Last updated: February 20. 2014 3:47PM - 657 Views
By Cheryl Parson Better Business Bureau

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We have had freezing temperatures and lots of snow this winter, but now we are seeing some warmer weather coming before the next winter storm arrives. It seems all over the U.S., cities are recording higher-than-normal amounts of snow this year.

With all of these freezing temperatures and snow, are your thoughts turning to vacation planning? In our office, we are talking about vacations in the summer and where to go. But a couple of my friends are looking at how much snow we have had and planning ski trips to Colorado.

Whether it is a ski trip to Colorado, a cruise or a family vacation in the summer, you should use care when making plans through travel agencies or booking trips yourself. Making travel arrangements through an agency can make planning a vacation less stressful, but it all depends on who you use.

If you are planning on making your own arrangements for your trip or booking a rental house at a vacation spot, make sure you check out the company. Checking out the different companies and making sure they are reputable is very important. This will give you confidence that the plans and bookings you made will get you what you paid for.

Some tips on booking with a travel agency or booking a vacation rental:

•Compare services, and do not feel pressured. Be wary if you feel pressured to make an immediate decision. Compare services, fees and travel costs from a number of travel agencies before you decide the best package. Watch out for them telling you this offer is good “only if you act now.”

•Be cautious about telephone, letter or postcard solicitations. Be careful of travel solicitations claiming you’ve won a “free” trip or can get “special discounts” on hotel and airfares.

•With vacation rentals, ask a friend. Get a recommendation from someone who has stayed in a particular home or used a rental agency or Realtor.

•Know who you’re dealing with. Is it the individual rental owner or a management company?

•Pay with a credit card. By using your credit card, you will get some protection. If you do not receive what you paid for, contact your credit card company.

•Always check the business first. If you are using a travel agency, check out the reputation of the company. If you are booking a vacation home, check out the rental agency.

•Consider investing in travel insurance. Travel insurance can protect you in the event of weather, an accident or illness, lost luggage or a cancelled or interrupted trip. You need to read the insurance contract to understand what is covered and what is not. You will need to read the cancellation policies and decide what they cover and if it would be worthwhile to purchase.

•Get it in writing. Don’t rely on verbal promises from a travel agency. Rental agreement should outline dates, check-in and check-out times, deposits and payment requirements.

•Ask lots of questions. If you get a “bad feeling” because of unanswered questions or a hesitation to a question, move on.

Our family is now booked and ready for a nice summer vacation.

Cheryl Parson is President of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.

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