Every traveler has experienced it. Many are highly offended, while others chalk it up to their own naivete and vow never to let it happen again. But it happens over and over. Is there any way to avoid getting taken? Or is it simply a fact of life?
The older I get, the more upset I get after realizing that I’ve been had, but the pragmatist in me says that, unfortunately, it will probably continue to happen, so don’t get stressed about it. It recently happened to us again, in Mexico, in the same way that we have been bamboozled before. Our tour bus to Chichen Itza stopped at a roadside shop, ostensibly to use their "clean" rest rooms. In the process, we were encouraged to browse through the shop. Even though we assumed that the prices were not wonderful, and that some of the cost of the items reflected kickbacks to the guide or his company, we couldn’t resist several treasures that we thought seemed reasonable. Of course, when we reached Chichen Itza itself, we saw loads of vendors with the same merchandise at prices much cheaper than we paid. We were both very embarassed that we had been scammed once again, and made the same vow to be more careful on the next trip.
As I reflect on the experience, I am more and more inclined to relax a bit in our indictment and to accept a certain amount of this cheating as entrepreneurship and marketing and to conclude that it may be okay. After all, if we were willing to pay a particular price for an object, then it was worth that to us, no matter what the actual price might be.
Everyone likes to take home some kind of souvenir from their journey which, when seen, recalls the trip and which might also be a conversation piece for guests or visitors to our house. So what’s wrong with paying a bit too much for this memory? Sure, we should always shop around, if we can, before we buy something, but shopping takes time and this is time away from the purpose of the trip. When does saving time justify buying on impulse? Can we attach a monetary value to our time?
So I have decided, with all my wisdom, to not lose any sleep over getting gypped while on vacation. I will still try to be careful and shop around if it does not take away from my enjoyment of the moment, but I will also take comfort in the fact that travelers all over the globe are getting taken all the time, and maybe it’s simply a necessary part of the trip.