Finally, your plane has landed, your adrenaline is pumping and you are ready to explore a new city in a new country. What could go wrong? Your hotel is booked, activities planned and have a copy of Lonely Planet in hand. As incredible as traveling is, there is also the possibility of scams, theft and unexpected problems. Here’s a few tourist mistakes that can put a damper on your big trip, and how you can avoid them.
Mistake #1: Getting Taxi Scammed
This mistake is all dependent on the country you are visiting. Some places use metered taxis, others require negotiation and many cities are using the ever-so popular Uber or a similar application.
In my experience, you are typically safe with an application, such as Uber. The price is set and you can see your driver’s rating, therefore you have minimal chance of getting ripped off. If you go with a metered cab, you must be careful as sometimes drivers rig the meter when they spot a tourist. Ask a local what price you should pay and watch the meter. Make sure the numbers are not going up too quickly. If you take a taxi where there is no meter, such as a tuk tuk or a motorbike taxi, the price must be negotiated before. Do your research, talk to a local and know what is price you should pay depending on the distance. Do not wait until the ride finishes to negotiate — the driver can raise the price to his/her liking and it may be hard to bring it down.
Mistake #2: Being Careless Your Valuables
Pickpocketing is a common occurrence when traveling overseas and it happens when you are not careful with your belongings. Have a hand on your bag in crowded places and keep everything zipped and buttoned. Additionally, don’t leave your bag on the floor or unattended at anytime. Pickpocketers come into coffee shops, use the metro systems, go into stores and visit tourist attractions looking for easy targets. If you are in an unfamiliar place, you must be careful with your belongings at all time.
Mistake #3: Flashing Your Cellphone or Camera
When you are a tourist, you often want to snap photos of every monument, mountain and dinner on your trip. This is a great way to capture memories and photography is something I personally love to do! However, put your phone or camera in your bag once you finish using it. It is not unheard of for robbers to snatch your phone right from your hand when you aren’t being careful.
Mistake #4: Getting Trapped into Buying Something
It starts with a compliment. Then some small talk and before you know it you have been chit chatting with a sweet local woman for 20 minutes and she is about to show you her delicate handicrafts. Do not be fooled. I am a victim of this sweet-talk sales method. It is easy to get tricked into buying things you don’t need or necessarily even want due to persistent vendors. This does not mean you shouldn’t talk to locals or have a good conversation — but just be prepared in case that person has an alternative motive.
Mistake #5: Not Doing Sufficient Research
Lastly, do your research! Download helpful travel apps, be informed which areas you should or shouldn’t go to and know what you want to see and do. I love to leave some of my trip up to spontaneity. However, I also think it is beneficial to have basic research done prior to the trip. You don’t want to miss something amazing just because you didn’t research ahead of time.