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3 tips to avoid travel scams

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(Family Features) The internet brings vacations and getaways to travelers’ fingertips, but instant access also means vulnerability to fraudsters looking to steal data. Scams such as fake phone numbers on popular search engine results can lead to stolen money or sensitive personal information like credit card details.

Next time you search the web to book that long-awaited vacation, consider these tips from the experts at Expedia to spot, avoid and report scams.

Identify Common Scams

  • Search engine and gift card scams: Fraudsters will buy fake ads with illegitimate contact information for well-known companies to pose as agents and ensnare people searching for online support numbers. These imposters often request gift cards in exchange for services such as a trip refund or flight change, wire transfers or sensitive personal information. They may even use personal data obtained from unaware customers to use an itinerary look-up tool and view real trip details in order to gain additional trust.
  • Phone call scams: Scammers will sometimes use “spoofing” technology to make telephone numbers appear legitimate then claim a customer won a prize such as cash, a trip or credit for future travel from a trusted travel company. In exchange, these convincing scammers may ask for personal information including a name, address, payment information and social security number.
  • Email scams: Phishing is a scam criminals use to ask for personal information via email by tricking recipients into clicking a link, opening an attachment or directly providing the information. When they appear to come from established businesses or organizations, the emails can be quite convincing, as they sometimes even link to legitimate-looking websites.

When In Doubt, End the Conversation
If you think you’ve received a fraudulent phone call or are in contact with an imposter, hang up or end the conversation immediately.

Do not click any suspicious links or engage further. Double check the sender’s address and delete any suspicious emails. Take note of how you came into contact, such as the phone number you dialed, the contact information displayed and any other identifying information provided by the scammer.

Contact representatives of the company the scammer claimed to represent along with the Federal Trade Commission and state attorney general.

Trust the Experts
With a trusted travel group like Expedia, your experience and safety are the top priorities, meaning representatives won’t request a gift card in exchange for services, call or send an email asking for account passwords, request personal information unrelated to a previous service issue or request wire transfers or payment information through text messages.

If you need help with your trip, visit Expedia.com or use the mobile app for self-service tools like a 24/7 virtual agent so you can easily change or cancel trips, redeem credits and check on the status of a refund, all without having to call in to speak with an agent.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


SOURCE:
Expedia

 

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Throw a party like a pro

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(Family Features) Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply catching up with loved ones, playing host can be as demanding as it is enjoyable. Before gathering your crew for your next event, make a plan to ensure you get to enjoy the day as fully as your guests.

Keep the Menu Simple
An ornate spread may be impressive, but your guests are just as likely to appreciate a less demanding menu with a few standout dishes. Offer a single main dish, a couple of tried-and-true sides, some finger foods for snacking and a seasonal dessert. Beverage staples like tea, lemonade and water are all you really need, but if that feels too basic, you can offer a flavor station with fresh fruit like berries and lemon wedges, flavored syrups and other sweeteners. If you’ll be serving alcohol, don’t try to cater to everyone’s favorite. Select neutral white and red wines and one or two beer varieties. A signature cocktail you can premix and serve is another way to add a special touch.

Set a Thoughtful Theme
One area many hosts go overboard is theming their events. While setting a theme can be a fun idea, it doesn’t have to be fussy or complicated, and your decorations don’t have to be over the top. Subtle color, centerpieces and serving pieces are all places you can inject some thematic vibes without investing too much time or money. You can also let your theme influence any games or activities you plan, as well as other entertainment like background music.

Anticipate Guests’ Needs
Thinking ahead about your guests’ comfort can prevent scrambling once the party is underway. Consider needs like seating, where you’ll keep extra food for quick refills and essentials like more toilet paper in the guest bath. Also anticipate accidents like spills and have supplies ready to efficiently correct inevitable incidents. Remember to plan for extra trash bins and if guests will be congregating outdoors, provide extra sunscreen, bug spray and fans.

