Seven common travel scams to avoid

Font Size:

There is nothing worse than that sinking feeling of knowing you’ve been scammed on your travels. Learning about popular scams and being aware of them will help you be better prepared on your holiday. Here are some common scams to look out for next time. 

1. Broken taxi meters
Have you ever hopped into a taxi and been told that the meter isn’t working, and you’ll have to fork over a set fare? If so, chances are you were scammed into paying a lot more for your taxi trip. Unfortunately, this scam is a popular one worldwide. It can be easily avoided by refusing to ride unless the meter is switched on. If there are no other taxis around, negotiate a fixed price that you’re happy to pay. Pretending to walk away is an excellent tactic to get the price down to something reasonable.

2. Destination switch
Another popular scam to watch out for is taxi drivers or guides insisting that your intended destination is closed and instead whisking you away to another location – usually to a place where they receive a commission. You might also be paraded around a shop (owned by their relatives or friends) or taken to an attraction and pushed into paying an exorbitant entry fee. Play it friendly, say thank you and insist that you are happy to go to your original location. You can always check with your hotel, before venturing out for the day, about information for popular tourist sites. They will likely give you the low down, if there are in fact any closures or things you need to know before visiting.

3. Watch your water
Local entrepreneurial types have been known to collect empty water bottles from bins, fill them from a tap and sell them icy cold from a tub of ice at popular tourist sites. While not as malicious or expensive as other scams, this one could make you sick if you end up drinking the local water when you’re not supposed to. Make sure you check that the bottle of water you buy is properly sealed, otherwise don’t buy it.

4. Crying kids
If you appreciate a bit of theatre with your scam, set up in a bustling area and watch for this one. A seller, usually a cute little boy or girl, will get their goods knocked over by a careless passer-by. There will be a bit of a commotion, and the seller will be left distraught and in tears over the spoiled goods. Kindly tourists will open their wallets and, voila, the child will cheer up and head on their merry way. Wait long enough, and you’ll see them back again, setting up the biscuits they have collected from the dirt ready to replay the same scene.

5. The tourist guide
A scam that is quite easy to spot at tourist destinations around the world is a guide who will insist they take you around your destination. Whether that’s Angkor Wat in Cambodia or the pyramids in Egypt, they may even go as far as to insist that a guide is necessary. If you don’t agree upon the price upfront, you might find yourself shelling out some serious cash. Check what other visitors are doing before agreeing to anything. You may not even need a guide at all.

6. The ‘free’ henna tattoo
A common way for scalpers to earn a quick dollar in Arabic countries is women insisting on giving you a free henna tattoo – often by grabbing your arm and quickly doing a hack-job design. They will then ask for money for the tattoo and in some unfortunate cases become quite aggressive until you hand over the cash. A good way to avoid getting some unwanted temporary work is to be firm with your “No thanks”, put your hands in your pockets, and avoid making eye-contact. This scam is particularly popular in Morocco and Egypt.

7. Paying for your own stuff
One of the more malicious scams will involve people ‘selling’ you back your belongings. Drop your phone, and a sneaky scammer could pick it up and charge you a whole lot just to get it back.

Have you ever been scammed while on holiday? What happened?

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Max Williams follows in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia

Max relives an overnight desert experience he had a few years ago in Jordan.

Will travel solve your midlife crisis?

Can travel be the best way to tackle a midlife crisis?

Survey reveals multi-generational travel is on the rise

Your kids may want to travel with you, but it seems the sentiment is one-sided …

Written by Ben


Total Comments: 21
  1. 0

    A common one in Paris is for someone (usually a gypsy) you are passing to ‘suddenly find’ a gold ring at your feet. They are just visiting town for the day and don’t have time to hand it in to anyone – so insist on giving it to you to keep or hand in. Then comes the bite – they are broke and just need 20 euros (or whatever) to catch the train back home again. Some of their stories (and acting performnces) are quite credible, but don’t be caught. The shiny ring is worth about 25 cents.

    • 0

      Gypos are a blight in Europe, not only do they scam but are also thieves. Another area to watch out for in Paris (all over Europe actually) is the Metro. Young girls in 3’s rubbing themselves against men as the train rocks back & forth trying to pick your pockets & bags. Haven’t met or even heard anything good of 1 gypo, all scammers & thieves.

    • 0

      SFR, your post is very racist.

      Hitler murdered more gypsies than jews and none were ever compensated.

      What gypsy murdered millions of people or caused war against a country? None. They are not violent people.

      Theft due to poverty is nowhere near as bad as theft by a wealthy person due to greed. More people are robbed by well off greedy people than gypsies.

      Good and bad are in all races.

    • 0

      Jackie, “gypsy” is not a race. Furthermore, the Third Reich wiped out 6 million Jews, at least 12 times more than the maximum number of gypsies killed (maximum of 500,000) by that regime. So you’re spouting poppycock. The Romani, of course, are notorious for their thievery.

    • 0

      Jacki my post is not racist. How dare you bring Hitler into it or are you a jewish gypo. If you’ve ever been to Europe or the UK you would know how the gypos operate & most of the time it’s from scams or theft & that my dear is a fact. & no theft is acceptable even by those who cry poverty. Most gypos don’t work either because they will tell you it’s not their culture & they will be the first to dicriminate against you because you aren’t one of them.
      Shame on you for dealing the racist card.

