TOP 10 TOURIST SCAMS
TOP 10 tourist scams. Be careful!
Travelling gives invaluable experience. It teaches better than any school teacher. But the lessons you will learn not always will be pleasant, though useful for sure. And one thing you will or already know – some people love to take advantage of tourists and travelers, so you always have to be careful! Here are some of the most common travel scams around the world.
1. Rides in the taxi
First of all, when you get into a taxi, remember to check if the driver has switched on the taximeter. If the driver says it’s broken, you probably are getting ripped off. Another trick of taxi drivers is to take a detour. Most likely you won’t even notice that you are going around circles, but pay for every kilometre. So try to follow the road in the map or at least try some logics, or just agree on the price and rates before starting the ride. And do not give in if at the end the driver asks you for additional price!
2. Motorbike and bicycle rental
Before renting any transportation, check that well and take some proofs, like photos, to avoid that the local finds “some defect” and charge you additional cost. One thing – if the damage has been there already, you have to spot it, another – your transportation can be damaged on purpose by the owner`s friend just to get from you money. So be extremely careful with this! But that’s not it. If you are renting a vehicle, you will often be asked to leave your passport as a guarantee. Do not even think about that! You can leave only invaluable things or copies. Also, be careful with the officers – fake and real ones. A tourist on a vehicle for many mean “getting cash”. You may be asked for your driver’s license, which afterwards you can receive back by giving the bribe. In this case the best is to carry along a fake license or copy that looks like a real license. Tell the officers you cannot pay for anything now, but you can arrive at their office next day. Either they will give you your license back, or wait for you. This will give you some time to see if you are being scammed or it`s a real thing. Of course, this refers to developing countries like Vietnam. Do not try to do this in Europe or USA!
3. Fake tickets
It is very important to buy tickets in official ticket offices! Yeah, that also could not be that easy – e.g. in India you will find many fake offices. Ask around, ask in tourism information centres, if there are ones. And ask not just one, but many people, and study the map. That could help you. Avoid buying bus tickets for the next day. As then you might end up by the closed ticket office and non-existing bus. Remember, we are talking about developing countries here. Buses go often, but the tickets usually can be bought from the driver at the day and time you have planned to leave. In some countries “friendly locals” will try to explain you that that tickets can be bought only in tourism offices. But that is mainly not true – it costs more, and locals get their share for bringing you to the office. Be very cautious when buying the tickets – again and again check all your data and timings printed on the ticket. For many times we have had to change the ticket because of misunderstanding and lost translation.
4. Fake officials
This is what we first got to know in Mexico, and those fake officials worked all through Latin America. Even the locals warned us – not always officers are the good ones. These fake officers can ask you for your documents and passport, and then you will be able to get them back only with a bribe. Remember – always request police to show you their ID. Of course, that can be fake as well! Another option is to say your papers are in your hostel. If the police really follow you to the accommodation, they should be the real ones. You will find many fake officials on the borders and besides embassies in developing countries. People in uniforms will ask for your passport to fill in the data in application forms, and then ask for money. Or not even give you your papers back. Never ever give your passport to anyone who is not sitting behind official border control window! The same fake officials will give you forms to fill in to cross the border, saying you will not be able to move forward without this. Do not buy the form! Border crossing forms are always for free, available at the window of the border patrol!
In many European countries, especially touristy areas, you will see children holding some “official papers”, asking you to sign and donate for children hospital, e.g. You will be asked to donate the minimal amount of money which won’t be less than 2€, while in the list you will see that others have already donated 50€ or 100€. Everything is fake! Make sure about it yourself and ask for the donation license number!
Often you will see mothers with children begging. Those children probably aren’t even theirs! Sometimes beggars will just check where do you keep your wallet, so that it could be easily stolen later. The best option is (as we have already mentioned in our previous articles) to buy food for the hungry! They won’t feed from the coins.
6. Free products, free tours
Oh, these free things that are never for free! After receiving some random painting on your hand in Morocco or bracelet in Brazil, remember that you will be expected to pay for it! The best is to give the gift back if possible. Either it is a “free guide” that starts to show you around the temple in India or a master that demonstrates “free massage” in Thailand – this is almost never for free! If at the end there is a donation box, locals won’t hesitate to ask precise price, which will definitely be higher than you would ever pay for anything you just experienced. But don’t give in! Donations should never have the “minimal fee”. Also, try to keep small change in a separate pocket – if you are in trouble, show them those coins saying that’s all you got for now – everything was “for free” at the beginning after all.
7. Luxurious product purchase
If you have decided to go for shopping and bring something really valuable home, be extremely cautious with this one! Firstly, there will appear really good deals for the tourist who is looking for a way to spend a nice amount of money. But if you are not able to estimate the price of the product you are just about to buy, don’t! Locals have learnt how to convince the tourist that the product is “real”, but you cannot trust them! In this case, bring along someone you trust and one who knows the real thing. And at the end – if you have bought the desired product successfully, remember that it doesn’t end with that! Follow the packing process as well! By the experience we can say – sometimes you buy one thing, but at home unwrap another one.
8. Tricks to get your wallet
What could be better than a tourist wallet, right? And there are quite a few tricks to get it. Sometimes locals will do the nasty thing and spill something on you, after trying to help and wipe the spillage, in this way slipping the hand in your pocket. Do not let anyone to help you by touching you! Or there will be a helper with ATM machine, who can just scan your card and see your PIN number. Do not trust anyone except the employee of the bank. And, when exchanging the money, always recount it! Especially in developing countries, where money change tend to happen on the streets.
9. Extra charges for totally everything
In many parts of the world the tourist is seen as a money bag. And then the main is to get that money, right? So you will be charged or at least tried to be charged extra for totally everything. Be ready to see extra fees in the restaurant for using the cutlery or service charges even if you have taken your beer yourself and no service has been offered. Again and again we have to remind you – do not give in and stand up for yourself! Ask locals to show you where the additional charges are written down. If they are mentioned in some secret page, that’s fine. But if they are not – do not pay! Someone will ask you for money just because he/she just put your bag in the back of the van. Solution? Take your bag out and put it inside the back of the van yourself. You will be surprised, but it works! If you are visiting a country where the numbers are written in different script, study them, write the numbers down so that you could see if you have been tricked! In Europe this kind of country can be Albania, in Asia it can be Thailand. And many more. Locals will be surprised if you will tell them you actually know how much your meal costs. Sometimes in the hotel you will be asked to pay full price even if the wi-fi doesn’t work or toilet is broken. In this case, negotiate for lower price. Remember, if you have agreed on the price for something like taxi ride or product purchase, but you don’t have precise change, do not give the whole money away! Show how much do you have and wait till the opposite side prepares the change. Only when you are sure the change is right, you both can swap the money. Basically, take care of yourself, take care of your savings and fight for your rights!
10. It’s closed! There is no bus!
In touristy areas you will always find that “friendly helper”, who will tell you that there are no buses going to the place you are looking forward to and the hotel and restaurant you have planned to find is closed. Do not trust anything of this, check out everything for yourself! It might be a bit difficult to find the real bus station, which the locals use with no overpriced buses, but don’t give up! We have been tricked quite a lot of times and now we know – never to trust someone who can offer alternative right away.
Traveling is an inspiration. Traveling is learning, growth and continuous movement for the best. Traveling will give you the chance to live several different lives in your one and only life. And – even if there are these scammers and even if not always you will have that sunny and warm experience – remember that with every step you learn and every situation brings you valuable lessons. Be aware, but to dot get too frustrated if someone has tricked you. Life has to be enjoyed along with all of its shades!