Common Travel Scams (and How to Avoid them)

the words common travel scams and how to avoid them are written over the background of a Spanish courtyard

Travelling is a liberating and exciting experience, but it can unfortunately make us vulnerable too. Being away from home in an unfamiliar environment can make us more suseptible to petty crime and scams.

While this should never ever stop us from travelling, there are things you can do to be better prepared to defend against it.

Here are the most common travel scams and how you can avoid them:

Taxi Scam

Taxi drivers may over charge tourists who aren’t familiar with what a common ride should cost. They might put in a higher rate or add extra charged.

Be sure to establish an agreed upon cost for the trip before getting in and make note of signs in the taxi showing regular rates and fares.

The Gift

While walking down a busy street, someone may grab your hand and gift you a “gift.” This could be anything from a flower to a bracelet. This gift is not free. They will then demand money for it once you accept it.

When someone approaching you and looks as though they are trying to give you something. Say No and shake your head. Be firm, but polite and walk away.

The Distraction

Sometimes there are pairs of teams of people working together. One person will create a disturbance, maybe a form of entertainment or loud ruckus. They might “accidentily” spill something on you or distract you in some other way.

Be extra aware in large crowds with a lot of commotion. Keep your wallet or bag in eye sight and firmly attached to your body. If someone accidentily spills something on you or points a stain on your clothing, thank them and walk away without stopping. Head to a washroom or anywhere else private to check for yourself. Often while you are looking at the mess, someone else may be picking your pocket.

The Helpful Stranger

Be very away of the overly helpful stranger. Anyone offering to help buy tickets at a train station or to lift your bags on for you. You may find yourself missing your bag or wallet. Always ask a marked attendant if you need help or seek out help yourself, rather than someone who approaches you.

As a woman travelling alone, this might also be used as an opportunity to see if you really are alone. Trust your instincts and never tell them that you are travelling alone. They don’t know that you aren’t meeting up with friends later.

The Wrong Change

In a store or taxi, sometimes you may provide a large bill and you might get short changed with the hope that you won’t notice. They might even demand more money, saying that you provided less than you did. This can be avoided by saying the amount given out loud and counting the bills/ coins out.

These experiences are definitly not the norm, but unfortunately they do happen. Don’t let this scare you away from travel! Prepare the best you can, have a back up plan and know that not everything goes according to plan, but that’s okay. Travel is about growth and not perfection.

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