TRAVEL TIPS 2: Booking Your Trip Online? – Get Safe!

When using the internet to research or book your holiday or other travel arrangements, the world is literally at your fingertips. However, there are risks associated with doing so – some specific to holiday and travel booking and some which are in common with other types of online purchases. Finding an affordable online vacation package or a cheap flight is great and its the easiest way to purchase your trip, but knowing where and where not to book can make a big difference.

The Risks:

1) Fraud resulting from making payments over unsecured web pages.

2) Bogus flight scams:
– Where you book a flight and receive a fake ticket, or pay for a ticket that never arrives.

3) Bogus holiday scams:
– Fake websites and email offers for holidays or villas that do not exist. They require you to pay a deposit, which you never see again.
– Fake competition scams defrauding you out of a fee to secure a holiday.

4) Inadvertently advertising the fact that your house will be empty when you are away, by posting on social networking or travel tracking sites.

Safe Booking:

1) Ensure that any holiday or travel company unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them online. Ensure that they are a member of a recognized travel authority which offers financial protection and a complaints service.

– Online sites require you to register in order for you to book a flight, hotel or rental car (just as you would at Amazon or ebay). This also makes it fast and easy for you to return and quickly book a trip the next time you need to, as all of your info is saved so you won’t have to type it in again.

2) When possible, pay for holidays and travel using your credit card as this offers additional financial protection over other methods. Please note that your holiday or travel company may levy a surcharge for credit card payments.

3) Double check all details such as travel dates, itineraries, destinations and travelers before confirming payment, as you may be charged for amendments.

4) Take out travel insurance adequate for your destination, activities and everyone in your party.

5) Do not reply to unsolicited emails from companies you don’t recognize.

6) If renting a private apartment or villa, call the owner/agent directly to ensure that it is legitimate. If the number is not provided, email and request it. Check reviews on TripAdvisor or similar sites.

7) Get the full address of the property and find it on Google maps to check its location and legitimacy.

8) Prior to payment, obtain a contract setting out terms and conditions of the rental, deposits, payment terms, etc.

9) Before entering payment card details on a website, ensure that the link is secure, in three ways:
– There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself, this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.

– The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.

– If using the latest version of your browser, the address bar or the name of the site owner will turn green.

10) Some websites will redirect you to a third-party payment service (such as VeriSign). Ensure that these sites are secure before you make your payment.

11) Safeguard and remember the password you have chosen for the extra verification services used on some websites, such as Verified by Visa.

12) When making a payment to an individual, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts.

How it works?

13) Always “log out” of sites into which you have logged in or registered details. Simply closing your browser is not enough to ensure privacy.

14) Keep receipts for all online holiday or travel bookings and payments.

15) Check credit card and bank statements carefully after booking to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and also that no fraud has taken place as a result of the booking.

16) Before you post details of your travel dates on social networking or travel tracking sites, ensure that the correct privacy settings are in place.

17) Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus / anti spyware software and firewall running before you go online.

Things You Should Know Before Booking Your Holiday Online:

Thinking of buying your next vacation online? From finding a flight to booking a hotel, online travel can save you a bundle of money, but knowing what to watch out for is just as important as finding a great deal. Save yourself some grief and read these 11 things before you book your next vacay online.

1) Browse Safe: Use a private or incognito window when booking flights and hotels online.

2) Their Software Doesn’t Always Sync With the Hotels: A guaranteed reservation is almost impossible to come by—but the risk of finding out your flight or hotel is overbooked increases with third-party providers. The middleman’s software isn’t immune to system errors, so always call the hotel or airline to make sure your booking was processed.

3) Double-Check Packaged Deals: Ever notice how travel sites recommend one-stop shopping, like a hotel, rental car, and tour package all in one click? These deals usually feature travel that no one wants, like flights with multiple layovers. Check the fine print.

4) Last Minute Travel Isn’t What It Used To Be: At the advent of the online travel site boom, last minute was the time to book—cheap flights! Cheap hotels! Getaway this weekend! But the buy-and-fly magic has ceased to exist.

5) Travel Planners or Agents Often Have Exclusive Perks: Online booking sites are all about dates, rates, and space, meaning their goal is to put heads in beds, says Misty Ewing at Virtuoso luxury travel network. But for the same price, an agent might have connections and special access. “For example, when travelling in Italy, you can take a cooking class with a local resident in her home—a level of authenticity not provided by the Internet,” she says.

6) Corporate Travel Needs Are Often Better Done in Person: Planning a small business trip can become a logistical mess, and online travel sites offer little help. But specialty business travel agencies can help their clients with corporate events, meetings, and special services that online travel sites don’t deal with—and might be more likely to get you refunds on unused tickets.

7) You Might Not See Every Option Online: No travel site will show you options from every airline—and no one includes budget-friendly picks. But travel sites leave out even more options for lodging, listing big names and omitting comfy little inns, bed-and-breakfasts and other rentals.

8) Once Your Trip is Purchased You’re on Your Own: All trips, no matter how well planned, are vulnerable to cancelled flights, sub-par hotel rooms, or torrential weather. An online travel agency can’t provide assistance the same way an agent can. Basically, when you arrive at the airport or hotel, you’re just another client who booked at the lowest rate.“You can’t VIP yourself.”

9) Online Deal-Sites Can’t Give First-Hand Experience: A website can’t tell you the exact location of the room, the view, the size, or whether or not the room needs renovation. You’ll have to do more research on your own or risk getting stuck in the dimly lit room in the back of the building with a picture-perfect view of the A/C shaft.

10) They also aren’t as Current as an Agent: An online travel site often isn’t going to share if construction is happening in the hotel or somewhere near by. Researching on other sites might turn up this information, but an agent is likely to be the best resource for knowing what’s going on.

11) …Or Know Who Else is Staying There: Planning a romantic getaway for two? That won’t matter to a group of high schoolers on their senior trip at the same hotel. An online travel agent can’t tell you when a large group is in-house, making it uncomfortable for the few guests who aren’t in the group.



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