The hardest part of any trip is planning. Now travelers are more often worried about traps. The trip goes from awesome to “worst time of my life.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t lose your time, money or energy when awareness on your part can protect you.
Broken taxi meter scam
Taxi drivers near airports or train stations start to drive when you get into the taxi. The driver informs you that the meter is broken and charges you more and you have no idea what the actual charge is. Sometimes the taxi driver claims lesser price than the metered taxi. After few miles through the trip, a fake call comes in claiming that the destination was misunderstood, the total fare is more.
How to avoid it: Be ahead of time. Ensure the meter is working or negotiate the rates before jumping into the cab. Make sure the driver understand the destination.
The longest route scam:
Taxi driver takes the longest route to your destination, ensuring the meter to run longer to get a larger fare.
How to avoid it: Prepaid taxi from the airport is fair. But from point A to point B in the city, ask the local before taking one. They have a good idea of the distance and fare. Negotiate the fare with the taxi driver.
The bill swaps or disappeared scam:
This is very common and can happen to anyone, tourist or local. You gave fifty dollar bill and next you see him holding a five, insisting that he was underpaid. Another scam is when you give few bill notes, they wall disappear one and claim that they have paid less.
How to avoid it: While paying to the taxi driver, count loudly and give the bills to the taxi driver one by one.
Per person scam
Taxi driver decides a price and you and your friends jump in. After reaching the final destination, taxi driver forcefully insists the fare is for per person. Sometimes they play numbers. For example, the rate is finalized as 13 but after reaching the destination they ask for 30, and it is you with the hearing problem.
How to avoid it: Speak boldly and clearly. Ask the total fare for everyone.
Overbooked or closed or similar name hotel
Taxi driver takes you to a different place than what you asked for. The driver will tell you your hotel is either closed or overbooked. He may take you to a hotel with the same name and drop you off to figure it out for yourself.
How to avoid it: Call your hotel in advance and make sure they’re open. Ask if they offer shuttle service. If your taxi driver insists, answer him that you have a reservation.
- Websites like worldtaximeter.com and taxifarefinder.com can give you an estimate from the airport to a major tourist destination.
- Social review website like tripadvisor.com can easily solve all these inquiries.
- Travel in a taxi with working meter.
- Ask local before hopping on a taxi.
Free rose or bracelets or rosemary
Some friendly guy will approach you to chat, and then place a “free” rose on your shirt. Once you have it, they will ask you for money. On refusing, they start to cause a scene.
How to avoid it: It’s simple. Don’t allow anyone to give you something for free. Now you know, ignore them and keep walking.
Motorbike rental scam
One of the best ways to travel in the city is to rent a motorbike. They are cheap and convenient. After you rent, it may get damaged or worst, stolen overnight. Usually, the owner or his friends are involved. It’s hard to argue with the owner. The owner will ask to pay for the damages or full replacement.
How to avoid it: First of all, choose a reputable motorbike hire company which recommended by your hotel, travel agent or review website. Avoid telling the name or the location of your hotel. To record previous damages, start clicking photos. Use your own lock, not the one provided by the owner. And try to make sure that you keep your motorbike safe for overnight.
Beautiful women scam
Women tend to lure tourist and invite you out to a nightclub or bar. They will disappear but your overpriced bill won’t. The situation can be worse. You may be robbed or drugged.
How to avoid it: You know how to avoid. Keep walking away.
The tourist bill scam
Usually, does happen in street hacker or small restaurants. They inflate the price when they notice a tourist in their restaurants.
How to avoid it: Well, just ask for the price before ordering. This may or may not help. Ask a local about food quality and price. As a thumb rule, this mostly is found at tourist attractions.
Attraction closed scam
A friendly guy will approach you to inform you that the attraction is closed for some reason. They will pretend to help you and give direction to different attraction or shop where you will be asked to purchase something.
How to avoid it: Thank him and ignore the advice. Keep walking. Head to the main counter and inquire about it.
A friendly guy will approach you to help avoid local bank fee. He will pretend to be a customer waiting in line to use the ATM. Their aim is to scan your ATM card with a pocket skimmer and note your pin. Later they drain your hard earn money.
Also, check the card slot at the ATM machine which is also covered by another duplicate skimmer which will copy your card details. A camera is also placed above the ATM machine to note your pin number.
