When you imagine your dream vacation, you’re probably floating through images of beaches, tropical drink in hand. Thinking about spending time with your family and enjoying the fruits of your labor should be a pleasant reverie — most people don’t daydream about falling for a travel scam while on vacation. But this misfortune happens too easily, even if you have street smarts. To stay safe and enjoy your adventure, check out these tips on common travel scams.
Many people find themselves at a timeshare demonstration for the chance to win a free prize, but some end up signing up for a stake in the timeshare at the end. Unfortunately, more often than not, the salespeople aren’t giving you all the facts before you sign up. Blackout dates, special restrictions and more can turn a great idea into a terrible investment.
Before signing up for a timeshare, read through the fine print (yes, all of it), and examine your budget before you decide if you can truly afford it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can even do some research about timeshares on the Federal Trade Commission website to inform yourself before making a commitment.
There are few things that leave people more vulnerable than being in a taxi abroad. Once you’re in a car, you’re at the mercy of the driver. That’s a lot of trust, even if the driver is your best friend.
That’s why taxis are a common place for travel scams. Sometimes, the cab driver will claim their meter is broken, and you end the journey discovering you just dropped an absurd amount on a two-mile ride. Other times, when just trying to get back to your hotel, they might explain they have a better, cheaper hotel for you along the way. The cab driver could be getting a kickback for taking you to these alternative lodgings, so they might be attempting to manipulate your situation in their favor — never an ideal scenario for a passenger.
To avoid all this drama, consider apps like Uber that work abroad. Many travelers feel more comfortable with this mode of transportation because it’s a method they likely use at home. If Uber isn’t your thing, you can even hire a single driver for day trips and avoid trying to hail a random cab in the rain.
Nothing in life is free, especially if it’s given to you by a stranger in a foreign city. Criminals that prey on tourists tend to distract you with “free” gifts and compliments — all while snooping in your purse or wallet. Sometimes, small children are used to carry out these scams, which makes it even harder to walk away if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
Not only should you keep your valuables locked in by tucking them inside your clothing, you should also avoid talking to random people who approach you. When you’re out exploring, leave your passport and other irreplaceable items in the hotel (preferably in a locked safe). Don’t take all your credit cards or debit cards — only as much as you need and can afford to lose.
Everyone loves to meet people in new countries, right? A great way to explore is from a tour from a native. But be wary of strangers that invite you to another location. Another common travel scam involves a person inviting a tourist out to a bar. Then when it’s too late, they get the bill and find out it’s way more than a couple of beers. Unfortunately, you’re stuck with it.
If you set yourself up with just a few simple precautions in mind, you can create an relaxing vacation free of scammers and enjoy the adventure ahead.