Is Uber Ruining Tourism?

Is Uber Ruining Tourism?

I have travelled to New York City several times, pre-Uber and post-Uber. Pre Uber was a lovely time when you could stand with one foot off the sidewalk and scream “Taxi!” Just like they do in the movies and the smiley yellow beast would glide up next to you and sweep you immediately off to your destination without any drama.

Times have changed.

A visit to The Big Apple last Spring has inspired this post. I was with my best friend in our hotel room excitedly getting ready for our Sex and the City tour which we had been planning for actual years!!

(Don’t laugh. )

The pick up address was outside the Plaza which wasn’t on an easy direct train route from our hotel.

“That’s cool, we’ve got plenty of time, let’s get a cab.” I said.

BIG MISTAKE!

Of course it was pouring down with rain. We had an hour to make a 15 minute cab journey. The rain didn’t help matters but no cabs were available. There seemed to be mysterious spots that New Yorkers would magically get picked up from. We even spoke to some locals and got tips and split up to face different directions of traffic, all to no avail. What were we doing wrong? Then we realised it. All of the locals were booking their cabs through Uber (an App used internationally for pre-booking private transport through a paid online account – a nifty idea in theory). But it’s not much cop when you’re travelling on a budget and have no internet access on the go!!!

We were down to 10 minutes remaining to make the 15 minute journey without wheels and now suitably soaking wet and pissed off. It was at this moment that all grown up ‘Adultey’ sense and logic left my mind and I actually burst into tears. Yup. Manahattan reduced me to tears, in public, in broad daylight. In front of other human beings.

Did we make it you ask?

Well things went from bad to worse. Against my better judgement I “Accidentally” stole a taxi from a New Yorker who had pre-booked with the fabulous app! Naturally, he challenged me. I turned to face him, tears streaming down my face and yelled “PLEASE!! PLEEEEEAAAAASE!!!!!! We’ve been waiting an hour, we’re going to miss our tour! PLEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASE!”

He looked mostly confused.

And yes I am aware that this is not how New Yorkers interact with each other. Or humans, mostly.

But the chap gave in and let us take the cab. Through fear or kindness, I don’t know. But I’m going to go with kindness.

Sowhoever you were, thank you very much for letting us take your cab. It turned out to be one of the best days I have spent with my dearest friend and the tour was fantastic!

Cuddle Your Globe

13 Tips To Help You Avoid Being Scammed While Travelling

We have all been there – a horrible unjust has occurred that feels like your dream holiday has turned into a nightmare. You feel helpless, distressed, scared, angry, maybe even furious… But the worst part about being scammed abroad is being out of your comfort zone and not having friends / family in easy contact and more importantly, having different laws to abide by. Needless to say, it’s a very unpleasant situation that can cost a lot of money and easily ruin your holiday. 

I have been inspired to write a blog to help others avoid a scam situation either abroad or at home and to give advice on what to do if you find yourself a victim. I have based the blog on travel to any country and any continent. Cultures and law varies and sometimes, paying money out that you shouldn’t have to can save heftier unjusts, such as prison. This blog is a guide to differentiate and help you in these situations.

The most important thing to remember when travelling in general is to be savvy and careful. These tips may seem like there is no fun to be left when travelling but that’s not the case, they are really helpful but sadly there are no guarantees of avoidance. 

Scam and con artists are ruthless and genius and will try anything to succeed. I consider myself to be very streetwise and still found myself mugged in the street in Asia – it happens!!

1. The Hotel Scam

Some people consider a hotel a ‘safe zone’. Don’t. If anybody rings your room telephone claiming to be hotel staff and asks for clarification of credit card details, hang up and visit the front desk for clarification. Don’t leave cash or valuables laying around the room. In some cultures, maids accept cash left out as a tip. If it was not meant to be taken, don’t leave it out. Be careful of bulk safes kept behind reception. I have heard of ‘inside jobs’ where the safes have been raided and all cash / valuables / passports were taken. If you have an in room digital safe, use it for all of your valuables. If you are cautious I would recommend ensuring your hotel has this facility prior to booking.

2. The Booking Scam

When booking your trip, the golden rule is if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Shop around and compare prices. They should be reasonable comparable with other companies. If using a travel agent, I cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure they are fully ABTA and ATOL bonded before you hand over your cash. If they are not and they go insolvent, wave goodbye to your money and holiday. Credit card insurance alone is not enough. There have been incidents of people being scammed for over €90,000 from a timeshare con. Do your research before you book.

