Q – what do you do if somebody steals your shoes / sandals / thongs if you are in a country where it is common practise to take them off when entering premises?
A – walk barefoot.
Q – what do you do if somebody steals your shoes / sandals / thongs if you are in a country where it is common practise to take them off when entering premises?
A – walk barefoot.
Sometimes there is another way…
Whilst some people’s idea of happiness is to get a mortgage and pay off their debts, enslaved to a full time job, this is the idea of hell to others.
In an ideal world we should be travelling constantly. We were not designed to buy a house and never leave it. The world is impossibly large for a reason, to explore it.
So if, like me, you cannot afford to travel constantly, so have the home and a full time job and waste hours dreaming about travel… How often should we get away?
When I used to work in travel, a month would never pass that I wasn’t on a plane, and I loved it! Nowadays I am lucky if I get away more than once a year. And I don’t even have kids or a mortgage.
So I decided to travel with work, set up a new life across the country and start a fresh. It’s great because there is a whole new part of the world to explore and it’s fresh and exciting all the time. Although, nothing quite beats getting a flight and travelling a new continent..
We have all been there – a horrible unjust has occurred that feels like your dream holiday has turned into a nightmare. You feel helpless, distressed, scared, angry, maybe even furious… But the worst part about being scammed abroad is being out of your comfort zone and not having friends / family in easy contact and more importantly, having different laws to abide by. Needless to say, it’s a very unpleasant situation that can cost a lot of money and easily ruin your holiday.
I have been inspired to write a blog to help others avoid a scam situation either abroad or at home and to give advice on what to do if you find yourself a victim. I have based the blog on travel to any country and any continent. Cultures and law varies and sometimes, paying money out that you shouldn’t have to can save heftier unjusts, such as prison. This blog is a guide to differentiate and help you in these situations.
The most important thing to remember when travelling in general is to be savvy and careful. These tips may seem like there is no fun to be left when travelling but that’s not the case, they are really helpful but sadly there are no guarantees of avoidance.
Scam and con artists are ruthless and genius and will try anything to succeed. I consider myself to be very streetwise and still found myself mugged in the street in Asia – it happens!!
1. The Hotel Scam
Some people consider a hotel a ‘safe zone’. Don’t. If anybody rings your room telephone claiming to be hotel staff and asks for clarification of credit card details, hang up and visit the front desk for clarification. Don’t leave cash or valuables laying around the room. In some cultures, maids accept cash left out as a tip. If it was not meant to be taken, don’t leave it out. Be careful of bulk safes kept behind reception. I have heard of ‘inside jobs’ where the safes have been raided and all cash / valuables / passports were taken. If you have an in room digital safe, use it for all of your valuables. If you are cautious I would recommend ensuring your hotel has this facility prior to booking.
2. The Booking Scam
When booking your trip, the golden rule is if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Shop around and compare prices. They should be reasonable comparable with other companies. If using a travel agent, I cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure they are fully ABTA and ATOL bonded before you hand over your cash. If they are not and they go insolvent, wave goodbye to your money and holiday. Credit card insurance alone is not enough. There have been incidents of people being scammed for over €90,000 from a timeshare con. Do your research before you book.
3. The Overweight Baggage Scam
I will not name individual airlines but I have experienced this scam personally. I have travelled on an international scheduled flight having pre-weighed my luggage and had it verified at check in, only to check in for a domestic flight with a different airline, usually a budget airline when I have pre-paid for up to 20kg to find out that my case that has always weighed 19kg suddenly weighs 24kg, according to their scales and they are demanding $30 per kilo over the 20kg. If you are in this situation, keep calm! Do not shout at the staff, it is not their fault. Politely explain that you are certain the bag is underweight and ask for them to use a different scale. Tell them you cannot afford to pay. Failing these, pay the fee. In some countries, failing to pay this fee can result in bigger fines, deportation or prison. Be warned.
4. The Hire Car Damage Scam
When you collect you hire car, abroad or at home, always check it for existing damage before you get in. Be thorough and report anything you find. On returning the hire car, allow enough time before flights etc to go through an inventory with the staff to ensure you are not left with a larger than planned credit card bill. If there is damage that they think to be caused by you, they will charge you. When you hire the car, always ensure it has CDW (collision damage waiver) and I recommend taking any option extra insurance offered such as tyre and windscreen cover.
5. The Insurance Scam
Separate to the above, when driving abroad (similarly to at home) always be alert and vigilant for other road users. Be prepared for somebody to slam their brakes on in front you. If they do and you crash into them, you just fell victim to the insurance scam which can be more unpleasant than at home as car hire insurance doesn’t always cover for equivalent fully comprehensive.
6. Don’t Get Too Drunk
Yes, most of us like to have a cocktail or two on holiday. Don’t ever lose sight of your surroundings. Alcohol causes a well known delay in reactions and a deluded sense of confidence which makes us all vulnerable prey to scammers.
