Planning a trip? Check out these three quick tips to start traveling safely before you even leave home — and a little extra one that could save you a bundle of money.
1. Do this to make sure you’re on the right booking website, and not an evil twin
Every year, millions are lost — and countless vacations ruined — by fake booking sites crafted to look just like the real ones. Imagine handing your payment over an airline or hotel, and showing up the day of the trip to find out they’ve never heard of you.
Add to that the just plain fraudulent online travel booking sites out there, baiting you with ads and promises of great deals, only to take your money and disappear.
It happens. A lot.
But not to you, it won’t. Because you will do this.
Check that the site’s URL begins with ‘https’. That generally means it’s secure.
Cut the middleman and buy from the source: going straight to your hotel’s or airline’s own booking site will make it harder for you to get duped.
Make extra sure your hotel’s booking site is legit with a quick phone call to the number they provide. Ask a couple of questions about the hotel’s facilities surroundings. Don’t email them, call them — scammers won’t have time to rehearse a phony answer.
Stick to reputable third-party booking sites, if you decide to use an online travel agency instead. If you’ve never heard of a particular booking site, customer review portals like Trustpilot, Yelp, or Consumer Affairs will give you a good idea whether it’s a legit business or a fly-by-night sketchfest.
2. Pay with credit card to get extra protection...
Using a credit card instead of a debit card when booking your trip helps protect your money in two ways:
If cyber criminals intercept your payment details, you won’t be giving them the key to all the cash sitting in your bank account.
Many credit card companies have built-in extra fraud protection, so you may be able to claim back the losses from a rip-off. Worth giving your credit card company a call to check first, though.
3. … and switch on your VPN to protect your payments online
Before you click that ‘book’ button, make sure your VPN is on. This will ensure all the sensitive details you’re about to blast onto the internet are properly encrypted, disguised, and secured.
Don’t have a VPN yet? No worries, you can get one right now. A VPN is simply an app you can install on your computer, smartphone and/or tablet. When you switch it on, it disguises everything you do online — in this case, your payment details, personal info, or vacation searches — under a thick blanket of encryption that makes it impossible to hack into. And It does several other really useful things too.
EXTRA: We’ve got something that could save you a ton of money when you book your trips online
We’ve developed Avast SafePrice, a free add-on that finds the best travel deals online. It takes one click to add it to your browser, and it automatically scans thousands of sites to find you the best available deal on whatever you’re searching for. And because it only scans verified sites, you don’t need to worry about scams.