Top 5 Travel Scams to Avoid

Travel is one of those things that you buy where you get richer from the experience good or bad.

But it sucks that some people want to take advantage of travellers, and rip them off.

It has happened to me, and it sucks when it happens, but hopefully with a little bit of knowledge you can avoid some of these well known travel scams.

So here are my top 5 travel scams to avoid.

1: Taking the Long Way Home!

With the advent of ride share apps like Uber or Lyft and other apps like google maps etc, this isn't so common these days, but beware of taxi's taking the long way home for you.

Sometimes an opportunistic taxi driver will take you on a nice long way tour of the place you are visiting, especially if they sense you are not from that place, or they may ask you where you are from.

This actually happened to me in my own city!!!!

I had attended an event, and got a cab home (before Uber) and the taxi driver (who wasn't originally from my home city, or country) decided to take a very weird route to where I was heading, I called him on it, and he said there were road closures because of the event, but it was BS, so I told him to stop and got out without paying, I also took a picture of his number plate, and the taxi logo and number on the side, and the next day rang the taxi company to complain.

A good tip is to use google maps, or another maps app and you will be able to see where you are supposed to be going, and if the driver deviates from the best route, call them out on it.

2: Pickpockets.

Beware of crowded places, always be wary of people bumping into you, and try and keep your items well concealed and away from plain sight.

Guys, a wallet that is bulging in your back pocket is easy for a pickpocket to get, but some of these people are very cunning and will get things out of open backpacks, handbags or purses, even inside your coats.

The best bet here is to always be somewhat suspicious of who is around you, and be wary of crowds at say buskers, or street performers, sometimes the pickpockets spend their time working these crowds as people are busy enjoying the show or watching the performer, and not paying attention to their belongings.

3: ATM Scimmers (I don't think Scimmers is a real word, but we are inventing it here)

This is another one that happened to me, and when I look back on it now I realise how silly I was!

I was in Prague, and walking from my hotel to some spot to take a look at, I was walking between to main roads, on a smaller roadway, and noticed an ATM and thought "I need some cash" so stopped in the middle of the street stuck my card in, took out some $$ and thought nothing more about it.

It wasn't till about 3 days later, I realised what had happened, as I had finished in Prague and went to a conference in Rome, we had a bit of stuff on the first couple of days, and the third day we went into the city, and I ran out of cash so went to another ATM to take some $$ out and my card declined, saying there was an error, Oh Well, I used another one and went back to the hotel.

Later on that evening, I was going through my emails, and had an email saying due to suspicious activity, my card was suspended.

For me it wasn't too bad, I was able to use other funds to spend on the rest of my trip, and My trip was coming to an end anyway so once I got home I had it sorted out.

What happened was the ATM I used had a sleeve inside which cloned my card, and the scammers started buying things online, until they tried too much and the card had a limit per day on it and it shut down.

This was the saving grace of setting up this card that way, and it only being for my travel spending money.

Tips here are: always check to see the ATM you are using seems legit!

If it has a card slot make sure its not lose, and make sure the ATM doesn't appear to have any scratches, or lose keypads or hidden cameras (may be hard to find, as they are hidden) I prefer these days to use an ATM inside an actual bank lobby, or one which is attached to a bank, not just the little random ones you see in some convenience stores, or in my case on the street.

If the ATM looks dodgy it could well be so avoid using it, and wait till you find somewhere more reputable looking.

4: Free Gifts.

Sometimes a person will come up to you and put a bracelet or give you some kind of a small trinket "for free".

Remember there is no such thing as a free lunch! so why wold a complete stranger give you a free item.

The scam here is that once you take the item from them they demand some form of payment.

You don't have to be rude to these people, but firmly stand your ground and just say no thanks, and keep moving or walk away.

5: Taking your Passport Hostage.

If you are travelling overseas, you will 100% need your passport, it apart from spending money is the most important thing you need, so the best advice is do not give it to anyone in the form of security.

Passport scams are a nightmare, and can ruin your holiday, or even worse have your identity stolen!

Some rental type companies will ask for your passport to keep while you are renting their items, I would refuse this, and offer them a photocopy of your passport if they need it for Identity purposes, as sometimes these operators will happily hand your passport back when you pay a ransom to get it back. And because you are going to need your passport to go home you will pay.

Top tip here, offer them a photocopy, if they will not accept this, go somewhere else and rent whatever it is you are renting from someone who will accept this.

So there are my top 5 tips to avoid being scammed when you are travelling, I personally hope none of these ever happen to you, but sometimes they do.

The idea of this post is to not scare you off travelling solo, but just to draw your attention to some of the risks that are out there.

I firmly believe that most people are good, and most of the people I have encountered around the world have been really nice and good, but it always pays to keep your wits about you.

Thanks for reading, and please let me know in the comments below, any travel scams you have had happen to you, or that you know of.

Thanks, and safe travels.



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