If you want to travel, you need to be willing to spend some resources. There is just no way around it; it’s been that way for thousands of years. Crossing various borders, through a multitude of legal systems, and still managing to feed yourself can’t happen for free. That is why it is always important to plan before embarking on a trip. People who wish to get over on you with travel scams know that you are in the mood to spend some money and you are probably out of your element. You may think everything you are asked to purchase is completely necessary, but that is not always true. Scamming tourists is big business. Entire sections of cities are geared toward gouging people who don’t know better. Even segments of legitimate travel industries are actively trying to get you to spend extra money for less in return. Don’t let anyone rip you off! Heed the advice below so that you do not fall for these three common travel scams.
- The Airline Baggage Fee
- The Currency Exchange
- The Tourist Trap
These extra “gimmies” to the airlines have been nothing but free profit ever since they were conceived. Airlines will tell you that those fees help with fuel costs, but fuel has been dropping in price while airline baggage fees do nothing but rise. It is clear that the fee is not pegged to the cost of fuel (that is what your airline ticket is for). You pay at least $10 more now for baggage than you did in 2008 when they first started collecting for this charge. These are the kinds of fees that catch travelers by surprise and end up making a dent in an otherwise planned travel budget.
You can always look for airlines that allow you to check some bags for free, or just restrict how much stuff you travel with (packing light is a great idea for preventing loss). It is also within your interest to see if your frequent flyer program can cover some of these costs. Paying online can also get you the best rate on baggage fees. Whatever you do, don’t pack excessively and show up at the airport hoping to figure out how much it will cost you. If you fail to plan, you plan to pay!
Remember, you almost always must pay for convenience. The currency exchange booth at the airport knows that by the time you have arrived, you are already too far away from your friendly home bank. They are there to gouge you. You face not only poor exchange rates, but high transaction fees. If you are proactive, you can cut costs.
Your everyday bank will offer better exchange rates without the transaction fee. This does lose its convenience since the bank is not likely to have the currency available the same day. You should do this in advance of your trip. You can even rely on plastic instead of paper, but make sure you let your credit card company know that you will be out of country. Lots of fraud occurs internationally and the credit card companies are suspicious of sudden, unexplained out-of-country uses.
They don’t call it a trap for nothing. Like the airport, the areas around airports and major tourist attractions are a haven for scammers, pickpockets, thieves, and unscrupulous business people. Many of the businesses you will see in these areas even claim to be authentic experiences of the local culture. What they are really offering is an overpriced version that under-delivers. If you are willing to wait, you will find the kinds of restaurants and shops that make travel worth it. Research restaurants and stores in advance so you have a general idea of not only the top rated but the areas those top rated businesses are located in.
If there is a general rule to take away from this advice is that many of the worst offenders of traveler abuse are targeting those who seek shortcuts or have a lack of information. There is no substitute for doing a bit of homework before you go on the road.