3. The Overweight Baggage Scam

I will not name individual airlines but I have experienced this scam personally. I have travelled on an international scheduled flight having pre-weighed my luggage and had it verified at check in, only to check in for a domestic flight with a different airline, usually a budget airline when I have pre-paid for up to 20kg to find out that my case that has always weighed 19kg suddenly weighs 24kg, according to their scales and they are demanding $30 per kilo over the 20kg. If you are in this situation, keep calm! Do not shout at the staff, it is not their fault. Politely explain that you are certain the bag is underweight and ask for them to use a different scale. Tell them you cannot afford to pay. Failing these, pay the fee. In some countries, failing to pay this fee can result in bigger fines, deportation or prison. Be warned.

4. The Hire Car Damage Scam

When you collect you hire car, abroad or at home, always check it for existing damage before you get in. Be thorough and report anything you find. On returning the hire car, allow enough time before flights etc to go through an inventory with the staff to ensure you are not left with a larger than planned credit card bill. If there is damage that they think to be caused by you, they will charge you. When you hire the car, always ensure it has CDW (collision damage waiver) and I recommend taking any option extra insurance offered such as tyre and windscreen cover.

5. The Insurance Scam

Separate to the above, when driving abroad (similarly to at home) always be alert and vigilant for other road users. Be prepared for somebody to slam their brakes on in front you. If they do and you crash into them, you just fell victim to the insurance scam which can be more unpleasant than at home as car hire insurance doesn’t always cover for equivalent fully comprehensive.

6. Don’t Get Too Drunk

Yes, most of us like to have a cocktail or two on holiday. Don’t ever lose sight of your surroundings. Alcohol causes a well known delay in reactions and a deluded sense of confidence which makes us all vulnerable prey to scammers.

7. Don’t Buy Drugs.

This one goes without saying really. You are breaking the law. Why on earth would you trust a complete stranger who claims to be selling drugs anyway?! There have been incidents of police offering to sell drugs in some countries, only to arrest and heavily bribe the tourist. This is best case. Other alternatives can include 10 years imprisonment. Just don’t do it.

8. The Crowd Scam

Busy crowds are breeding grounds for this kind of behaviour. Pickpocketing becomes easier and there have been cases of the fake injury scam by ‘bumping’ into a stranger, causing damage to something expensive in which they demand you pay for. If you can’t avoid crowds, be extra careful.

9. The Border Crossing Scam

These are rife in most developing countries, especially on public buses. The bus stops before the official visa check / immigration point and somebody claiming to be official demands money, or worse to check your passport and disappears with it. If in doubt, ask for I.D. Discuss it with other travellers. Somebody else may have done this before and give reassurance. Failing that if there is cause for concern, the scam is less likely to be successful if everybody ‘teams up’.

10. The Hiring Things Scam

This is most common with water sports and mopeds. You get a super cheap deal to hire the equipment, have loads of fun, but when you return it, the staff point out damage and claim you did it and you have to pay a lot of compensation. You can barter, explain, beg, plead, even threaten a lawyer. In many counties, this won’t stand and failure to pay will result in an army of locals claiming they ‘saw you do it’. Try negotiations and pay the fine. It’s easier than prison. The best way to avoid this situation is don’t hire anything without official documentation to protect both parties, unless you can afford to pay.

11. The Fake Cop Scam

It is common is some countries for scammers to pretend to be police in order to gain trust and demand to see passports / money, only to take items and disappear. The bottom line is, if in doubt ask them for identification. If they can’t produce it, say ‘No.’ And walk away. 

12. The Travel Agent Scam

In every country there are thousands of local tour operators. Generally they are fine to use. BUT, be careful. If you are spending a lot of money on a local tour, it is sometimes best to use a reputable agency or the Concierge desk in your hotel.

13. The Dodgy Cab Scam

Never use an unlicensed taxi, period. If you use a licenced taxi, do research beforehand to find out the best company to use. Failure to do so can easily result in a nasty situation where you are locked inside a car with an angry driver demanding much more money than you are happy to pay. If in doubt, agree a fare before you leave. The chances are the taxi driver knows where you are staying – don’t forget that!!

Be safe out there folks!!

Cuddle your Globe xoxo

The ‘Alien’ Feeling in a Foreign Land

The ‘Alien’ Feeling in a Foreign Land

I have recently moved to a new area, alone, hundreds of miles from my loved ones. This has inspired this post….

