The world is big and vast.
It’s filled with both the good and the bad. Which means you can expect many different things to happen to you.
One thing in particular is something called a travel scam.
Travel scams are exactly how they sound. It is scams happening to you when you travel around the world. And yes, it does happen.
The world isn’t always a nice and fairy tale like place that you imagined. Bad things can happen and when they do, it can get ugly.
On one of my trips to Paris, I found myself getting scammed multiple times. One time I was walking along the street and somebody bumped into me. I apologized thinking that I must have not saw him, then I walked away. A few minutes into the walk, I felt my pockets and my wallet was gone. I knew I couldn’t have dropped it or lost it as I had just taken it out to pay for my lunch only a few minutes prior to getting bumped. So it must have been the person who bumped me that took it.
Another time was when I was on a trip in Taiwan. I decided to take a taxi to Taipei 101 which is the tallest building in Taiwan. I was only 5 miles away, so I knew the ride shouldn’t take too long. However during the ride I noticed that we were not getting close to the destination at all. Some buildings looked very familiar, almost like we passed it before. So I started to pay attention to where we were driving, and sure in fact the driver was taking me in weird circles. I knew what was happening. The driver was trying to make the trip longer so that he can earn more money. I told him to stop, paid him and got out immediately.
These are just some of the scams that happened to me.
In my beginning years of traveling, It was probably easy to get me to fall for them.
However as I started traveling more and more, I became aware of a lot of the travel scams that people tend to do. And I got better at avoiding them.
Which is why I want to write this post for you all.
I want to help you all avoid any travel scams that might happen during your trips.
So here is my list of the top 16 travel scams that you might encounter.
- 1. The Shell/Guessing Game
- 2. Expensive Taxi
- 3. Taxi Driver Lies
- 4. The Pickpocket
- 5. Damaged Vehicle
- 6. Free Items
- 7. Fake Petition
- 8. The Nice Shop Keeper
- 9. The Place Is Closed
- 10. The Beggar
- 11. Item Switching
- 12. The Dropped/Lost Ring
- 13. Wrong Amount Of Money
- 14. Spilled Stuff On Your Clothes/Items
- 15. Fake Police Officers
- 16. The Beautiful Women
1. The Shell/Guessing Game
If you ever been traveling or maybe even watched some shows on T.V, you’ll probably have seen this scam going on before. It’s a very obvious scam that’s been around for a long time yet so many people still fall for it. Occasionally when you travel, you’ll find people on the streets hiding a ball inside a cup or other kinds of table games. Players have to guess where it is for a chance to win some money. However this game was made for you to lose. You are never going to win anything with these types of games.
So instead, try to avoid these table game players out on the streets and move on with your day.
2. Expensive Taxi
One of the most common scams out there are from taxi drivers all around the world. The driver will either give you an overpriced estimate of how much it’ll cost to get to your destination, the meter might be broken, the meter might rise at incredible rates, or the driver will take you around a detour while racking up the meter rates. All of which can cost you a bunch of money.
In order to avoid this, it is always good to know how much a ride should cost. A good way of knowing is by asking the locals or if you are staying somewhere then ask the staff at your local hotel or hostel to get an idea of how much it should cost. There are also certain apps out there that will give you a particular estimate on how much your ride will be.
Before you get in any taxi, it is a good idea to ask the driver how much the ride is probably going to be. Also when you are in the taxi, always keep an eye on the meter. If it is increasing at a really fast rate, get out immediately. Not only that but also keep an eye on your surroundings. Make sure the taxi driver isn’t taking a long detour to raise the rates.
If you happen to experience any bad drivers, be sure to get their id number so that you can report them for their wrong doings.
Important tip: Do not get into any unlicensed cabs.
3. Taxi Driver Lies
This tip also revolves around a taxi driver. Basically the way this scam works is that when you tell them to go to a certain destination, they will respond with the place being either overbooked or even closed and recommend you a different destination. Never listen to them when they say this, because they are just trying to take you do a different place so that they can make a commission from that place. If you ever encounter this, just keep telling them no and have them take you to the destination.
I know this is pretty self explanatory, but as long as you use some common sense and trust your guts instead of the drivers, you’ll do just fine. Plus, lets be honest. We all have smartphones nowadays. If the driver is insisting that the place is overbooked or closed, just use your phone and look it up or give them a call.
4. The Pickpocket
These are pretty common in many parts of the weird. It can also take many different forms. One of the most common ones is when somebody “accidentally” bumps into you. They will be very nice about it and start apologizing to you. However during this time, they are also picking your pockets for anything valuable. And when you realize what they did, they are long gone.
5. Damaged Vehicle
You have to be careful whenever you rent a vehicle. This is because when you go to return your vehicle, the owner might charge you additional costs for damages you done to the vehicle even if you didn’t do any damage.
This is a pretty common scam that might happen. So in order to avoid any extra costs, you want to take pictures or record the vehicle with the owner before you rent it. This way you can make sure of any damages the vehicle already has.
Pro Tip: On rare occasions, some owners might even send somebody to follow you and damage your vehicle. So keep your eyes open and make sure you park in a safe place.
6. Free Items
This scam is particularly common in places like Europe, where a seemingly nice person would come up to you and offer you something for free. This could be things like a rose, bracelet, ring, etc. However one you decide to accept the gift, they will start to demand money from you. Even when you refuse or give the item back, they will start to yell at you for money and might even cause a scene.
