BUDGET TRAVEL ADVICE
10 Biggest Travel Ripoffs
We're all for the occasional splurge—especially when you're on the road or overseas having a ball. But watch out for these worst-ever money pits that are never worth the extra cash!
Changing Money on the Black Market
Trying to beat the system—and more specifically, the exchange rates—by changing money with locals on the black market is only going to hurt your wallet in the end. "Often, a few good bills are mixed in with money padded with either folded smaller bills, older illegal money, newspaper, and whatnot, and the money changers are usually out of there so quickly that the duped tourist has little or no recourse," Brein says. Stay on the straight and narrow and, if it helps you to know before you go, research exchange rates before you leave the country to avoid sticker shock at the counter.
"Minimum" Fees at Restaurants or Clubs
In some countries, "minimum" charges for entering a sought-after (or salacious) nightclub are commonplace—and some restaurants bill you for what seems to be free, like mineral water. The last thing you want to do is blow your budget without getting anything in return. "These tourist-only fees seem to exist in restaurants around the world, particularly in Europe," Siciliano-Rosen says. "The charge may or may not be listed on the menu. When in doubt, gently refuse the bread if you didn't ask for it."
Insanely High Booze Taxes
When in a country like India, which imposes an exorbitant tax on alcohol, skip the cocktails at restaurants, which can easily cost upward of $15. Go for virgin refreshments instead, such as India's traditional yogurt drink: "Stick to a lassi and save the beer for the hotel fridge," Siciliano-Rosen says.