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Ordering Without A Menu While Traveling Could Cost You Dearly

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Pickpockets, street scams, and tourist traps are all things that people know to watch out for while they travel. However, stopping in for a quick drink and a bite to eat could turn into quite a financial setback if travelers aren't careful. Recently, a couple on vacation in Greece stopped in a restaurant called DK oyster for a few drinks and some oysters. When they asked for a menu, the waiter verbally listed a few different drink options instead of grabbing a menu. Red flag! Always get ahold of a physical menu before placing an order, or it could cost you, as it did for this unfortunate couple.

Woman eating a meal and drinking champagne after travel to greece

In total, they ordered a dozen oysters, two beers, and two cocktails. When they got the bill, the couple realized they had been charged $510! They, like most, assumed there was a mistake with the bill. When they tried to complain, a group of large male servers surrounded them until they agreed to pay. Since they never looked at a menu, they had no recourse. They ultimately ended up paying, with the intention of trying to appeal to their credit card company after their travel was over.

Outdoor cafe you can travel to in greece

How To Avoid Being Overcharged

No one wants to be on the hook for outrageously priced drinks or food, and there are several tips to avoid this happening to you.

  • Never order without first seeing a menu that displays the price of the item you want. Ordering without seeing a menu renders your arguments against high prices useless.
  • While it may feel like it takes some of the spontaneity out of the experience, try to check TripAdvisor reviews for your intended restaurant or bar. If the couple above had looked at DK Oyster's 2.5 stars and numerous reviews urging travelers to avoid the place, they may have saved themselves some money.
Young Woman looking at restaurant menu after travel to europe

Other Things To Watch Out For During Travel

While it's easy to spot an outright overcharge for something that should be far less expensive, there are other things travelers should watch out for when going out while they travel. Sometimes it's as subtle as knowing a local custom, and other times it's watching out for credit card charges. Here are a few more things for travelers to consider:

Bread and water at a restaurant
  • Local customs. In Italy, for instance, as soon as you decide to sit down to eat rather than stand, the price of the food goes up, often by twice as much!
  • Know what is free and what isn't. Similar to the local customs tip, it's important to know what items you have to pay for. For example, in most places in the U.S., there is no charge when ordering water, and some restaurants will bring out bread to start the meal for free. However, in many places throughout the world, these items would cost you, even if it is tap water.
  • Service fees. Some restaurants have them; some don't. Just make sure you know whether or not your ticket will have an extra 10-20% tacked on at the end of your meal, so it doesn't take you by surprise.
Woman looking at receipt at meal

When It's Time To Pay

When the meal is over and it is time for the final bill, inspect it thoroughly. If all is well, you still aren't out of the woods. Make sure that when it comes time to pay, you stick to the following tips physically:

Customer paying for meal
  • If using cash, make sure to get as close to exact change as possible. It may also be a good idea to count the money in front of the waiter. This will avoid being told you didn't give them enough after they walk away.
  • If paying with a credit card, make sure they charge in the local currency. Credit card exchange rates will be much better than anything the restaurant itself offers.
People Enjoying A Drink And Meal Out On A Sunny Day In Dublin, Ireland, Crowded Streets In A Post-Covid World

Be Smart When You Travel

While it can be frustrating to deal with a situation like being overcharged or ripped off, those who practice caution shouldn't run into too much trouble while they travel. If the worst happens and you do find yourself in a situation like the ones in this article, try not to let it ruin the rest of your vacation and enjoy the time you have left.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.