- Never pay cash for your pre-paid and non refundable trip costs. Don’t like credit card debt? Congratulations – you’re ahead of the financial game, but by being willing to use your credit card (pay the bill immediately) you are buying yourself a little protection because you can dispute unauthorized claims that appear on your card. Credit card companies are like financial guard dogs and they’ll go after offenders and remove charges from your bill.
- Never do business with an organization you don’t know. Any number of shiny, new websites appear every day and they can look very trustworthy, but that trust can be quickly destroyed when you’ve sent a check to Paris (see resolution #1) to rent an apartment for a week and arrive to find no apartment.
- Always guard your identity on your trips. In 2010, the FTC reported over a quarter million consumers affected by identity theft. The explosive growth of smart phones, skimmer devices, and recording camera usage has exposed many smart travelers to thieves. See our strategies for protecting your identity on a trip and read the recommendations to protect yourself against cyber data mining.
- Always buy trip cancellation insurance if you can’t afford to throw away the money you are paying. We’ve had numerous accounts of travelers who had to cancel their trips due to family emergencies, hurricanes, a death in the family, and personal illnesses. Many of those travelers would have been helped by having the right travel insurance plan with trip cancellation coverage.
- Always buy travel health insurance if you will be traveling outside your home network of coverage. This year, we posted a number of stories of travelers who were saved by their travel insurance and those who had to rely on public campaigns to raise funds to cover their care and transportation.
- Always read your travel insurance description of coverage. Yes, it can seem dull, but if you think about the activities you will be doing on your trip, the risks you face (see this recent traveler’s story about a disastrously dangerous and expensive trip to Mexico), and the availability of good medical care where you will be visiting, the description of coverage won’t seem as boring after all. See the 5 most common travel insurance “loopholes” and how to avoid them too.
- Don’t spend too much money on your travel insurance plan. Many plans offer high payouts for rare situations in an effort to appear to have more comprehensive coverage. In some cases, that’s not what you need. See our rules for saving money on your travel insurance plan to avoid overpaying for your trip insurance. See our travel insurance comparison tool to compare plan prices.
- Understand how to travel safely. See our most useful travel survival tips for the new year, and consider signing up for our free weekly newsletter for the latest travel alerts, travel health warnings and more from the U.S. State Department and the CDC, plus current travel news.
So, those are our resolutions … what are your travel resolutions for 2012?