Updated: 12/28/2018 | December 28th, 2018
Travel scams are real.
When I started traveling, I fell for them too.
On my first big non-tour trip, I got scammed twice on the same day.
My friend Scott and I had just arrived in Thailand. We were in Bangkok trying to find a boat cruise to take us up and down the Chao Phraya River. A taxi driver suggested this one company; we went there, and found out that an hour-long tour was only $30 USD. Not even thinking about whether that was a deal or not, we agreed. To us — still thinking about prices back home — that offer seemed like a fair price. It was only as the boat tour ended early that we realized we might have been ripped off (later on, we found out that we paid double the price).
Then, after lunch, we wandered over to the Grand Palace. When we got there, we didn’t see any crowds. We looked down the left side of the palace, then over to the right. “Where is everyone?” I asked. An enterprising tuk-tuk driver came over to us and told us the palace was closed for lunch. Scott and I looked at each other. Maybe that was right. After all, many museums sometimes do that, plus we didn’t see anyone around. It seemed feasible. He offered to take us to a few that were open.
“Sure,” we replied — and found ourselves visiting not only a few temples but also a suit shop, a gem shop, and a souvenir shop.
Afterwards, as he took us to the palace (which was unsurprisingly open). It was then we realized that it had never been closed — we had just been on the wrong side of the building.
We had been scammed.
My life as a traveler was not off to a good start.
So, today, I want to give you a list of travel scams to avoid.
Avoiding travel scams requires a lot of common sense and a healthy dose of suspicion. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
(Additionally, if you are carrying a travel guidebook, they usually list the most common scams in that country.) Here are some of the more universal ones to avoid:
1. The taxi overcharge
This is one of the most common travel scams out there. Either the driver will tell you the meter is broken and try to charge you a huge rate or you’ll see the meter go higher and faster than Superman!
To avoid this scam, first you need to know how much a ride should cost. I always ask the hostel or hotel staff what a ride should be so I have a frame of reference. Next, if the cabbie tries to negotiate the rate with me, I offer him the correct rate. If he refuses, I find someone who will put…