STAY ALERT AND CAREFUL
I have read a lot of horror stories from tourists in large cities. I am not afraid but I am careful. I like to be forewarned of the different types of scams and street dangers going on.
Here are a few tips from things I have read and experienced:
- Two persons on Vespas or small motorcycles…..the one on the back grabs your purse or valuables then jumps on the Vespa and the driver speeds him away. I heard of this in Italy and also in Thailand. In Thailand the couple were riding in a rickshaw….motorcycle comes close and the man on back yanks the camera from the guy’s hand.
- When you hand the taxi driver your money don’t hand it to him folded. Stand there and count it out in your hand then transfer to him. If you are traveling with someone let them stand there and watch you count as well. Don’t hand to the driver until you have counted and he acknowledged your count. You might repeat the total as you hand it to him…… “okay…25 Euros….thank you”
- Wait until the taxi driver unloads your luggage from trunk before paying. You don’t want him speeding away with it!
- If you are negotiating a price for goods or services, always confirm that you are talking about the same currency. Also confirm you are talking about the same service or goods. “So……25.00 US Dollars for a ride back to the hotel from here. US DOLLARS?” Don’t be afraid to overemphasize the currency and amount. Because…….
- In Petra Jordan we negotiated a certain price for a chariot ride back to the gate. The driver was really talkative. Making a lot of small talk. As we got closer to the gate he began to talk about how expensive it was to keep the horses up. How hard it was to make any money. On and on the sob story went. When we started to pay he said it was so much in the local currency. This would have been much higher than paying in US dollars. When we said, ” no you told us US dollars,” he began to scream…causing a scene. ….hoping to embarrass us into paying him to shut up. Instead we paid in US dollars and walked off. Total Scam.
SNAP EASY TIP: Many times it is cheaper to use the local currency. Locals jack the price up for foreign currency thinking you don’t know the exchange. I saw this happen with tour pictures in Turkey. Many on our bus were ripped off.
- One tourist said: “If you have trouble using phone cards at a booth, do not accept any help from a person on the street. A “clean cut ” looking guy that was dressed in a nice t-shirt and shorts and stated he was a Canadian student from Quebec told us that our phone card was no good and that he was leaving for Canada in a day, so we could buy his card for discounted price of 10 Euros. This was after he helped us for 5 to 10 minutes with no success. We bought the card and soon found out it was no good. Ask someone at the Hotel you are staying at how to use the card.”
- Another Tourist warns:
Step 1: A man approached us asking for directions to the “Colosseo”. I didn’t speak Italian and told him so.
Step 2: A second man (well-dressed in a suit) appears about a minute later and shows us his POLICE ID, and asks for our passports.
Step 3: He’s jabbering away in Italian to someone else who just turns out to be the first man who’d asked us for directions (thereby confirming we were tourists). Then we are interrogated as follows, “U speak English? Good! do you know this man? You were talking to him… was he trying to sell u drugs? This area is where deals take place, so I have to check your documents and money”… More jabbering in Italian, and the first guy shows the plain clothed “cop” his documents and money which are promptly checked and returned to him.
Step 4: The “cop” asks us for our documents and money so he can CHECK them!!!
(When it’s happening, it’s so smooth and so fast, that my brother was actually going to hand over his things to the guy. I actually yelled at him not to and told the “cop”, “We don’t have our passports with us, but we just shopped at the UPIM store (a large department store), so if you wish we will come there with you and you can check the cash we paid there.”
- People handing you a rose or other item…..they will refuse to take back and will demand money for it. Just ignore them and do not take it when they hand to you. It is not free. If they are selling something like a CD don’t take it in your hand unless you are prepared to buy it.
Do you have an experience that you would like to give us a heads up on? Forewarned is Forearmed!