Holidays are supposed to be super fun and relaxing. One of the reasons you might want to visit a new country is to experience new cultures, food, sights, and sounds. However, being in completely new surroundings can make you susceptible to scams, since you’re not familiar with how things are run. There are many people who are out to take advantage of tourists due to their naivete.

If you run into any of these scams, remain firm and remove yourself from the scammer as soon as you can. Here are the common scams you may encounter when you travel around the world and what to do.

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Avoid These Travel Scams and Have a Safe Trip

app car
Image credit: Pxhere

1. Dishonest Taxi Drivers

This type of scam is common all over the world. Taxi drivers may come up to you and offer a ride, but say that their meter isn’t working. Some may even invite you on board and tell you the meter is broken halfway through the journey, or even when you’ve reached your destination. By then it’s too late to negotiate and you’re forced to pay whatever excessive amount is demanded from you.

  • How to avoid this scam:

Always make sure you ensure the meter in a taxi is working before you board a taxi, and clarify the rates beforehand. Avoid any taxi driver that refuses to use the meter or tells you the meter is broken, even if they say that it’s cheaper without the meter. Alternatively, you can use a ride-sharing app like Uber, Lyft or Grab where the rates are clearly stated online and there’s little room for scamming.

2. The Closed Tourist Attraction

Another very common scam among taxi drivers happens when you want to visit a popular tourist attraction, and a taxi driver or presumed guide insists that it’s closed. They will instead recommend another attraction that’s further so that they can charge you more for the ride. Other people involved may be paid a commission for bringing tourists to a specific attraction.

  • How to avoid this scam:

Research opening times of your destination online, and give them a call if possible. Be firm with your public transport drivers and try another taxi or guide until one agrees to take you where you want to go.

3. The Overly Attached ‘Guide’

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There are plenty of news reports whereby tourists have been robbed in broad daylight by locals posing as guides. These local scammers chat you up on the streets or near tourists areas and promise to be your personal guide. Some even promise to bring you home for a special home-cooked meal or something similar. In the end, they start cornering you into paying them a fee or surrendering your valuables.

  • How to avoid this scam:

If you want a personal guide, always go through a travel agency that’s registered with the government. That way, if anything goes wrong, you at least have a legal avenue and the guide’s real name and details. Never agree to ‘freelance’ guides off the street.

4. Beggars With Children

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There’s an ongoing debate on whether or not you should give money to beggars when you’re travelling. Some may approach you carrying babies or young children. There are those that sport an injury or disability. It’s pretty hard to say no. However, many experts say that you shouldn’t give cash, as many beggers work for underground cartels.

  • How to avoid this scam:

The advice to not give money to beggars while travelling holds true. If you really want to help street children or the disabled, contribute your money to a proper charity organization. Cold hard cash only encourages the criminal rings to continue their modus operandi.

5.  The Free Souvenir

souvenir cart
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This tends to happen especially in crowded tourist areas. Moving vendors, who sometimes pose as innocent passers-by, will push some special souvenirs into your hand or try to put it on you. Some will start off telling you it’s free. You say ‘thank you’ and walk away, only to be confronted later by that same person, making a scene and demanding for payment.

  • How to avoid this scam:

Don’t allow anyone to put things on you, whether it’s a hat, T-shirt, scarf, bracelet or the like. Don’t accept anything ‘free’ from strangers either. Just walk past them and ignore them.

6. Fake Train Inspectors

sitting in train
Image credit: Pxhere

This has happened in several Asian countries before, where uniformed men appear in trains asking to inspect your ticket and then demanding money, telling you that you’ve entered the wrong cabin.

  • How to avoid this scam:

The train situation is a little hard, so always double and triple confirm your ticket beforehand. You may need an honest local who speaks your language  (like your hotel reception staff) to help you to make sure you board the correct section of the correct train. Once you’re very sure, stand your ground, even if your ticket is inspected.

When you’re travelling, you should try to buy traveller’s insurance in case of anything untoward. For everything else, like flights and hotels, look at our travel deals that will make your booking experience sweeter.