Quark Expeditions offers $1500 airfare credit for Antarctic travelers

The Antarctic travel season is now officially in full swing, with cruise ships carrying adventurous travelers across the Southern Ocean and around the Antarctic coastline. For many, a journey to the bottom of the planet is the trip of a lifetime and very high on the list of “must see” places. But a trip to the frozen continent can also be a prohibitively expensive one, which is why Quark Expeditions is currently offering airfare credits to help make the trip a reality for more travelers.

Quark, which is one of the top adventure travel companies in the world, is offering a USD $1500 credit per person for flights to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world and the launching point for most Antarctic cruises. The offer is good for all Antarctic travel booked with the company between January 16 and February 26, 2011.

Quark offers three unique itineraries for adventure travelers to choose from. They range in length from 12 to 20 days and each gives access to a variety of destinations and experiences on the Antarctic continent. For more details on this great offer, and to review the various itineraries that Quark has to offer, click here.

If Antarctica is high on your list of destinations, then perhaps this is the time to make a New Year’s resolution to visit that place at last. Let Quark Expeditions help make that dream a reality and take advantage of the $1500 credit in the process.

[Photo credit: Quark Expeditions]

Five chilling facts about Cyber Monday Shopping

Okay, your goal should be NOT to conform to what you see below. The travel industry, riding something of a recovery this year, is set to come out with some solid sales on Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year. So, as you click among hotel, airline and online travel agency sites, it will pay for you to be aware of the biggest risks you face.

Despite the many risks associated with online shopping – and the fact that they have been shoved in the public’s face since the early days of internet commercialization – people still roll the dice with their financial security. When you get excited about cheap tickets or a real bargain on the excursion of a lifetime, take a moment to make sure you aren’t getting scammed. Your savviest purchase may be the one you never make.

So, what are the risks? Let’s take a look at five scary facts from web security firm Webroot:1. Don’t trust page one: a high placement in Google search results shouldn’t be a sign of trust. According to Webroot, 59 percent of survey respondents trust the results they get in the first few pages, up from 39 percent last year. Unfortunately, this placement is “a target for malicious links.” Interestingly, the number of people using search engines is falling: “48 percent of online shoppers frequently if not always use search engines to find gifts online, compared to 52 percent in 2009,” Webroot reports.

Solution: Watch brand. If you recognize the company’s brand, you can be more comfortable with the purchase. Also, watch where the link sends you. For an extra layer of protection, enter the company’s address into the browser yourself instead of clicking the link in Google.

2. Risky wifi behavior: 18 percent of shoppers are likely to use public wifi for holiday shopping, Webroot reports, up from 12 percent in 2009. This can be risky, especially with 23 percent of respondents feeling comfortable using free public wifi.

Solution: Do your online shopping at home or at work. Stealing wifi from your neighbor so you can toss your credit card number onto the web is probably pretty stupid.

3. New site, new password: are you planning to jump on a deal from a company you haven’t used before? Well, this is the point of many of the Cyber Monday travel deals you’ll see: companies want to lure you away from your ol’ stand-by sites. Do take advantage of the hot promotions, but be smart. Using the same password everywhere is like hiding a house key under your doormat.

Solution: Use a new password every time you create an account with a travel website. Also, be one of the 72 percent of online shoppers who uses a “complex” password – i.e., a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

4. Social should be personal: 26 percent of respondents to the Webroot survey indicated that someone else had used their social media or email accounts to send friends messages in their names. With travel companies increasingly turning to social media platforms to market their deals and bolster their brands, expect a lot more interaction this year … which brings hefty doses of risk with it.

Solution: Take a look at your sent messages from time to time, and look at your Twitter stream from the perspective of another user. Make sure you recognize everything you’re putting out into the world.

5. Look for safety: 52 percent of Webroot’s respondents don’t check to see if a site uses SSL, and 50 percent don’t look for the padlock in the lower right corner of the web browser. This is like not twisting the doorknob after you lock it.

Solution: pay attention to where you make purchases online. In addition to getting comfortable with the company website, you also want to be aware of the security in place. If something feels off, play it safe: don’t buy. No deal is worth the consequences of risky online purchasing behavior.

