Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Do you have any tips that I should follow when planning my upcoming vacation?

Two Tickets to Paradise Please

As you and your family make summer travel arrangements or plan your next vacation, keep the following tips in mind to avoid unwelcome surprises and ensure a safe, fun-filled trip.

I?ve selected my destination?. now what?

Research your vacation location before making any travel or hotel reservations. Only do business with a reputable travel agent or one that is recommended by family or friends. If traveling out of the country, become familiar with the currency exchange rates and local prices to plan your budget. Always check the local weather conditions, driving requirements and other information about your destination to avoid potential problems when you arrive. Those traveling internationally must obtain proper documentation needed to enter other countries before leaving the US. Passports are now required for travel to Canada and the Caribbean rather than just a birth certificate. Also be aware of any vaccination requirements and current health issues affecting the to which region you are traveling.

Should I contact my credit card companies?

Yes. Notify your credit card companies ahead of time to tell them when and where you will be traveling to avoid a freeze on your account that may be prompted by unusual spending patterns. Leave a copy of all credit card account numbers and contact information for the bank or card company with a trusted family member or friend. This will help you in canceling the cards in the event they are lost or stolen during your trip.

Is there such a thing as travel insurance?

Yes. Consider whether a travel insurance policy is right for your trip. Travel Insurance is comprehensive insurance that may compensate you for unforeseen trip cancellations, health problems or theft. Shop around for the best coverage and terms to fit your needs and make sure you understand the exclusions; simple changes in travel plans are unlikely to be covered.

When flying, check your airline?s luggage allowance guidelines and prohibited items before packing. Don?t overpack and always place a few items in another person?s bag in case your luggage is lost or stolen. Consider packing a change of clothes and other essentials in a carry-on bag with you.

Lock your luggage and be sure to keep items such as passports, tickets, medications, hotel confirmations, laptop computers and cell phones in your carry-on bag. Always place identification on both the outside and inside of your bags. Make sure to allow plenty of time for security screenings and airline check-in.

What about bringing items back into the United States?

If traveling internationally check with US customs on what can be taken out or brought into the country as well as any duty-free allowances. If you lose your passport while away, notify the local police and U.S. Embassy immediately so they can work on a replacement for reentry into the country. Make a copy of your original passport before you leave and bring along some extra photos.

I urge consumers who need additional information to contact my Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555. Finally, have fun and relax, it?s vacation afterall.