Packing, I’ve written about it numerous times. For me, I like to think I generally have it down pat. Between that and being generally prepared when I venture off on a new adventure, with all of my vouchers printed out and my passport in a special travel wallet, I imagine I’ll be walking into the airport, hours early, with a fresh blow wave with not a care in the world. Okay, so it doesn’t happen exactly like that (and I more often than not have to get a 4 a.m. ‘nobody loves me bus’ to the airport alone, but that’s beside the point! You see, as I’ve become older and a more experienced traveller, I’ve probably gone the opposite to most and I put more time into planning now than I ever did. It’s because I know more what I like, what will benefit me, and what makes my life generally easier when heading away.
But one new campaign brought to my attention is the Pack Some Peace of Mind initiative collaboration with Australian Consumer Law. Since July 2014, travel agencies no longer need to be licensed, and with so many different avenues of booking a trip these days, it can not only be daunting and confusing, but you can often end up in a bit of strife – whether it’s being wrongly advised about travel insurance or visas, to flat out losing your money because you either booked through an unsecured website or your travel agent didn’t listen properly and you’ve booked the wrong thing.
Luckily this new initiative is full to the brim of tips for every traveller, from booking online, to booking with a travel agent – and there is even a cool Facebook game to play!
Some of the tips they have listed for booking online are:
Ensure the business has a good reputation. Read reviews and comments on travel websites and blogs. A good business should also display clear processes for solving problems and giving replacements and refunds on their website.
Check that the browser bar on the payments page includes basic security features, such as a padlock symbol or address starting with https://.
If you book and don’t get what you paid for, you may be able to seek a chargeback from your bank if you pay with a credit card or by selecting ‘credit’ on a MasterCard or Visa debit card. You may also be able to seek a chargeback if using PayPal (note that PayPal has its own dispute resolution processes).
And for booking with an agent:
Look for an agent who is accredited (for example, through the Australian Federation of Travel Accreditation ATAS scheme) or has received another stamp of approval. These companies are required to meet certain professional standards and criteria and should have dispute resolution options in place. Search for an ATAS-accredited agent.
Look for an agent who advertises their services and any deals clearly.
Choose an agent who listens closely to what you want, answers your questions, makes appropriate suggestions and explains any terms and conditions.
It also lists all of your rights, tips for booking stuff overseas, has a super handy FAQ, and contact details for each States Consumer Protection and Fair Trading Agencies! As a travel agent, and a ‘seasoned’ traveller, I highly recommend jumping on board and keeping up to date with the latest. The travel world is ever-changing after all, and the last thing you want is a ruined holiday.
By Madelin Baldwin