The summer vacation season is finally here. This means travel time for many families. Have you booked your trip yet? There’s actually someone who’s more excited about your trip than you are and it’s the scammers hoping to rake in millions from unsuspecting travelers. This time of year travel scams surge, targeting everyone from college students to families and even the grandparents back home. Here are a few smart safety travel tips to protect you, your family and friends during the spring and summer travel season.
8 Safety Travel Tips
Do Not Post Your Trip on Social Media
Telling people when you’re going away and where you’re going is advertising your absence and leaves you, your friends and family open to scams (and your home open to theft).
Let family or friends know your itinerary and where you’ll be staying in case they need to get a hold of you or if they sense something may be wrong and need to alert the authorities It is good practice to occasionally check in with a text or email to designated friends and family members to let them know you are okay.
One such scam that occurs often comes in the form of an email from your account that has been hacked and sent to a friend or relative. The email tells a terrible tale of either being mugged or somehow losing all your money while on vacation. The result is always a need for money to be wired. Since the email is coming from someone they know people will sometimes believe it. Remind your friends and family to never wire money without talking to you or someone you’re traveling with first.
Avoid the Vacation Rental Scam
One of the biggest scams today is a form of online scam that targets travelers booking hotels and vacation homes. Renters are enticed by an incredible deal and book it online with a payment wire. When they arrive to their destination, the hotel or rental home exists, but the rental itself didn’t book the reservation and have no room waiting for you. Always pay with a credit card that has a fraud prevention guarantee, book through well known travel websites and companies, and call the properties directly to confirm that they do offer rentals and have availability when you are looking to book.
Research your destination and hotel
It is vital to do some research to learn more about your hotel and the surrounding area before you head out. Reading reviews online and blogs is a great way to get firsthand accounts of visitors’ experiences so you know what to expect or what to be aware of. It is also important to locate where the closest police station, hospital, and the US Embassy are in relation to your lodging in case of an emergency. Sometimes I even reach out to the hotel for a list of nearby urgent cares.
Beware of High Pressure Travel Club Companies
Time share style companies have been around forever. But some of today’s travel club companies employ unscrupulous tactics and high pressure sales to entice consumers into purchasing their vacation club memberships. Consumers believe they are getting something for free by attending travel club sales presentations and then are under the belief they are joining the vacation club at a reduced price after high pressure tactics. They soon find out they are not getting a good deal and could have purchased the same vacation for less elsewhere. In general, vacation clubs are a common source of travel complaints so it’s best to not agree to the presentation in the first place.
Steer Clear of Shared WiFi if Possible
Most people understand the dangers of using an open public WiFi hotspot. Did you also know you also have to watch out for protected networks at hotels and other venues that require a password? Anytime you use a shared WiFi network in any public spot, it’s easy for someone to intercept your data and monitor what you’re doing. They know what sites you’re visiting, your account passwords, emails, and more. Never login into bank accounts or PayPal on airplane or cruise wifi.
If a Deal Sounds too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
If a deal sounds incredibly cheap, there’s a strong likelihood it’s a scam. Companies aren’t about to give you an 80% discount on your travel and stay. Protect yourself from scams by always using a credit card with fraud protection, always get everything in writing, play it safe by booking direct with a company (whether it’s United Airlines or a resort in Mexico) and do your research on a site like Travelocity or Trip Advisor.
Don’t Allow Yourself to be a Target
Avoid having both headphones on when listening to music while traveling or getting around the city you are visiting. It could possibly distract you if someone were to come up from behind, it will also alert thieves that you have an expensive electronic device easily accessible for the taking. Considering investing in a pair of Trekz Titanium headphones. They are open ear sport headphones made to ensure safety, perfect for travelers, cyclists, hikers and more.
Leave expensive jewelry at home. While you want to look your best as you travel the world, it is best to swap out high-priced jewelry, and jewelry with great sentimental value, for lower-end items that would not be considered irreplaceable. My wedding ring was stolen from Caesars Palace once.
Don’t Make Impulsive Decisions
Traveling can invoke a sense of adventure and sometimes impulsiveness. Try to not get caught up in the moment and find yourself in a sticky situation. Make sure to stick to the plan. You researched areas so stick with what you know.
Don’t go overboard with cocktails, which is easy to do, especially when you are jet lagged and dehydrated.
If you can, do your exploring during the day and stick close to your hotel in the evening.
Before you get wrapped up in the idea of a warm getaway, do your homework and proceed with caution to protect yourself and your family. You can also use a site like BeenVerified for their property search feature that is perfect for verifying homeowner information and avoiding the many scams that proliferate on Craig’s List and other sites that specialize in vacation rentals. You can also use it in conjunction with a people search when transacting on Airbnb.