How To Avoid Getting Scammed When Travelling

In Greece this week, undercover cops are cracking down on restaurants over-charging tourists; one American visitor said on TripAdvisor that he was charged €830 ($1345) for six beers and three salads at a restaurant in Mykonos.

Let’s face it — we’ve all fallen victim to the occasional scam as tourists. I’ve agreed to pay way more than necessary on taxi rides, for instance, and would probably pay a hefty price for a salad too.

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When travelling overseas (or even within the country), you should always research common scams at your destination precisely so you won’t fall victim to rackets played on tourists, as DonLemonNYE2019 suggested on a recent Reddit thread.

These scams aren’t always obvious, illegal acts such as pickpocketing, either; it could be as simple as overcharging you for water or giving away mix tapes in exchange for cash “donations” (a familiar New York hustle).

We recenty collected some other familiar scams from readers who visited cities across the globe. Here are a few noteworthy ones:

  • “Chicago: Parking fees are insane and my dear tourists, if you are not driving into the city do not bother renting a car. Parking downtown for two hours easily hits $50 [$AU71].” – ThePeeplesCourt
  • “I found this in Bulgaria back in 2010, but I suppose it’s probably the same in every country at tourist destinations. It’s a bottled water scam, where folks are reusing old water bottles they find in the trash, on the street, etc. and refilling with standard tap water.” – AG74683
  • “In Toronto, there is a woman who goes around telling people they are beautiful and offers a sticker in exchange for a donation. She sometimes says it’s for charity, sometimes doesn’t say where it’s going, but it always goes in her pocket. The Toronto Sun did an article on The Sticker Lady exposing how she funds her house in the suburbs and VW with the money she collects.” – Ccccccccc
  • “In Shanghai, if you are on East Nanjing road … and anybody approaches you to talk, it’s a scam. Do not go anywhere for tea, to see an art show, or help anyone practise their English. The tea will cost hundreds per glass, the art will suck and be overpriced with a good guilt trip, and the ‘practise my English’ line will invariably lead the first two things mentioned.” – ulic14

If you want to research some familiar scams at your destination, the easiest way to do this is to sort through reviews on travel sites such as TripAdvisor; if you plan to visit the Eiffel Tower, for example, you should read through some of its more critical reviews. (Some TripAdvisor contributors warn visitors of “skip the line” scams to get up the tower faster.)

Otherwise, just do an online search using sites such as Reddit to find other scams you should avoid at all costs. These scams shouldn’t scare you away — it’s just good to know what to expect when visiting some tourist hot spots.


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