Travelling is beautiful, and if you can forget the scams that you have faced while travelling it can be a once in a lifetime experience. In most places, most of the local people are genuine, helpful and eager to guide. However, the few people who misguide and cheat the travellers are a cause of great concern. It is very important to know the nitty-gritty of the place you are travelling to. Especially if it a different country, you need to do your home work well. It’s not just about packing your rucksack and getting going, it’s about getting to know a new world with different cultures, language, customs and currency. You need to be fore warned and fore armed to avoid being scammed.
So, how to avoid scams while travelling?
After you select the place of your choice, try to learn about the place. Try to learn as much geographical information as you can and about their local customs, and language. Most importantly, know about the currency and the rates of exchange.
Arranging and booking your travel itinerary online from a reputed tour company is the safest bet. Research about the tour company, get their contact information for their local and regional offices. Interact with the tourists who have left their comments on the website and be sure of the credibility of the company and the packages they are offering.
If you are planning your own tour, make sure you check with the hotel’s website. Book the room and understand the cost. Ask them if the room charge include complimentary breakfast, wi-fi, taxes etc. Complimentary breakfast makes thing easier for the rest of the schedule. If you are a female traveller and travelling alone, check with the security of the hotel and its own transport facilities.
Exchange money at the airport on arrival. The rates are fairly reasonable and are legit. Also, you need not have to worry about the exchange all through your trip. Know about the charges on your credit/ debit cards on withdrawing money overseas.
Use your credit card while paying since that gives you a reasonable amount of protection against scams. While shopping in the local markets, take the bill if you are transacting with cash.
Taxis are common ruse for scams. Get into a cab only after you are convinced about the reputability. Hire taxis from your tour planner to avoid scams. Note the taxi number before getting in and settle on the price beforehand.
It would be unfair not to mention some of the technological advances that we are blessed with today. Use GPS (Global Positioning System)on your phone as a precautionary measure. It tells about your route, your destination, how far, how high and most importantly where you are. Trust me, it's a savior software in navigation.
Pressured selling is a favourite tactics for the scammers. Beware of the Beijing Tea House kind of scams where you are invited to a historical place and then presented with a huge bill. Also avoid people who are too helpful. Beware of the attractive locals who lead you to a bar only to vanish before the bill.
Don’t be scammed by an official in a badge or uniform. Check with their identity cards.
Always, double check with the guidebooks, internet and the local tour agencies. Word of mouth, I have found, to be the best way to travel safe and travel well.