Spring break scam alert: your trip could cost 62% more than advertised


Wave a picture of sun, surf, and scantily clad members of the opposite sex partying, and any warm-blooded college student is bound to find it hard to read fine print. The result? Spring break travel scams.

We want to believe that we can have a week in the sun for $399, all-inclusive. Unfortunately, there are companies that prey on that innocence by promising this. However, the devil is in the details. The contract might reserve the right to change departure airports. Other charges could be lurking in that contract; fuel surcharges, charges for using a credit card to pay for the trip, absurd cancellation policies, waiving of the right to sue. A study by the California Student Public Interest Research Group found 'hidden, confusing and misleading fees' in every ad they reviewed, resulting in the true cost of a spring break trip up to 62% ($367) above the 'advertised' price.

Sadly, even contractual obligations are not always met. Canceled fights, overbooked rooms and poor resort conditions can make for a bummer of a break, and if you've signed away your right to sue, you'll have a hard time recouping your investment.

This would be a good reason to book through a reputable travel agent, who should be able to translate the contract for you, and should be aware of operators to avoid. You could also query the Better Business Bureau. At the end of a brutal quarter of studying, the last thing you want to do is hassle with a shyster, right? Spring break should be all about the sun, the parties, and kicking back, not pouring over clause B in subparagraph 6. Save that for the classroom.