“Please don’t be offended if I am staring. People watching goes to a whole new level in a place with a different culture, attitude and accent. Likewise with looking at buildings and landscapes. It is all shiny and new to me, even if you have seen it a thousand times before.

Please don’t follow me around the store because I look nervous, to the shop assistant. I have come in the store to buy something to cheer me up. I am nervous; I don’t know anybody here. I am not shoplifting.

Please don’t stare at me, to the man with his girlfriend / wife. I am not interested in somebody who is ‘taken’ and do not want to make enemies with your partner.

Please be welcoming. One nice word or act of kindness can change a very lonely feeling to a much happier one. Thank you to those who have done so.

Please ask me questions. If you are curious as to why I am alone, or why you have not seen my face around before, please ask me. I am happy to open up and share my story and would love to hear yours.

Please accept that this is hard. It is possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done. I am not crazy for moving somewhere new, but brave and hopeful for a better life. For after all, like birds, we are not meant to stay in the same spot forever.”

7 Things British Holidaymakers ALWAYS do..

7 Things British Holidaymakers ALWAYS do..

1. Despite forking out a fortune for the trip, it is guaranteed the minute the plane doors open, Brits will immediately commence commenting and moaning about the heat.

2. Become incredibly tight fisted and stingey. Somewhere in the process of exhanging foreign rates into the good old British pound, we decide that everything is ‘too expensive.’ Even if in reality, it costs 5p. British are very quick to sync into what is ‘local value’ and categorically refuse to be ripped off!!!

3. Get burnt. This is usually on the last day of the trip, through fear of not seeing rays of sunlight for months to come. Naturally, we then complain about being burnt.

4. There is always an English man who rocks into the sauna and loudly shares his wit by shouting ‘it’s like a bloody sauna in here!’ We’ve heard it..

5. Gets flip-flop toe injuries. Us Brits don’t often get to wear flip-flops and the 8 hours a day of walking around in them always gives a nasty gash between big toe and second toe. Ouch!

6. Complain. If the flight is delayed, the hotel isn’t perfect, hell even if the curtains are a different shade than advertised, there will be hell to pay!

7. Love other Brits. It is a fact that the only time a Briton is pleased to see another Briton is when on holiday. It becomes a miraculous stroke of fate that took both families to the same resort…We become friends. We cry when they leave and promise to keep in touch. We don’t keep that promise.

  

That Flighty Feeling…

… Nothing compares to that feeling you get when you have booked the flights you have been pondering on for several weeks.

I just did it!

Next month, a week in New York City, followed by a trip to Bali and Singapore!

It’s been too long, international travel…

There is no such thing as travelling ‘alone’..

There is no such thing as travelling ‘alone’..

There is definitely a stigma attached to the word – alone.

There shouldn’t be, and here’s why..

We are all alone.

We are all brought into and out of the world equally. People we meet along the way are companions. There to fill us with company and love, sometimes with upset and pain. But the fact remains the same, we are still, always…. Alone. How you fill your time is up to you.

So why is there a stigma attached with travelling alone? I suppose people might consider it a safety risk… But guess what? You can easily be attacked as a two-some as you could travelling alone. If anything, you could be an easier target for attack in a group because you let your guard down.

People may even think… ‘Don’t you have any friends?? You must be a loner to travel by yourself..’ Well, I’m here to tell you, officially – screw them, and their opinions.

Travel can be equally or more amazing when travelling by yourself. But this is not a unique situation of ‘alone-ness.’ It just means you are travelling without company. And it can be incredible.

The stranger in a pub and his advice…

The stranger in a pub and his advice…

I love it when you meet a complete stranger and they say something to you…. A simple sentence that just falls from their lips like an old apple from a limp tree branch. But THAT sentence will stay with you forever. The stranger has no idea that their blaze alcohol fuelled babble with give you a piece of advice that will change your life forever.

I was sat in a bar one summers afternoon with a friend and we began chatting to a man who had flown back into the UK from Japan where he has been living for several years, teaching English. Due to our mutual love of exploring the other continents, the conversation drew in towards my favourite subject… ‘Travel’

At this point, I had never travelled alone before and was toying with the idea of booking a long haul solo trip to Asia and Australia for a few months. But! I was in a long term relationship. One that I thought was very happy at the time. I didn’t want to leave him for several months and I discussed this with the stranger.

What he said to me changed my life.

“In five years time, which will you regret more? Not going travelling or risking the relationship?”

Sure enough, five years have passed since that comment. I went travelling. The relationship didn’t last, and I can honestly look back with no regrets because I found my passion in life and I found myself.