Laissez les bons temps rouler! Throw me something mista! Those are two phrases one will hear during any Mardi Gras festivity. But before you start celebrating, Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be cautious of third party booking sites and to avoid becoming a victim of theft or scam. Here are a few tips to make sure the good times do, indeed, roll.
BBB tips for a Happy Mardi Gras:
- Traveling to be a part of the festivities? Start With Trust®. Check with BBB.org for travel agents, hotels, restaurants and other travel necessities. It is also a great source if you are local and buying beads and other throws for a ball or parade. See our advice for planning your next vacation or trip.
- Shop around and shop carefully. Book directly with the hotel or use a reputable third-party travel site. Review the company’s Business Profiles on BBB.org. Verify the third-party entity’s connection to the hotel or confirm your reservation. See our tips on booking a hotel room.
- Check for look-alikes. Many websites can make themselves look like official brands, even fraudulently using official names or logos. Some use very similar web addresses.
- Confirm your reservation. Even a third-party booking site should give you a way to confirm your reservation, so you won’t be stranded when you arrive. Remember that confirming a phony reservation with the hotel afterward, may be too late.
- Know your surroundings. Before heading out to celebrate, familiarize yourself with the parade route. More often than not, being in unfamiliar places makes you more vulnerable to street crimes. Also, be aware of where the local police are located.
- Be sure to lock vehicles at all times. Even so, do not leave cash or other valuables in your car. If you must travel with important documents, use the hotel safe before heading out to celebrate.
- Plan your routes. Be aware that during Mardi Gras, sections of major thoroughfares are blocked off with barricades for parade safety. Plan routes to and from parades and other events accordingly.
- Bring only the bare necessities. Leave unnecessary gadgets and other high-value items at home or in your hotel. Otherwise, keeping an eye on pickpocket scam artists can get as hard as enduring the busy streets!
- Minimize theft attempts. Use your front pockets or a fanny pack for keeping important belongings on your person. Keep them handy, but not an easy target for petty thieves.
- ATM Skimmers. Beware of ATM skimmers at banks, convenience stores, and ATM machines. Pull on the card slider; if it is loose or looks altered, report it to a business owner or manager and find another ATM. Read more about skimming and shimming.
- Alcohol Safety. Protect yourself from drugs or other unknown substances. Never leave your drink unattended or accept a drink unless you saw it being poured. If there is no bartender, stick to bottled drinks and avoid punch bowls. If you think your drink has been tampered with, don’t drink it, and tell someone else immediately in case you get sick.