Sooner or later another school year will draw to a close. The exams will be finished and dissertations defended. It’s time to relax and think about a vacation. How about the beach? It would be great if your student days were over and you were earning good money at last, but students can usually only afford a cheap getaway which can take some time to find.
How do we start the search? Of course, using a search engine. Start by typing in ‘budget apartments in…’ and get back a long list of websites and adverts. And so we’re ready to start looking at potential destinations.
The very first and most important rule is to only trust well-known sites! Even if a little-known site seems to offer an unmissable bargain, don’t sign up straight away. It might just be bait to lure you into a trap where anything could be lurking.
A sudden price hike on a suspicious site is the least of your worries. These hidden charges are often presented as something quite legal. Maybe a promotion, highlighted in the advert you saw, only finished the day before. Or perhaps that bargain price masks a sizeable surcharge hidden in the small print. It’s always worth taking time to check out all the terms and conditions to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
There’s a far greater danger from infected web resources, and these are by no means unusual. Of course, these tend to be unknown sites offering prices that seem too good to be true; often they turn out to be neither good nor honest. However, it’s also popular for a reputable resource to be hacked. That’s why you should never forget to use an antivirus that can detect and block threats before they can harm you.
Some booking services invite you to install an app to get advance notice of special offers. It’s up to you whether you accept this or not, but we would advise caution. At the very least, we’d check it with a reliable antivirus to ensure that your personal details will be kept safe.
Occasionally you might be asked for bank card details. The site doesn’t want your money – it says – but needs to confirm that you are an adult and not a robot. Don’t forget, though, that serious sites never ask for this; there are other ways of confirming identities without jeopardizing your bank details.
Private rental services are also gaining popularity, and offer a chance to cut out the middle man and deal directly with property owners. But there are dangers here as well. Often customers are asked to pay in advance, and there is rarely any guarantee that this money will be refunded even if a force majeure situation changes your plans. Fraud is also common, with conmen creating several fake accounts. One is that of a fake owner, while the others are used to post enthusiastic reviews from allegedly happy customers. Take the time to look at the registration dates: it’s not unusual to find that owner and guests registered on the same day, or within a few days of each other.
Your hard-earned holidays are important, and it’s not worth trying to save a few pennies. It makes more sense to spend extra with an established, reputable company and get the vacation you’re hoping for, rather than take a chance on an unknown page which might leave your plans – and your finances – in ruins.