Common Travel Scams

Learn about some common overseas travel scams targeting tourists and how you can avoid them.

When traveling overseas it is important to remember that different scams do exist everywhere and tourist can often be targeted. While most people you meet will be good people there, unfortunately, there will always be some bad ones. This shouldn’t deter you from traveling overseas, meeting new people, learning about different cultures, and having fun. You’ll often find trends in that there are a few common scams in a specific destination and then they are just variations of those.

4 Ways to Avoid Travel Scams

Be Assertive
Do Your Research Before Your Trip
If It Is Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
Be Extra Skeptical of People Who Approach You

Common Travel Scams

The Spill- Someone spills something (i.e. sauce, food, or drink) on you and then help you clean up the mess. While cleaning up the mess they or an accomplice pickpocket you.

The Drop- Someone drops jewelry or electronics in front of you… they then deny it belongs to them and tries to sell it to you at an inflated price.

The Free Anything- This could be a shoe shine, friendship bracelet, small handmade crafts,  or really anything else of small monetary value. These items or services are rarely free with the person demanding money at the end of the interaction.

A Rose for the Lady- A person approaches a couple giving the woman a flower and then asks for a high price from the man.

Street Games- These exist in various forms everywhere and of course the odds are always in the favor of the dealer. This is pretty much gambling so you can make a decision to play or not play.

The Free CD- Yes, people still have CDs in some parts of the world and they will want to give you one of their music. It appears to be free for the nice tourists at first but eventually, they will demand money.

Dropped Wallet or Pickpocket Warning- You’ll be walking along and see a wallet sitting on the ground. Another version is that a person will walk around warning people about pickpockets. Both of these are to get you to check on your own wallet/ money so the thief can see where you keep it.

The Friendly Photographer- You are trying to take selfies and a friendly local offers to take a picture of your group. At best they ask for money and at worst the last thing you see of them is their back running the other way with your phone/ camera. If you need to do this try asking another tourist to take a picture.

Closed Tourist Attractions or Shops- A local tells you that a tourist attraction is closed or a shop you want to visit is out of business. They then take you to a place they know where they will get a commission or help a friend out.


Count Your Change- Many places are notorious for shortchanging tourists who aren’t familiar with the local currency.

Overpriced Jewels, Leather items, Carpets- This can really apply to anything and is often dependent on what the local area is most famous. A shop brings in the tourist and sells them low quality or even fake good for very high prices. If you want to buy something expensive to find reputable shops, do your research, or bring someone with expertise in what you are buying.

Fake Tickets- Unlicensed people selling tickets for a popular local event often at a really great price. Unfortunately, when you get to the event the ticket turns out to be a fake.

Friendly Locals

A Group of Kids- You will be surrounded by a group asking for money, candy, etc. They will pickpocket you in the process.

Wants to Learn English- You will be approached by someone who wants to practice their English. They will take you to a cafe or bar where you will receive an inflated bill.

Very Flirty Local- This can often be similar to the one “really wants to learn English” or can be even more nefarious setting you up for a robbery or kidnapping. Avoid this by going to a place you suggest, be skeptical in general,  and see how they react.

Hotels and Transportation

Rigged Taxi Meter- Find out common practices for taxis before using them and only use licensed official taxis. Either search online or ask a local about how much a taxi should cost for your trip.

Closed or Overbooked Hotel- Your taxi driver tells you that the hotel is closed, under construction, etc. They then want to take you to a nice hotel. This hotel is often very overpriced and they will receive a commission.

Room Inspection or Maintenance- People dressed as hotel employees need to enter your room for a variety of reasons. One of them will distract you while the other grabs any valuables they can find. You should never let anyone into your room and if there is a problem check with the front desk to make sure the employees are legitimate.