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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hazards of international travel

While it's not likely you'll be banished from the ship to make an epic small-boat voyage, there are traps you can avoid while voyaging overseas.

These commonsense tips come from Southern Cross Travel Insurance, and are well worth passing on.

1. That friendly pickpocket.  If a helpful local comes too close -- to brush bird poo off your shoulder, perhaps -- beware of swift fingers.  Your pants pocket is no place to keep your wallet.  If you have a purse with a shoulder strap, wear it under your jacket instead of outside it.

2. Flyers slipped under your door.  The idea of ordering in a meal from the menu slipped under your hotel door by a local Asian restaurant might seem tempting, but the big chance is that they're just after your credit card info.  No matter how tired you might be, it is better to go out and fetch the food yourself, or eat in the hotel coffee house.

3. Wi-fi.      Free wi-fi can be expensive wi-fi.   If you are doing anything risky online, like banking or buying, it is much better to log on with a password.  If your hotel advertises free wi-fi, it will usually provide the password that is specific to your room.  Ask at the desk of the coffee shop or restaurant when you take a table, as it is often part of the service.  Or pay at a respectable-looking internet cafe. 

4. Those freebies.  Beware of friendly locals with free postcards, flowers, beers and so forth.  They want you to buy something, and if you don't they make such a commotion that you pay them to go away.

5. That late night/ early a.m. call from the front desk.   Your phone wakes you up, and the "front desk" wants to check your credit card details.  The chances are it is not the front desk.  Put on a coat and go down to check.  Or put down the phone, then ring the front desk and ask if they have just made the call.

6. Fake police.  A man in a uniform slaps you with an instant fine.  He probably doesn't speak English, but insist on going with him to the station, to pay the fine there.

7. Slow service.  The clerk is so slow at counting out your change that you become rushed and impatient, and take that change without checking it.  Chances are that he has pocketed a fair proportion of it.

8. And we all know about corrupt cabbies.  Negotiate your fare before you get in.  Watch your luggage as it is loaded.  If you're with someone else, have the other person check that all the luggage is unloaded at the destination before you get out yourself.  And make sure your smart phone has a google map app, so the driver can't inflate the fare with a roundabout route.    

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