Tips to Avoid Overseas Travel Scams
Travel Scams Abroad
Risk or Reward? I will say upfront that the only way I travel these days is to use an in-country or native based travel company, but there are risks involved. No one wants to find themselves in a foreign country with no hotel, no tour and possibly no return flight. I have never had a negative experience using an in-country travel agency, but I am not going to say that it could not happen. I do a lot research and planning for each of my trips.
Booking a Trip Abroad
When booking overseas from the states it is advised to use a U.S based agency, but many times this can result in a adding a significant chunk of cash to an oversea vacation, and it is very difficult to customize. If you don’t want a one size fits all tour, you might have to consider using an in-county travel agency.
There are risks and rewards when you book directly in county. The positives: you can save considerable cash, skip the cost of a middle man, and it can allow you to get off the beaten path away from hordes of tourists going to the same popular location. The risk are you get scammed and lose your money, find yourself stranded in a foreign country scrambling to save your vacation.
Don’t Get Caught In a Phishing Scam
What to Do?
It is very important that you do intensive research on travel companies outside the USA. There are many horror stories of people wiring money to a foreign country, and once they arrive the company does not exist. Many times you can be caught up in what is called a phishing Scam. The people who run these scams are quite intelligent. They suck business and money from legitimate travel companies. You many think that you are emailing, or speaking directly to a company when in reality a web site or email account was hacked and all communications are rerouted to an individual who says that they are a company representative.
You can decrease your risks by following a few important tips.
Tips To Help Find a Reputable In-County Travel Agents
- Decide if the rewards outweigh the risks. Is worth the risk to book a trip using an in country travel agent?
- Ask your friends-word of mouth is the best way to find a reputable travel agent abroad.
- Look for well established companies with a known physical address in country.
- Always ask if the company you are booking with if it is outsourcing their tours, or sightseeing. Just because an agency is in country does not mean that they are personally supplying the tours, sightseeing or guides themselves.
- When speaking to a travel Representative ask to personally speak with past customers for recommendations. However, be aware that they are not going to send you to someone who will give them a negative review. Speaking with someone on the phone is the best way to ask the tough questions, and get the answers you need.
- Do your research, and read online reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor, Fodors, or Loney Plant. Read online travel blogs
- Search the web for a company profile, look for only fully registered travel companies.
- Ask what the company will they will do if you encounter problems with your health, transportation, or your guide while in country.
- Enjoying a tour requires people that speak your language. It is important to ask if they have a guide that speaks your native language. If you find good online reviews about a particular guide don’t be shy to request the guide during your trip.
- Buy Travel Insurance- Check the fine print to see that protect against operator failure. (I have been in 2 situations that required medical attention, and one where a trip had to be canceled). Travel insurance is one of the most important adds on for any trip outside the United States. I never leave the county without it. Try travel guard or my favorite insure my trip. I like sites where I can compare many companies.
My Personal Experience
From my personals experience I recommend when traveling to Africa that you look for companies that are members of :
- Association of Uganda Tourist Board, Uganda Tour Operators, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Nature Uganda, Uganda Bird Guides Club and Uganda Tourist Board. Ask for companies where drivers or guides hold UGASA membership cards.
You can find my personal reviews of travel agencies on Trip Advisor under Travel with Nise.