The holiday season is a popular time for travel. Whether you are hitting the road or taking a flight to your vacation destination, we hope the following travel tips from Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) will come in handy. We’ve also included a few common travel scams to watch out for.
Make plans. Careful planning and organization can go a long way when you intend to travel. You can never start too soon. Early on, sign up with airlines, bus lines, or train services for discount and sale notifications. Shopping around can land you good deals on bundled packages that may include hotel accommodations, car rentals, and entertainment.
Prepare for the unexpected. From delayed and cancelled flights, lost luggage, traffic, etc., unexpected things pop up. If you are traveling by plane and have a connecting flight, it is wise to do advance research for hotels near the airport where you will be changing planes, just in case the flight is cancelled. Check alternate routes if you are taking a road trip. Also, check weather conditions and travel warnings for your destination so you aren’t caught off guard. There are several mobile apps that you can download beforehand to help keep you organized and prepared for your trip.
Pack smart and light. It’s recommended that you ditch checking bags altogether. Doing so can help you avoid lengthy wait times tracking down your luggage. Try to limit your packing to a carry-on. Make sure to keep your medications, important documents, and a change of clothes in your carry-on. Travelchannel.com offers some great suggestions on packing for the family. Another useful tip is to ship gifts ahead of time or purchase gift cards instead to avoid carrying extra items with you.
Leave early. During this time of year weather conditions, congestion from so many travelers trying to get to their destination, and traffic can easily delay you when you’re trying to get away. Giving yourself extra time by leaving early can help lessen your stress. Don’t forget to bring reading materials, your charged mobile device, or something to occupy your time.
Don’t forget BCA. Did you know Business Consumer Alliance is nationwide? We have reports on a multitude of companies and we’re always looking to add more. While you are on vacation, look up a business to check their rating or write a review about a business you come across. The information you provide can help someone else when they plan their next outing.
Travel-related scams are on the rise and has cost consumers millions. With advances in technology, scammers use AI to carry out their scams. They use text and email to send phony travel offers, set up phishing and spoofed websites, and advertise fake deals on social media. They pose as airlines and other travel agencies, attempting to get your information and con you.
Some common travel scams include:
- “Free” Vacations - Online offers for “free” vacations or fake emails, texts, or messages claiming you’ve won a vacation, requiring you to pay a fee. Legitimate businesses won’t ask you to pay for a free prize.
- Vacation Deals Robocalls - Illegal robocalls offering discounted vacations.
- Passport and International Travel Document Scams - Copycat websites claiming to help you get international visas, passports, and other documents for high fees. The sites often mimic the U.S. Department of State website but charge for services that the agency provides for free.
- International Driving Permit Scams - Scammers out there selling fake international driving permit (IDPs). Fake IDPs are worthless and can open you up to legal problems or travel delays if you’re detained for using them in a foreign country. Obtain an officially valid IDP available from the U.S. Department of State, the American Automobile Association (AAA), and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) only.
- Vacation Rental Scams - Con artists are known to hijack real rental listings and advertise them as their own. After booking the phony rental, vacationers show up only to find others have booked the same rental at the same property. Or consumers may find that the property doesn’t exist or is not for rent at all.
Spotting a Scam
Travelers should also beware of offers where the details of the offer are not given. If the seller can’t give specific details of the trip, including the hotel or property address or the name of the airline or cruise ship, it is more than likely a scam. If the seller wants payment by wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency, walk away. These are a scammers preferred method of payment because it’s difficult for victims to recover their money once they realize they’ve been scammed. Pay by credit card whenever possible. Lastly, don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Take your time to research the business, the seller, and the details of the offer before making a buying decision.
If you run into a scam, contact your bank or credit card company immediately to initiate a dispute. You can also file a complaint with BCA. Be sure to report scams to the Federal Trade Commission and your state regulator. Follow BCA on Facebook to stay updated on scam alerts, consumer tips, and trending industry topics. Don’t forget to share this with others.