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Keep your spring getaway from becoming a giveaway to scammers

  • Special to The Eagle
  • Published Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at 6:24 p.m.

As students and their parents plan for the upcoming break this spring, a number of challenges may arise.

Issues surrounding transportation, accommodations and finance all may crop up to complicate what you thought would be a simple getaway for a few days from life’s pressing responsibilities.

For that reason, here are some tips and reminders to help you avoid disappointments during and after your spring break trip.

Those amazing offers

Many of those deals that sound too good to be true are.

Watch out for any discount offer that must be purchased immediately in order to lock in the price. Extra fees may be added to the price for which no notice was given. Sometimes the hotel space or airline booking is not actually confirmed, leading to a terrible disappointment for the purchaser who shows up expecting to be accommodated.

Get everything in writing in advance. This should include specifics about hotel rooms and airline reservations. Check to see what the total cost is, what cancellation penalties might apply and what restrictions can come into play.

If your plans involve a charter flight, be sure to get the operator’s name and address. Look up its registration by checking with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Consumer Affairs in Washington, D.C.

A trusted travel agent can be invaluable to help you make your spring break plans, helping you find the best deals and cutting through some of the red tape that may be involved.

Travel checklist

Here are some more tips to keep hassles at bay as you make your arrangements for travel:

• Call to confirm your arrangement with every hotel, car rental agency and airline involved in your trip.

• Get everything in writing and ask as many questions as you need to ask so that you are absolutely clear about every detail of your itinerary. No question is too obvious or too dumb. After all, your peace of mind is at stake.

• Pay for everything with credit cards if possible. Disputes over charges later will be easier to settle through a credit card company. Remember that wire service funds should be avoided as a means of sending payment because they cannot be tracked or refunded.

• Consider your insurance. Check with your homeowners and medical insurance policies to know what is covered and what is not. You may have to purchase travel insurance if there is some doubt about your coverage.

• Let someone within your family or a trusted friend know the details of when, where and how you are traveling.

Be especially mindful of “grandparent scams,” in which a scammer calls one of your family members claiming to be you and in trouble. They are trying to get money sent to them by your family member. Keeping your family informed of your whereabouts is a vital way to prevent scams like these.

Additional tips about spring break health and safety issues are available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/family/springbreak/.

Always check with the Better Business Bureau to find whether a company you are considering doing business with might have a history of complaints.

Denise Groene is state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. Reach the BBB at 800-856-2417 or www.kansasplains.bbb.org.

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