10 Common Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them


Traveling far and wide has been a passion for many of us. While touring places comes up with its own enthusiasm, new experiences and discovery, it is also accompanied by the pains of deception, scams and unethical traveling and trade practices. This is a universal problem. These shady and corrupt encounters not only rob you of precious funds but also leave behind discomfort, mistrust and overall bad experience for a tourist place.

Scammers are an expert in their crafts of pickpocketing and treachery, and it’s obvious and easy to fall prey to their feigned tactics. Here we present the top 10 common travel scams and how we can avoid them.

Common Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them

1. Deceptive Information

Deceptive information can be given out anywhere and anytime-at hotel reception counters, ticket-booking offices, hotels, bars and restaurants, and shopping centers. You might be given over-charged rates at hotels or restaurants or for guided tours. When you ask for directions to a place, you might be told incorrect information, and in the meanwhile, someone will pickpocket you or demand extra money to take you to the right place.

 How to Avoid: Be extra cautious. Keep your valuables on yourself and locket inside zipped pockets, rather than left loosely hanging. Don’t entertain overly-friendly strangers in an unknown place.

Also Read: 10 Important Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

2. Counterfeit Currency

Currency switch, fake notes or underpaid bills is a common scenario in many tourist locations. You may always find a shop keeper or taxi driver giving you less change or quickly switching a 50 for a 5 and then claiming you haven’t given them enough. In some cases, even in foreign exchange booths, the clerk switches similar notes during the changeover. Public transport or cab drivers may hand out-of-circulation currency as change.

How to Avoid: Pay with smaller denominations to avoid fake change. Count out the money as you pay and double-check the change, without rushing a transaction. To avoid exchanging money altogether, use prepaid currency or ATM cards.

3. Free Gifts

At most tourist places, you may find people offering free gifts or souvenirs like incense sticks or rosaries or candles, and then charging high prices for the purchase. If you are reluctant to pay, a scene is created and they may even call cops. In some places, you may find people approaching you to tie bracelets.

How to Avoid: Avoid taking anything for free or even being attracted by it. Do not stop for petty stuff and don’t let unknown people touch you or come close to you.

4. Fake Items of High Value

This generally happens during shopping for items at tourist places. A vendor shows you a high-end item, such as a leather handbag or an ivory statue, for which you pay a reasonable price. After paying, the seller substitutes the item for a fake version. Or you purchase costly souvenirs at a shop, but while packing them for travel, they are switched for cheap, fake ones.

How to Avoid: Make valuable purchases only from high end and registered shops or showrooms, where the dealers can give you authentic receipts of payments. Avoid buying valuables from street vendors and check your purchases.

Also Read: 7 Simple Tips To Reduce Plastic Waste For Sustainable Travel

5. Attention Diversion attempts

These are also well-planned scams, wherein someone tries to divert your attention by either bumping into you while walking, or coming as a beggar or telling you that something fell on your dress. Similarly, some scammers get into fake accidents in front of you on the road and then demand money for the damage caused. The time you take to respond is well-spent in pick-pocketing or making you fall in a trap of staged scenes to rob you.

How to avoid: Be cautious while walking and don’t take people on face value. Avoid friendly people who request to take your photos or lift luggage. Don’t get into arguments.

6. Shady Tours

Tijuana, Mexico

These tour scams happen with some tour booking agencies. You are not delivered what was promised to you, or the guide shows you the places, cutting down on the attractive spots, for which he charges extra money. There might also be a last-minute change of tour plans, where you get not even half of what you paid for.

How to Avoid: Always travel with a well -established tour company after your research. Check reviews of tour operators and always book through reputable websites and agencies.

7. Bus or Taxi scams

This is something very common, and easiest way to defraud an innocent traveler in an unknown place. While boarding buses or other public transport, you may meet a friendly stranger helping you to stow your bag while his friend pickpockets you or walks off with your luggage. Taxi and cab drivers overcharging travelers with broken meter claims are also very common. You may find unlicensed drivers overcharging fares at the airport, or taking you on the least direct routes.

How to avoid: Be wary of overly helpful locals, and never let your bags out of your sight. avoid getting into unlicensed taxis. Use Google maps or help while checking routes and always ask for help.

8. Rental Item Scam

This generally happens when tourists rent out items at a local store, like skis, or jet skis or motorbikes to move around the place. The shop keepers will rent out the desired item, but when you return it, they will claim it is damaged and charge exorbitant rates to replace or repair it. It can soon accelerate to a police case.

How to Avoid: Always take photos of the rented item to avoid conflicts. In the case of arguments, you can establish proof and save your time and money. Rent out items from reliable and recommended shops, rather than some cheap outlet.

9. Bar Frauds

A bar is the best place to socialize and set traps to fleece you out of your money as well. Often travelers complain of some attractive fraudster inviting them for a drink in some bar, ending up paying heavy bills or being robbed or pickpocketed.

How to avoid: Always keep an eye on your valuables and drinks. Make sure to only pay for what you consume, and don’t open up a bar account while on travel.

Also Read: How To Plan Your Trip In 9 Step Guide

10. Fake Police Cops or Visa Officials

Many times, especially while traveling overseas, you may find cops approaching you. They will ask you for your personal ID and then issue you a fine for no good reason. These are generally faux authorities scamming travelers. They may force you to pay the fine on the spot or ask for a bribe to get your ID back.

How to avoid: Never give your ID to any unknown person. Authentic police will never ask you to pay on the spot. Don’t hesitate to visit the police station if you suspect a scam.

Also Read: 15 Beautiful & Budget Tropical Destinations You Should Visit in 2019

These are just some of the travel scams that are popular all over the world to turn any traveler’s trip into a nightmare. Just be extra vigilant, wary and cautious and keep an eye on everything around you-your luggage, friends, transportation and even the authorities; don’t fall prey to such predators and be a confident traveler to avoid them.

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