Destination 101: Common Travel Scams to Avoid

With a number of new sights and attractions to see across the world, it’s sometimes easy to take your eye off of the ball and leave yourself vulnerable to attacks. In fact, even the most seasoned traveler can be a victim of fraud, scams, and other crimes when they arrive in a new city after a long journey. Unfortunately, this is the brave new world of tourist rip-offs. The old “you dropped and broke my phone” trick seems minor compared to the new breed of travel cons out there. That said, vacationers have always been targeted by smart con artists when they are far from home. Luckily, by knowing the usual traps scammers set for tourist, visitors can stay well-informed and prepared for any unexpected tricks. So, don’t let yourself be that person, and make sure to watch out for common travel scams while you’re traveling.

NYC Yellow Taxis in Soho, Common Travel Scams
NYC Yellow Taxis

The Most Common Travel Scams To Avoid

The Taxi Trick

Perhaps one of the most common travel scams across the globe is the taxi overcharge. What is this? This a con that involves taxi drivers running up the meter; or claiming that the meter is broken to charge you an enormous amount. In some cases, the taxi trick involves two parties. One person, for example, might see you standing alone somewhere and start chatting with you. They’re not trying to be nice; instead, they’re trying to gain your trust. Once they feel like they’ve gained your trust; they’ll then tell you about some destinations worth seeing and which taxi driver can take you there — for “the lowest rates.” Don’t fall for it.

How to Avoid it

In order to avoid scams, you first need to know how much a ride to a specific location should cost. You can ask airport employees (if you’re leaving the terminal) or ask staff members at the hotel you’re staying at what the fee should be. The next step involves negotiating — meaning if the cab driver tries to negotiate rates before taking off, be sure to offer them the correct amount. If they refuse, then find a driver who will put the meter on. If the meter, however, seems to be going up rapidly, then have them pull over — if it’s safe — and get out once you’ve paid them. Whatever you do, never get in an unlicensed cab — no matter how great the deal might be.

pickpockets. Common Travel Scams


Scammers and thieves love using distractions to their advantage. Why? Well, because it makes it easier for travelers to get pickpocketed. Each day, over 400,000 people fall victim to pickpocketing worldwide. This number could be even higher since police officials usually assume the items stolen were, in fact, just lost or misplaced somewhere else. Given how common this problem is, it’s best to always be alert and look out for red flags. What are some things you can do?

How to Avoid it

Common Travel Scams

First, you should always leave your best items at home. In other words, if you own a nice shiny ring or watch, it’s best to leave it at home. Otherwise, you could get the wrong kind of attention. Next, if you’re out shopping and using public transportation with valuable items, it’s best to always make sure your hands are tightly wrapped around your belongings. This will prevent someone from quickly grabbing your personal items and running off with them.

As a rule of thumb: You’ll always want to watch out for people traveling alone who are moving rather quickly through the bus, train, or plane, especially if they don’t have anything with them. As they walk through the cabin or isle, they’ll look for items they can grab and run off with at the next stop. Also, watch out for people who are constantly fidgeting. Although fidgeting doesn’t always mean someone’s up to no good, it does mean that a particular person is anxious about something. In the end, the best thing to do in this case is to stay alert.

Internet Safety

Common travel scams come in all different shapes and sizes. They can approach you on the street or get in contact with you through the internet. Whatever the case may be, the truth is cybersecurity is an issue that can affect your life; even when you’re on vacation. While you shouldn’t be paranoid about your computer usage on your trip; tourists who are too careless with their digital information can open themselves up to a lot of danger.

One danger careless travelers can open themselves up to is credit card fraud. Unlike pickpocketing, credit card fraud can happen even when your wallet is with you — all it takes is some simple equipment and a little knowledge. A stolen wallet, on the other hand, can be more than an inconvenience while exploring a foreign country. That’s because when stolen cards go undetected, travelers can come back to an unexpected credit card bill: the result of bad charges going through and legitimate charges being denied throughout the vacation. Fortunately, tourists can protect themselves by contacting their banks (if their cards go missing), and putting a hold on credit reports.

How to Avoid it

If you plan on traveling abroad or within the country; it’s a good practice to avoid using public networks as well — even if you have your own device. So, whether you are using a personal device or hotel computers, keep in mind that you have no idea who is on the network, which is why you should never check sites that have your personal information. Public computers can be loaded with harmful malware and spyware, which essentially allows hackers to track your every move and even view the passwords you enter.

It’s also important to monitor the email you send out to people when traveling. That means not sending out things like your billing address, credit card numbers, the name of your bank, your full name, and other sensitive information. When it comes to keeping yourself safe and avoiding common travel scams, it’s all about being aware and prepared. Remember, there are a number of ways people can trick you and gain access to your personal information if you don’t protect it. However, if done correctly, you can keep yourself secure and out of harm’s way.

About Herman Davis

H. Davis loves taking advantage of the sunny weather outside. If you can’t catch him online, you might be able to catch him out playing football with friends or cheering on the Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!

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