This is a guest post by Valeri Hirst.
Traveling to new places is definitely fun—regardless of your reasons for traveling—especially if you get to meet and befriend wonderful locals and fellow tourists.
But sometimes, that’s just not the case. As a tourist, you’re a promising target for shady people who want to take advantage of your lack of familiarity and knowledge about their place. You’ll find yourself in situations that will definitely test your character and try to attack you when you’re most vulnerable. Getting scammed isn’t something a travel insurance can protect you from, and that’s why it pays to always be aware of your surroundings and be prepared for the worst.
First of all, make sure that your chosen travel agent is legitimate by running a quick background check. To protect yourself further when traveling, you need to know the most common travel scams and how to avoid them.
Getaway Taxi Driver
How the scam works: When you arrive at the hotel, the taxi driver is in a rush to take your luggage out of his car simply because he wants you to leave your hand-carry bags inside the car. As soon as he’s done, he’ll drive away fast with your bags full of gadgets still in his car.
How to avoid it: Never leave any of your valuables inside the cab, as you’re getting out of the car. When traveling, keep your hand-carry bags close to your body and keep your gadgets protected at all times.
How the scam works: When you’re queuing for tickets, a person will try to convince you to buy a ticket from him instead of waiting in line for hours. Thinking that it will save you time and effort, you’ll eventually fall for his trick. When you give your ticket to the staff of the attraction, you find out that it’s fake.
How to avoid it: Never buy tickets from scalpers! You may have to fall in line for a long time, but at least, you’re sure that the ticket you’re going to pay for isn’t fake. Don’t fall for people who offer convenience.
How the scam works: As you stroll around, you’ll notice a dropped wallet somewhere. Of course, your first instinct is to check if your wallet is still in your pocket or bag. What you don’t know is, there are people spying on you, trying to figure out where your wallet is located, so they know where and how to pick your pocket.
How to avoid it: If you saw a wallet dropped by someone, get it and hand it back to him. But if you’re not sure who the owner of the wallet is, don’t assume right away that it’s yours. Look for people around the place looking for their wallet. If you see no one claiming the wallet, pick it up and hand it over to an officer.
How the scam works: A street photographer will try to convince you to let him take your photo. At first, you may think that it’s for free, but after a few shots, he will ask for a high fee in exchange for his service. He won’t stop bothering you until you give what he’s asking for.
How to avoid it: Learn ways on how to take beautiful travel photos by yourself and just bring a tripod to avoid asking other people to take your photo. Never entrust your valuables to people who are just acting nice just to earn your trust.
Fake Police Officers
How it works: People pretending to be police officers will warn you about fake money. They’ll ask you to hand your wallet to them for checking. By the time they return it to you, they have already stolen some of your money. Sometimes, they would even ask for your passport, telling you that you’ve made a violation and try to extort a big amount of money.
How to avoid it: Whenever so-called officers approach you for something you don’t know or didn’t do, always ask for their identification card and look at their badge. If they invite you for a small chat somewhere regarding your violation, politely suggest that you talk in the police station instead.
When you’re visiting a foreign place, everything may be unknown and new to you, but don’t let it spoil your trip. The key to a great travel experience is to enjoy and of course, keep yourself safe by being aware of the potential scams that await you and how to avoid them.