SmarterTravel https://www.smartertravel.com The Best Trips Start Here Wed, 01 Mar 2017 17:17:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 Travel Fraud – Down but Not Out https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/03/01/travel-fraud-not/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/03/01/travel-fraud-not/#respond Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:32:03 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=168165 The chance of your being the victim of online fraud increased by 8.9 percent in 2016. That’s across all product categories. In apparel, the crime rate increased an eye-popping 69.9 percent. And food-and-beverage scams were up 49.8 percent. For travel, however, the online crime rate was down, by a full 33 percent. The data are […]

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The chance of your being the victim of online fraud increased by 8.9 percent in 2016. That’s across all product categories. In apparel, the crime rate increased an eye-popping 69.9 percent. And food-and-beverage scams were up 49.8 percent.

For travel, however, the online crime rate was down, by a full 33 percent.

The data are from the latest Global Fraud Attack Index, compiled by Forter, a fraud-prevention company, in conjunction with the Merchant Risk Council.

Forter attributes the overall rise in online fraud in part to the increasingly widespread adoption of EMV chip cards, which has made offline fraud more difficult and forced would-be miscreants to redirect their efforts to Internet crime.

Know Thy Seller

Even with the decrease, there’s still plenty of travel fraud to be wary of. So, what should travelers look out for?

According to Michael Reitblat, CEO of Forter, the two most prevalent types of travel scam are shady merchants selling tickets purchased with stolen credit card credentials, and fake travel websites created to steal travel consumers’ financial and personal information.

In the first case, buyers of the fraudulently acquired tickets are likely to find themselves turned away at the airport, or worse, when it’s discovered that the form of payment was illegitimate. And in the second case, travelers not only receive no tickets, they have their identities stolen as well.

While not nearly as prevalent, Reitblat cited a growing and particularly heartbreaking trend in travel fraud. Travel scammers, playing on the increase in refugees from war-torn countries like Syria, have targeted those desperate to escape the violence, selling them cheap air tickets that are either counterfeit or fraudulently acquired. In the end, they’re left with no money, no tickets, and possibly facing criminal charges as well.

The stories are a reminder that caution remains the order of the day when chasing low prices, and an argument for doing business directly with travel suppliers or with established online travel agencies like Expedia and Orbitz. When purchasing travel, in other words, do so from a trusted seller.

Reader Reality Check

Have you ever been the victim of a travel scam?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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10 Best Puerto Rico Beaches https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/03/01/best-puerto-rico-beaches/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/03/01/best-puerto-rico-beaches/#respond Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:03:39 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=168064 By official count, there are more than 240 beaches spread across the tropical islands of Puerto Rico. But the locals will tell you there are many more—and some are among the most enchanting in all of the Caribbean. From long sandy strips of pure natural beauty to a high-rise fringed oceanfront that beckons cruise ships, […]

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By official count, there are more than 240 beaches spread across the tropical islands of Puerto Rico. But the locals will tell you there are many more—and some are among the most enchanting in all of the Caribbean. From long sandy strips of pure natural beauty to a high-rise fringed oceanfront that beckons cruise ships, you’ll find a beach to your liking in Puerto Rico. Here are the 10 best Puerto Rico beaches, whatever your taste.

The Best Puerto Rico Beaches

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10 Best Things to Do in Puerto Rico https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/03/01/best-things-puerto-rico/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/03/01/best-things-puerto-rico/#respond Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:01:56 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=168066 Whether you’re in the mood for sun and sand, old Spanish forts, or boatloads of succulent roast pork, you can always get your fix in Puerto Rico. A U.S. territory since 1898, Puerto Rico is proudly and exuberantly different than anywhere on the mainland. And that’s why so many people come to visit these Spanish-speaking […]

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Whether you’re in the mood for sun and sand, old Spanish forts, or boatloads of succulent roast pork, you can always get your fix in Puerto Rico. A U.S. territory since 1898, Puerto Rico is proudly and exuberantly different than anywhere on the mainland. And that’s why so many people come to visit these Spanish-speaking islands where you don’t even need a passport to visit.

Puerto Rican culture is animated by a sort of hybrid vigor, a product of the intermixing of indigenous Taino Indians, Spanish settlers from Andalusia and the Canary Islands, and freed West African slaves. The result is a freewheeling kaleidoscope of Afro-Latin musical traditions and cocina criolla, or creole cooking.

It would be easy to spend an entire trip just on Puerto Rico’s main island, Borinquen. But its smaller sisters are worth a visit, too. The tourist-friendly islands of Culebra and Vieques lie to the east. And for the more adventurous traveler, the remote, essentially uninhabited islands of Mona, Desecheo, and Monito—which have been called the Galapagos of the Caribbean—lie to the west.

