by Vincent I. Porter
5 Travel Scams You Need To Look Out For
Travel is one of the most enriching experiences you can have. However, it is not all beach cocktails and ancient ruins. As much as we all wish this wasn’t the case, there is a small minority of people out there who target clueless tourists with incredibly devious scams. Normally, this means simply getting money out of you, but sometimes it can be more sinister than that.
If you have fallen prey to a scam on your travels before then you will know that the feeling of being duped really sucks. Some scams are universal, so keep an eye out for these five major tricks and you’ll have much smoother and safer travels.
The Broken Taxi Meter
This is a classic scam that catches people out all of the time. You get into a taxi, you give the driver your destination and away you go. After a couple of minutes you realise they haven’t put the meter on so you ask them to. Oh, look, the meter is broken – what a surprise. You can ask for an estimate of how much it will cost but your driver will probably have forgotten how to speak English by that point. When you get there you’re charged five or even ten times the normal fare and there is nothing you can do but pay.
Avoid this by always asking about the meter before getting into the taxi.
Closed Hotel or Tourist Attraction
You ask your taxi driver to take you to a certain hotel or tourist attraction and they inform you that, sadly, that place is closed. However, they know another place that is just as good and they are willing to take you. They drive you to somewhere that will be invariably worse and more expensive and they get a commission off their mate who owns the place.
Avoid this by insisting they take you so you can see with your own eyes if it is really closed (it almost never will be).
There is no such thing as a free lunch, nor do free gifts exist. You will often encounter people in the street who try to thrust things into your hands, insisting they are free. Bracelets or beads are common items to be handed. Once you have it in your hand there is no way they are taking it back and they are going to demand that you pay them for it. It’s an uncomfortable situation and for the sake of a dollar, you’ll pay just to get out of it.
Avoid this by never letting anyone put anything in your hand or on your body.
The saddest of all the scams you will encounter, child beggars are used all over the world and it is a true tragedy. Who can say no to an adorable child who needs just a couple of dollars to help support their family or buy milk for their baby sister? The problem is, that money you gave the child goes straight into the pocket of whoever bought them, perpetuating the market for child slaves.
Avoid this by just saying no, no matter how much it breaks your heart to do so.
Damaged Vehicles (Especially Mopeds)
Hiring a vehicle abroad is always stressful and this scam does nothing to help. In most cases the owner of the vehicle will point out some miniscule scratch and demand a ludicrous sum to repair it – often in the hundreds of dollars. Seeing as you gave them your passport as a deposit, your hands are tied and you have to hand over the money.
Avoid this by meticulously going over every single part of the moped with the owner and taking photos of every blemish not matter how small.