7. Don’t Buy Drugs.
This one goes without saying really. You are breaking the law. Why on earth would you trust a complete stranger who claims to be selling drugs anyway?! There have been incidents of police offering to sell drugs in some countries, only to arrest and heavily bribe the tourist. This is best case. Other alternatives can include 10 years imprisonment. Just don’t do it.
8. The Crowd Scam
Busy crowds are breeding grounds for this kind of behaviour. Pickpocketing becomes easier and there have been cases of the fake injury scam by ‘bumping’ into a stranger, causing damage to something expensive in which they demand you pay for. If you can’t avoid crowds, be extra careful.
9. The Border Crossing Scam
These are rife in most developing countries, especially on public buses. The bus stops before the official visa check / immigration point and somebody claiming to be official demands money, or worse to check your passport and disappears with it. If in doubt, ask for I.D. Discuss it with other travellers. Somebody else may have done this before and give reassurance. Failing that if there is cause for concern, the scam is less likely to be successful if everybody ‘teams up’.
10. The Hiring Things Scam
This is most common with water sports and mopeds. You get a super cheap deal to hire the equipment, have loads of fun, but when you return it, the staff point out damage and claim you did it and you have to pay a lot of compensation. You can barter, explain, beg, plead, even threaten a lawyer. In many counties, this won’t stand and failure to pay will result in an army of locals claiming they ‘saw you do it’. Try negotiations and pay the fine. It’s easier than prison. The best way to avoid this situation is don’t hire anything without official documentation to protect both parties, unless you can afford to pay.
11. The Fake Cop Scam
It is common is some countries for scammers to pretend to be police in order to gain trust and demand to see passports / money, only to take items and disappear. The bottom line is, if in doubt ask them for identification. If they can’t produce it, say ‘No.’ And walk away.
12. The Travel Agent Scam
In every country there are thousands of local tour operators. Generally they are fine to use. BUT, be careful. If you are spending a lot of money on a local tour, it is sometimes best to use a reputable agency or the Concierge desk in your hotel.
13. The Dodgy Cab Scam
Never use an unlicensed taxi, period. If you use a licenced taxi, do research beforehand to find out the best company to use. Failure to do so can easily result in a nasty situation where you are locked inside a car with an angry driver demanding much more money than you are happy to pay. If in doubt, agree a fare before you leave. The chances are the taxi driver knows where you are staying – don’t forget that!!
Be safe out there folks!!
Cuddle your Globe xoxo
Once the ‘I Do’s’ are done, there is more often than not, an amazing honeymoon to look forward to.
During my years as a travel agent, I frequently encountered female clients who had booked their honeymoon and got a little carried away and made mistakes. You may be in this position right now and unsure on how to book your flights once you have legally changed your name.
This blog is here to help you!!
Firstly, don’t panic. The honeymoon is meant to be the antidote to the mounds of stress that accompanies the weeks or months of planning a wedding.
Your airline or travel agent is always very clear when it comes to instructions on booking your flights. Always book your ticket with the name exactly as it appears in your passport. Exactly. This means that even once your name has been changed legally by deed poll, it may appear differently as your maiden name in your passport. Always book the ticket with what is displayed in your passport.
What do you do if you have booked your ticket in your new married name but your passport is still in your maiden name?
The standard rule across the aviation industry is that scheduled airlines do not ever allow a name change. However, they sometimes are flexible on this. If you have made a mistake and booked your ticket in your new name (not as it appears in your passport), contact your airline or travel agent immediately. More often than not, the airline will allow you to travel on the ticket still if you take proof of the name change with you i.e. Birth certificate / marriage certificate. This is not gospel and you must contact the airline to clarify an exemption.
I have recently moved to a new area, alone, hundreds of miles from my loved ones. This has inspired this post….
“Please don’t be offended if I am staring. People watching goes to a whole new level in a place with a different culture, attitude and accent. Likewise with looking at buildings and landscapes. It is all shiny and new to me, even if you have seen it a thousand times before.
Please don’t follow me around the store because I look nervous, to the shop assistant. I have come in the store to buy something to cheer me up. I am nervous; I don’t know anybody here. I am not shoplifting.
Please don’t stare at me, to the man with his girlfriend / wife. I am not interested in somebody who is ‘taken’ and do not want to make enemies with your partner.
Please be welcoming. One nice word or act of kindness can change a very lonely feeling to a much happier one. Thank you to those who have done so.
Please ask me questions. If you are curious as to why I am alone, or why you have not seen my face around before, please ask me. I am happy to open up and share my story and would love to hear yours.
Please accept that this is hard. It is possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done. I am not crazy for moving somewhere new, but brave and hopeful for a better life. For after all, like birds, we are not meant to stay in the same spot forever.”
In developed countries, busy commuting to college or work, it’s easy to think this is normality for the entire world. We all moan about our governments and healthcare systems etc etc, but we hardly ever stop to appreciate the fact that we have them.
When travelling to the outback, farthest depths of developing countries, it’s only then when it hits you, hard, that there are people, families, children, who are ‘unknown’. They are not a statistic, they do not have a passport, they do not have a bank account. They live in the same clothes day in, day out, perhaps in a tent in the desert with nothing around for miles but their family.
