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Before You Enter Trip Sweepstakes - Don't Make These Assumptions

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Trip sweepstakes can be wonderful, giving you the chance to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences, relaxing getaways, international travel, and much more.

However, not all trip sweepstakes are right for every person. Before you enter trip sweepstakes, make sure that you're not making assumptions that could spoil your experience.

Don't Assume Trip Sweepstakes Are Free

Even when you win a free trip, you may still have expenses to cover. Aside from airfare and hotel, here are some expenses commonly associated with trip prizes:
  • Transportation to/from the airport and hotel.
  • Meals while you are on the trip.
  • Transportation around the city/country you're visiting.
  • Rental car and gas.
  • Tips for housekeeping, taxis, etc.
  • Souvenirs.
  • Sightseeing expenses like entrance fees and tours.
  • Phone calls home.
  • Luggage, new clothes, or other necessities for the trip.
Be sure to check the rules to see if these and other expenses are covered. If not, consider whether you want to pay for them.

Don't Assume You'll Have Plenty of Time to Prepare for Trip Sweepstakes

Some trip sweepstakes leave only a few days between the time the winner is notified and the day you have to leave on your trip. Read the rules to see how much notice you'll receive if you win.

If the preparation time is short, make sure you have a passport on hand and can get the time off work on short notice. If not, you might want to skip the sweepstakes.

Don't Assume You Can Bring Your Kids on Trip Sweepstakes

Some trip sweepstakes have no problem (or even encourage) you to bring your child as a guest. Others, however, have strict age restrictions for the winner and all guests. Make sure you check the rules before entering if you want to bring minor guests with you if you win.

Don't Assume Airfare is Included in Trip Sweepstakes

Most trip sweepstakes offer airfare and hotel, but some don't. Be sure to check carefully if you don't want to end up being responsible for your own airfare.

In addition, some trip sweepstakes will remove the airfare portion of the prize if you live within a certain number of miles of the destination. Sometimes, they'll substitute a rental car or limo transportation to the hotel or event, but not always.

Don't Assume the Trip's ARV is Set in Stone

One of the drawbacks of trip sweepstakes is that US residents need to pay taxes on the vacation. However, the ARV is called the "average" retail value for a reason. The actual value will be determined after the prize trip has been taken.

For this reason, it's a good idea to document the lowest prices you can find for your trip. You may be able to request a lower value for your taxes.

The sponsor may also be able to work with you to reduce the total cost of your vacation. By turning down extras that you don't really want or taking one guest with you instead of three, you could reduce your tax cost.

Don't Assume You Can Take Cash Instead of a Trip

I've heard many people say that if they won trip sweepstakes, they would take the cash option instead. Not all trip sweepstakes offer a cash alternative, however. Read the rules, and if a cash alternative is not specifically offered, don't assume you will be able to talk the sponsor into giving you one.

Don't Assume You Can Give Trip Prizes Away

Some people think that if they win a trip that they don't want to use themselves, they could always give it to a friend or loved one. However, this is rarely the case.

Most trip sweepstakes require that the winner is one of the travelers, and that the winner and all guests must travel on the same itinerary.

There are some exceptions; a gift card to a travel site or airline might be usable by people other than the winner. But be sure to read the rules carefully to be sure that the trip is transferable if you don't want to go yourself.

Don't Assume Guests Get All the Extras

Some trip sweepstakes offer special extras like shopping sprees, photo shoots, spending cash, and admission to special events. Sometimes the guests are invited along on all of the bonus experiences, but sometimes only the winner will receive those portions of the prize.

To make sure that the guests aren't disappointed, be sure to read the rules carefully so you'll know what their portion of the trip sweepstakes win will include.

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