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It is unfortunately all too easy for marketers and salespeople to make any warm, seaside destination sound like paradise. While there are many, many reputable beach resorts and all-inclusive vacation packages that provide excellent value and a wonderful experience, there are also plenty of small shops out there hoping to make a buck off a naïve traveler.
A few ways to help ensure that you get the vacation you are looking for are to ask a lot of questions about the location, amenities, what is included in the charges and what isn't.
Ask for current photos of accommodations and the area, so that you are not making your decisions based on pictures from years ago. Ask about cancellation policies and natural disaster policies. Most reputable establishments will let you reschedule your visit within a reasonable amount of time should your destination be affected by a hurricane, for example. Ask for references so that you can get a first-hand report from a fellow traveler.
Also, ratings by well-known, independent agencies, such as a travel guide, travel magazine or AAA, will indicate the legitimacy of an establishment and provide a measurable review of their services. Finally, remember that – in general – you get what you pay for: either be willing to pay a little more of the peace of mind of knowing you are getting everything you want, or be willing to be flexible and potentially “rough” it if you want to stick to a smaller budget. Usually, though, you can find a middle ground and have a great time for a reasonable price.