On my recent trip to Vietnam, I was warned to watch out for the taxi drivers. Make sure you get a cab with a meter that works, my guidebook advised. And I did — but somehow, they still tried to overcharge me. Some of the meters neglected to include the decimal point, making the fare look like it was 10 times the actual price.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve been tested by potential scammers. A couple of years ago, walking near the famous Galata Bridge in Istanbul, I noticed a shoe shine boy drop a brush out of his box. Always the polite Canadian, I picked it up and returned it. And with effusive thanks, he pulled up his box and started to shine my shoes — at which point I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Let’s go, before he asks for money,” said my companions. “It’s a scam. We saw him do the same thing this morning.”
At least I got a shoe shine out of that scam. But it’s only one of hundreds of travel scams that tourists fall prey to. I recounted some of my experiences in a post a few months ago. But there are many more, and recently I came across a graphic from the people at Cheapflights that lists seven of the more common travel scams. I thought it was worth sharing: there’s a better chance of avoiding a travel scam if you can see it coming.
So here it is: the 7 Most Popular Travel Scams, and How to Avoid Them.
I hope this information will make you a more savvy traveller — as they say, forewarned is forearmed. And the graphic gives some good advice: be careful if someone asks for your personal information, and be wary if strangers seem overly friendly for no reason.
But just as importantly, don’t let the fear of scammers make you hesitate to travel. Even if you are taken in now and then, the amounts involved are usually small compared to the price of your trip and the enjoyment you’re getting. In the meanwhile, just practise saying “no thanks”.