Thursday, January 14, 2010

4 Mistakes Every Traveler Makes

When you start planning a vacation, it's easy to get carried away with the excitement of your trip and forget or overlook some important details. As a matter of fact, there are some extra precautions you should take and things you should avoid that most travelers are not even aware of. Below you'll find a list of a four big travel mistakes that almost everyone makes and what you can do to prevent yourself from making them in the future.

1. Cruise Insurance

Every cruise line offers it but few people buy it. What are the chances you won't be able to make it to your cruise ship in time? It happens. Maybe you get sick or maybe your flight is delayed. Whatever the reason, it's entirely possible that big boat is gonna leave the mainland without you. Sure, you can call and explain the situation to the cruise line and ask for a refund or credit for any future cruise, but chances are you're not gonna get either. Why? Because cruise ships offer the insurance for this very reason.

So how you do you remedy the situation? It's simple: purchase the cancellation insurance. You may want to shop around and get a few quotes first; just because the cruise line you're using offers a certain type, doesn't mean it's the best.

2. Rental Cars

Picture it: you rent a car for a week and treat it with more care than you treat your own vehicle. Once your vacation is over, you return the car to the rental company, only for an employee to notice a small scratch on the bumper. You're fairly certain it was there when you rented the car but the employee and the rental company do not believe you and suddenly you find yourself with a claim against you.

Avoiding this situation is easy. Make sure someone who works for the rental company inspects your car before you drive it out of the lot and makes note of any damage. Walk around the car with the employee and point out even the smallest scratch. You may even consider taking a picture. FYI, Hertz already does this.

3. Foreign Transaction Fees

When you book a flight to or a hotel room in another country, you may be surprised with a sizable transaction fee. It doesn't matter if your entire transaction took place over the phone or online in the United States, if your destination is elsewhere, it's highly probable you'll be charged a foreign transaction fee. In most cases, the foreign transaction fee has replaced the foreign exchange fee that used to cover the cost of exchanging currencies.

You should always read the fine print on your credit card member agreement and make sure you are aware of an extraneous fees. Capital One is one credit card that not only doesn't impose the transaction fee, but it also doesn't charge the cross-border fees that Visa and MasterCard charge.

4. Resort Fees

When you stay at a hotel, you expect everything to be covered in your nightly charge, right? Well, some hotels charge a mandatory "resort fee" and basically, it's just a way to get some extra cash out of your pocket. For example, Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas charges $4.99 a night for "pone calls, in-room bottled water, and additional inclusions." Those "additional inclusions" aren't specified, so who knows what that means, but shouldn't this stuff be included in your room price? Why add on a bunch of extra fees? Because they can and will if they think they can get away with it.

Again, solving this problem is simple. Don't stay at these hotels. Don't give them your business. If you're given an opportunity, voice your opinions about the fees to hotel staff and management. If they ask why you'll be staying elsewhere, tell them it's because of the pointless extra fee. Maybe one day, they'll get the hint.

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