How to avoid it: It’s simple and common sense. Never let anyone come near when you are making a transaction. Try to pull the card slot to make sure it is not fake or duplicate. Use your other hand to cover the number pad while entering your pin code.
Catch the baby scam
When you are on streets, women will throw her baby on you or drop the baby on the ground. You will certainly try to help and then you will notice a doll, not a baby. This distraction caused by her will gives an opportunity’ to the pickpockets. These thieves have millions of ways to distract you and take your wallet.
How to avoid it: It is hard to react suddenly, the moment we realize the act is already done. Avoid wallet in back pocket. Keep it in your bag and hold on tight around the zipper.
Group photo scam
Mostly in a tourist location, someone will offer you take a group photo. When all of you get together for a pose and look toward the camera, there is no one taking the photo. Your friendly helper disappeared.
How to avoid it: Don’t take any offers. Tourists are easy to spot. It should be you asking them to take a group photo and not the other way around.
Free Wifi scam
We all are looking for free Wi-Fi. Unlocked WiFi can be dangerous. These Wi-Fi hotspots are created by Hacker. Those who are eagerly trying to connect will give access to your device information.
Some scam is played not by a hacker but by the hotel owner. They charge you for using the Wi-Fi.
How to avoid it: Always use official connections. Ask the hotel/cafe/airport shop which one is their official Wi-Fi. Ask about the policy before connecting.
Fake tickets scam
Mostly takes place around train or bus station. Scammers offer to buy the ticket for a discounted price. However, the tickets are not real. By the time you figure it out, they are gone.
How to avoid it: Buy the ticket from official counter or websites.
Hotel wake-up call
You get a call from the front desk in the middle of the night to confirm your credit card details. Guess what, a scammer on duty.
How to avoid it: Never give out credit card details over the phone. The front desk can wait till morning. Meet them in person.
Museum / Historical attraction scam
This is a universal trap. A local tourist guide finds you and claims that he knows this awesome offbeat museum and instead takes you to his friend’s shop and forces you to buy something at ridiculously high prices, usually exotic things like gems, scents, and rugs.
How to avoid it: Museum and Attraction can be searched on the internet. Don’t follow anyone who offers a better site/offer/place.
Jet ski trap/ scam
A company operator will rent you a jet ski with an attractive price. After the end of the ride, they will show the damages that you have done and will extort money out of you.
How to avoid it: It’s pretty simple actually. Check review website is a must. Professional operators are easy to find. Book them. They are professionals and won’t risk their reputation on these cheap scams.
Hidden fee scams
No one likes to pay more. When it comes to paying a hidden fee, we all get frustrated and angry. But we can always learn to play it safe.
Frequent flyer miles
We indeed are happy to see reward points building up. And by using these points we get a good discount on the next flight. That’s not always the case. Some airlines actually charge you money to redeem your earned miles. Read the policy before buying the credit card. Don’t hesitate to ask a question.
Oversized/ Overweight bags
Did you know that last year, airlines generated $3.4 billion in revenue from checked baggage fees? Airlines have a policy with respect to the size or weight of the bags/suitcase that you will be traveling with. Exceeding these limits, you could be hit with a fee up to 100 dollars.
Rental car/ motorbike fuel
Understand the policy with the rental company regarding the fuel. Some require you to return with full gas, other just want to pay for the gas used. Avoid facing extra fuel surcharges.
We all are aware of that drink and snacks in the room minibar are charged. But sometimes they charge even for water or tea, which may look complementary.
Just ask the hotel staff, is the parking free? Some hotels have an expensive parking fee.
Believe it or not, many hotels will charge what is known as a “hotel resort fee” upon checkout. How much? Usually, 10% per night. You think you have prepaid the bill, think again. Read the fine print. Hotels and Resorts have to mention these extra charges and they do in a fine print somewhere.
They are good to place our valuable items but make sure they are included in the bill. Some hotels are charging some dollars per night.
Airport and hotel ATM
Taking out money from ATM can be expensive. ATM near airports or your Hotel sometimes charges up to five dollars per transaction. To avoid just check out your bank’s International Partner ATMs. They are lesser in charges per transaction.
The most unexpected and slap on your face are the “exit fees”. They are around twenty to thirty dollars, but they can add up if you’re visiting multiple countries. Inquire about them so that you may not be surprised and keep a tab on your budget.