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Poll: Are You a Cynical Traveller?

Quick survey of everyone out there. Throughout your travels when something seems to good to be true do you assume it is a scam? Or do you see the best in people after a basic common sense evaluation? Did you start one way and have changed view points as a result of experiences. Any good stories?

This stems from a reading on trip advisor dealing with travels in Budapest.

  1. On trip advisor a gentleman posted the name of a taxi cab driver who for a slight fee on top of the standard airport-Budapest fee would meet you inside the terminal. Went so far as to give his name and email. I am cynical - therefore my first thought is a scam. Yet other forum members were quite excited about this prospect.

Of course this could be anything/anywhere. A special tour offered to you outside an attraction or anything.

I would be interested in peoples stories and opinions.

Posted by
10344 posts

One is more vulnerable when traveling, with more at risk; and thus a person who can afford to be more trusting at home may understandably be more cautious when traveling, especially when traveling internationally thousands of miles from home. Thus the same person may be more trusting at home and more cautious (or cynical) while traveling internationally.

Posted by
1317 posts

Cynical is probably not quite the right word--cautious, yes. There are plenty of people who will do things for you or show you things simply for the joy of it. A older Italian man in Orvieto took us into his teeeny restaurant to show us the etruscan wine cellar that we otherwise would've passed by. We had a very fun, mixed-language discussion about wild boar sausage with an Italian shopkeeper.

If someone approached me offering something for a fee, my first inclination would probably be to disregard it. I'm a planner and so chances are I've already set up whatever it is that's being offered (a tour, transportation, etc.). While I wouldn't necessarily assume it's a scam, I simply would feel no need to get involved.

Posted by
13841 posts

Not only am I a born and bred New Yorker, but my college training was in journalism.

Cycical is my middle name.

I double check everything before I believe it.

Posted by
11503 posts

I am not cynical,, but I am not stupid either, and there is an inbetween..

I do check things out cafefully. On ta. you can see how many posts a person has made, I do not accept recommendations from posters who recently joined, have only a few posts, and seem only to be offering " an insiders tip " and commercial advancment for a service. Period.

I do however love reading about tips offered by posters who seem legit,, based on their posts( on ta you can look up a person post list, and read them ) and I have accepted a few endorsements for services based on who the endorsement is coming from. One was a private car company that a long time poster recommended. I used them ,, and now I receommend them too.

A poster whos first and only post is :

"Hi everyone, I just got back from Paris and found a great car company called XTE and it ony cost me 20 euros to go to the airport,, you should use them.. here is their website. And Paris was nice."

That is exactly the type of post I laugh at and do not use.

Posted by
590 posts

I am very weary of anyone who is too friendly. They usually want something from you.

Posted by
258 posts

I'm with Pat - anytime someone posts something I may take into consideration (no matter what message board) I research it elsewhere if I can and look at the poster's previous posts.

Posted by
264 posts

The trip advisor example is certainly one way to look at it and was meant as a first example. Of course with that there is a lot of opportunity to do due diligence.

But there are also the other examples where you need to make a decision on the spot. A man walks up says he's a student and will do tours. Of course you will use your common sense, maybe ask for credentials or something like that? But as a traveler is your first instinct to assume your being played?

Posted by
586 posts

Not cynical--that is, not interpreting every kind gesture as prelude to a theft of some sort (and we've certainly enjoyed the kindness of strangers in our travels)--but not stupid either...at least not usually. People motivated by generosity of spirit usually don't ask personal questions, don't require money, and don't direct you to non-public spaces. If they do any of these things, we bail...unless there's a clear service we want, the price seems fair, and we have evidence that the business is legit (i.e., customers, licensing, cards, etc.). When it comes to commercial transactions, though, if it seems to good to be true, we generally pass--it probably is. And our precious time abroad is not something we're willing to gamble with to save a few dollars.

Posted by
213 posts

I could probably be called cynical about too-good-to-be-true offers. I don't trust anything cheap or promoted as a super bargain, whatever it is. I do, however, tend to see the best in people after, as you say, a "basic common sense evaluation" which I weight toward caution. Having worked as a psychotherapist, I'm fairly good at reading people. Also, having lived and worked in some rather hard-core inner city, my antennae are up for risks. While exercising caution, I try not to let fear over-rule the possibility of a unique experience. For example:

Once in Nairobi I was approached by a young man who offered a private daytrip out to the Ngong Hills. He took me to what he said was his office in a tour agency. Then he showed me the vehicle he would be taking--a nice-looking, red land cruiser type vehicle. His price was fair--not a too-good-to-be-true bargain. (I had checked out other tours for this trip.) The next day when I met him, he said he would have to take his own vehicle because the other one was not available. I suspected he only showed me a nice one on the street knowing all the while he'd be using his car. I'll never know. His wife and her father were along, so I didn't exactly get a private tour. However, he did give me an excellent tour and shared lots of knowledgeable information. Having his family along turned out to be a surprising bonus. I was glad I took the chance with him.

Posted by
356 posts

I don't think cynical is the right word actually, I think cautious is a better choice. I think you need to be cautious, but also not too suspicious or you could miss out on some great encounters with locals. I stay on my guard and don't let it down until the person proves themselves.

I'm fascinated by the idea that people behave so differently when they travel. My behaviour when I travel is pretty much the same as at home, except that I am on my guard more because I obviously do not know the local culture/problems/scams. I have met travellers who only seem to worry about scams and crime when they travel which makes me wonder where they live. I am sure there are towns and villages where there are such low levels of crime that you could leave your car unlocked and trust everyone that you meet. I imagine most of us don't live in such places though. I mean, I used to live in a small country town in a pretty area and there were no shortage of scam artists and criminals about!

Posted by
12154 posts

Maybe. I'm sometimes wary of people who seem overly friendly and offers that seem too good to be true. I do find myself thinking, "What's in it for them?"

In this case, I can see a taxi driver getting a jump on the taxi stand line by agreeing to meet people inside the airport, so it may not be a big deal. If the line to get a fare at Budapest is particularly long, it may be a way to get business. I've had many taxi drivers give me thier cards and ask me to call anytime day or night if I need a ride. Often they throw in some comment about "anything else I need" also. I usually just catch the next random cab, but realize they're just trying to make a living.