I decided to produce this short guide since there have been a few occasions when during a stay abroad I’ve ended up spending more money than I needed to – and all just because of a lack of preparation.
One of the things about the unexpected events is that they are, well, unexpected. So when I managed to trip awkwardly and fall directly onto my face once during a month-long wander around France, I really did get a taste of the unexpected. I also managed to break some teeth in the fall. And to top it all, I was uninsured. Well, I thought – why bother getting insurance when you can save money? In the end what happened was that, without medical treatment, the nerves of one of the teeth was exposed – and I had real difficulty eating for the rest of the trip. I don’t know how much it would have cost to pay for the exposed root to be treated privately, but I am guessing it would be more than I actually had with me as my spending money.
Other unexpected ways that your wallet’s contents can be reduced overseas is the price of general things you may need on a day-to-day basis. In fact every year there is a list published of the world’s most expensive cities – and yes, there are places where a fast food hamburger meal can cost £12. Toiletries and over the counter medicine may vary in price quite significantly too – so it might be an idea to take some supplies with you – obviously you’ll need to check regarding air transport and customs rules first though. If you find yourself with a cold while abroad (and don’t have access to any cold medicines) then you could always try doing as the Chinese do and boiling Coca-Cola with ginger as a remedy. Sounds alright, actually! (More home remedies here.)
So insurance is definitely a must – and a quick look at the table of costs for transporting sick people back to their home country for treatment shows that it’s not cheap. Obviously the further from home you are the more expensive it is, but medical repatriation (or evacuation) isn’t something that you would ever want to be in the position of footing the bill for.
Wherever you find yourself in the world, it’s great to meet new people and experience new cultures. The downside of this of course can be that not everyone is worthy of your trust. While none of us wants to be closed off or paranoid, it also pays to be very alert when in an unfamiliar country – and also to be aware of the various tricks that are played on tourists in order to get some cash from them. Some of these – such as the famous ‘three card trick’ should perhaps be enough to raise most tourist suspicions immediately. After all, if someone’s operating an open air gambling game near the beach, it’s hardly likely to be an operation that is regulated and subject to checks on its fairness.
On the other hand, there are various scams that are a little less obvious – and the more subtle they are, the greater the risk. From fake takeaway menus (the only takeaway is the victim’s credit card info) to fake hotel room inspections, some of these are pretty ingenious – and many otherwise smart people are likely to have been taken in by them. The best method for being immune to scam is of course to be knowledgeable about them – so check out this article and reduce your chances of being caught out!