How to Judge a Great Travel Bargain

Being a savvy shopper is important to get the best value for your money. But with every “great” deal it is important that you understand what exactly you are buying. There are tons of retailers like Groupon and LivingSocial apps which offer super discounted travel packages for unbelievable prices, but avoid these common pitfalls to avoid being scammed or disappointed.

If you have been offered a great bargain on a cruise or a resort vacation, but you cannot seem to get all the details unless you pay the company first, you may be dealing with a travel scam. Typically, a scam operator won’t give you full and complete information in writing until after you’ve given them a credit card number, certified check or money order. Once you do get further information, there will be restrictions and conditions which make it more expensive, or even impossible, to take your trip.

While getting a refund is sometimes possible, it’s better to avoid paying anything in the first place. While there is the remote chance that you might miss a legitimate deal, chances are you will save yourself some time and money in the long run.

To help you avoid becoming a victim of a travel scam, here are some suggestions when evaluating travel offers:

  • Stay away from travel offers that sound “too good to be true”, particularly if you have been solicited by phone or have received a postcard or certificate in the mail.
  • Never give your credit card number or any information about your bank accounts over the phone to a solicitor unless you initiate the transaction or call. You should feel confident about the company with which you are doing business with.
  • Get the complete details in writing about any trip prior to payment. These details should include the total cost (including taxes, port charges, service fees, and surcharges), terms and conditions, restrictions, cancellation penalties, if any, and specific information about all components of the package.
  • Walk away from high-pressure sales presentations which don’t allow you time to evaluate the offer or which require that you disclose your income.
  • Be cautious with companies which require that you wait at least 60 days to take you trip or require that you select several dates of departure for your trip.


Most Common Travel Scams

Scammers will find ways to contact you through direct mail, social media or enticing emails luring you for an “unbelievable” promotion. In reality, these types of vacations often end up with poorly disclosed fees or fake. Here are the most common travel scams that we hear about.

You just won a “free vacation”, but must pay a fee first

If you can’t remember how you were able to win a prize, most likely this is a scam. Make sure you understand all charges and fees associated with the prize. Often these awards are attached to a variety of fees, participation in a tour/ vacation club or seminars with pressure filled presentations. Find out all the details before you commit.

When the caller wants your credit card number

Scammers will always try to lead the conversation and pressure you to hand over your credit card. Make sure to receive paperwork before you do. TIP: Most scams require you to make rash decisions quickly. Grab their phone number and say you feel comfortable if you can call them back. Most scam artists prefer not to give any information about themselves.

They entice you with general descriptive words — but can’t — give you specifics

They promise a stay at a “five-star” resort or a cruise on a “luxury” ship, however they cannot tell you exactly which property or cruise line. Make sure that you know all the details before anything else happens. Make sure to always get it in writing to protect yourself. TIP: Find out the hotel’s address and check out their website for reviews and photos.

You’re pressured to sign up for a travel club that requires you to sell their memberships

As soon as you hear that you must sign up with monthly dues – run out the door. Travel clubs often have high membership fees and limited choice of destinations or travel dates.

You get an automated call

Automated calls from companies trying to sell you something is a big red flag. Sign up for the national Do Not Call Registry (https://www.donotcall.gov/) to avoid future solicitation.

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Catching the Wave Season

Most people do not realize that it’s that time of the year, right after the holidays when the cruise lines unveil the most attractive and exciting deals of the new year. Frequent cruisers and bargain hunters alike take advantage to find the best prices to almost every destination in the world. Cruise lines compete for your money and it’s time that you know why.

What is Wave Season?

From January through March, cruise lines begin the year with huge promotions and deals. Cruise lines and travel agents are busy during this three-month period. These months are basically the Black Friday or Cyber Monday for cruise lines, but lasts for three months.

Why January through March, you ask? Well the holidays are over and most Americans are dealing with the Winter, looking for their next getaway. Plus, its tax return time and this is the time when people often as a little cash to spend on a much needed vacation.

Why Should I Book a Cruise?

Why not? This is the best time to book a cruise because the prices are lower than usual and are combinable with amenities such as free internet, onboard credit and complimentary spa packages. Since every cruise line is different expect the same when comparing each offer. This is the time when you can plan far in advance what type of vacation you will have.

For instance, if you usually have high bar tabs – travelers can search for deals that include a free beverage package and use that extra money to upgrade your room. Or, for families – find early bird savings for connected or family-style rooms.

Plus, when booking early you also have the option of choosing the location of your stateroom – a major bonus since you may not want to be near the restrooms and elevators.

What’s the Current Deals?

  • Royal Caribbean: All guests 30% off + $100 to spend at sea on all sailings departing on or after February 4, 2018. Plus, Free Gratuities for Royal Suite class on Oasis Class + Anthem of the Seas sailings to Bahamas, Bermuda or the Caribbean. Northeast cities – Additional bonus: Upgrade from Oceanview to Balcony on Adventure & Anthem of the Seas, and from Inside to Oceanview on Grandeur of the Seas sailings from May 1, 2018 – September 30, 2018.
  • Celebrity Cruises: For a limited time, book an ocean view or higher stateroom and 1st and 2nd guest choose from two perks to enjoy on your award-winning, modern luxury vacation. Pick from • Classic Beverage Package • Unlimited High-speed Internet Package •Prepaid Gratuities • $150 per person to spend on board. Plus, 50% OFF current 3rd & 4th fares. Offer applies to select 4-night and longer cruises departing February 01, 2018 — April 30, 2019 book by February 28, 2018.
  • Princess Cruises: Up to $600 FREE Onboard Spending Money per stateroom, FREE specialty dining for ALL guests + $100 refundable deposit per guest. For sailings between Summer 2018 and Spring 2019. Must book by February 14, 2018.

The bottom line: If you are in the market and you plan to cruise this year, don’t’ forget to take advantage of these offers. You’ll get a great deal and if you have a travel agent they can keep monitoring your rates to make sure you have the best value for your money. At Travelwise, we always recommend that each traveler purchases travel insurance. In case of any unforeseen circumstances so you don’t have to deal with problems later.

Remember to talk to your travel agent and figure out which cruise line and offers are best for you!