Three Loopholes That Could Ruin Your Vacation

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Your travel contracts are riddled with enough surprise clauses to ruin a vacation. Outwit the lawyers by studying these loopholes.

Checked Luggage? Not our problem. Airlines are happy to charge for a checked bag, but there’s a long list of items for which airlines aren’t liable on a domestic flight, including antiques, artifacts, artwork, books, china, computers, software and strollers. Kind of makes you wonder what they actually do cover? Short answer: clothes and toiletries, mostly.

Cruise itineraries are merely suggestions. Companies can skip port stops anytime during the trip, meaning your ship could sail to the middle of the Caribbean and back, making no ports of call. All you’d get from missing out would be a refund of port fees and taxes.

Never take the road less traveled. Car rental companies can void insurance coverage if you violate your agreement. Turns out, one of the provisions is that you stick to paved roads. That’s not easy in rural areas, especially when the GPS on your rental car points you down a dirt road. What else can void the contract? Modifying your car in any way—so keep those stickers away from the kids.

This piece, written by Christopher Elliott, first appeared in the August/September 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Elliott is the author of How to Be the World’s Smartest TravelerFollow him on Twitter @elliottdotorg.

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