Whatever your speed, you’ll quickly discover that the islands of Puerto Rico are full of little things that will take your breath away. Here are the best things to do in Puerto Rico.

What to Do in Puerto Rico

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Swimming in the Amazon https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/03/01/swimming-in-the-amazon/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/03/01/swimming-in-the-amazon/#respond Wed, 01 Mar 2017 15:22:18 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=168100 “It’s not actively bleeding,” the paramedic mused as he examined a small cut on my heel. “It should be okay with the piranhas.” Feeling less than reassured, I eyed up the pitch-black waters of the Amazon River that I was expected to plunge into for a refreshing afternoon swim. Our cruise itinerary for the week […]

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“It’s not actively bleeding,” the paramedic mused as he examined a small cut on my heel. “It should be okay with the piranhas.”

Feeling less than reassured, I eyed up the pitch-black waters of the Amazon River that I was expected to plunge into for a refreshing afternoon swim. Our cruise itinerary for the week flashed through my head: still to come was searching for caiman (a crocodile-like creature with teeth that were just as strong and sharp) and fishing for piranhas, all in the same river I was about to jump into.

Caimin. Piranhas. Swimming. It seemed to me that one of these activities did not quite fit with the other. On the other hand, when else would I get a chance to swim in the Amazon River? Besides, the Peruvian sun overhead was beating down, and the mosquitoes were relentlessly feasting on my sweaty limbs. The water would offer relief. I took the leap of faith (and by leap, I mean I slowly climbed down the boat’s ladder and gently lowered myself in to the water, being careful to avoid getting any of the water in my mouth or eyes).

The water was cool and dark—we were swimming in a section of blackwater. Here, the river was inky, stained by tannins that have leached from the decaying vegetation below, which meant (for better or for worse), I couldn’t see what other creatures were sharing the water with me.

Behind me, I suddenly heard a sharp exhale of water, followed by a gasp from my fellow swimmers–grey river dolphins splashed in the river just a few yards away, alerting us to their presence with bursts of air from their blowholes. Rather than fearing the boat and group of tourists in their water, they seemed amused by us, possibly because we were using brightly colored pool noodles to stay afloat in the river.

Fortunately, the river dolphins in the Amazon are revered and protected by locals—thanks in large part to local legends that promise harm and misfortune upon anyone who kills or eats a dolphin. The dolphins circled around us for a few magical minutes before sliding into the water and heading on their way.  I felt reassured–it’s said that dolphins won’t swim near caimins, so I hoped my chances of becoming bait were lower than I had feared.

As we bobbed gently in the water, the sounds of the jungle surrounded us. The boat engine was off and the air filled with the calls of parrots, the chatter of monkeys, and the constant buzz of insects. I was well and truly immersed in the Amazon—feeling its cool water around me, hearing its jungle song, and seeing the green trees towering around me.

Eventually, I climbed back into the boat, exhausted and exhilarated. Our guide pulled celebratory beers out of the cooler, and we sipped ice-cold cervezas as our skiff raced back to our home for the week, the Delfin II, a river cruise ship that was tied up a few miles away. The wind and still-powerful setting sun dried us off quickly as we sped over the water. As the brilliant green forest rushed by, I gazed down at the water and felt a huge sense of pride, happiness, and relaxation.

A trip down the Amazon forces travelers to meld with the ways of the river—there’s simply no forcing the river to adapt to your small, human needs. No matter how luxe your tour, you have to confront all of the wonderful and sometimes scary aspects of the jungle and the water. You can’t explore the lush green forests without getting a few bug bites and spotting a few snakes. There’s certainly no Wi-Fi out here (even on a luxury river cruise) and so you’re forced to disconnect from your usual life—your only focus now is the environment around you. Forgot something or want a snack? The nearest corner store is hundreds of miles away.

The Amazon forces you to be truly, authentically present inside of it, and that’s what sets this destination apart. You’ll come here and face your fears: of piranhas, of being disconnected, and of being vulnerable. But you’ll be rewarded with a true sense of discovery and accomplishment. And, of course, bragging rights for having braved swimming in the Amazon.

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Caroline Morse was hosted by Delfin Amazon Cruises on her trip to the Amazon. Follow her on Instagram TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1 for photos from her adventure. For more information about Delfin Amazon Cruises, visit www.DelfinAmazonCruises.com

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Join JetBlue’s Program, Fly, Earn 5,000 Bonus Points https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/28/join-jetblues-program-fly-earn-5000-bonus-points/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/28/join-jetblues-program-fly-earn-5000-bonus-points/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2017 22:42:53 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=168116 Not yet a member of JetBlue’s TrueBlue program? This new bonus offer might be a mind-changer. Offer Details Through April 16, travelers who enroll in JetBlue’s TrueBlue program and complete a JetBlue flight will earn 5,000 bonus points. The qualifying flight may be either one-way or roundtrip. Registration is required. Deal or No Deal This […]

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Not yet a member of JetBlue’s TrueBlue program? This new bonus offer might be a mind-changer.

