Don’t Fall for These 10 Scary Traveler Scams

Hopping aboard a transcontinental flight on route to a new, ready-to-explore destination is a rush. Traveling teaches us about the world, sure. But, more than that, it teaches us about ourselves. By rebelling against our comfort zones and jumping in to new experiences, we grow. But you already know that.

You also probably already know that, unlike your comfort zone, traveling presents a lot of inherent risks. It’s a sad reality, but it’s a reality that rings true. You, as a tourist, are a two-bit criminal’s dream target. After all, you have absolutely no idea where you are, no idea where to go for help, and no clue what the scammers have in store.

My advice? First, purchase a map. Then make sure you have the local Police on speed dial. Protecting yourself against scammers is a little more involved. But don’t worry, I’ll help you through that part too.

1. Spilling On Your Clothes

Simple, effective, and incredibly popular, the ‘spill’ scam involves a stranger purposely spilling something on your clothing. The scammer will then attempt to rectify their misdeed by frantically scrubbing away the stain to distract you as they also pocket the contents of your pockets.

The only real way to protect yourself against this scam is to step back, maintain a safe distance, and insist on handling the stain on your own. Though it may suck to have a blouse covered in ketchup, having empty pockets is much, much worse.

@ Jose Antonio Bernat Bacete / Getty Images

2. The ‘Free’ Gift

This scam may be old hat, but it’s far from out of favor. It begins by a stranger offering you a small, and presumably “free” gift. It could be a rosary, long-stem rose, or a hip-hop mixtape. The item is irrelevant. The important thing to note is that the stranger will offer it for free. Once you accept the gift, they’ll then demand compensation. Your refusal may be met with intimidation by a suddenly appearing group of friends.

Avoiding this one is simple, don’t accept anything from strangers. Free or not, accepting strange wares from strange people in a strange country should be completely off limits.

Linda Raymond / Getty Images

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