Most of us take a holiday or honeymoon in order to get away from it all, to relax and to relieve ourselves of stress. Unfortunately tourist destinations attract a lot of visitors and therefore are also a magnet for those who are seeking to relieve those visitors of their cash. Being pestered whilst you are trying to enjoy yourself is a genuine pain in the proverbial but very hard to avoid.
Street hawkers are to be found circling like vultures around many tourist attractions. Approach any significant site and you will be regaled by a series of incredibly persistent vendors selling a variety of plastic rubbish and fake goods that you would really rather not see. I remember being chased half way across Venice because I was stupid enough to turn my head vaguely in the direction of a large pile of fake designer handbags and almost had to resort to death threats to get rid of the man. His negotiating technique was pretty flawed as well. His asking price for a hideous bag that was clearly plastic dropped so quickly that by the time I reached my escape route over the Rialto Bridge he was almost at the point of offering to pay me to take it of him!
On another occasion I was approached several times by a hawker selling some jewellery outside of a historic site in Rome. I was on the phone at the time which did nothing to improve my mood over the intrusion and I ended up screaming at the guy to bugger off and leave me alone. This somewhat excessive reaction earned me a round of applause from other travellers who had failed to evade his clutches. Having rid myself of him I enjoyed a few peaceful minutes before things took a turn for the worse as cheap watches and sunglasses were thrust in my direction. I was also offered cashmere scarves which seemed a strange thing to sell in the height of summer!
I discovered that in Croatia you are reasonably safe from plastic handbags and tacky bracelets but not from local property owners who zealously attempt to rent their apartments by accosting you in the street. They do this even if you happen to be driving your car at the time! Several people in my resort seemed to spend all day leaping out in front of cars with hand written signs advertising their properties. I was left wondering how many people actually travel on holiday without booking their accommodation. I guess some people must be more spontaneous than me otherwise the jaywalkers would have given up long ago.
It would be nice if there was a magic formula for avoiding the hassle but in practice, if you don’t possess the ability to make yourself invisible, there isn’t much you can do. I have found that it helps to walk with a purpose. Looking like you are lost, confused or have all the time in the world will leave you vulnerable to being approached. Never look at any merchandise on display because you will certainly be jumped on and refuse all approaches firmly but politely in the first instance. If you refusals fall on deaf ears walk away and if you get followed it is time to get tough and make your feelings clear!
Article by Sally Stacey