At TIAA, we often warn of the pitfalls of wasteful, spur of the moment purchases. When you’re traveling abroad, those purchases often come in the form of the dreaded tourist trap. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all fallen for at least one. The giant billboard beckoning you to the world’s largest land crack. The heavily advertised, but never truly authentic “must eat” restaurants in Italy. The social media superstar rice paddies in Bali. Problem is, when you get there, you pay steep prices just to battle long lines and huge crowds—often left with only disappointment and frustration to look back upon.
Tourist traps exist for a very specific reason. Many of the countries that probably appear on your “Top Vacation Spots” list rely on tourism to fund their livelihoods. As word-of-mouth spreads, crowds pile in, prices go up and, oftentimes, authenticity drops.
Here are some ways you (and your wallet) can avoid tourist traps on your next trip—and find unique travel experiences that can be more genuine, and may even save you money along the way.