Summer is upon us, and for many the season means at least one family vacation or weekend getaway. According to a 2011 TripAdvisor survey, 90 percent of Americans were planning to take two or more leisure trips within the next year and 24 percent were planning five or more trips.
Of those surveyed, 79 percent said they plan to spend at least $3,000 on these vacations. As you start planning your next vacation, you can take precautions to keep yourself, your family and your finances safe when you travel.
Whether you plan your own trip or use a travel agent, you should watch out for travel fraud. Ask friends and family for referrals when looking for a reputable travel agent. When working with an agent, always ask about the items that are not included in the travel package so you can plan for those extra expenses.
Remember that companies or individuals that cold contact you are often scam artists. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Using your credit card to book a trip or pay for a travel package can allow you to dispute any scams.
Many travel agents and certain websites may suggest that you buy travel insurance. Travel insurance is not a requirement, but can protect you in the event that you need to cancel your trip or have any unforeseen expenses, such as medical problems or emergency evacuations, while vacationing.
In most cases, the more risks that are covered in a policy, the more expensive it is. Take time to review your current situation and get several quotes on prices and policies to determine whether the coverage offered outweighs its cost.
When packing for a trip, remember certain necessities as airline tickets or confirmation, passports, driver’s licenses, hotel reservations and any prescription medications. Make sure these items are in a place where you can easily locate them, such as an airplane carry-on bag or in a designated spot in a car.
Do your research to find a reputable hotel in a safe area that will best suit your needs. Upon arrival, secure any valuable belongings in the hotel’s safe, if one is available. Unfortunately thefts do occur in the lodging industry, and most hotels will only accept responsibility for items placed in their safe.
You can minimize your risk of being a victim of theft while you’re away from your hotel room by leaving the television on at a level that can be heard from outside the room and placing a privacy sign on the door to give potential thieves the idea that someone is in the room.
Do not put out a sign asking for maid service as that’s often a sign of an unoccupied room.
Sources: Brooke Jenkins-Howard, Magoffin County family and consumer sciences agent; Sally Mineer, Lewis County family and consumer sciences agent