Most Americans take vacation time pretty seriously. I mean most of us lucky ones only get a couple weeks off per year, unlike our European counterparts who get as much as eight weeks of vacation annually. So, there’s no doubt we want to carefully plan for a spot we’ve wanted to visit for quite some time. Some even save for years to knock off that bucket list destination from our list. But it is important to be aware of traveler scams that can befall us. These traveler scams can happen anywhere from airports to the streets from a small town.
1. Airport Security Theft
You know the drill. You wait and wait and when you get to the security line it is a rush to take off shoes, get your coat, lap top, etc out and in the bin. Then the waiting game begins. There may be various lines that feed through one metal detector. Make sure you wait until it is your turn to walk through to send your stuff through the line. Or better yet, at least make sure your most valuable item like purse or laptop goes through the same time you do. Another way this scam works is when someone repeatedly sets off the alarm, deliberately holding up the line. While you wait, on the other side, his accomplice has stolen your belongings and is long.
2. Exchange Rate Snafu
Surely by now, most astute travelers know that they can expect to pay foreign transaction fees with some cards. Some card services are nice enough to not impose these fees (Discover does, but good luck finding a merchant who accepts it overseas). A new scam involves the merchant asking if you want to pay in US dollars vs. local currency. This would seem to be the best option, right? Wrong. When the currency is converted to US dollars it imposes even more fees which the merchant than pockets. So ALWAYS PAY IN LOCAL CURRENCY.
3. Too Close for Comfort
As many popular tourist destinations in Europe and Asia get extremely crowded, you personal space almost always gets invaded. While you may be vigilant about keeping an eye on your purse backpack, you can be caught off guard when a stranger walks up and starts tying a string around your wrist. Before you have time to say anything he’s tied a double knot around your wrist. This happened just recently in India to me. He then demands payment and is very pushy about it. If you don’t give him money he yells and embarrasses you. Be cautious of anyone who seems overly friendly and keep your distance.
Unfortunately, while we would all like to trust and believe in others, there are plenty out to do us harm or steal from us. Educating yourself on the scams of any county you plan to visit will help you prevent many of the common travel scams most tourists fall prey to.