No Monkey Business!
As a soon-to-be solo female traveler, there are several things which are of great concern, and rightly so. One of these issues is the rampant travel scams that are found wherever there is a surplus of tourists. I’ve done quite a bit of research on this matter over the past two months, and there were several tips which I found quite valuable. Watch out for these famous scams:
Locals announcing that the hotel/hostel which you have booked, is now closed down. This is almost always a lie, designed to lure you to another hotel, from which they will then get a commission. Quite often, the hotel/hostel is really crappy, so you lose and they win.
These posers may stop you and ask to see your visa. They will then ‘find’ a problem and try to charge you a fee that has to be paid right then and there. If this happens to you, insist to be taken to a police station, and most likely, the ‘officer’ will back down. Others may demand to see your wallet, as they are searching for counterfeit bills… you won’t even realize they’re taking your money.
There are so many different ways that these individuals use to part you from your hard-earned cash. Some will spill ketchup on your shirt, then apologize and wipe you down… while ripping off your pockets right under your nose. Others will simply distract you with a crying baby or bump into you really hard, and while your attention is elsewhere, your wallet will disappear. Be cautious.
Tampered taxi meters
Your taxi fare will rise faster than a space shuttle if you aren’t careful about choosing your cab. Always use taxis issued by the tourist board, or agree on a set fare before jumping in. Never pay before you arrive at your destination. This scam is extremely common, and although you may not always avoid it, at least prevent it from happening too often.
Let me help you!
If a local appears to be overly friendly and insistent on being helpful, be careful. More often than not, there is something for them to gain by doing so. A helpful lady who simply wants to point you in the right direction may demand a tip afterwards. So much for the good Samaritan act.
Grand Theft Taxi
This tip was given to me by one of my cherished readers, Vanny. She warned me to never part with my luggage when entering a taxi. I was told of a situation in which her friend got out of a cab, and the driver sped off with her bags. I think this is one of the most important tips that I’ve learned so far, as it’s almost impossible to avoid taxis while traveling.
This scam got my attention, because it’s very prevalent in Italy, a country which I will be in for quite a while. You are invited to browse items for sale, usually at from a street vendor and a reasonable price is granted. Let’s use a cellular phone as an example. You inspect the phone and you’re positive that it’s not a fake, and you make the purchase. The sales person takes the phone, bags it, then points to an interesting site somewhere in the distance. While you look towards where he is pointing, an accomplice passes behind of the sales person, switches your phone bag for another and disappears. You pay for your phone and move off, only to find that it’s a pile of rocks in your bag!
I will try to be extremely careful, as scams have a way of ruining a perfectly good trip!