The thought of going to a warm vacation spot in the winter or visiting a foreign country is exciting. But what seems like a great deal may turn out to be a bad trip.
- Be skeptical of offers for “free” trips. Airlines and other well-known companies sometimes operate contests for travel prizes. However, there are also companies that offer “free” trips to try to lure people into buying their products or services. It’s never “free” if you have to pay something.
- Know exactly what’s included. A “free” or incredibly cheap trip may have hidden costs. For instance, the cruise may be free, but you have to pay to fly to the departure point and stay in a hotel at your own expense. Or you may have to endure a long, high-pressure sales pitch for a timeshare or travel club membership as part of the trip.
- Realize that the deal may not be as good as you think. You may find that a travel offer requires you to make reservations through a specific company and that the costs are higher than they would be if you used your own travel agent or made the arrangements yourself. Or the offer may be valid only if you bring a companion along at full fare.
- Be aware of restrictions. Often the best travel deals are only available for off-peak times, not during school vacations, holidays or other popular travel dates. You may find it hard to get the promised price for the dates that you want to travel, or there may be no space available on those dates at all.
- Confirm the arrangements. If transportation and hotel are included in the travel package, ask how to contact those companies and confirm with them directly that the reservations have been made.
- Do your own travel research. It’s easy to get information from a local travel agent and other sources such as newspapers, books, and the Internet. You may be able to get the trip you want for far less than the “bargain” price a company is offering.
- Pay with a credit card. Fraudulent travel operators take the money and run, and even legitimate companies can suddenly go out of business. Protect yourself by paying with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if the promises aren’t kept.