Published on April 17th, 2013 | by Anusuya Suresh0
How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off on a Holiday
A holiday is an opportunity to unwind and soak in the atmosphere of the place to which you are traveling. When you are excitedly looking forward to experiencing the sights and sounds of the new place, it is quite likely that you may not be as alert as usual and this makes you a prime target for con men – especially if you are traveling to an area where it is quite obvious that you are an outsider. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to avoid getting ripped off on a holiday.
Get Familiar with the Place
Once you make your decision about the holiday destination, try to learn as much about it as possible. Having this information will help you convey the impression that you are familiar with the place and this means you are less likely to be seen as an easy target by potential con men. Read from guidebooks, magazines, websites and travel forums; if you are lucky enough to know someone who lives in or near the area to which you are travelling, get information from them. This will come in handy during your stay and can often prevent you from being ripped off on a holiday.
Connect with Reliable Sources
When you are in a new place, make it a point to find a government-run information desk or office to help you find out the information you need. Be wary of people who walk up to you with offers of cheap accommodation, travel arrangements or sightseeing packages. Often, travel agencies will have a board saying “Information Center” but you need to make sure if it is a privately owned agency. One of the easiest ways of finding out is to listen for a few minutes. If the informer only conveys information without trying to sell you something, it is more likely that the source is a reliable one.
If possible, try to strike up a conversation with co-travelers from that area during the course of your journey. Get information from them and if they are willing, have them accompany you as you make your travel arrangements to the hotel or book a vehicle for local sightseeing. The fact that a local person is accompanying you will make it more difficult for unscrupulous elements to take you for a ride.
Prefer Prepaid Services
Check if your accommodation offers station/airport pickup services; rates could be a few rupees higher than the usual fare but it sure is a nice start to a relaxing holiday and certainly wont be exorbitant as the hotel would have paid for it already and the driver literally wont take you for a ride. If they don’t offer such a service, after reaching your destination check if there is a prepaid taxi from the station/airport. It could also be a tad higher than usual, but you sure wont get ripped off because the driver wont take a ‘serpentine’ or ‘faster’ route to your destination.
Never Admit to Being a First-time Visitor
Often, you will find a taxi driver or a travel agent innocently pose the question about whether you are a first-time visitor to the place. Never admit to this – use the information you have gleaned about the place to create the impression that you have been to the place about two-three times before. If someone thinks you know your way about the place, he is less likely to try to con you.
Check all Bills Before you Pay
Whether at a handicrafts store where you buy some memorabilia, the hotel where you dine or the resort where you are staying, make it a point to carefully check the bills handed to you. Although it sounds paranoid, you will be surprised to know that many innocent tourists end up paying for items they did not purchase, services they did not use and food they did not eat because of a “mistake” in the bill. If you have bought an item that has got packed at another counter, it may not be such a bad idea to look inside the package to see that you have got the same article you bought.
Have Sufficient Small Change
Carry enough small change with you or you may find that handing out a note of a large currency is one way of getting ripped off on a holiday. One of the most common cons is when a taxi driver, a bus conductor or a vendor claims to have no change for the bill you hand them. Faced with such situations, the only two options you have are to try (often unsuccessfully) to get change from someone else in the vicinity or forego receiving the change.
Never Pay the Quoted Price
Most vendors can smell a tourist from over a mile away and some will try to make the most from a purchase you make. As a rule, never agree to pay the quoted price; ask for a price that you think is outrageously low and watch; use the vendor’s reaction to decide what may be a reasonable price to pay. If you find him unrelenting, say a no and walk away slowly and you are almost sure to find him shouting out a figure lower than what he quoted before. You can then either go back and bargain or visit another vendor and use this figure as a starting point to strike a good bargain.
Be Firm to Avoid Getting Ripped Off on a Holiday
At most of the popular tourist destinations, you will find vendors thrusting things at you and asking you to sample or buy them. If you are sure you don’t need these articles, say a firm no and walk away – trying to be polite will not help you. Especially if you have kids with you, make sure they do not touch the object or try using it or you may find the vendor insisting you have to pay for it because the kids used it.
Never Accept Food or Drink from Strangers
This is probably the first piece of advice your mother gave you growing up but it is worth repeating here. Never accept drinks or food from strangers; it is best to go with bottled drinks rather than unfamiliar juices when on holiday. There are quite a few stories of tourists who have been drugged through food and drink and been robbed or harmed in some other way.
Reading through this may cause you to view everyone at your holiday destination with jaundiced eyes but that is a small price to pay in comparison to getting ripped on a holiday. Besides, there is also a thing called intuition and if your intuitive sense has stood you in good stead in the past, please use it to distinguish the wolves from the sheep so that you have an “uneventful” and fulfilling holiday.
Photo Credit :
Featured Image: Gopal Vijayaraghavan by Flickr CC
Coin Image: Abhijit Tembhekar by Flickr CC