The vast number of resources for booking vacations and trips online make it possible for anyone to do the research on their own and find a great deal to the destination of their choice. However, the same technology also makes it easy for anyone to set up a website, which means that travelers need to be cautious who they trust when booking. Online secturity is a major concern since there are people and companies out there that don’t always have the best intentions.
Protecting yourself and your investment in a vacation is generally not a problem if you follow some basic guidelines when researching and booking.
1. Read the Fine Print
Travel deals will always have some sort of terms and conditions that describe the details of what is included and what is not included. Always be sure to read and understand these details. Whether you’re buying a flight, a cruise, an all-inclusive vacation, or anything else, there will almost certainly be some potential fees, limitations, and other conditions that you should be aware of before purchasing.
2. Purchase Travel Insurance
If you’re investing a considerable amount of money on a vacation you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance that can protect you from things like trip cancellation, delayed departure, and medical and emergency expenses. Like any type of insurance, there is a lot of difference from one policy to the next. Make sure you choose carefully and get a plan that protects you most effectively in your own situation.
3. Inquire About Cancellation Policies
If you’re booking the trip in advance, there is always a chance that something could come up that would prevent you from making the trip. Be sure that you understand their cancellation policies and that you can live with the consequences before booking (or have insurance to cover your loses if you can’t make the trip). In some situations you may be able to make an exchange with a certain amount of notice, and in other situations you will be locked in and your money will be lost if you can’t make the trip.
4. Stick to Larger, Respected Sites
Purchasing through major travel sites like Travelocity, Exedia, and Orbitz will help you to avoid being ripped off by a scam. Of course, you should still follow all of the other tips that are provided here in order to protect your own interests. If you’re going to book a trip through a company that you are not familiar with, do plenty of research to check up on the company first. Make sure that you feel comfortable with them based on the information that you’re able to find.
5. Get Clarification on Anything that is Ambiguous
When you’re reading the terms and conditions, looking at the cancellation policy, or researching the company, take the time to get clarification on any details that may need some explanation. Going along with something that you are not certain about will likely lead to problems later. If the company is unresponsive to your concerns, that may be a sign that you should look somewhere else.
6. Pay Attention to All Costs Involved
Now more than ever, it is critical that you look at the big picture and consider all of the costs involved, not just the sticker price that is presented. If you’ve been on a flight recently you know that fees are tacked on for just about anything imaginable, and it’s very realistic that the amount you wind up paying could be considerably higher than the base price. Airlines are not alone in this practice, so be sure to find out the details of additional fees, and take all of this into consideration.
7. Check for a Secure Server
If you’re booking through a smaller site or one that you are not familiar with, check to make sure that you are on a secure page before entering your personal information. If you look at the URL of the page it should start with “https://” instead of just “https://” (This only applies to the pages where you actually enter the personal information. Other pages that provide information and details do not need to be secure.). Also, at the bottom of your browser you will see a pad lock icon that indicates the page is secure. Most companies that are accepting online payments will have some other type of method to demonstrate their level of security, such as a badge or seal.
8. Check for Contact Information Before Buying
After purchasing a trip you may run into a situation where you want to contact the company for a question or for some type of assistance. Some companies make it easy to find their customer service contact information, and others do not. Before you make a purchase, see if you can find the contact information, it could save time and headaches in the future. If you try and you can find any way to contact them, it may be a good idea to avoid booking with that company.
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