credit card company. It can help get your money back as well as provide more information to catch the criminal. Just always remember: only use a credit card to pay for things you can actually afford!
Use these rules to book the best flight and hotel without worries. Happy and safe travels!