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Travel Scams To Look Out For, Part II



As promised in Part I, more scams to look for:

Hotel Room Scams. This is related to the taxi scam I mentioned previously. Basically, you will get off the plane/train/whatever and someone will come up to you with an attractive offer on a room at a hotel she 'represents'. They may show you a brochure, business card and everything else to make them seem 'official', as well as offering a very low rate. You'll follow her to the hotel after agreeing to the low rate, which can go one of two ways:
-You can be accosted for your wallet or otherwise assaulted.
-When you get to the hotel, the rooms available at the rate you were quoted just 'happened' to be full. They can offer you another room for a price that is often twice the previous rate, and you'll be so tired that you're willing to pay whatever you have to just to get some sleep.

Solution-Book your accommodations in advance. If you can't do that, either find a place with tourist information (this may be one of the stores or booths in the airport or a currency exchange office) or use your tourist guidebook. Most good guidebooks can point you in the right direction. Ignore any 'lone representatives'.

Timeshares. You get a call or receive a brochure in the mail about a cheap or free vacation to some beach or ski lodge. All you have to do is listen to an hour-long presentation about buying a timeshare on a vacation home. That doesn't seem to be a bad idea, and the hard-sell convinces you to fork over your money. While there are timeshares that are legal and are not scams, you have to be careful because some timeshares will 'happen' not to be available on any of the dates you would want to go or will be 'oversold'. You'll have paid a lot of money for a vacation you'll never be able to take...assuming the timeshare is even legal, that is.

Solution: If you are interested in a timeshare, go through a reputable company. Do your research on any company that claims to be selling timeshares to make sure that they are who they say they are and have good reviews.

Hidden Fees. You're offered this 'free' or cheap dream vacation, air fare or hotel. You get there only to find out that things you thought were included (i.e. baggage checks, breakfast, use of the pool, etc) are extra, or be asked to pay a 'resort fee' you didn't know about. In the end, you end up spending a lot more than you intended because you didn't realize all of these things would be extra.

Solution-Book trips through travel agencies that will give you this information in advance.

Discount Vacation Clubs. You're offered a cheap or free vacation in exchange for joining some 'exclusive travel club'. You'll be given all of these discount packages and a table of dates when you can take your 'dream vacation'. The membership fee seems like small potatoes compared to what you'll be getting. When you go to actually book your trip, however, all of the 'eligible dates' are taken. That, or the 'discounts' you get aren't anything that anyone else could find for free.

Solution: Do your homework on any company offering 'travel club' packages. There are legitimate ones, but they are usually by established companies (i.e. Disney) or focus on socializing with other members. Any 'membership fees' should be reasonable enough to only cover the actual expenses you'll be incurring (i.e. accommodations). Anything more than that should be a red flag.

I hope I've given you a good idea of the kinds of scams you might come across when you plan your vacation this year. Most of these can happen anywhere, but visit http://www.globespots.com/scams.php#cob or http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-worst-travel-scams to see scams that are specific to certain areas of the world. Be safe!



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