We can all spot them: that person who takes pictures of everything, walking around with their fanny pack on, map in hand…the typical tourist. When you are in a foreign place you can easily be picked out of the crowd by a local. Although we all try to be conscientious of our surroundings, it only takes a second to become a victim. They may appear to be a helping hand in a time of need, be weary of their smiling face!
Below are a few tips to help avoid being scammed while on vacation:
*Be aware when you are most vulnerable–Jetlagged, trying to adjust to a new environment, anxious about finding your way, unsure what things should cost, or even just delighted to have arrived – few of us are as alert as we might be when arriving in a foreign city.
*Pin down prices–When negotiating, be sure to set out what is included in the price. Perhaps you will be quoted a “final” price, but once the deal is done, you may find that a service charge, tax or additional fee has been added.
*Carefully look over restaurant bills– You don’t want to be charged for something you didn’t even get to enjoy!!
*Be numerate —If you can’t do the math in your head, you are a sitting duck. Double checking a price or a currency conversion will minimize your chances of being taken for a ride. Today most mobile phones have a calculator function or price converter – it might be worth checking out yours.
*Bring small change —Short-changing is a classic way to defraud a tourist, and the easiest way to avoid it is to have the right money. It is not always possible when buying foreign currency to insist on getting plenty of low-value notes. But it’s worth trying, and the more chance you have to pay with the right money, the less chance you have of being given too little change.
*Never exchange money on the street– To be sure you are getting the correct amount in return, always make sure to go to a bank or ATM to make your exchange.
*Be extremely wary of handing your passport to anyone who demands ID– With identity theft on the rise, you do not want to be stranded in a foreign country without your passport.
*Ask taxi drivers what the approximate fare will be before getting in–This will avoid arguing over highly priced fares later. Also asking for a receipt from a taxi driver may also discourage a driver from charging an enormous fare.
Last but not least— NEVER TELL ANYONE IT’S YOUR FIRST TIME VISITING A DESTINATION.