Travelling is literally the only thing that you can spend money on that will never, ever be considered a waste of money. Travelling’s great and we make it a point to do so pretty often in a year. But a holiday can just as easily turn into a living hell if you aren’t careful.
We’re not saying that everyone out there is a crook looking to con you but it does help to be aware and prepared nonetheless. Travelling to a far-off destination soon? Here are 10 tips on how to avoid travel scams if you don’t want your vacation to turn into a living nightmare.
Photo Credit: Times of Oman
BEWARE OF SYNDICATES – CHILD BEGGARS & HANDICAPPED PEOPLE
It makes us feel really horrible for saying this but whenever a child comes up to you begging for money, never give it to them. You’re not actually helping them out because these kids are actually controlled by an organisation and the money which these kids collect will all go into the pockets of really bad people.
BEWARE OF FLIRTATIOUS WOMEN
When a particularly attractive female comes up to you, chats you up and tells you that she wants to take you to a particular club or bar, it usually means trouble. In no regular setting, unless of course, you’re Johnny Depp in the flesh, no woman will come up to you and flirt with you without a catch attached.
This is what will happen. Your friends and you will be suckered to follow her and she’ll probably take you to a bar, have you pay an expensive cover charge and disappear halfway through the night. Typically, these women are hired by establishments to reel in men. Seem to good to be true? It probably is.
In places like Thailand, ladyboys are considered an attraction and you’ll likely find groups of them parading the streets dressed all fancy like. Do not try and take a photo of them or with them because it usually isn’t free. And don’t even try to talk your way out of it because the last thing you want is a gang of them surrounding you and making things even harder.
Photo Credit: HowToDoYourself
COUNT YOUR CHANGE
As much as possible, we try our best to avoid using big notes for the very simple reason being that it’s easy to be shortchanged—literally—if you don’t make an effort to understand the currency, let alone count your change. This won’t happen in convenience stores, but who’s to say it won’t in places without a proper cash register?
FREE BRACELETS OR FLOWER GARLANDS
In the event that you find yourself approached by people holding on to garlands or bracelets, do not let allow them to put it on you because once it’s on you, they’ll consider it sold. And even if you try to take it off, sometimes they may cause a scene, and the only way to get them off your back is to pay. To prevent this from happening, always be on alert and never allow anyone to touch or put anything on you, be it a flower garland or bracelet.
FAKE POLICE OFFICERS
In many countries, people often pretend to be police officers to extort money from tourists, some of them even looking really legit—badge, gun and all. To prevent yourself from being extorted, one trick is to prepare a fake wallet as a decoy to appease and ward off these pesky fake police officers. Or demand them to show you their identification—it’s standard police protocol to show it so if they refuse, they’re not cops!
KEEP YOUR VALUABLES WITHIN REACH AND IN FRONT OF YOU
This one’s a no brainer. Street performances and markets are always fun but don’t forget to cling on tight to your valuables when you find yourself squashed in the middle of a huge crowd. Pickpockets are always on the prowl and are more likely to target those who’s bags are out of their direct line of sight.
MAKE SURE CAB DRIVERS SWITCH ON THEIR METER
Some dishonourable cabbies may fake an excuse to say their meter’s broken, but don’t buy it. It’s almost always a lie. If need be, negotiate rates ahead of time or even before you hop into the cab. You really have to read the situation because while things like these do happen, not all cabbies are crooks.
Renting a scooter or a bike is hugely popular and it’s much more reliable than solely depending on cabs. Yet, it can also prove to be a huge pain when the folks you rent it from begin accusing you of damage. To avoid getting yourself into this pickle, always make it a point to check your vehicle carefully. Take a photo of your bike or car in a variety of angles so that you’ll have proof in the event that you get blamed for the damage.
WEAR SUNGLASSES OR SHADES
Sure you might look like a douche with shades on inside a train cabin, but it does have its benefits. In theory, pickpockets often prey on travellers who are distracted, preoccupied and basically looking anywhere else but at their personal belongings.
Sunglasses, especially those that are heavily tinted will deter pickpockets from approaching you because they won’t know where exactly you’re looking. Genius? You’re welcome.