Earlier this year, Disney and Chevrolet teamed up to re-invent Epcot’s Test Track attraction — the longest and fastest attraction in Walt Disney history! On my latest visit to Walt Disney World, I felt the need for speed, and decided to take a spin. Maybe you can’t tell from the video, but I was flying at speeds of 65 miles per hour! Using Disney’s Fastpass (don’t go to Disney without one!) I was able to skip the long lines and get right to the high-octane fun. Add Test Track to the list of attractions that both parents and kids can enjoy. It’s educational, innovative with just the right amount of adrenaline-pumping action.
Travelers beware, you are a prime target for scammers and con artists who want your money, your luggage, even your identity. As you gear up for your spring and summer travel, watch out for these travel scams and always use common sense when you’re traveling.
“The Luggage Thief” – You hail a taxi, put your luggage in, close the trunk or door, and before you can get in, the driver drives off with all of your belongings. This happened to me in Rome, Italy, but it could happen anywhere.
How to Avoid: Only use reputable taxis from a taxi stand or that your hotel has specifically arranged for you. In certain countries like Italy, hailing a taxi on the street will target you as a tourist. If you are hailing a taxi, ask the driver to get out of the car and help you put your luggage in the trunk. That way you will be getting into the taxi together!
“The Hotel Lock Hacker”-- Last fall, we saw a wave of hotel lock hackers using a device that looked like a dry-erease marker to break into electronic hotel locks. The hotels quickly put security measures in place fix the lock flaw and prevent it front happening in the future, but this is an example of how technology is creating a whole new level of travel scam.
How to Avoid: Pack a doorstop to put in the inside of your door for an extra layer of protection and don’t forget to use the safe! Don’t leave your belonging out in plain sight.
“The Invisible Scammer – Free Wi-fi” – You get to a café or public space and discover, to your delight, that there is a free Wi-Fi network. You think you’re saving a few dollars, but someone on the other end could have intentionally left the network open to steal your information or hack your computer.
How to Avoid: Only use reputable Wi-Fi networks (Biongo hotspot, Skype Wi-Fi). It’s better to pay than to be robbed of your identity!
“Online Booking Scams Touted Through Social Media” – Social media is a fantastic way to find out about travel deals, but it’s important to trust the source. There are impostors on the Internet posing as independent tour companies, hotels, or low-cost flight carriers. They use social media to lure people in, and then take your money.
How to Avoid: Avoid being scammed in your online booking by using reputable OTAs (Online Travel Agency) like Travelocity, where your booking is backed by a guarantee. If you are booking with an independent company, do your research, read reviews and trust your gut.
“Fake Tour Scam”– You arrive in a foreign country and are lured in by a lovely sounding group tour of the surrounding area at a great price! You agree, hand over your money, but the tour isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the places you visit are lackluster at best. The tour group is making commission from each of the tour stops, and you are often forced to spend admission fees along the way.
How to Avoid: Pre-arrange your tours with reputable local companies. Ask a lot of questions if you are booking a tour on the spot and ask for tour credentials.
Spring break airfare is up nine percent domestically; seven percent internationally. So how can you save on spring break travel? Two tips to finding cheap travel deals: 1) book a Top Secret Hotel, which offers up to 45 percent off published rates or 2) book a flight and hotel vacation package. Below are this week’s top four vacation package deals from Travelocity.com:
Big Snow Adventure in Jackson Hole, WY at Grand View Lodge
The Deal: Flight + 5 nights stay for $603.00 — 30% off 3 or more nights. 20% off 2 nights.
Dates: March 5-10
- Jackson Hole has 24 feet of snowfall so far this year, which puts them at the top of the snowfall list for all of the Rocky Mountains…and it’s still snowing.
- Jackson Hole is easily accessible with nonstop flights from 9 major cities including NYC, LA, Dallas, Denver, Atlanta.
- One bedroom condo accommodations with in-room fireplace, gourmet kitchen, over-sized dining area and furnished terrace to enjoy the “grand view” of the Snow King mountainside.
- Grand View Lodge is walking distance to Jackson’s historic Town Square.
- Ski Magazine ranked Jackson Hole #1 for Overall Satisfaction and Character in 2013.
Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. at the Capital Hilton
The Deal: Flight + 5 nights in the heart of D.C. for $745.00/person
Dates: March 28-April 2
- Cherry Blossom festival runs from March 20-April 14 but the average peak bloom date is April 4 so try to plan your trip around this date.
- Where in D.C. are the cherry trees? Most of the Yoshino cherry trees surround the Tidal Basin, which is close to Jefferson Memorial.
- The Capital Hilton is two blocks from the White House in the heart of downtown and not far from the Tidal Basin. It’s the perfect base for exploring all of the festival activities, including photography tours, river cruises and concert series.
- Download the Cherry Blossom Festival app to keep track of events and watch the progress of the blooms.
Spring Honolulu Escape at the JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort Spa
The Deal: Flight + 5 night stay for $1,153.00/person
Dates: March 5-10
- Going to Hawaii during low season is ideal, less crowds and great deals.
- This is hotel is offering a savings up 40% off regular rates — it’s a no-brainer.
- It’s a luxury property situated on one of four private white sand lagoons with endless land and sea activities: stand up paddle lessons, sport fishing, free snorkel rentals, golf, tennis…
- Away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, lots of fine dining restaurants right there on the property including Japanese, Italian, American.
Splurge at San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua with your own “Casa” at Pelican Eyes Resort
The Deal: Flight + 5 night stay in your own luxury 2-bedroom “casa” for $1,553.00/person
Dates: March 5-10
- This is a splurge, but if you consider the digs..it’s a steal! You are staying in your own two-bedroom house that looks like it was torn out of the pages of a design magazine — soaring cane ceilings, arched windows, airy terraces, exposed natural woods, handcrafted furniture and Central American art.
- What to do on the property: Infinity pools overlook stunning San Juan del Sur Bay, Casa Tranquila Spa, open-air yoga.
- Much of Nicaragua is largely undiscovered — I recommend taking a sailing excursion, which the hotel can organize for you. Explore the unspoiled Southern Pacific coastline by sea. Also a must is a day trip to Granada, Central America’s oldest colonial town.
Valentine’s Day is the day of love, but that doesn’t mean you should restrict your romance to one day a year. The world is full of gorgeous locales just waiting to be explored and our resident Travelocity Canada travel expert, Brian Simpson, and has created a list of of romantic retreats that will get their heart pumping any day of the year. Read more
It’s not too late to whisk your sweetheart away for a last minute Valentine’s Day getaway. Here are my top five picks, including a spa getaway to San Diego, a sophisticated Vegas escape, a mini Bahamas cruise, an exotic Costa Rican hideaway and a luxe mountain adventure. Get the full details below. Read more