As winter drags on and spring break inches closer, a sunny vacation becomes all the more attractive. Many people are eager to trade cold weather for sunshine and the relaxing sound of waves crashing against the shore. Spring break usually means a week of fun and sun; however, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) warns people to plan ahead to avoid scams and common vacation pitfalls.
“Con artists and disreputable websites know that students are eager to make arrangements to book a getaway,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “They use that enthusiasm to their advantage.”
Scammers commonly target students looking to find great deals online by offering enticing vacation packages at unrealistically low prices. That’s why it’s important to do your research first. If you haven’t planned a vacation before, BBB (bbb.org) is a great resource for finding travel agencies that are reputable and dependable.
Here are some additional tips from your BBB to help ensure a worry-free vacation:
· Plan ahead. The early bird gets the worm. Allow yourself the time to research hotels, flights, and area where you’re staying. Typically, the earlier the reservations are made, the better the deals you will find and the lower the risk of your favorite destination being booked solid. Making reservations in advance also locks in rates and prevents you from paying higher prices later during prime spring break season.
· Be alert for travel scams. Watch out for phone calls or letters claiming that you’ve “won a trip” or websites offering prices that are too good to be true. It’s easy to extend questionable offers like these, but the vast majority of them leave hopeful travelers in limbo – and out money.
· Do your homework. Ask family and friends to recommend a travel agent or travel website and visit bbb.org for free Business Reviews. If you’re using services like Airbnb or VRBO to find accommodations, be sure to research the business and read customer reviews about any rentals you’re considering.
· Get the trip details in writing. Before making final payment, get all the details of the trip in writing. This should include the total cost, restrictions, cancellation penalties, and names of the airlines and hotels.Also review and keep a copy of the airline and hotel’s cancellation and refund policies, as well as the cancellation policies of the travel agency or vacation website - such as Travelocity or Priceline - you’re using.
· Consider travel insurance. Travel insurance is designed to cover such things as trip cancellations or medical emergencies. There are different levels of coverage based on what type of plan you purchase. Ask a lot of questions, and always read the fine print to see what’s covered and what’s not.
· Pay with a credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you additional protection if something should go wrong with the travel reservation.