These are 11 Travel Scams that make great stories, and others where you can learn a lesson. I don’t think that anyone is immune from travel scams, but being more aware can make your travels easier. I have been ripped off and scammed, but that has not turned me off travel. Rather it has made me a little more mindful of what can happen and has also given me some good travel stories.


Tramps and Thieves

Probably the worst travel scam I ever saw was outside the Paris Opera. A young man was walking along, and suddenly three beautiful women surrounded him and started hitting him. My first thoughts were that he was in the wrong and had made an inappropriate remark to one. Therein lies a problem in itself, that I pre-judged a situation, but that can be another article.

An old lady came up to stop the melee, but started demanding money from the poor young man, or else she would go to the gendarmes. As this went on, one girl went into his backpack and grabbed some of his goods. I felt so sorry for him. If he had defended himself, then he would be in trouble because they were women. He was in a no-win situation.

What should he have done in this situation? I have no idea.

Males appear to be easier targets for travel scams, particularly those perpetrated by (pretty) females.

Solution: be a female


The Pingpong Ladies in Bangkok

Ok, ok don’t judge us; but for research, we went to a ping-pong show in Bangkok. Actually, we had a very good time, because we met an interesting man and his ladyboy, which you can read about here. The travel scam at these ping pong shows, is they get you in the door with promises of cheap drinks, and some live entertainment. You do get one cheap watered down crap drink, and then you get some expensive as poison watered down crap drinks. A boy or girl serves these because it is hard to tell the difference and some burly she-bouncers…and seriously you do not want to argue the outrageous bill that you will inevitably receive…and pay. It happens all over Thailand, and not just Bangkok, and I think it occurred in Chiang Mai too.

Solution: Forewarned is forearmed


Bottled Water Travel Scam

I remember being in Ho Chi Minh City. I woke the first morning to run to the balcony to watch this crazy city wake up. That is when I saw a man across the street filling water bottles from a tap, and the surrounds did not look very salubrious. He had a water bottle sealer, and this is something we have seen time and time again around the world. There are cheap to buy online. Where water is a little dodgy in some countries, be a little aware that just maybe this water is the stuff you are NOT supposed to drink.

Solution: Don’t buy bottled water off the streets


The Really Helpful Local

I am prepared to say that mostly the really helpful local – is the really helpful local. But not always. In Kandy, Sri Lanka we had the really helpful local take us all over the city to his brother’s shop, his uncle’s shop, his sister’s shop and then slugged us with a bill for his guided tour. He was worth it, and we had the money – but not all travelers do.

This happened in Antalya in Turkey but was a lot less pleasant. An older really helpful local offered to show us the town, and he did. All good. He then asked us to have tea with his family. All good. He then told us his daughter was a jeweler and would like to clean my rings. Not good. Getting out of there was not good, and the family turned on us. Shame. Really helpful locals always know how to bypass queues, and they actually do. Be prepared however to go and visit the uncle’s brothers nephews shop afterward.

Solution: Give them a tip and leave…or run.


The Getting the Photograph with anyone in a costume

If you think I have an obsession with lady-boys, then you are probably right, because I like them. However, a travel scam in Phuket was when I got my photo taken with some gorgeous kathoeys or ladyboys. I then got slugged with the cost of the photo, which was $20US. Not only that but I had an annoyed husband who thought I was a sucker.

The Super Hero Sting In Time Square is a beauty. I love the craziness and the total tourism in your face visits to Times Square in New York City. What you don’t want to do it get your photograph taken with any of the superheroes or the Disney Characters, or even the omnipresent Naked Cowboy. Despite all of the warnings not to pay them, heaven help you if you don’t. I sort of get it.

They are trying to make money in hot as hell costumes, excepted for the naked cowboy who freezes, and it is part of the fun.

Solution: Be aware.


Taxis, Tuk Tuks, and Transport Travel Scams Anywhere

If you get public transport anywhere you go in Asia particularly; you will be coerced into visiting the brother’s, cousins, uncles, sisters, nieces factory, and be pressured into buying anything just to get back to some form of normalcy. Whether you hop on the back of a motorbike in Vietnam as I did, or in a tuk-tuk in Bangkok, you will possibly get scammed, unless you nail down the details before stepping foot into any form of transportation. You might like to read this, 10 Do’s and Don’ts in Bangkok. However, this is a worldwide travel scam.

Solution: Learn to love factories, or learn to be firm, but fair.


One Price for You, and a Different One for You

Ok, Turkey you are copping it again. We went to see a total eclipse of the sun. We got on the bus, that was taking us to the best vantage point to see this epic phenomenon, and got talking to others. The amounts paid varied so much, depending on which cousin’s brother’s uncle’s niece sold you the ticket. It ended up being quite funny as we shared our stories of being ripped off in Turkey. We may or may not have evened out the price discrepancies when we found an esky full of Turkish beer under the seat. Did I mention carpet salesman?

Solution: It’s one of those things.


Hawkers Haggling How to’s

Of course, hawkers will try and scam you; that is their job is. It is up to you how much you want to play the game. I am terrible at bargaining because I have a lot more than many of these people do. While haggling is expected in many parts of the world, it is still a difficult situation. However, this is part of the travel experience, and if you get scammed just a little, it really does not matter that much.

Solution: Most of us have more than they do.


The Pretty Petitionners in Paris

The Petition signers in Paris near the Eiffel Tower, or any major attraction, need to be avoided – no matter how pretty and good looking they might be. They are after a ‘donation,’ and will demand money from you, or pickpocket you while you are debating the case. Men seem more prone to feminine wiles perhaps.

Solution: Just walk on by.


Gold Ring and Friendship Band Travel Scams

The gold ring and friendship bracelet scams are endemic in Europe particularly. Someone says to you that you have dropped your ring. As you look at it protesting that it is not yours, they start to tell you some crap that it is against their ethics, morals and whatever to keep something they found. However, because they care about you, they offer it to you at a bargain price, and now you can own this non-gold piece of crap. They will harass you until you pay, or you are able to walk off, which is not nearly as easy as it sounds.

Solution: Just walk on by.

The friendship bracelet is a little worse IMHO. Someone approaches you, and they appear to be helping to engender cross-cultural relations by tying a friendship bracelet around your wrist. However, while this love in is happening, someone else has already gone through your pockets and your bags and taken whatever they want.

Solution: Just walk on by.


The Disabled Scammer

This is a bitch. A person might or might not be disabled. They beg for money, and you give it to them. Once in Sri Lanka a man suddenly was not disabled as he ran away from me on two able bodied legs with some money that I had chosen to give him. Either I am a miracle worker, or he scammed me. Either way, I didn’t care. Well done him.

Solution: Most of us have more than they do.

Travel scams exist. Many can be avoided if you are aware, and think it through a little. Some scams, however, do make the best travel stories. Who remembers and brags that everything went down perfectly on their travels?

Have you been scammed while traveling?

Have you got a great story to share?



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