After a year of being quarantined, many are ready to get out and travel this summer. And although business travel is expected to be slow and steady, The American Hotel & Lodging Association predicts a boom in leisure travel this summer. And according to the Expedia Travel Trends Report, the average person saved $3,444 for a trip in 2021.
BBB advises consumers not only to anticipate crowding and congestion, but also to be prepared for an increase in scam activity during this travel season.
As the travel industry adapts to new regulations, health awareness and customer requirements, the overwhelming theme for consumers is trust.
“This season brings a new set of challenges to travelers,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas, said. “Doing your homework ahead of time to be well informed about travel restrictions as well as to ensure you are working with reputable companies will help make your vacation worry-free.”
The BBB provides the following to ensure safe and hassle-free travel as restrictions are lifted or changed:
Research before booking
Read up on masking and vaccination requirements at the location where you intend to travel. States and countries are handling restrictions differently. If the information is not found on the website, check the Centers for Disease Control — cdc.gov and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — iata.org.
Have proper identification
The deadline for the TSA-required Real ID has been delayed to October 1, 2021; however, make sure parties traveling together have a current compliant ID as required by each state. Check tsa.gov or travel.gc.ca/travelling/documents for those traveling between Canada and the U.S.
Be a savvy traveler — avoid scams
According to the 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, travel scams ranked in the top 10 riskiest scams, with victims losing on average more than $1,300. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals and fonts to make travel and vaccination documents seem real. Double check the website by looking for a direct contact phone number or physical address and confirming that information through a reliable source.
If it sounds suspicious, it probably is
The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines has led to several different scams, from fake vaccination cards to falsely claiming there is a fee to get the vaccine. Check BBB.org for more information on how to avoid these traps.
Read all cancellation policies carefully
Not all situations, including a pandemic, require a full refund of the ticket value and fees. Each online travel agency, airline, hotel and broker is different.
Use secure and traceable transactions
Do not pay by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card or other non-traditional payment method. Keep all personal information personal.
BBB means trust in the marketplace
Eighty-eight percent of U.S. consumers who are familiar with the BBB letter grade are more likely to purchase from a business with an A rating or higher.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.