THE TOURIST TRAP: ALL ABOUT THIEVES, SWINDLERS,
A brainy man finds his best education in travelling.
Arriving at your airport, you see a man holding a placard bearing your name. He explains
that he is a driver of your hotel. You didn't expect that but think he must be genuine because
he knows your name and your hotel. He does that, because he got the info over the phone
from an airport employee who handled the immigration card you filled in. What happens next
can be a meandering, expensive journey to your hotel, a rape, a kidnap, an attack or worse if
he takes to his friends waiting in a dark corner with a nice collection of knives. In such a case
call your hotel for confirmation before you enter the car.
Immediate payment at check-in on the first hotel night at check-in has the advantage that
your passport is not kept back in the reception as bond and that misunderstandings or
"misunderstandings" can all be cleared up before one is committed. This could be $50 instead
of $15, amount quoted in dollars rather than local currency, taxes and service included or not,
rates per bed rather than per double room. Trust is a good thing, but a Kalashnikov is
A popular trick with petty thieves is to lean through an open window and take valuables
from the sills, tables or night tables in your absence or even presence! often by "fishing"
with a stick and hook. Should you see this happening, whatever you do don't hold onto the
stick as it may be embedded with needles or razor blades. Even better, always keep your
windows closed and store your valuables in a (preferably lockable) drawer or wardrobe, or
locked in your luggage, at least hidden under the bed. One little-known but effective device is
what you might call a 'book safe' a book hollowed out with a Stanley knife and glued
together, which can be a secure hiding place for small valuables in a hotel room. There are
also book safes which you can lock with a key. Members of the criminal classes tend not to
be avid readers of the Bible. A 'cache' like this won't attract attention in any case, precisely
because it is often a normal feature of the hotel scene.
Sometimes monkeys have been trained to jump into hotel rooms and pick objects.
Be on your guard, if the "health team" knocks at the door of your hotel room. "I am Dr.
Eisenbart, this is nurse Julia. An infection broke out in this hotel. Nothing very dangerous!
But please take this pill to be on the safe side. Get a glass of water from your bathroom for
the purpose." Hotel guests who let the couple enter, woke up hours later from deep agony
without wallet, purse, golden watch etc. They were lucky that nothing worse happened to
Even more convincing is the chamber maid in black dress with white apron: "Can I make
up the room, please?" Hotel guests let her in and withdrew to the balcony, not to disturb her
during work. Money and jewellery gone.
Be warned that most Arab states don't give visas if your passport contains an
Israeli visa or even just an Egyptian or Jordanian border-stamp, from which a visit to
Israel can be ascertained. Should you come across this problem, you can get a second
passport. This can also be useful to apply for visas to several countries
simultaneously (the time for visa-applications can, for some exotic countries, take as
much as two or more weeks) or, in order to enter repeatedly into countries that
admit only stays of at most six months per calendar year (like Sri Lanka). If you have
only a short time to deal with the details of the visa-application, which can include
up to three visits to the consulate in the case of some exotic countries, your travel-
agent or a visa-agency with well-oiled connections will do the job for a fee. You will
find the address in the telephone book of the capital, the internet or from telephone-
information. Many countries like Australia, Indonesia, some of the Central
American areas, especially many Caribbean islands insist upon the presentation of
a return or continuation-ticket. This is occasionally even necessary for your onward
flight towards a destination (so that the carrier doesn't risk having to take back any
passenger without payment). Often, the proof of sufficient means of payment is
accepted instead (e.g. in form of traveller's checks or an MCO = Miscellaneous
Charge Order = a voucher useable with IATA-agencies, without other specific
usefulness. IATA means International Air Traffic Association. It is a union of
approximately 230 noble-airlines, that mutually acknowledge the tickets of the
member companies.) Some Arabic countries require the presentation of a birth
certificate together with a visa application.
Do not confuse the validity of your visa (= date of latest possible entry) and the
duration of your stay (= time between entry and departure). The latter appears often
only on the entry-stamp and should be checked there immediately. If a friendly
border official extends it, ask him not to change it by hand to a later date, but by
applying a new stamp. Otherwise you might later have difficulties in proving that
you didn't make the changes yourself.