We all know the basics, hold on to your phone and your wallet, be careful of pickpockets, ask the taxi driver to use the meter, watch that exchange rate, but there are other ways you can easily get ripped off as well, below, I share three personal stories when I got ripped off abroad, it hurts and angers me still!
It was our second day in Rome, we took a taxi outside of the Colosseum- we had the nicest taxi driver, or so we thought. He asked us so many questions, he wanted to know where we were visiting from, where we had gone, and where we would be the next day. We got to our destination and my husband paid with a €50 Euro note. We got two €20 Euro notes back, plus a couple of coins. That night, at a grocery store, we found out that he had given us fake bills as change. We could not believe it, someone so nice, how can he do that to us? No wonder he wanted to know where we would be the next day, so he did not show up in that area! So, my tip is, when you are in Europe, carry small bills, break large bills at a local bank or your hotel lobby. Avoid getting change back, as you can receive fake bills without knowing. And it you have your phone handy, snap a quick picture of the license plate, cab number or ID taxis usually have posted inside the cabs, hey, you just never know when you will need to have that information.
A few years ago, we took a family trip to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. We rented a mini bus, as it was all 10 of us- mom, all siblings, girlfriends, kids- it was such a wonderful trip. We drove to breathtaking Sosua beach. It was a wonderful sunny day, banana boat, sand, beach, and lemonades!! Loads of lemonades. The lemonades in Sosua Beach were the best we have ever had, and certainly the most expensive as well. So, we all ordered lemonades, some of us had seconds, because they were just perfect on a sunny day. Once the bill came, we were shocked- we were charged more than $6 American dollars for each lemonade. So here we are with a bill of more than $200 American dollars for drinking lemonades on the beach. It was totally our fault! We never asked for the price, or menu, so now here we were, stuck paying over $200 for lemonades.
After a busy night of walking Vatican City, it was chilly, we were exhausted and a hot cappuccino and dessert sounded delicious. We stopped at a café just outside of the Vatican City Walls, sat, and ordered cappuccinos and desserts all around. You would think we would have learned our lesson years before, in Sosua Beach, well, we didn’t. We did not ask for prices or for a menu, we totally trusted our Spanish speaking South American waiter. So, then the bill came. €75 Euros for cappuccinos and desserts for 4. It was a lot of money, and we hated paying for our mistake.
Please ask for a menu and for prices when visiting a restaurant abroad. Be careful, and although it may seem common sense stuff, sometimes you are excited about the trip and have a lot of faith in humans. Reality is that most people are wonderful and will not rip you off, but unfortunately, there are always a few bad apples, no matter where you go. Avoid restaurants in busy touristy areas, and always ask for a menu before ordering.