Offer Details

Through April 16, travelers who enroll in JetBlue’s TrueBlue program and complete a JetBlue flight will earn 5,000 bonus points.

The qualifying flight may be either one-way or roundtrip.

Registration is required.

Deal or No Deal

This is the most generous JetBlue new-member bonus in recent memory. Any non-members who will be flying JetBlue during the promotion period should certainly register and bank the bonus points.

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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85% of Travelers Are Satisfied with Airlines. Really? https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/28/85-travelers-satisfied-airlines-really/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/28/85-travelers-satisfied-airlines-really/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2017 22:35:54 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=168092 How satisfied are you with the current state of commercial air travel? If I had to guess, based on both my own experience and the feedback I receive from readers, I’d say that the consensus answer would be: Not very. Flights are full. Seats are packed tighter than ever. Niggling fees are budget-crushers. Lines are […]

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How satisfied are you with the current state of commercial air travel?

If I had to guess, based on both my own experience and the feedback I receive from readers, I’d say that the consensus answer would be: Not very.

Flights are full. Seats are packed tighter than ever. Niggling fees are budget-crushers. Lines are long. What’s to like?

Airlines for America, the trade group that represents the interests of most U.S. airlines, begs to differ. According to the organization’s latest Status of Air Travel in the United States report, 85 percent of those surveyed were either “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their overall airline experience. Ten percent were “neutral” on travel, and a mere 6 percent were either “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.”

How does A4A explain the results, which seem so at odds with my own admittedly unscientific expectations? According to the news release:

Enhanced amenities like gourmet food options, further investments in technology, both at the airport and onboard the aircraft, and collaborative industry-government efforts to expedite screening for travelers at security checkpoints are further enhancing consumers’ positive views of air travel today, resulting in even more satisfaction around their flying experience.

Tell that to the flyer crammed into the middle coach seat of a full flight as he chows down on over-salted peanuts and bitter coffee.

A4A has a vested interest in putting the best face on the airlines’ performance; the organization is paid to do just that. So it’s no surprise that their surveys’ results reliably align with their mission. Educated consumers are savvy enough to consider the source.

But even as travelers will surely take A4A’s findings with a grain of salt, there’s cause for concern. If the organization’s customers, the U.S. airlines, take the positive reviews seriously, they’re unlikely to take the steps necessary to address travelers’ very real needs and complaints. Travelers, then, can only hope the airlines follow their lead when assessing the survey results, and consider the source.

Reader Reality Check

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “very dissatisfied” and 5 being “very satisfied,” how would you rate your overall satisfaction with air travel?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

Don't Miss a Trip, Tip, or Deal!

Let us do the legwork! Sign up for our free newsletter now.

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7 Helpful Hacks to Pack for Opposite Climates https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/28/hacks-to-packing-for-opposite-climates/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/28/hacks-to-packing-for-opposite-climates/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2017 16:43:03 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=168078 Heading to a tropical island or snowy wonderland is a great way to break up the dreary winter months—but packing for opposing climates can mean lugging a bigger travel bag. Caribbean-bound travelers foregoing winter coats might regret it when they return home during a blizzard (something I was recently guilty of), and brisker destinations of course […]

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Heading to a tropical island or snowy wonderland is a great way to break up the dreary winter months—but packing for opposing climates can mean lugging a bigger travel bag. Caribbean-bound travelers foregoing winter coats might regret it when they return home during a blizzard (something I was recently guilty of), and brisker destinations of course require some denser clothing.

But packing what you need doesn’t have to be a hassle if you have the right accessories and core pieces. Here are seven multi-use items to consider next time you’re packing for opposite climates.

Tips to Packing for Opposite Climates

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Editor’s Note: Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

Associate Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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BREAKING: $39+ Sale from JetBlue, 2 Days Only! https://www.smartertravel.com/deals/breaking-39-sale-jetblue-2-days/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 14:28:04 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?post_type=st_deals&p=168068 JetBlue’s newest sale discounts travel across the U.S., to the Caribbean, and to Latin America this spring. Flights start as low as $39 each way (round-trip is not required). Travel at the lowest prices is valid between March 8 and May 17. Book by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 1 for the best prices and […]

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JetBlue’s newest sale discounts travel across the U.S., to the Caribbean, and to Latin America this spring. Flights start as low as $39 each way (round-trip is not required).

