Have you ever had the feeling you’re being ripped off on a vacation? Maybe you’re taking a taxi in Paris or a tour in Italy, but you have the distinct feeling that you’re paying more than you should. Maybe you’re even seeing lower advertised rates, but language barriers make it difficult to determine whether the price hike is legit or a scam.
Sadly, there are people all over the world who take advantage of tourists. In fact, some people make a good living off of scamming unsuspecting travelers. And sometimes, the rip-offs hit closer to home, like when they’re coming from your own bank. But if you’re savvy, you can avoid all or most of the scams. Here’s how to tell if you’re being ripped off in a foreign country.
Use cash whenever possible
Before you visit any foreign country, check with your bank to see if there are any fees for using your card internationally. Unfortunately, because the money must be converted, there are often fees associated with using credit or debit cards. The same holds true for ATMs. It’s kind of a rip off, but you can avoid this one by bringing cash and/or travelers checks and using them whenever possible.
You’ll want to use cash in the local currency, of course, and the best way to avoid being scammed is to exchange your currency before leaving. If you have to exchange cash in a foreign country, read online reviews before choosing a company.
Contact your cellular provider
If you want to have use of your phone in another country, the best way is often to contact your cellular provider. Depending on your phone, you may be able to add international service for a short period of time. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting suckered into paying made up fees on a SIM card you buy overseas.
Use Uber or Lyft
Uber and Lyft operate in many countries around the world, and this can help you avoid the notoriously dodgy cab drivers while traveling. You know, the ones driving unmarked Jetta or Mazda sedans? They promise they’re legit, but are they really? When you book your ride through an app, you’ll know exactly what you’re paying, so there are no surprises.
Research tipping customs
In the United States, it’s customary to tip for a lot of services. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the world does. This may feel wrong for Americans, but in many places, it’s not customary to even tip waitstaff. Find out what the customs are in the country you plan to visit before you spend all your cash on unnecessary tips.
Research local scams
At some point before your trip, do a little Googling on the common scams that are run in your destination. This should help you avoid being fleeced by people who make it their life’s work to prey on tourists. As a general rule, avoid booking any tours on the street. There are a few ways you can get ripped off here, and these scams can be more elaborate than you’d ever imagine.
You already know that everything is more expensive in highly-trafficked areas. So whenever possible, visit quieter areas of town to grab a meal. Here, you’ll get a taste for the local cuisine and meet some of the people native to the area while you save money on your grub.
There’s definite potential for getting scammed when you’re traveling. But there’s also some potential for that in your home town. When you’re out and about, you’ll find that most people are good and helpful. And if you know how to avoid those who aren’t, you’ll have a safe and happy trip.