So to avoid this, I would suggest to not accept any free items from anybody on the street. And if they do indeed try to force something onto you, take it off immediately and give it back to them. Then walk away.
7. Fake Petition
This happens a lot at the popular tourist areas. Often times when you are there, you will see people that are wanting you to help sign a petition. Most commonly these petitions tend to be about the deaf or mute type petitions. Once you decide to sign the petition, the petitioner will then start to demand some money as a donation from you. And if you do donate to their fake cause, then you will likely lose your money. Or on rare occasions they might even have somebody there to pickpocket you while you are in an argument with the petitioner.
It is in your best interest to avoid all of these people you see holding up signs for a petition. Just simply ignore them and go along with your day. They might try tactics like moving in a group and surrounding you in. However just push them out of your way and keep walking.
8. The Nice Shop Keeper
Anytime you are out and about, you may encounter the nice shop keeper. These shop keepers will try to get you to come in their shop by any means necessary. Stuff like helping them move things or coming with them to a different location. They might even offer you something to eat or drink. After that, they will try to force you to buy something in return for their niceness. It’s a psychological scam where they make you want to reciprocate things and make you buy things.
So next time you are out and about, do not listen to people who are overly nice or trying to get you to go to a different location.
9. The Place Is Closed
Sometimes when you are heading someplace to go have some fun or to eat, a person might come up to you and say the place is closed for a few hours. Then they will try to bring you along to a different place to have fun or to eat at. Once you are there, the people over there will try to pressure you or guilt trip you into making a purchase.
Instead what you should do is ignore the person telling you to go somewhere else, and keep going to your destination. Unless you see for yourself that the place is indeed closed, don’t listen to anybody. Also it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand to see what the hours of operation are.
10. The Beggar
This one is kind of hard to tell as you can’t really be sure if the person is really in need of some help or just acting. However sometimes on the street you might run into these people who will constantly pester you for money.
Either way, it is in your best interest to ignore them and keep moving along with your day.
11. Item Switching
When you are out buying items in the markets, you might come across a really nice designed item at an affordable price. When you go to buy that said item, the owner might switch that item for one that is a lower quality or fake when you are not paying attention.
So if you want to avoid this type of scam, keep a close watch on the item you are buying. That or you can simply not buy any expensive things. After all, there will never be something really good being sold for something really cheap.
12. The Dropped/Lost Ring
When you’re walking about on the streets, you might randomly hear a “cling” sound like something has dropped to the floor. You turn around to look at what dropped and you see a gold ring. Suddenly a person comes up to you and says you must have dropped it. When you say no, the person will try to say its a real “gold” ring and that you should take it. If you do decide to take it, they will then start to beg for money in return.
If this ever happens to you, just keep on walking and ignore the dropped ring.
13. Wrong Amount Of Money
This happens in poorer parts of the world where if you give them money and expect change, they might give you the wrong amount of change or even the wrong bills. They might also say they have no change at all, in which case they’ll just take the entire amount.
In order to avoid this type of scam, say out loud the amount you are going to give to the person and also keep a close eye and inspect what they have given you. If they don’t have any change to give back, then simply return the item to them and do not buy from them.
14. Spilled Stuff On Your Clothes/Items
This is particularly common in Europe. When you are walking in the streets, you might have a person come up to you and suddenly spill something onto you. This can be soap, poop, fast foods, liquids, or any other things. They then offer to clean up the mess. Now one or two things can happen from this incident. They can either demand money from you for cleaning up the mess or they will have an accomplice come by and pickpocket you when you are not noticing.
So do be careful when you are walking around. If you see anybody walking towards you, try to move away. If they indeed have spilled something on you, then do not have them clean it up. Keep telling them no and walk away.
15. Fake Police Officers
This type of scam happens mostly in large popular cities. Occasionally you’ll have some people come up to you and offer to sell you drugs. While you are talking with the person that came up to you, a “cop” might come out and flash their badge at you. They will either have you pay a fine right then and there or take you to jail. Or sometimes they might even ask for your wallet and passport.
If this ever happens to you, always ask for the police officers I.D first. Then tell them you are going to call the police and make sure that they are indeed a real police officer. You can also tell them to follow you back to your hotel because your passport and stuff are back in your room. If they can’t prove that they are a real cop then simply just walk away.
16. The Beautiful Women
Whenever you are traveling around in a new country, you might encounter a really beautiful lady that seems to be attracted to you all of a sudden. They will ask you to accompany them to a club or bar and start having fun with you. They also might order a lot of expensive things like drinks or food. After all the fun ends, the lady will magically disappear and you will be on the hook to pay for the entire bill.
This type of scam is actually pretty easy to avoid. Now I know most men will love to have women being attracted to them and stuff but unless you are prince charming and have women all over you in your day to day life, then chances are it is all a lie. When you are out traveling and a women tries to latch on to you, just brush them off and walk away.
There are always going to be scammers in this world.
Some might be more creative than others.
However if you want to avoid getting scammed, then you need to be wary of your surroundings. And if something seems off or fishy, then it probably is. The best tip I have for you is to try to blend in with the locals. This way scammers might think you are from that country and will likely leave you alone. If you act like a tourist, then chances are you might be treated like one as well and that is what scammers look for. Also, it might be handy to have travel insurance as well in order to protect you from anything that might happen.
So next time you travel, use a little common sense and do some research before hand about the local scams that are going around in the destination you are going to.