Booking a winter get away? Here’s advice from the pros

Whether you book online, by phone or in person, consumers can tap into the expertise of travel agents registered with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) to get professional advice and benefit from the consumer protection provided when booking with a registered Ontario travel agency.

1.   Check for a list of travel agencies. Booking with a TICO registered travel agency gives you consumer protection that includes coverage from the Travel Compensation Fund.

2.   Research and ask questions: The internet is a great source of information, but when booking, check to see if you are dealing with a TICO registered travel agency. Travel agents can help you make the right decision by offering first-hand references.

3.   Buy travel insurance. Ontario travel agencies are required to advise you of the availability of trip cancellation insurance and out-of-province health insurance when you book.

4.   Know the terms and conditions of your booking. Before you confirm your booking, your travel agent must disclose the terms and conditions to you. Pay attention to details on cancellation, changes to bookings and refunds.

5.   Get a receipt. A TICO registered travel agency must provide a receipt for all payment transactions, especially when customers pay in cash. The receipt must outline details of the travel services that you purchased. Keep a paper copy of all transactions, correspondence, confirmations and anything related to your booking, including the description of your hotel and the services included.

6.   Check passports and visas. Your Ontario travel agency must tell you at the time of booking what travel documentation is required for each person travelling. Many countries require visitors to have passports, visas or other documents such as health certificates and vaccinations. 

7.   Make copies of your passport, visa, insurance policy, airline tickets and credit card numbers. Put a copy in a different place than the originals while travelling and leave a copy with someone at home.

8.   Check dates, times and flight numbers. Your travel agent is required to check all tickets and travel documents for accuracy. The day before your flight leaves, confirm departure times. Check in 2-3 hours before the flight to ensure you get through security.

9.   Label luggage. Put your name and home address on the inside and outside of the bag. Carry jewelry, money, medications, important documents, and valuables in your hand luggage. 

10. Pack properly. Baggage and weight restrictions on the number of bags permitted vary from airline to airline. Find out what the weather is usually like during your visit. Most often forgotten item: toothbrush. Most needed item: jeans.