The Checkout

Happy Traveling!

I'm leaving on a jet plane--but I'll be back again. I'm going to the Canadian Rockies, where I hope to do lots of hiking and thinking.

But as I'm packing, I thought I should leave a few tips behind to help you (and hopefully me, as well) avoid travel scams. These tips come from the Federal Trade Commission, which unfortunately has investigated far too many unscrupulous travel promotions over the past few years:

* Buy your travel package from a company with a good reputation. Ask friends to recommend a business you can trust.

* Be wary of ads or faxes offering deeply discounted vacations. Some scam artists offer the world, but leave you at the gate. Other "deals" may contain hidden costs.

* Before you buy, get the details in writing and a copy of the company's cancellation and refund policies. Consider whether cancellation insurance is right for you.

* Be wary of vague promises that you'll stay at a "major" hotel or sail on a "luxury" cruise ship. Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers before you buy. Then, call to verify your reservations.

* Use a credit card to make your travel purchases. If you don't get what you pay for, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company.

* Thinking about joining a travel club? Ask questions before signing up. Sometimes these "free" memberships can weigh you down with credit charges that you did not approve.

I've already taken most of the agency's advice. I checked out my travel company online and at the Better Business Bureau before I signed up. I read the fine print in the company's policies as well as the travel-insurance policy I purchased. I verified my hotel reservations and I paid by credit card. So, now I'm left crossing my fingers, hoping there'll be no unpleasant surprises. Here's wishing the same for you in your travels this summer.

I'll be off for about a week. When I return to this blog--sometime during the week of June 26--I hope I'll only have good things to write about. Cheerio!

By  |  June 19, 2006; 7:00 AM ET Consumer Tips
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Take care when traveling in foreign countries in remote areas at night. On the small Bahamas Island of Eleuthera were carjacked, beaten up and robbed on their drive home from an evening beach party with some friends. This was not a first occurrence of this type of crime, but strangely no one on the island knows who was responsible.

Posted by: Lindy | June 20, 2006 6:53 PM

Edit to the previous comment: the victims of the carjacking were the son and daughter-in-law of my church organist; crime happened two weeks ago. (some text inadvertently deleted)

Posted by: Lindy | June 20, 2006 6:55 PM

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