According to Travel Agent, Hollie White, “They say that travel broadens the mind”. Often however, it teaches us more than we’d perhaps bargained for.
Travel is wondrous.
Travel opens us up to new adventures, and gives us an opportunity to experience something outside our day to day living. Which often means that one of the experiences you’re likely to have while travelling will be getting ripped off.
If you’ve ever been privy to one of these moments, you’ll know that although it sucks and can make you feel silly, it’s easier just to take it as it comes and not let it ruin your holiday.
Who knows, you’ll probably even laugh at it one day.
So to make you feel better, I am sharing some of my worst experiences of getting swindled while travelling.
1. THE MONEY EXCHANGE DILEMMA
I’ll never forget when a suit tailor/money exchanger tried to short change my sister.
Being trusting people on their first holiday to Bali, we didn’t think anything of getting our money exchanged in a suit shop.
It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel and counted our cash that my sister Cassie realised that she’d been short-changed the equivalent of about AUD$50.
Not one to shy away from a fight, she stormed back down to the shop and starting demanding her money back from the store owner.
Although his English was perfect earlier in the day, those skills were now lost, and he wasn’t able to help us due to “no English, no English”.
It wasn’t until Cassie, now very cranky, grabbed one of his mannequins, suit and all, and walked out of the shop front door with a final “Up yours”.
Thankfully, the shop owner appreciated the lengths Cassie would go to get her money back, throwing his head back in laughter, giving her a round of applause and then promptly handing all of her money back.
I still don’t know which was a bigger learning curve for me, being cautious when exchanging money or nevermore trying to rip off my sister.
2. THE PHOTO BOMBERS
We’ve all been had by this one, on a first trip to Europe perhaps?
Taking a photo of a living statue and then realising that for every photo you take you owe them money.
That has happened to me on more than one occasion, but I always get suckered in because it’s worth the photo right?
Well… my last trip to Italy may have changed my perspective on this matter.
Outside the Vatican, we saw the opportunity to get our photo with some Roman Gladiators. Maybe it’s all Russell Crowe’s responsibility but it seemed like a really good idea at the time.
As you can see, my husband and I were having a wail of a time until the last photo (evidence below) where Gladiator #1 modeled while Gladiator #2 took the photo.
Gladiator #2 then refused to give our camera back until we paid them 5 Euros EACH for every photo we took. 5 Euros EACH!
For the first time since we took these photos, I’ve recently gone back to look at how many there were which was nine all up. That’s 90 euros I spent on five photos.
Yep – I got had. I won’t lie to you, four years later these photos still make me feel bitter.
3. ROBERT DE NIRO IN “TAXI DRIVER”
Everyone knows that the first question you ask before sitting in a Taxi is to ask if they have a meter.
So being ‘pro travellers’ we asked the necessary questions before we jumped into the back seat and then asked our driver to take us to the local gym (ugh) in Kuta, Bali.
Listening to ‘Bed of Roses’ by Bon Jovi happily cruising the Balinese streets, we got to our destination and paid our 40 thousand rupiahs.
It wasn’t until we were inside the gym that we realised we’d accidentally paid him 400 thousand rupiahs instead. Safe to say that he didn’t come back to pick us up as we had arranged for him to.
This one was completely our fault as we should have had a better handle on the currency.
There is a happy ending to the tale though, because after sharing our story with a friendly local they called up the taxi company to complain.
And the first thing next morning we got a knock on our villa door which turned out to be our Bon Jovi loving taxi driver, coming to apologise for taking our money. Wow! We’ve finally added a win to the board.
4. ATM, ATM, ATM
Not a story of mine, but something that happens on nearly every holiday of hers, is my mum Rosie leaving her credit card in the ATM.
Let’s just say that this is such a regular occurrence that the actual bank manager and she are on a first name basis.
A few weeks ago we were in a cab on the way to the airport to come home when Rosie got a call from Roger (I’ve decided to name him) from Westpac advising that there had been fraudulent activity on her credit card.
Instantly panicking, Mum rifles through her handbag to find that her card was missing, and that she’d left it in the ATM when she last withdrew money, overseas.
The very lucky person who used that machine next swiftly removed Rosie’s credit card and went on to purchase $1200 worth of goodies before the card was cancelled.
Luckily the insurances covered the charges, so Mum wasn’t out of pocket.
I just hope that our mystery player bought something amazingly extravagant like a Gucci handbag so they can always look at it and think of the silly Australian woman who left her credit card in the ATM.
5. THE MONKEY
And finally, I will never forget my oldest friend Samantha and my chaotic trip to Morocco.
Funnily enough we are now both successful travel agents, however, seven years ago we were just two country town girls wanting to explore the world, and Northern Africa sounded like a good place to start.
Armed with nothing but our Lonely Planets, we didn’t have a clue about what to expect as our flight landed in Marrakesh.
Realising we were in way over our heads very early on, being two young women on their own made us easy targets for harassment.
At one point my dad was offered five thousand camels for my hand in marriage. I’m glad he wasn’t there as he may have just taken them up on that offer.
One of my funniest memories of Morocco was the day we were approached by a strange man who dumped a monkey on poor Samantha’s shoulder.
Sam, being my oldest and loveliest friend, had no idea what to do so not wanting to upset herself, the man or the monkey she just stood still and waited for me to do something.
As you may have read from one of my previous stories, you’ll know where I stand on using animals to further the tourism industry.
However back then I had no clue on how the game worked, so I pulled out my camera and snapped a quick photo before Mr Monkey Man removed his dirty little friend.
It was at this point that the man with the monkey started screaming at Sam and me to cough up cash for his services.
Unlike Asia where you can jokily laugh and barter them down on the costs, this man was furious and wouldn’t stop following us until we paid.
Safe to say we kept a low profile after that until it was time for our flight home.
It wasn’t actually until I was writing this story that Sam reminded me of this encounter and I am SO glad I still have the photo to be able to share with you (considering it cost us a fortune to take.)
Do you have a funny story about being swindled while travelling? Please leave us a comment so we know we’re not the only ones!
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