By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I've always booked my vacations through a local travel agent. I recently checked a travel web site and found that their prices were very good. I am very leery to book online with a company I know nothing about.

A: The Internet is a great research tool for consumers who wish to do vacation planning. These days, almost anything seems to be a click away. But when it comes to booking vacation packages via the Internet, there are some points worth considering. I recently had a friend book a 1-week trip to Prague. She discovered from another friend 48 hours before departure that a visa was required. This info wasn't stated when she booked her trip through the web site. The onus is on the buyer. It's the old adage "buyer beware." Michael Pepper, Registrar of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) states, "Before making a booking or passing your credit card information make sure first of all that the travel agency is registered with the TICO.

Now that you have taken this step make sure that you read the sellers terms and conditions before making a reservation." Pepper says that typically with leisure travel, deposits may be non-refundable or there may be penalties for cancellation or making changes to dates of travel. He adds, "To protect the consumer the travel agency is required by Regulation to offer trip cancellation insurance and mark on the invoice whether you have accepted or declined this service.

Next, make sure that you are aware of the documents that may be needed for your travel - Ontario travel agencies are required to provide this information." Many non-registered travel agencies outside Ontario may offer prices in U.S. dollars. This may not be clearly displayed, so be aware and ask questions. If you are still not sure, call TICO at toll free number 1-888-451-TICO or visit TICO's website (


Dispatches| Q&A | Photos | Fork | Compass Calls | Links | Search | Store | About | Contact | Home

All text & photos 2004.