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Friday, 24 April 2009 00:44

Top Five Travel Mistakes

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1. Focusing only on price instead of value

There are some great travel deals out there. Customers that only shop price are missing the boat. Some trips come packaged with great amenities, transfers included, free breakfast, etc, that if purchased separately would cost significantly more. The real “deal” can be getting much more in value than the price reflects. A good travel professional can find the right trip for you at the best price and often include amenities not available on the internet.

Just because cheapo vacations online offers what appears to be the exact same trip your travel professional shows you for $200 less doesn’t mean it’s the same. If price is your only consideration, you have to assume that everything else is equal. That’s not always the case. Most consumers don’t realize “internet deals” don’t include all taxes, port charges, transfers, and fees. Not to mention fees that don’t show up until you have clicked all the way through to the end. Don’t ask a travel professional to “beat” a price. Ask them to find you the best travel deal for your money. You might discover the vacation priced higher is really the better value.

2. Not purchasing Travel Insurance

 One of the biggest mistakes made by travelers is declining travel insurance. No one buys insurance expecting to use it, but travel brings with it a myriad of potential things that can go wrong. You may not feel the need to insure a $199 vacation to Nashville, but when spending a significant sum on a cruise or European vacation, why take a chance?

What can go wrong? You're involved in an accident and adequate medical treatment is not available. Who will help arrange and pay for a medical evacuation? You are at a beach resort in North Carolina, and you are forced to evacuate due to an approaching hurricane. Who will help you evacuate and who will reimburse your lost vacation investment?

3. Not Dealing with Financially Strong Partners

It’s amazing how people will give their credit card to absolute strangers on the internet. Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about someone booking online and finding out their tour operator goes bust, the online agency goes bankrupt, or their hotel goes out of business. When spending hard earned dollars toward travel, do you know who the company is that is taking your money? How long have they been in business? How likely will they be around once you begin your travel? Travel Professionals align themselves with strong, viable travel organizations to eliminate the surprise factor on the internet.

4. Not using a Travel Professional

Sure, it’s pretty easy to book online to Vegas, and you may never experience a problem. When things do go wrong, an agent can take care of issues and problems to get you on your way much faster than on your own. With a travel professional you get someone who will be there for you. When Aloha airlines and ATA went bankrupt, our travelers got re-routed immediately with one call to our office. After booking Aloha yourself on the internet, what do you think would have happened?  Read more on why using a professional travel agent is the best choice for booking travel.

5. Not having the proper travel documents

Make sure you have the proper documentation required depending on where you are traveling. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) went into effect June 1, 2009. It requires a passport for travel to and from the US by both sea and air. WHTI went into effect for air travelers on January 23, 2007. Since it takes four to six weeks to obtain a passport, it makes sense to get that process started as soon as possible. Make sure you book travel under your legal name. If your reservation doesn’t match your passport and drivers license, you’ve got a problem. Re-doing the ticket can cost $200 or more!

About the Authors

Sue and Charlie Shimkus are owners of Lake Zurich Travel & Cruise established in 1974. Sue has served on the travel advisory board for Alaska, Hawaii, & Ireland and executive board of the local chapter American Society of Travel Agents.  Lake Zurich Travel & Cruise is a member of the Signature Travel Network. Visit Lake Zurich Travel for expert travel advice and resources finding the Right Vacation for you!

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