Travel at the lowest prices is valid between March 8 and May 17. Book by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 1 for the best prices and availability. Additional rules and restrictions may apply.

JetBlue‘s advertised one-way fares include:

  • $39 — Long Beach to/from Reno
  • $49 — Boston to/from New York City
  • $59 — Pittsburgh to/from Ft. Lauderdale
  • $114 — Orlando to/from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
  • $129 — Los Angeles to/from Orlando
  • $134 — Ft. Lauderdale to/from Bogota, Colombia
  • $149 — New York City to/from Bridgetown, Barbados

Don’t see a fare you like? View all flights to/from your city.

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12 Spring Break Essentials for Travelers https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/27/spring-break-essentials/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/27/spring-break-essentials/#respond Mon, 27 Feb 2017 21:32:25 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=167931 Whether you’re traveling with family, college roommates, or your significant other, you’ll want to pack these spring break essentials for your warm weather getaway. From the latest sun protection to stylish hybrid sneakers, make sure these 12 items are in your spring break suitcase. Packing Tips: Spring Break Essentials for Trips More from SmarterTravel: 7 […]

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Whether you’re traveling with family, college roommates, or your significant other, you’ll want to pack these spring break essentials for your warm weather getaway. From the latest sun protection to stylish hybrid sneakers, make sure these 12 items are in your spring break suitcase.

Packing Tips: Spring Break Essentials for Trips

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Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.

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Montreal Things to Do – Attractions & Must See https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/27/montreal-things-attractions-must-see/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/02/27/montreal-things-attractions-must-see/#respond Mon, 27 Feb 2017 21:27:47 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=168060 Montreal Things to Do Montreal is a beautiful and modern city with some great neighborhoods, a rich history, and no shortage of things to do and sights to see. Things to Do Olympic Park houses a stadium, the Biodome, and the Botanic Gardens. The Biodome tour takes you through the Canadian tropical rainforest, the maple forest, up the […]

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Montreal Things to Do

Montreal is a beautiful and modern city with some great neighborhoods, a rich history, and no shortage of things to do and sights to see.

Things to Do

Olympic Park houses a stadium, the Biodome, and the Botanic Gardens. The Biodome tour takes you through the Canadian tropical rainforest, the maple forest, up the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and ends at the Sub Polar region. Each habitat is realistic and beautifully presented. The Botanical Garden consists of 10 greenhouses, an Insectarium, a Chinese garden, and a Japanese garden. Each greenhouse has its own theme. The Chinese garden hosts a lantern festival in autumn.

The Casino de Montréal features lavish decor and plenty of entertainment with over 120 gaming tables and 3,200 slot machines. Catch a show at the Cabaret and feast on haute cuisine at Nuances.

La Ronde Amusement Park has something for everyone. One section of the park hosts rides that cater to all thrill levels and boasts of the world’s highest wooden rollercoaster. Another area has about 10 different rides geared for young children. Ribambelle and the Z’s, sing and dance, and perform six shows daily. In late July, La Ronde hosts the L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, the world’s most prestigious fireworks competition.

Neighborhoods

Old Montreal is a small district with cobblestone streets, trendy shops, ultramodern art galleries, great restaurants, and outstanding architecture. Don’t miss City Hall, the Hotel De Ville, or Old Port.

Chinatown has plenty of great places to eat and many cool little shops.

Above ground, downtown Montreal looks similar to most modern big cities. Below ground however, you’ll find over twenty miles of tunnels which connect shopping malls, apartment buildings, hotels, commercial buildings, several train and bus terminals, and the Bell Center amphitheater and arena.

The former working-class district known as Atwater is now a trendy neighborhood with a thriving Sunday market, shops, cafes, and historic churches. There’s also a tour boat that takes visitors up and down the canal.

History

Montreal boasts of a long and rich history with no shortage of must see museums and historical sites. The Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal dates to 1672 and served as the first cathedral of the Diocese of Montreal from 1821 to 1822. Canada’s largest church, the St Joseph Oratory, stands on the southwest edge of Mount Royal. The exterior of this beautiful basilica is Italian Renaissance and the interior is contemporary.

The Museum of Fine Arts is a comprehensive museum with extensive European and Canadian collections.

Built in the 18th century, Château Ramezay was home to the 11th governor of Montreal. Benjamin Franklin stayed here for a short time in 1776.

Visit actual archeological digs at the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History. Located in the complex called Place Des Arts, the Contemporary Art Museum has an extensive collection of modern art.

Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about Montreal things to do.

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