Tips to avoid travel troubles | Better Business Bureau

Sunshine, warm sand and exotic meals are tempting after long dark winters and many people are emerging from hibernation to prepare for summer travel. But before booking dream vacations, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington and the Washington State Attorney General warn Washingtonians to be wary of travel troubles.

Once destinations have been selected, BBB and AGO reminds travelers to follow checklists before making payments or signing contracts.

  • Get offers in writing. Visit to check the reliability of companies offering travel bargains, especially businesses offering timeshares or inclusive packages. Ask for cancellation and refund policies.
  • Read the fine print. Once offers are in writing, pay special attention to asterisks and footnotes, which usually indicate restrictions and additional fees.
  • Research travel insurance options. Not all trips are created equal. If a trip only costs a few hundred dollars, it’s probably not worth the cost of insurance; if it’s the trip of a lifetime which costs thousands of dollars, it’s a good consideration.
  • Confirm details independently. Check reservations and availability; ask for brochures directly from hotels and find out which features are included. Compare rates with other travel agencies.
  • Protect identities. Make travel arrangements with trusted companies. Never provide credit card information to unsolicited callers.
  • Get passports early. According to the U.S. State Department, it can take up to six weeks to process passport applications. Remember, all American citizens are required to show passports when leaving and re-entering the United States—including Canada and Mexico.

After returning from a trip BBB and the AGO recommend proactive follow-up:

  • Save receipts and evaluate bills.
  • Check accounts for unauthorized purchases.
  • Monitor credit reports by requesting free annual copies from or by calling 877-322-8228.

BBB and AGO want consumers to enjoy their travels in 2014. Take a trip to BBB News & Events for more travel tips, scam alerts and consumer news.