Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go? Trips can be a lot of fun but you can also start off on the wrong foot by falling prey to these travel scams. Hopefully, this will never happen to you. But it’s better to be prepared so you’re not caught off guard.
Top 10 Travel Scams
1. Finding a hotel. You exit the airport just to be greeted by several people all promising great deals if you stay at their hotel. You pick one of them and find when you arrive the promised rate is no longer available. Now you’ll have to pay a lot more to stay. When trying to find a hotel room, talk with tourist information or book the hotel yourself.
2. Getting to your hotel. You just arrived and are exiting the airport. Look at the taxi lineup. This could take thirty minutes or more. A driver approaches you and tells you he can get you to your hotel without the wait. You decide to take the driver up on the offer. The driver puts your luggage in the vehicle and leaves you standing on the curb. Make sure you’re riding in an official cab. Also, negotiate with the driver the cost of the trip before heading to your hotel. You want to make sure they take you on a direct route and don’t overcharge you for the taxi fare.
3. Hungry for dinner? You’re in luck, someone has slid takeout menus under your door! You call the phone number and place an order. The food never arrives and they have your credit card information. If you want to order in, check with the hotel for recommendations before calling a number from a flyer that was slid under your door.
4. The wake-up call. You’ve been traveling all day and you just want to get some rest before you start sightseeing in the morning. The phone rings. You answer it to find the desk clerk on the other end asking to verify your credit card information. You tell the desk clerk they have the wrong number and you give them the right information. Problem? You just gave someone posing as the desk clerk your credit card info. You go back to sleep just to find out in the morning that you’re credit card has been used by someone else. If this happens to you, either call the front desk back or better yet, go down in person. To avoid these types of travel scams, never give out your credit card information on a call that wasn’t initiated by you.
5. Don’t let them get the drop on you. You grab something for lunch from a vendor. Someone standing nearby gets their food or drink spilled on you. They offer to help just to find they’ve helped you out of your wallet. Be careful of someone trying to brush food off of your clothes.
6. Take my picture! How many time have you asked someone to take your picture? Keep an eye on your camera. They could easily disappear once they have your camera in hand. Also, you could have a problem if they ask you to take their picture. They give you their camera, you tell them it’s not working, and they end up making a scene yelling that “you broke their camera”. They will keep trying to get everyone’s attention in the hopes that you will give them some money to fix their camera. These travel scams work because most people will pay to stop them from drawing attention to you.
7. Watch your luggage. Do you ever toss your luggage in the overhead on trains? Be careful when going through dark tunnels. Thieves will wait for these areas and simply grab your bag and keep on walking to the next car while the car your riding on is dark. You’ll be none the wiser and not realize your bag has been stolen until you’re ready to grab your bag. Try to attach the bag to the luggage rack when riding on a train so it’s not easily taken.
8. Stop for a minute and watch the street performers. It’s a lot of fun. There’s a large crowd. Sometimes these performances ask the audience to move out and form a bigger circle. Then they’ll ask everyone to move in. At that point, people are bumping into each other. This is a great time for the pickpockets to grab your wallet. Be careful where large groups form to watch a performance.
9. Attraction is closed for the morning. I actually had this happen to me in Bangkok. We were on our way to the Palace and a guide approached me telling me the Palace was closed for the morning for a private party. They would take me on a private tour and bring me back later when it was open again. As I looked over, there was so many people in there, kids, adults, I didn’t believe him. We walked over to find it was open. Check for yourself if an attraction is actually closed. It’s probably open.
10. Counting your change. When you pay for something, make sure you know how much you should be getting back. If you appear to be in a hurry, vendors may count your change very slowly and take a long pause part way through the counting. Their hope is that you think the transaction is complete, take your money and go, not realizing they’ve only counted out part of your change.
Travel is a lot of fun, but you need to be aware. Watch out for people trying to run travel scams. Always be aware and have a safe and happy trip!