Traveling is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You get to meet new people, taste new foods, possibly learn a new language and, above all, you get to experience a totally new and different culture. In many ways, traveling is more than just the fun, the road trips, and the adventures; it can change you and your life.
However, as with other things in life, traveling is not all fun, games, and roses. One of the issues commonly faced by travelers is scams. Travel scams are one of the most common scams in many countries around the world simply because travelers are overwhelmed and naturally do not know what’s going around in their new place. Travel scammers capitalize on this – because you don’t know the ins and outs of the place, they know they can scam you out for that.
But don’t worry. You’re not totally helpless against such scams. In this article, we are going to talk about some of the tips you can do or apply the next time you travel. So, please read on to learn more!
The first thing to do to avoid scams is to get to know them first before traveling to the place you’re going to, regardless if it’s another country or just another region or city in your country.
Look on Google for something like, “Travel/common scams in (your destination place)”. Not only do you get to know which scams are prevalent in that place, but you might also find useful tips on how to avoid each of them. Also, keep in mind that not all scams are targeted at travelers; in some cases, a particular scam could simply be prevalent in that particular place.
Before taking your trip, be sure to know at least the basic details of what you’ll be doing to your place of destination. This includes taxes (if relevant), public transportation costs, average costs on the grocery and supermarkets, and how things are done in certain situations. If you don’t know these details, you’re more vulnerable to scams. For instance, airport taxis in some countries tend to charge a higher price to tourists because they think that they don’t know the know-how of the place.
Of course, you won’t be able to figure everything out, but it’s good to learn the basics and have prior knowledge with you.
If something didn’t feel right, feel free to ask questions. In a way, this could be a litmus test between a scammer and a genuine person: a scammer is more likely to be irritated or intimidated because, well, he/she is trying to scam. If the person tends to shoo away even the most crucial questions you’re throwing, chances are that you’re talking to a potential scammer. The genuine person, on the other hand, is willing to receive the questions because he/she has nothing to hide.
Just ask you can ask questions whenever you feel something is not right, feel free to say “no” whenever you think that something is really not right. It may be awkward, but it’s better than being scammed. Besides, genuine people will understand and respect the rejection; only the scammers will be forceful or perhaps even guilt trip you into saying “yes” to whatever they’re offering.
Sometimes, the “helpful” people are the ones that are likely to scam. One of the common scamming techniques is simply by using distraction. This can happen in many forms, so I’ll just give one example: one person intentionally dropped you something – maybe, water, ketchup, or even animal feces (real or fake) – and pretend that it’s an accident. And as the person tries to help you out – at this point you’re already distracted – another person is trying to steal your belongings from your pocket. “Helpful” scamming can also happen through advice – they’ll offer you help that they’ll give you the best deals and so on, only to find out that you’re being charged at a higher rate.
These being said, not all helpful locals are scammers, of course. But just beware and trust your own gut.
Finally, be sure to guard your belonging at all times. As a general rule, place your belongings to where you can see them or easily see them. This means that placing your valuables at your back is a big no – e.g. don’t place your wallet at the back of your pants.
But what about backpacks? One way to protect it is to wear it in front of you. This may sound weird, but some people actually do it. But if you’re not really into it, then simply be sure that your valuables are secured in the very inside of your backpack, not just on the side pockets. Also, when eating at a restaurant, place your things on your front or sides, but never on the back as snatchers can take them while you’re enjoying your meal.