Travel bargains that are Anything But!Between hotels, flights and restaurants, vacations are expensive endeavours, and occasionally come with some major pitfalls. In addition to the dozens of street scams you’ll find at your destination, from fake room service menus to fake purse and jewelry shops, shysters have gotten more sophisticated and familiarizing yourself with these scammy travel bargains can help you avoid being victimized while traveling abroad.

Scam Travel Deals

The guy on the phone says you just got a great deal on a three-day cruise, or a voucher for a stay at a luxury hotel. But did you?

Cruise and timeshare companies use a variety of means to reach the poor folk who fall for their too-good-to-be-true sales pitches. You might find what looks like a bargain through an automated call disguised as research survey, direct mail scratch card or ad on website that takes you to a booking site you’ve never heard of. When it comes time to book, they’ll need your credit card for taxes or special fees. If you’re lucky, you’ll just overpay for a timeshare stay or subpar cruise. If you’re unlucky, you’ll be out thousands of dollars and discover the company doesn’t exist.

Inflated group buy “discounts”

Groupon’s business model has been replicated by dozens of other daily deal sites, and the biggest risk is price inflation. These websites typically take 50% of the money you paid for a deal, and give the other half to the merchant. So if you get a hotel room for $100 that they claim was valued at $200, the merchant only pockets $50. Many businesses have been caught inflating prices on such promotions so they can claim a huge discount and still make a profit themselves, but a quick search on their own website or a traditional booking engine like Expedia will show the deal is often very small, if a deal at all.

Poor quality excursions

You’ve read reviews on the best catamaran company to book with, or the best place to rent a bicycle from before you even packed your bags. Once you arrived at your destination though, there seem to be many friendly, helpful locals claiming to offer better deals or better excursions. Many tourists are scammed into overpaying for poor quality tours or rentals in the heat of the moment – or like tourists in New York, overpaying to rent bicycles that have been stolen. Jump onto your hotel’s Wi-Fi to verify the company, and if you can’t prove they’re legit, take a pass.

Bringing home bedbugs

Even the nicest hotels have sent travelers home with luggage full of nature’s hitchhikers. Store your luggage in the bathroom until you’ve given the room a careful once over. Check the bed extremely carefully by pulling back the linens and checking all the way around and under the mattress and behind the headboard. Keep an eye out for blood stains or small black dots that look like mold or ground pepper.