Everyone looks for breathtaking travel bargains, and perhaps a few will pan out for you in your lifetime. But there are scores of scam artists out there who prey on your instinct to save money on travel so here are five tips to follow to make sure your dream vacation does not turn into a travel scam nightmare.
1. Do Your Due Diligence. If you don’t know the travel company, do your research and verify you’re booking through a legitimate travel company. Have you heard of the company you’re purchasing your vacation through? Booking through a recognized travel website, hotel brand or a major airline is inherently safe but do be especially cautious when it comes to vacation packagers and vacation companies who’s name you’ve never heard of. Verify the company your booking through is a member of a professional organization such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA), or the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). These affiliations indicate the company is legitimate.
2. Test-book the Deal Online. The only true way to see the “real deal” is to manually test-book through until you see the end price. You’ll know how much extra the taxes/fees will be in addition to the lead price.
Even if the deal isn’t available on certain dates, it may be on others; you really do need to take some time to check these things out in order to understand the true value and availability of the offer.
3. Use Your Credit Card and Never Pay with Cash or Checks. This is the only truly safe way to pay for your vacation, especially since the credit card companies themselves offer certain protections; never wire cash, especially to companies you don’t know. Remember, just because someone says they have the best deal, does not mean it they really do so exercise caution.
4. Understand the Timing of Legitimate Travel Deals. Most travel deals are released on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you know this, you will be ensuring highest legitimacy and greatest availability of travel deals. Deals published on other days may not be authentic. Knowing seasonality of travel deals not only allows you to cash in on the best deals (i.e., trips to Hawaii are at premium in late Spring but considerably more affordable in the Fall) but also better spot deals that may be “too good to be true.”
5. Beware of Ratings Systems and Bogus Reviews. Make sure the ratings system is not inflating the quality of your hotel and understand what the ratings mean. This is especially important for hotel bookings and you need to know how dependable the star rating is that your hotel or resort is touting. Stick to dependable, established ratings, like AAA or Michelin.
I recently attended a travel show in Los Angeles and was very excited to meet and interview respected travel guide book author, Pauline Frommer. She reported that many reviews that you see on travel web sites like are not all genuine from guests, but fake reviews from the hotel marketing department or friends of people who work at the hotel so buyer beware when basing your complete decision on only the good hotel reviews. Also, seriously consider that some of the not so good reviews also when booking travel online. I know there were some spot on reviews of hotels I stayed at when I was in Barcelona from previous guests that weren't so happy with the hotel. I just wish I'd listened to them instead of relying on photos that somehow managed to fool me.
Booking travel online should be quick and easy…not to mention affordable and that's why I like Expedia. Did you know that you can save up to $525 when you book your flight and hotel together at Expedia.com? For the best deals, book 60 days or more before you travel because usually the further out you plan, the better the package rate. ~Marianne Schwab
Top Travel Mistakes to Avoid Now
I have put together a list of the top five travel mistakes people make that translate into paying too much for a vacation no matter where you book your trip (through a travel agent, airline or online). ~Marianne Schwab
Avoid Jet Lag
You're packed and ready to go on vacation, so now comes the most important issue at hand: avoiding jet lag when you arrive at your destination. A survey by Conde Naste said that 93% of travelers get jet lag but you don't have to be one of them if you use my tips. ~Marianne Schwab
About Marianne Schwab TV Travel Show Producer
For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more