One of my biggest fears is traveling out of the country and
having to beat someone’s ass getting robbed. I honestly cannot think of anything more frightening than being miles and miles away from home and feeling unsafe in a place where I’m the outsider. Granted, I live in Atlanta – home of the scammers. However, the types of scams Atlanta thieves do are only child’s play compared to places like Bangkok, Morocco, or Europe. Atlanta scammers don’t need to look you in the face, make small talk, or guilt trip you to scam you for your checks and credit cards. Foreign places, on the other hand, are not above making you feel comfortable then forcing you in a position where you either have to pay them or they’re taking everything you own right up off you. One of my goals for the New Year is to make traveling out of the country a norm for me. However, I can’t do that if I don’t prepare myself for what could possibly happen to me as a tourist. To avoid my biggest fear, I read Nomadic Matt’s post, 14 Major Travel Scams To Avoid. I know that as a tourist I would be more likely to get scammed, especially if I stick out like a sore thumb, but I didn’t know the types of scams I could be a victim of.
Here are 14 Travel Scams That Matt Warns Us About
1. The Taxi Overcharge: This is pretty universal; taxis overcharge by claiming the meter is broken or making sure it isn’t accurate.
How to avoid this scam: Know how much the ride should cost beforehand, don’t negotiate, and use your own GPS to know the best route.
2. “Your Accommodation Is Closed”: Also a taxi scam, they will insist that they take you somewhere else “just as nice” but a lot further out (longer route = more money.)
How to avoid this scam: Ignore them and insist on going to your original destination. Use your own GPS.
3. The Shell Game: You play a game on the street. You win. You bet more money. You lose. You lose again. You lose again.
How to avoid this scam: Remember that they will always win. Don’t play or accept your first win and walk away.
4. “Come in for tea and help me write a letter!”: A shop owner will offer you tea then pressure you into buying something once you have accepted. You’ll feel obligated to reciprocate (buy) since he was nice and gave you something.
How to avoid this scam: Don’t follow him to his shop.
5. Free bracelets/rosemary/anything they can put on you: Someone will spark a conversation then place a bracelet on you in the middle of it. Once the conversation is over, they will cause a scene and demand money.
How to avoid this scam: Quickly take off whatever item they placed on you and give it back.
6. The Spill On Your Clothes: Someone “accidentally” spills something on you then picks your pockets while being “very sorry” and “helping you” clean yourself up.
How to avoid this scam: Clean it up yourself.
7. Motorbike Scam: Common in Southeast Asia, you’ll be charged an additional payment for “expensive repairs” after returning the bike you rented.
How to avoid this scam: Take photos of the bike beforehand and go over it with the owner. Also, use your own lock and keep the bike out of sight and off the street so no one can damage or steal it.
8. The Flirtatious Woman: After drinking with a beautiful woman all night, she disappears and you’re forced to pay an overpriced bill or you’ve been drugged and robbed.
How to avoid this scam: Think with your big head, not your little one.
9. Your attraction is closed for lunch: Similar to #2. However, they will insist that they take you to a different attraction where you’ll be pressured into buying something or paying a lot for entry.
How to avoid this scam: Remember that an attraction will never be closed for lunch, it’d be closed the entire day. Find out the hours of operation before you go.
10. The “Found” Ring: Someone picks up a ring and asks if you dropped it. You assure them that it doesn’t belong to you so they sell it to you and “prove” that it’s real gold only to find out it’s fake after you purchased it.
How to avoid this scam: Don’t buy the ring.
11. The Fake Petition: A woman or kid will come to you with a petition, you’ll sign it then they’ll demand a cash donation.
How to avoid this scam: Ignore people who want you to sign a petition if you haven’t heard of or researched the “cause.”
12. The Drug Deal Gone Bad: Someone offers you drugs, you accept, cops arrive to bribe or arrest you.
How to avoid this scam: Say no to drugs, kids.
13. The Wrong Change: You pay for something and receive a pile of change that are all the same color but all the wrong bills.
How to avoid this scam: Count your change carefully.
14. The Switcheroo: You see a designer item at a bargain price but the owner switches it with a knockoff when you’re not paying attention.
How to avoid this scam: Designer is never cheap. Also, always watch what the seller actually gives you.
To read Nomadic Matt’s full post, click here!
Have you ever experienced a travel scam? What happened?