BBB Watch: Vacation planning

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

As the temperatures turn bitter, many people start planning their relaxing beach vacations. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to be very careful about booking through travel agencies. The BBB reports that complaints are up for this 12-month period.

"When planning travel, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of seeing a new place," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Be sure to compare different travel agencies and find one that is reputable."

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips when booking with a travel agency:

- Compare services and do not feel pressured: Be very cautious about any operation that pressures you to make an immediate decision or if there is a statement that an offer is good "only if you act now." Compare the services, fees and travel costs from a number of travel agencies before selecting the most attractive package.

- Be cautious about telephone, letter or postcard solicitations: Be careful of travel solicitations claiming you've won a "free" trip, or can get "special discounts" on hotels and airfares.

- Pay with a credit card: You can get some protection when using a credit card to purchase travel services.  If you don't get what you paid for, contact the credit card company and attempt to get the charges cancelled.

- Get it in writing: Don't rely on oral promises from a travel service. Request copies of any brochures and contract before purchasing your trip package, or making any reservations.

- Consider investing in travel insurance: Travel insurance can provide protection in the event of an accident, an illness, lost luggage, or a cancelled or interrupted trip, among other things. Read the insurance contract to understand coverage and exclusions. Investigate trip cancellation policies and determine what they cover to see if they would be worthwhile to purchase the insurance.  

- Always check the business first: Check out the reputation of the travel agency before doing business with them. Check out free BBB Business Reviews for valuable information.

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GateHouse News Service