Organize Entertainment
Depending on the purpose of the party, your entertainment may be pretty clear, but if it’s a casual gathering, you’ll likely want to provide guests some ideas for passing the time. Board games and backyard games are almost always a hit. A playlist that fits your theme can add ambiance and provide background for conversation, but you can also inject some musical fun with karaoke. If you’ll have kids in attendance, provide age-appropriate options for shorter attention spans, too.


Make Cleanup Easy
After the last guest leaves, you may be ready to call it a night, but taking care of a few quick chores can make cleanup easier in the morning. Load the dishwasher and set it to run overnight, leaving any tough dishes to soak in hot, soapy water. Check for any spills or stains that need immediate attention and get a jump start on the floors. For a convenient hands-off experience, try the Eufy S1 Pro Robot Vacuum and Mop, which achieves a 99.99% sterilization rate when mopping and, using automated sensors, elevates the mophead and converts to powerful suction for carpeted areas. After cleaning, the robot docks to automatically empty its dustbin, dispose of wastewater and clean its mopping pads, drying them with hot air to inhibit bacterial growth and odors.

Explore more ideas to tackle entertaining (and its aftermath) with ease at eufy.com.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (group of friends)


SOURCE:
Anker Innovations

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Explore your dream destination:Tips for a a travel adventure

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(Family Features) If you find yourself dreaming of sunshine, sand and sparkling pools, it may be time to start looking forward to your next vacation getaway. Get a jumpstart on building excitement for the journey ahead by beginning preparations early, which offers many benefits, including better rates and more time to research your options.

Start exploring ideas for a fun-filled trip with these tips from the travel experts at Funjet, which specializes in providing travelers with vacation packages to hundreds of destinations around the world:

Plan Ahead
Booking your vacation well in advance allows you to take advantage of the best deals at
the most popular hotels and hottest travel dates. In addition, by being flexible with travel dates,
families can save hundreds of dollars. Moving travel dates by a day or two can result in major savings, often even more than the discounts you can get on last-minute trips.

Research Dream Destinations
Deciding where you want to go is the first step, but with a literal world of possibilities, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. One place you can find inspiration is by exploring the top travel destinations others are choosing. For example, the top 10 travel destinations booked with Funjet in 2023 include numerous international destinations. Las Vegas is the only U.S. city to make the top 10 list. Mexico is especially popular, with Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose Del Cabo. Others include Belize City, Belize; Liberia, Costa Rica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Panama City, Panama; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Consider All-Inclusive Options
Whether you prefer adults-only or family-friendly, luxury or budget-friendly, there’s a diverse range of all-inclusive resorts to choose from. All-inclusives are known for their convenience and value. They offer hassle-free experiences with meals, drinks and often activities included. While many resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean islands are all-inclusive, be aware that smaller islands like Antigua may feature European plan-style hotels, where meals and drinks are not included.

An all-inclusive package usually encompasses a variety of activities and amenities curated to offer an enjoyable and cost-effective vacation. Within these packages, guests often have the opportunity to access amenities such as swimming pools, engage in sports activities, participate in fitness classes and other entertaining experiences.

Pack Like a Pro
Gathering everything you need for a vacation, especially with kids in tow, can be stressful. To make the process easier, organize your packing based on factors like the length of your trip, airline policies and your family’s activities. Essentials like an umbrella should not be overlooked, especially if your destination’s weather can be unpredictable. Maximize luggage space by packing travel-sized toiletries and put electronic necessities like your mobile device, charger and headphones in your carry-on bag.

Anticipate Extra Expenses
While all-inclusive resorts make tropical getaways stress-free and economical, it’s customary to express appreciation for exceptional service with tips. Resorts typically don’t require tipping, but guests commonly tip as a gesture of gratitude. When deciding to tip, families should consider modest amounts, like $1-5 per meal per person, and be mindful of different service levels as well as the convenience of using local currency. Having cash on hand makes it easier to tip as needed and ensure you have extra for souvenirs and other purchases.

