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The Top 10 Travel Scams to Avoid

You’re planning the vacation of a lifetime. You may feel like nothing can ruin it, but, that may not entirely be the case. There are people out there who prey on excited travelers like you. The travel scams that they perpetrate can get in the way of your dream vacation.

So, you’ll want to watch out for those people and their scams. Here are the top 10 scams you need to beware during your travel plans and when set off on your journey.

1. The Phantom Apartment

You’re going to a new country and just your luck, you’ve managed to snag a short-stay apartment, for a little cash. If you’re not careful and you’ve not gone through a reputable rental agent, you may arrive and learn that the apartment you’ve already parted with your cold hard cash for just doesn’t exist. To avoid this one, go an Internet search to make sure this listing is legitimate. If it is, you’ll find it on an authorized apartment rental web site. The other way to ensure that this rental exists is to ask for a utility bill in the owner’s name and take the time to ensure the document hasn’t been altered. Do not send money to a random email address or untraceable account.

2. The “Let Me Carry Your Luggage” Scam

Keep your luggage in your own hands or with someone else you’re traveling with, if you’re going in a group. A foreign airport is a great place for scammers to disappear with your luggage, or slip something into your luggage for you to transport without your knowledge.

3. Midnight Desk Call

If you’re already settled in a hotel and your phone rings in the middle of the night, be wary. If the caller says they’re from your hotel and have overbooked your room, then asks for your credit card information, hang up. Then, call the front desk and query the call.

4. Extra Items on Your Restaurant Bill

When you’re traveling abroad and you’re enjoying a meal at a restaurant, scrutinize your bill very closely when it comes. There are scammers who think nothing of adding items to your bill that you didn’t order, or who will boost the price of your meal so that the restaurant bill doesn’t match the menu price.

5. The Bracelet Scheme

This one is reported frequently in France and Italy. Say you’re walking down the street in your dream city and an individual walks up, offering suggestions about where you should go, or how to get to specific places. They tie a woven bracelet around your wrist and demand that you pay for the bracelet. When you refuse, they accuse you of theft and threaten to have you arrested. For your sanity and safety, watch out for overly-friendly individuals who approach you on the street.

6. The Tumbling Woman

Although this one has been reported in London, it could happen anywhere. If you’re traveling and encounter a commotion that involves a woman falling down an escalator or the stairs, be wary. It could be a distraction to allow an accomplice (a pickpocket no less) to steal your wallet or your luggage if you set it down and try to help.

7. Missing Cash

Try to avoid bumping into people when you travel, because it’s entirely possible you could find yourself in this scenario. When someone bumps into you and drops something, if you pick it up to hand it back, you may end up with a bag of cash and a scammer yelling that you’ve stolen their money. Instead, if you do bump into people, hold your bags close to you and apologize, but keep moving.

8. Dishonest cab drivers

When you’re traveling by taxi, take care. While many cabbies are honest, there have been the occasional dishonest cab drivers who take your high-amount bill and exchanges it with a smaller banknote (often dropping the larger amount out of your sight in the cab) and demands more cash for the ride.

9. Fake Tour Guides

This one is common in Bangkok, near the palace. Often, this scam involves individuals who appear to be dressed in official uniforms approach tourists, saying that the palace is closed, but they can take the tourist on a private tour of another location, or a private tour of the palace, for a fee. The best way to avoid this scam is to book tours through a reputable tour agent.

10. Security Checkpoint Scam

You’re going to a new country and just your luck, you’ve managed to snag a short-stay apartment, for a little cash. If you’re not careful and you’ve not gone through a reputable rental agent, you may arrive and learn that the apartment you’ve already parted with your cold hard cash for just doesn’t exist. To avoid this one, go an Internet search to make sure this listing is legitimate. If it is, you’ll find it on an authorized apartment rental web site. The other way to ensure that this rental exists is to ask for a utility bill in the owner’s name and take the time to ensure the document hasn’t been altered. Do not send money to a random email address or untraceable account.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips & Tricks

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Book your flight

Find cheap flights using SkyScanner. This search engine is are our favorite, making sure you get the best deal for tickets all over the world. They are great at aggregating flights from multiple providers.

Book your accommodations

If you're looking for a hostel, you should book it with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere else, book with Booking.com. Their hotel system usually offers the best rates out of any provider worldwide.

Don't forget travel insurance

Protects yourself against illness, injury, theft, and even cancellations with travel insurance. You're buying comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. We never recommend traveling without it. We’ve been using World Nomads, a great company, with great service and highly recommend them.

     - World Nomads (for everyone below 70)

     - Travelx Insurance (for those over 70)

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