Are You Getting Ripped Off When Traveling Abroad?

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Millions of people crisscross the globe every month. According to cntraveler.com1, just about 80 million Americans traveled abroad in 2016, which is just shy of seven million people a month. That is a lot of plane tickets and even more transactions when you get down to the bottom line. A couple of ideas many travelers may be too busy to keep in mind is if they are maximizing their travel dollars or if they are getting nickel and dimed and essentially, ripped off with their travels abroad.

When traveling internationally, very few of us due the advised research prior to our departure and arrival. We generally don’t know the areas to where we are traveling, unless your family is from there and you are simply returning home for a visit. If you are one of the many traveling for leisure or adventure, odds are you are not personally familiar with the destination. Even if you did do some due diligence prior to your arrival, nothing will bridge that gap between personal experience and what you read on travel blogs and speaking with friends who’ve had personal experiences visiting where you are going.

The language barrier will always pose a bit of a challenge. If you are not fluent in the language, it’s been advised to learn some of the basics. This is a clear area where many tourists are easily taken advantage of. Even if you found yourself a translator, unless that translator is someone you trust, you can never be too sure what someone could be saying to someone else in a language you do not speak. This could lead anyone in very compromising situations, or even situations where you end up spending far more of your travel budget than you had previously expected to spend. 

There are some countries where when you get in a cab, the cab driver may have incentives to take you to certain parts of town where you are most likely going to spend a lot of money. You’ll request to be taken to one destination and since you don’t really know the area, driving you somewhere completely different is very easy and they generally get away with it. All you really want to do is get back to where you are familiar, and this person who just dropped you off where you didn’t ask to go, is the only person who can get you back to where you want to be. So, you go with it and probably spend money you didn’t want to spend.

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The importance of keeping in front of your finances and being a little more travel savvy when it comes to finances cannot be stressed enough. If you are not paying attention to the little financial nuances that comes along with international travel, you could find yourself the victim of getting ripped off. Here are a few things to think about when traveling abroad.

Debit Card Fees

It’s easy to be intimidated into not getting cash when traveling abroad. People start talking about the prevalence of being pick pocketed and travelers get scared of losing their cash. The last think you want is to be stranded in a foreign land with no money. So people tend to use their debit cards. This is a mistakes there are many hidden costs when using debit cards internationally. There is generally a 3% conversion rate, which isn’t the greatest you could get if you were to just go into the bank and exchange cash. Not to mention, if you were to go to an ATM machine overseas, you are charged the 3% exchange rate, $5 for using the ATM and another $5 from your bank at home for using a foreign ATM. So if you were trying to get $20 out, you can pay almost $13 to do so. As you see, this could add up very quickly. Instead of using your debit card, convert your money to the local currency before you arrive.

Exchange Rates

Doing some research on exchange rates before you go could save you some money on the conversion rate. Banks are pretty consistent with what they charge for conversion, but sometimes, doing some research, you are able to find more favorable exchanges. Don’t depend on Credit or Debit cards and just convert all of your cash before you go with a reputable conversion service.

SIM Cards

Whenever you travel abroad, your phone is pretty much your lifeline. It’ll be your translator, your navigator and your emergency blanket if you find yourself in compromising situations. So your phone functioning as expected is crucial. Buying SIM cards internationally is almost a must. Unfortunately, this is an area travelers can be taken advantage of. If you are not local and you try and buy a SIM card locally, you could be subject to all kinds of fictitious fees and sales taxes. Make sure to buy your SIM from a reputable telecom company and not a vendor on the street.

Taxi Scams

Taxis have become even more sketchy with the rise of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. These ride-share options are also available overseas and require the same types of background checks. Sticking with Uber or Lyft will be your safest bet and the best way to save yourself from scams. Taxis are very rarely regulated and you never really know whose car you’re getting into.

Expensive Hotels

Hotels are generally far less expensive overseas than domestically. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get a high-quality hotel. There are many ways to save on lodging accommodations so if you find you are paying the same prices you’d pay in California or New York, you may be getting ripped off.

Restaurants

Restaurant tourists’ traps are very popular and easy overseas. Tourists have to ear and very rarely know where to go when in a foreign land. This make them easy targets for paying high prices for very cheap food. Stay away from popular food chains, as they tend to be the most expensive. Get some help from locals and the best places to eat local cuisines.

Tips for Service

Tipping is generally a westernized idea. It is not a popular idea overseas. It’s easy to forget this once over there. You won’t get better service if you do, as they are accustomed to providing service regardless of the incentive. Some places, more in touristy areas, do expect tips, so make sure you ask other patrons or look around if tipping is expected at your establishment. If it’s not, save your money.

Keep an eye out for many other ways traveling abroad could end up nickel and diming you till you have no more money to have some more fun! 


Sources: 

1 https://www.cntraveler.com/story/a-record-80-million-americans-traveled-abroad-last-year 

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