    • 0

      Knows-a-lot, Gypsies are a race. They originated from northern India.

      Yes, more Jews were murdered than Gypsies during WW2 but they were never compensated for the attempted genocide on them by Hitler as Jews were.

    • 0

      SFR, Gypsies are a race.

      You posted that Gypos are a blight to Europe.

      You also posted and that you haven’t met or even heard anything good of 1 gypo, all scammers & thieves.

      They have faced much discrimination by racists such as yourself. Hitler performed genocide on Jews and Gypsies because he hated both races.

      Racism and discrimination against minorities are shameful and no longer tolerated in our society.

    • 0

      Correct Jacki I haven’t met 1 that isn’t a scammer or a thief nor have any of my relatives in Europe or the UK & if I do then they will be a very small minority within their community.
      Very easy for you & others like you to play the racist card but when the majority are discriminated against by these minorities we can’t say boo.
      And to bring Hitler into it is disgusting & you should be ashamed of yourself.

  2. 0

    Ben leaves out the most common travel scam – the amount banks etc charge for changing money

  3. 0

    Collecting empty water bottles & refilling with local water is rife in India & they also put a few drops of superglue on the cap so it looks & feels like a proper seal . Even the locals screw up the empties so they can’t be easily refilled. Anywhere in the world your best buying water from a shop out of the fridge or watch where locals are buying.

    • 0

      SFR, I keep away from developing countries. They may be cheap travel but the associated health and safety risks are not worth it.

      I prefer to travel around Australia. It’s a paradise that is why our new migrants from developing countries flock here by the hoards. Many that can’t buy their way in overstay because they want a better life.

  4. 0

    I remember my first and last trip to Bali during the 1970’s.

    My accommodation was near the beach. When I unpacked I decided to have a look at it.

    When I got there, a group of locals surrounded me and told me I had to pay to be on the beach. I told them beaches are for free in Australia and they are in Bali too.

    I never fell for the scam but I suppose there is always someone that does.

  5. 0

    and then there

  6. 0

    And there is the old scam I have only ever seen during the multiple times I have been to Paris on holiday. usually around the Eiffel tower Monmartre, Sacre Coeur , La Madeline, etc. A young person pretending to be deaf mute comes up with a petition for you to sign in support of deaf mutes, and then solicit a donation because you have signed. The laughable thing is you are then shown a list of acceptable donations the lowest being 20 Euro. They will not accept anything less. Once when it happened the Gendarmes came running after them and yelled at us (in perfect English) not to give them any money.

  7. 0

    We were in Vanuatu for a wedding, Having our first look at the waterfront scenery. I noticed a small child in my view through the viewfinder as I took a photo, but didn’t think more about it till the child’s father demanded money as he said that I had photographed his child without permission. Needless to say, he went on his way with nothing but a ticking off.

  8. 0

    Jackie your last comment about immigrants was racist. You are full of bullshit.

    • 0

      Hear hear, jackie runs with the hare and hunts wth the hounds and mentions Hitler, disgusting. Hang your head shame jackie.

  9. 0

    If you lost money or Bitcoin through any online scam or any investment, Please contact CREDITSOLUTION. I can guarantee you that Its never too late.
    Have you lost your hard earned money to; 1.Bitcoin Scam
    2.Binary option scam?
    3.Forex trading?
    4.Romance scam
    and any other kind of online investment?
    I have a good news for you.
    Contact Mr Dennis
    WhatsApp: +1 9176634684
    You Can Also Text Or Call: +1 9176634684
    I had doubts it was possible to recover the funds I lost to binary options. However, big thanks to CREDITSOLIUTION for helping me recover a huge sum back and still working on full recovery for me.
    Note that; I didn’t have to make any upfront payment for service until I saw proof of his fund recoveries. They are nothing but the best. You should contact them.SAY NO TO BINARY SCAM!

  10. 0

    I’ve been a victim of scam, lost all my money to a broker i invested with, i was depressed for few months but the whole story changed when i visited Trustpilot and I came across a review about a recovery agent helping people get back their lost investment I contacted him that I needed some help in getting my money back, to my greatest surprise I was able to get my money back after some days of getting in touch with him and it was all free, all he required was a testimony of his generosity which I promised I will do in all platforms, you can reach him on his Gmail address [email protected] or what app : +14079061584

Load More Comments



continue reading

Food and Recipes

Silky Vegan Chocolate Mousse

You may be sceptical about using tofu in a dessert, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. This silky chocolate...


What is deep sleep and how can you get more of it?

You may have heard that adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. But the quality of...

Technology News

Why you may have to buy a new device whether you want to or not

Michael Cowling, CQUniversity Australia We've probably all been there. We buy some new smart gadget and when we plug it...


Poll reveals support for vaccinations and compulsory masks

Fewer Australians say they would take a coronavirus vaccination now than at the outset of the pandemic, but a big...


How to avoid being tracked online

The internet is most likely monitoring every move you make through your computer or device and, unless you know the...


Aussies want Morrison to refute health misinformation

Australians are fed up with the growing spread of misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic and want Prime Minister Scott...


The diet that can put type 2 diabetes into remission

Consuming fewer carbohydrates can potentially put type 2 diabetes into remission. An international study involving Australia's CSIRO found that strict...


CHOICE tips to take charge of 2021

Have you made a resolution to be better with money this year? After 2020, many of us could probably do...