[Via Insurance Information Institute, photo by InfoMofo via Flickr]

Five ways to protect your wallet on Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is around the corner, and the travel business is getting ready to hit you up with some great deals. If all goes as planned for them, you’ll rush to pry open your wallet and book your next trip at a fantastic discount. Ready? Well, not so fast …

There are a lot of other people who want access to your credit card, too. But, they don’t want to give you anything in return. The scammers will be out in full force, and it’s incumbent upon you to protect yourself.

Jeff Horne, threat research director at web security company Webroot, has a few ideas for how you can keep your cash safe on Cyber Monday – and all the time, frankly. Let’s take a look at five recommendations from a guy who’s in the business of knowing what the online bad guys are up to:
Horne recommends the following actions:1. Horse’s mouth: don’t click a link to make a purchase. Instead, go straight to the site. This will protect you from the risks associated with malicious links. If an airline, hotel or online travel agent offers up a deal, just go straight to the company to buy it.

2. Password discipline: don’t use your mom’s maiden name on every site where you have an account. Mix it up a bit to add some protection for your online shopping activity.

3. Pay attention: Horne suggests looking for the “signs of security,” such as “https” in the address bar. Make sure that the travel company is putting some security measures in place to protect you. In addition to keeping the thieves at bay, it also shows that a company is interested in taking care of you, making it worthy of your purchase and your loyalty.

4. Choose carefully: use a credit card instead of a debit card to stop payments immediately if something goes awry. Also, your risk will be limited to available credit, rather than the entirety of your bank account. PayPal users: monitor the account from which PayPal draws to make sure it isn’t compromised.

5. ‘Tis the season: if you get a “confirmation” email that doesn’t have a tracking number, delete it. If you aren’t sure about whether a purchase has been confirmed, go back to the travel site where you made it and view your order history.

[Via Insurance Information Institute, photo by TheTruthAbout via Flickr]

Join a trek study, travel for free!

Have you ever wanted to travel to an exotic, tropical locale, while taking part in an important study that could end a scourge that has plagued travelers for centuries? If you answered yes to that run-on question, then we have a travel tip for you.

TrekStudy.com is currently seeking travelers to take part in a clinical research study to test an experimental new patch designed to prevent Travelers’ Diarrhea. In fact, they’re even willing to pay for all travel expenses for the men and women who join the study, provided they are willing to go to one of nine different destinations in Mexico or Guatemala and stay for at least seven days. The destination cities in Mexico include Guadalajara, Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende, and Mexico City. Those interested in visiting Guatemala instead, are asked to visit Antigua, Quetzaltenango, Panajachel, or Guatemala City instead.

Eligible travelers must be between the ages of 18-64, in good overall health, and be willing to maintain a diary of their usage of the new patch for up to 17 days. To remain eligible, you must also meet some other criteria, such as not having received a diarrhea or cholera vaccine before you travel. To view the complete list of requirements, click here. You can also find answers to many other questions on the research studies’ FAQ which is found here.

Unfortunately, this study, and therefore the travel deal, are not open to just everyone. There are also a list of departure cities with clinics which will be conducting the research, and all participants will have to travel through those cities. That list includes Belfast, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Reading in the U.K., and Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, and Potsdam in Germany.

Interested travelers who meet the requirements and would like to join the study are encouraged to apply online.


Hilton January: buy now save all year

The end of the holiday season doesn’t mean all the discounts are gone. So, while the big box retailers begin to reset their prices to “normal,” Hilton is extending Christmas cheer through the end of January. The hotel chain is offering cuts of up to 33 percent on weekend rates in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. The brands included are Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites (keep in mind that not all properties are participating, though).

As long as you book by the end of the month, you can secure the discounted pricing for any Friday, Saturday or Sunday stay throughout the rest of the year. So, instead of scrambling at the last minute for Valentine’s Day, birthday or anniversary presents, get it all out of the way now. This could really take the headache out of gift-giving this year.

[Photo by Sue E via Flickr]