The Most Common Dodgy Tricks Abroad
If you have read my first article Taxi Scams: The Most Common Trick; you already have a good idea of the tricks you have to look out to avoid one of thousands of well elaborated and believable scams.
- Beware of Very Friendly and Helpful Strangers:
This is a similar scam to one of the many tricks used by some unscrupulous and bogus taxi drivers; they normally offer you help to carry your suitcase and give you the address of your hotel, at this point they start making friendly conversation about the place you are visiting and recommend you an attraction, hotel or a restaurant; although they are friendly and helpful, the majority of them are paid a commission by the owners of those places if you go there; their advice does not necessarily guarantee it is good quality so try to avoid them at all cost; also they might help you with your suitcase for a good tip, if you don’t they might get offended or even worse, offend you and call you cheap tourist as I once called in Budapest.
- Do your Homework:
Research about the travel agency you will use; ask friends, colleagues, and review comments on the internet; many of them will try to add extra charges or promise you things that it will just not happen; even worse, they might take your money and disappear; also, make sure they are part of a Financial Protection Plan, just in case the company go bust; you have to look for one of various of the following associations: ABTA, ABTOT, AiTO, ATOL, The Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) or Travel Trust Association (TTA).
- Pressure buys
This is one of the tactics I absolutely hate; especially when you pay to go on an all day tour around the city and end up going from one shop to the next. Once in Southern Spain I took a tour to go to Tangier in the North of Morocco; although we did go to many interesting places, we also wasted a few hours in shops that were supposed to be very “traditional” of the area; I have to admit, it would had been interesting if I didn’t have one person in each place trying to sell me a carpet, a lamp, spices, a painting and everything else on the shop. Another place where you need to be aware of pressure sellers is Egypt, a common sight if you are on a cruise around the Nile is the Hawkers Egyptian Sellers (sellers on boats); however, it was actually fascinating to see them throwing all the merchandise from their little boats; it became an attraction on its own, plus you don’t feel pressure as you are on a ferry; just make sure you close the windows of your cabins as they come very close.
- Thefts and Pick Pocketing
Tourists are an easy target for Pickpockets as they normally carry a lot of money and valuable items; it happens everywhere you go: London, New York, Rome, Paris, Buenos Aires, etc. Make sure you leave your passport, rings, watches and any other valuables in the Hotel Safe Box and try to distribute small amounts of money in all your pockets.
- Do Not Trust Uniforms
Just because a person is wearing a uniform or a badge, doesn’t mean they will there to help. If they ask you for money, never give them any, also if they ask for your passport you should request more details of why they need it for and demand to see the official badge; you don’t want to find yourself without your travel documents in a foreign country.