You Need to Know About These Travel Scams Before Your Next Vacation

Don’t let petty scams ruin your trip of a lifetime. With just a few simple tips, you won’t be so easily fooled.

It’s not news that travelers make easy prey for scammers in a foreign country. Tourists stand out in a crowd; they tote chunky cameras, heavy backpacks, and padded sneakers—and not to mention the delighted, perplexed look in their eyes as they take in the local scene. And while most of these jet setters get abroad and back with no problems, it’s hard to forget the rare horror story or two. Thankfully, it only takes a little common sense to avoid becoming a target of foreign scammers.

According to the Daily Mail, who rounded up the most common scams in Europe, the number one piece of advice to remember is: Be wary of friendly locals, guides, or taxi drivers (especially if you’re heading to Poland) who offer great deals at a relative’s store or hotel. Odds are, they receive a commission for bringing tourists over. The referred location probably won’t be all that it’s cracked up to be—or worse yet, the vendor might not let you leave until you buy something. You could also get duped into purchasing jewelry or purses that aren’t from authentic manufacturers. Plus, the vendor might claim that they don’t have change, tricking you into letting them keep the bills. If you booked your trip by phone, beware of these signs that you’re being phone scammed. 

You-Need-to-Know-About-This-Common-Travel-Scam-Before-Your-Next-VacationTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com

To avoid finding yourself in that situation, don’t take the local’s word for it. Instead, phone ahead to the hotel, restaurant, or store to make sure that they’re open. If your taxi driver still tells you that the location is unavailable or bad, hold your ground and insist that he take you there anyway. You can even use the excuse that you already have a reservation (even if you don’t) or that someone is waiting for you there. You can also double check with someone else nearby for confirmation.

Another scam even the most seasoned travels could fall for–bogus police officers. Popular in Czech Republic, cops in plain clothes can stop you to ask for your passport while accusing you of a “crime.” Call their bluff, and don’t fall for it.

You-Need-to-Know-About-This-Common-Travel-Scam-Before-Your-Next-VacationTatiana Ayazo/Rd.com

Head over to DailyMail to find out the other scams you need to watch out for when traveling to Europe. Plus, double check that you’re not making these vacation mistakes, regardless of where your destination is.

Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.