The hope for every vacation is that it is a perfect vacation. What determines that perfection is different for each traveler. Some prefer a cruise vacation. Others enjoy a week on a beach. There are also those brave souls who take a road trip with the kids! If you’re perfect vacation this year will involve traveling abroad, then you have to be on the watch out for travel scams. Sadly, there are groups of people that are dedicated to fleecing American tourists and they’ve found some clever ways to make it happen:
Fake Currency Exchanges
The first thing you’ll need in a foreign country is some of their currency. Knowing this, you might be approach right off the plane by taxi drivers, vendors and other people you “meet” who are willing to make the exchange for you at a great rate. Unfortunately, what you could be getting is counterfeit money. They can also play up the confusion of the exchange rate and end up charging you more. The best approach would be to exchange money before you get on the plane or in the airplane where you land. Only exchange currency at a trusted location.
Many ports of call could find you swarmed by children offering to sell you a trinket or provide a service. It is heartbreaking to think of these kids out there scrambling to make a buck. Sadly, most of them are being exploited by some adult who is using them to prey on your sympathy. Whatever money you give them probably won’t stay with them. If you say no to one, then they’ll all get the message and move on. If you feel compelled to help, then find a local and reputable children’s charity and contribute to them.
There is a good chance that wherever you’re traveling there are going to be some skilled pickpockets. Often they work in groups with one side distracting you while the other does the “lifting.” When out and about, don’t carry anything valuable like expensive watches or jewelry. If you carry a wallet, then carry it in your front pocket. Make sure your purse is always zippered and is slash-proof.
Taking a taxi or some other form of transportation shouldn’t be an ordeal. You might not know your way around the city, but your Smartphone GPS will. Download the map before you get into the cab to make sure they’re not going off the route. If you get into a cab and the driver says up front that the meter is broken, then you should probably get out and get another cab. They wouldn’t be driving with a broken meter unless they were scamming you.
The same rule with a casino applies to a street game: “The house always wins.” Whether the game is cards, dice or cups for money it will always be rigged. If you were to sit across from the game and watch, then you would see that there is always one person who is always winning. That person is usually working with the gamer. Don’t get pulled in.
None of these potential scams should dissuade you from traveling abroad. You can still have that perfect vacation. Just keep your eyes open and be careful who you place your trust with.