Almost everyone interested in “cheap travel” is lured by the word “free.” Before you click that button and make unfortunate discoveries too late in your travel, there are a few things you must understand and realize.
In this age of commercialism, nothing really comes free anymore. Everyone is in business and is out to make some money from you. That includes the travel agent making your travel arrangements and who is supposedly “looking” for freebies and discounted perks for you, the airline or cruise that will take you halfway around the world, and the hotels or resorts you’ll be staying.
When you see the word “free” think hard; there is something there that you don’t see at first glance. Could it be hidden in the fine prints? Read those parts thoroughly. What is real meaning behind “two-for-one” flights or cruises? There are more of these “free” promos that you must watch out for according to ‘Free’ Travel Offers That Aren’t Really Free, a blog posted in Huff Post – Financial Education.
Are you traveling real soon or have you been taken for the ride once or more than once in the past by these “free” lunches? Read on and learn about these “free” offers.
Free Cruises: There’s no such thing as a free lunch — and there’s definitely no such thing as a free cruise.
This trap is very common; even big cruise companies practice these so beware. This is never for “real.” It can either be a scam or “legitimate” but isn’t really free. It can come under any of these two categories: Absolute scams, and the “legitimate” kind that really aren’t free at all. The latter would require you to pay fees to comply with certain policies.
Two-for-One Cruises: … Yes, the base fare is indeed two-for-one, and that could mean big savings. But read the fine print first: Many lines only offer the discount on certain cruises or a limited number of higher-end room categories.
Watch out, this may come with an expensive booking such as “an ultra-premium ocean-view suite” that’s way too expensive. You may also be required to pay other “add-ons” that are usually included in a package have you opted for one. The result? You pay just as much as if there was no “free” at all.
Timeshares: … But the risks, rules and fine print of timeshare ownership could really cost you.
Timeshares are indeed very enticing. Watch out for those “limited-time only” freebies and promotions as well as hidden fees for contingencies that are never clearly spelled out but could cost you exorbitantly
Vacation or Travel Clubs: These clubs (often run by major hotel chains) require an annual membership fee.
You may think it isn’t a bad deal at all when you see the fabulous location; that’s the big catch. But it is not too different from timeshare – tricky fees, complicated computations of markups and reselling, etc. The best thing is NOT to make a decision right there and then; give time for ideas to sink first.
Airfare Credit: To entice visitors … resorts often hawk airfare credit if you book through their websites directly … “$500 Airfare Credit on Seven-Night Stays!” or “Free Airfare Voucher for Two People!”
What they will not tell you right away are the restrictions that come with the promo such as booking an expensive accommodation category or making a huge advance or deposit.
Other common ways to lure unsuspecting, naïve travelers are:
- Free or Cheap Companion Fares: Check out the taxes and other fees, while it can be economical, it isn’t really free or cheap.
- Car-Rental Upgrade: “Complimentary” is rarely true. Probe deeply and ask questions.
- $9 Airfare: The Spirit’s $9 Fare Club will require you to enroll first in the Fare Club, for $59.95, pay annual fees plus taxes and fees/extras added to low base fares.
Finally, there is wedding-vendor scam mentioned in the article. The cited wedding company “Lovely Weddingz 4 U” is said to be a scam. Can other freebies from other wedding vendors be any different? Maybe, but that is hard to say. The most important thing is to do your research and remember there is nothing as “free lunch.”