Travel Paranoia and how to avoid it.
04 June 2014
Travelling at one time, either for business or pleasure, was an easy satisfying thing to do.
The annual family vacation was ritually looked forward to, a home away from home, familiar and comfortable. In this day and age, we travel further and expect more day to day challenges. As a result, tourists have become tempting targets for traveller scammers.
Petty thievery happens everywhere, in every city and town in the world, but the scammers are getting smarter and we as tourists are targets for shrewd enterprising thieves. Prevention is based on knowledge and a healthy attitude to crime when travelling. Make responsible decisions and be aware, don’t let paranoia impact your enjoyment of discovering a new country and culture.
Some of the more commons scams are:
Money under false pretences, overcharging, theft, and deceiving. Never let your credit card out of your sight, better still pay with cash in the local currency. Gem scams, gypsy kids and plain old pickpockets are still at it. Religiously check your credit card bill at the end of a meal for additional charges…a common scam in all parts of Asia.
Scams out on the street can be a little more daunting, who can resist the sweet baby, deliberately dirty and tatty and the mother who can’t afford to feed it. Or, the Buddhist Monk roaming the streets looking for donations…if you want to donate do so at a temple. And then there are the students, they either want to practise their English, ask for tuition fees, want you to sign a petition, or have a coin collection hobby… the list goes on. When exchanging money, only use a reputable source and never accept damaged notes.
None of us are immune so don’t take it too hard if you fall prey, even before you leave home…the old pay now travel later trick, the sports travel packages that don’t exist. Renting an apartment on-line with your credit card only to find there is no such address. Gullible travellers beware, how can you win a vacation if you never entered a competition?
Taxi drivers around the globe are notoriously ruthless, negotiate fares in advance, use only recognised companies and insist on the use of a meter. Counterfeit tickets, from everything to a show, tours, museums, even Disneyland look and feel amazingly realistic, counterfeiting technology is state of art, so only purchase from an official vendor. Only purchase mobile Phone credit from reputable suppliers. When renting motor bikes or bicycles do so through your hotel and in some parts of Asia you need a permit to avoid stiff fines if you are caught without one…Don’t do business on the streets!
There is a balance of good and bad when travelling, don’t let obsession creep in to your everyday experience. Some scams are more serious than others and it’s wise once again to be aware. Smash and grab crimes are frightening as are muggings, a scam on the increase in Asia is false rape accusations or molestation on a crowded dance floor…the scammers will not call the police as long as large amounts of cash change hands, so guys beware and watch where you put your hands and how much your drink!
Be alert, use your common sense and a money belt, but don’t let every urban myth you have read about spoil your travel experience. Be bold, be brave and live in the moment… I’ve never met anyone who has had the diamonds stolen from their fingers’, and surprisingly, the streets of Paris are not lined with lost gold rings or white slave traders.
What are you waiting for, go and enjoy, there is no fear when you are having fun!
“The more I travelled the more I realised that fear made strangers of people who should be friends.” Shirley MacLaine.