Unplug and Unwind
Although most travelers believe it’s essential to stay connected, it’s a good idea to limit screen time so you can make the most of your vacation. Schedule a specific time, preferably in the morning, to address emails and online tasks then enjoy a worry-free rest of the day. While phones are often used to capture photos and videos or look up information about nearby attractions, putting away the screens means you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery, connect with loved ones and have a truly rejuvenating experience.

Protect Your Group Travel
When traveling with a group, there’s a greater chance of something happening that changes plans between when you book your trip and leave. That’s why it can be a good idea to take a “travel with confidence” approach and consider including a travel protection plan in your reservations. This insurance allows travelers to cancel their trip for any reason, if necessary. When traveling with a group, stick with nonstop flights when possible, as you’re more likely to stay together, which can mean more cost-effective travel.

Enjoy the Experiences
While spending leisure time by the resort pool with afternoon cocktails can be a relaxing reward, you can make the most of a destination vacation by also planning a tour. Many destinations offer services that can assist travelers with booking various adventures, ranging from catamaran cruises to hikes and almost everything in between.

Find more tips and plan your next adventure at Funjet.com or call your local travel advisor.

Where to Stay
Start planning your dream getaway by checking out these traveler-favorite destination properties, based on bookings through Funjet:

Top 10 All-Inclusive Resorts

  • Dreams Onyx Resort & Spa (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort (Nayarit, Mexico)
  • Riu Caribe (Cancun, Mexico)
  • Riu Guanacaste (Costa Rica)
  • Riu Negril (Jamaica)
  • Iberostar Grand Paraiso (Riviera Maya, Mexico)
  • Riu Cancun (Mexico)
  • Royalton Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection (Mexico)
  • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  • Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa (Oaxaca, Mexico)

Highly Rated Hotels for Groups

  • Royalton Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection (Mexico)
  • Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  • Dreams Flora Resort & Spa (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Oasis Palm (Cancun, Mexico)
  • Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • Marival Emotions Resort & Suites (Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico)
  • Royalton Punta Cana, An Autograph Collection (Dominican Republic)
  • Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa (Oranjestad, Aruba)
  • Bahia Principe Grand La Romana (Dominican Republic)
  • Dreams Macao (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Secrets Playa Blanca Costa Mujeres (Mexico)
  • Zoetry Agua Punta Cana (Dominican Republic)


SOURCE:
Funjet

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Go green with home cleaners

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(Family Features) If you’re among those looking for ways to clean your home while also going green, it may be easier than you think.

Consider these easy and affordable solutions to help you live more environmentally friendly. You may be surprised to find you already have many of these household products on hand.

Baking soda: A natural, safe, effective and gentle solution, baking soda can serve multiple home cleaning needs. Make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Rub onto silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry for shining serving or decor pieces. Additionally, you can sprinkle baking soda on upholstery and carpet to get rid of odors.

Vinegar: With the acidity to help get rid of dirt and grime around the home, vinegar can be used to clean cloudy glassware. Simply soak paper towels or a cloth in full-strength white distilled vinegar and wrap around both the inside and outside of the glass. Let sit before rinsing clean. To remove lime deposits on your tea kettle, add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar to the water and let it sit overnight. In the morning, boil the vinegar for a few minutes then rinse with water.

Lemons: With a fresh, natural smell, lemons have the acidity to remove soap scum, clean and shine brass and remove hard water deposits. Just spray some lemon juice on tile surfaces to remove soap scum or hard water deposits. Squeeze lemon juice on a cloth and use to polish brass around the home.

Houseplants: Plants serve as natural air purifiers. African violets and ferns are beautiful ways to help clear the air.

Other easy, green ideas for keeping your home clean include opening windows and doors while you clean to improve air quality and taking off your shoes when you come inside, which can help avoid tracking dust, dirt, pollen and more throughout the house.

Visit eLivingtoday.com for more eco-friendly advice.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


SOURCE:
eLivingtoday.com

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