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Traveling is full of surprises and mistakes are almost inevitable. With so many decisions to make, so much to organize, we are bound to fall short somewhere. We can get many surprises as the operators may ask for their well-hidden charges and we have no choice but to pay them. However, if we are prepared for such travel rip-offs, we are at least forearmed. So here are some of the most common pitfalls and ways to avoid falling foul of dodgy behavior.
- Things we must do to avoid travel rip-offs – we must take steps to lessen the chances of errors occurring while we are overseas. Even if we have the best online savings account, we must notify our bank that we will be making transactions overseas. Before we leave we should buy a travel card or traveller’s cheques.
- The vanishing tour operator – there is nothing worse than booking our accommodation or sightseeing online, getting on a flight and learning that the company doesn’t exist after arriving. There are thousands of websites on the internet and some of them are only made to scam people. This is why we should always do our bookings with reputable, ATOL-protected companies. This way, we will be protected even if the companies don’t exist.
- Extra charges on our debit cards – using a credit card in abroad charges more than using a debit card in our home country. All credits cards charge a non-sterling transaction fee every time we use the card abroad. So we should consider buying cards or cheques.
- Domestic and international flights excess baggage fees – carry-on weights vary between airlines and classes but usually in economy class we can carry five to seven kilos while in business and first-class we can carry more. We should always check our airline and remember, luggage allowances might be different from domestic flights to international and we could be caught out by a sneaky operator.
- Expensive taxi fares – a lot of drivers make their living by scamming tourists. Whether we are taking a taxi from the airport or around the city, some drivers might try to circle to get more money from us, while others will flat out try to rip us off, counting on our lack of knowledge about the local streets and prices. We must know about the local living standard and have a rough idea of how much something can cost. We can use our smartphones to know about the shortest route and ask the driver to drive accordingly.
- Paying more than we should for visas – several websites on the internet that claim that they can arrange a visa for a certain country faster than anyone else. Some of these websites ask the buyers to pay a sum of money that exceeds the actual visa fee by double or even triple. One can easily recognise whether a website is legitimate just by taking a look at it. However, we should always apply through an official government website.
- Currency conversion trap – if we pay in dollars, we will fall foul of a dodgy exchange rate charge called a Dynamic Currency Conversion fee which could cost us five per cent more that we would pay in the local currency. So we should always prefer to pay via cards or cashless means.