You know the feeling. You’ve bought your airline ticket, you’ve packed your bags and you’ve checked-in online. Now you’re counting down the hours till you fly away.
But, careful don’t get scammed on your adventure abroad. There’s nothing worse than being tricked into paying way more than you should or even ending up in a threatening situation. For the most part, a little common sense will go long way – just have your wits about you and be prepared for the unexpected. Here are a few common travel scams and the best ways to avoid them.
- Smash for cash
The age of the selfie stick may be upon us but there are still times when someone will ask you to take a shot of them and their friends. The camera fails to work and when you attempt to hand it back, your new buddy conveniently drops it. It smashes and the group demands you fork out for repairs or a replacement. They might even pickpocket you during the chaos.
How to avoid it: Be cool, keep your temper in check and try to talk your way out of the situation while keeping your valuables close. If all else fails, walk away.
2. Tuk tuk and taxi drivers
You’ve bargained hard to get the driver to turn on the meter. The meter doesn’t even look tampered with so you feel you transit back, close your eyes and enjoy the ride. But a common ploy to trick unsuspecting tourists out of their hard-earned cash is to take longer routes to boost takings.
How to avoid it: No matter how much online research you do, most travellers arrive without local knowledge of the city streets. Download the Google Map app to your smartphone and watch like a hawk. If you see a deviation from the most direct route, call the driver on it.
3. Credit card scams
You might have found the perfect present for your partner back home. Now the store attendant is processing your credit card transaction, while chatting on the phone. It’s taking forever so you lose interest and your eyes wander. Meanwhile, the attendant is taking photos of your credit card to rack up exorbitant bills later.
How to avoid it: Pay attention and, if you notice something suspicious, speak up immediately.
4. Beggar beware
We’ve all seen small children at traffic intersections begging for money. Well-organized gangs are said to be mostly behind this scam, forcing innocent children to guilt travellers into generosity then collecting the takings. There have also been instances of gang leaders deliberating injuring children, believing they achieve higher rates of return.
How to avoid it: Give food instead of money. Small packets of biscuits are perfect – there’s plenty to share around.
5. Know how much to pay
If you can buy an LV wallet for $500 in your home country, why pay $700 during your travels just because you think it must be cheaper overseas? International credit card transaction fees can add to the cost. If you’re in local markets, it also pays to be savvy about fakes and other overpriced goods. Many holiday apartments offers a great deal which are reality check for many hotels asking for huge amount of money for stay.
How to avoid it: Find out the exchange rate then do a little online research. Sounds obvious but with all the prep for your trip, it’s easy to forget.
Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.