I was fortunate enough to sit with such a family and drink tea with them in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan some years back. There was not a trace of electricity or television. They had simple cushions and blankets under a basic tent to provide shelter from the punishing heat. Two young boys played up in the rocks while their parents sat with us and talked. They were generous and offered what they could and more importantly, they seemed happy. Imagine a life where education and employment doesn’t exist. Only skills for survival..
The youngest of the two boys was coughing, a lot. I work in healthcare so I could tell he had a pretty bad lower airway infection. This family, with their simple means of survival, had no easy access to antibiotics. Even a shower.
In the developed world we lose our minds because our network provider ‘crashes’ for an hour, disabling access to making phone calls. But this family, they had never seen an iPad before.
Really makes you think.
Travel isn’t always beaches, sunsets and floating around in awe. There are amazing perks, for sure! Don’t be fooled, there are very crappy bits too…
Top 6 Best Bits About Travel
1. Experience. By this I mean soaking in new sights, doing something new and challenging outside of your comfort zone; this is the best.
2. Meeting new people. We make friends constantly when we travel, and they are usually like minded people on our wavelength and they are the best!
3. Culture and dining. Seeing how other people get by day-to-day is truly enriching. Eating the food and flavours they create is a wonderful part of travel. Each nation has a signature dish and its great to try new things.
4. Climate. Often where we travel to will have a drastically different climate to home. Be it snow or sunshine, it’s great to experience a landscape with a different season. Skiing down a mountain, or laying on a beach topping up that tan… Bliss!
5. Activities. Travel always pushes us to our limits and a large percentage of people who travel are more likely to take part in something whilst away than they would at home. In turn, this makes us happier and builds self esteem.
6. Escape. By far one of the best bits about travel is escaping our own versions of reality. We imagine what it would be like to live in this land that is by any stretch, miles better than our own boring lives.
1. Exhaustion. Like it or not, travelling can be tiresome. Even once the hours, if not days of trekking through airports and surviving long haul flights is done, we want to cram our days with so much excitement that sometimes we forget to get enough rest at night and end up feeling like we need a holiday once the trip is over.
2. Creature comforts. Yes it’s great to ‘get away from it all’, but after a while we start to miss the simple things like our own bed, a kitchen to prepare the finer things in life (such as a cup of tea and some toast!) and the sofa. Even people or pets are comforts we miss when away!
3. Mosquitos. Or any ‘foreign creepy crawly’ that we have never seen before and therefore are not certain if it will kill us just by looking directly at us.
4. TD. This is an abbreviation for travellers diarrhoea. Anyone who travels to other continents often will be familiar with this one. It’s often caused by undercooked street food or even tiny particles of faeces in your food. Yum.
5. Jet lag. Especially on an around the world ticket, you are forever trying to get your body climatised and adjusted to your new home. Chances are, by the time you sync up with your zone, it’s time to leave.
6. Language barriers. Let’s face it, our arms get tired from gesturing everything we are trying to say. When we eventually return home we notice we speak in simple language. We may approach a stranger in the street and ask, “You… Have…. Time??”
1. Despite forking out a fortune for the trip, it is guaranteed the minute the plane doors open, Brits will immediately commence commenting and moaning about the heat.
2. Become incredibly tight fisted and stingey. Somewhere in the process of exhanging foreign rates into the good old British pound, we decide that everything is ‘too expensive.’ Even if in reality, it costs 5p. British are very quick to sync into what is ‘local value’ and categorically refuse to be ripped off!!!
3. Get burnt. This is usually on the last day of the trip, through fear of not seeing rays of sunlight for months to come. Naturally, we then complain about being burnt.
4. There is always an English man who rocks into the sauna and loudly shares his wit by shouting ‘it’s like a bloody sauna in here!’ We’ve heard it..
5. Gets flip-flop toe injuries. Us Brits don’t often get to wear flip-flops and the 8 hours a day of walking around in them always gives a nasty gash between big toe and second toe. Ouch!
6. Complain. If the flight is delayed, the hotel isn’t perfect, hell even if the curtains are a different shade than advertised, there will be hell to pay!
7. Love other Brits. It is a fact that the only time a Briton is pleased to see another Briton is when on holiday. It becomes a miraculous stroke of fate that took both families to the same resort…We become friends. We cry when they leave and promise to keep in touch. We don’t keep that promise.
In almost every ‘travel’ retail store you will find luggage tags with the purpose of identifying your own case as it comes through the conveyer belt.
There is a much cheaper way of doing this, so cheap it’s free!
Find some coloured lace, it can be anything around the home, a shoelace, part of an old garment etc etc.
Simply tie it to the handle of your case.
It avoids attracting unwanted third party attention to your case, but you will be able to spot it a mile off as it pops out at the airport, enabling a swift departure.
David Hencke's news, views, investigations and much more
For those who wander aren't always lost...they're discovering life's wonders...
Travel tips for beating the track and beyond from a travel expert who loves to hug the globe
The ultimate guide for independent travellers seeking inspiration, advice and adventures beyond their wildest dreams