Travel Scams That All Travelers Should Know About

Traveling is fun. It allows you to see new places, meet new people, try out new cuisines…and if you’re not careful, fall victim to various travel scams. The last bit is never on anyone’s itinerary but you’ll be surprised at how many tourists fall victim to different kinds of scams across the world.

The last thing anyone wants on a relaxing vacation is to learn they’ve been swindled. So, here are some of the most common travel scams that someone is likely to try on you during your travels. Knowledge is power, and hence, we’ve also included some tips on how to avoid falling prey to these scams.

Taxi Overcharge

This is probably the most common kind of travel scam you’re likely to come across. This is also a primary reason why it’s advised to have some form of transport ready when you arrive at your destination airport. Taxi services have long been important for weary travelers but that has changed in the past few years.

There are two popular kinds of travel scams that a lot of taxi drivers have been found guilty of in the past. The first one is the classic “broken meter” scam. It might just be one of the few world travel scams as they can be found in nearly every country.

The premise is fairly simple. You hire a taxi and expect to pay whatever you meter charges. However, the driver, in this case, will tell you the meter is broken and then attempt to overcharge you. Since you’ve already taken the ride, most travelers feel pressured into giving the driver what they demand. Additionally, there are instances where the driver may have tampered with the meter.

This leads to the meter going higher than usual without the traveler catching on. The best way to avoid such a scam is to ask the hotel or destination you’re headed to beforehand for a frame of reference to know the fair prices. Moreover, make sure the taxi you get into is registered and has an ID Number. Avoid unregistered cab drivers at all costs.

Taxi Misguidance

The second popular taxi scam is that of misguidance. The taxi driver will try to pressure you by saying the place you’re headed to is closed and will instead attempt to take you to a different location. This location will probably be another scam that will overcharge you for your stay.

Your smartphone is your best friend in this case. Simply contact the place you’re supposed to be headed to and verify that they’re open. Additionally, use the smartphones to ensure that the taxi driver doesn’t take longer routes by preloading a map onto your phone. A few simple steps like these could help you avoid getting scammed on foreign land.

Spoiled Clothes

You’ll be surprised to know how many people fall victim to this scam since it seems so unlikely at first. You’ll be walking at one of the popular tourist sites and you’ll have someone spill something on your clothes. At first, it seems like a complete accident. The guilty party will expectedly be sorry, and attempt to clean your clothes with some kind of damp cloth.

But don’t be fooled by this as this is a popular tactic used by pickpockets. While cleaning your clothes, either the person himself or an accomplice will pickpocket you while you’re focused on getting your clothes cleaned.

Be wary of people trying to encroach your personal space, especially in tourist locations. If you do find something spilled on you, resist anyone trying to help and take care of clothes yourself.

Photo Offers

One of the most common sights you’ll see at nearly every tourist location around the world is tourists taking photos. Of course, when you’re at a historical landmark, it makes sense to take pictures or selfies. You’ll probably find people willing to take pictures of you at these locations. In some cases, they’ll take a few pictures and before you realize, poof! They’ll be gone, along with your camera or smartphone.

This can be a little tricky. There have been times when I’ve asked people to take pictures of me and happily handed over my smartphone and camera. The best tip to avoid this scam is probably to read the situation and the person. Ask a fellow tourist instead and return the favor for them and avoid people that volunteer to take your picture.

“Deals” on Items

This is another popular travel scam you’re likely to come across many tourist spots. It is usually a local that claims to own some precious items like jewelry, watches, and sometimes even electronic items. Then they’ll proffer to sell these to you at special discounts.

Don’t fall for this kind of trickery as the items in question are usually forgeries, or at best, stolen properly. In either case, you’ll either be swindled for a whole lot of money or worse, end up in legal trouble in a foreign country for possessing a stolen item.

It is best to avoid buying anything too expensive while traveling abroad. However, if you absolutely have to then you’re better off going to official stores or trusted dealers and not random individuals from the street.

Fake Wi-Fi Hubs

This is by far one of the most popular airport scams out there. However, Wi-Fi services have now reached almost every popular tourist location as well. Most of these locations provide free Wi-Fi services. However, it is equally easy for potential hackers to set up free Wi-Fi hotspots in these locations and prey on unsuspecting tourists. This gives them access to the victims’ online accounts, passwords, and so much more sensitive information.

The best way to avoid this scam is to always ask the official staff at the location about which Wi-Fi hotspot is the official one. To add a layer of protection, I would suggest using a strong VPN like PureVPN. A VPN will encrypt all your online activity and keep you safe on any connection.

Enjoy Your Trip, But Be Smart

Vacations are supposed to be fun. But these travel scams can often leave a sour taste in your mouth and spoil these vacations altogether. There are so many other forms of travel scams and anyone that has done their fair bit of traveling will have a scam story of their own to tell.

However, you can at least try and avoid the most obvious ones and make sure no one close to you falls for any of these either.  By being vigilant and protecting those around you, you’ll most certainly have more valuable travel experience.


Yasir Nawaz Yasir enjoys reading and writing about the latest developments in the world of AI and cybersecurity. A firm believer in the right to digital privacy for all, he shares his thoughts on issues both controversial and menial. His other interests include chess, reading, and looking to the horizon in his best Luke Skywalker impression.

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